Posted by: Eddie | February 22, 2013

Chromebook pixel: Judging what other people value

I’ve been reading several articles about the new Chromebook Pixel, and one common comment I see after most of them is something to the effect that “you must be an idiot if you buy one of these.”  I also used to see that sort of comment about the cheaper chromebooks, although much less so these days now that they’re the #1 selling notebooks on Amazon for weeks and weeks and weeks.

What bothers me about this is the shortsightedness and solipsistic nature of that sort of comment.  The commentator is assuming that everyone has similar needs and values things similarly to them.  For example, with the original Chromebook, people who purchased them valued very quick startup-time, very low maintenance, and easy transfer to new machines (amongst other things) highly enough to purchase one.  They probably also have ubiquitous wifi in their lives, so weren’t bothered by that requirement.

Yet plenty of commentators would say they were “idiots”.  Even if the cheaper Chromebooks weren’t best-sellers now, that sort of comment is still taking the wrong view that just because something doesn’t make sense for me, it doesn’t make sense for anyone.

The same thing is true for the pixel. Some people may value chromebooks for whatever reason, and do NOT need functionality that only comes with a full OS.  Plenty of people use their computing devices for simple tasks that they do every day for HOURS at a time.  Someone who uses lots of social network services, browses, e-mails, and does other common activities has no real need for the adobe photoshops or microsoft offices of the world, and can get by on simpler (and usually free apps).  For them, why shouldn’t they want a premium device to make those HOURS of activities easier and more pleasant?

It’s not so much I personally am planning to get one, but more that it has elicited this sort of narrow-view reaction than most other gadgets in recent history.  Many gadgets that are now ubiquitous (smartphones, tablets, etc.) started out as something many people thought “only idiots” would get.

If there’s one thing the internet’s connectivity to so many other people should finally teach us, it’s that there’s a HUGE variety of wants, needs, and values out there, and what is a ridiculous purchase for ourselves may be just the thing for someone else.  Oh, and this sort of attitude of “it doesn’t work for me so you’re wrong if it works for you” is prevalent elsewhere in life, in more serious and damaging ways, so dropping this sort of solipsism will lead to far more useful benefits elsewhere as well.

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