I’ve just noticed that I now carry four cameras when I’m travelling around for meetings, talks, interviews and so on. I used to carry three even in the days when they were all loaded with film. The fourth is in the lid of my laptop. This prompted me to wonder how many gadgets I need to carry around, and how many cameras I’ll have in 2020.
A quick gadget check revealed a digital SLR, a compact camera, a camera phone, an Edirol digital recorder, a laptop computer, a broadband dongle, an MP3 player with earbuds, and a watch. This doesn’t seem excessive. I could also have been carrying a voice recorder, a video recorder such as a Flip HD, an ebook reader like the Kindle, a handheld games machine/movie player like the Sony PlayStation Portable, a portable CD or MiniDisc player, a PDA (personal digital assistant) and a DAB radio (ho ho). In fact, I used to carry some of these around, including a Dell Axim and a transparent Game Boy running Tetris.
According to the PowerPoint deck for Punditry 101 (Convergence theory), I should be carrying only one gadget. My mobile phone should work as my phone, camera and camcorder, PDA/computer, music and video player, FM radio, games console, GPS, pager/instant messager, watch and so on. And it would, up to a point, though I might need to carry a few extra batteries.
But look around -- or just turn out your pockets and stack up your gadgets -- and you might be surprised. The number of gadgets is not going down, and we’re all buying more of them. It’s true that fashions and technologies change. However, while we might have stopped buying film cameras, cassette players, MiniDisc recorders, portable CD players and PDAs, we’ve started buying other things instead.
Compaq iPaqs are out; Apple iPads are in.