22 March 2009


The feel of it

iBook G4 12"Men often obsess about our gadgets—computers, cameras, cars, fishing gear, barbecues, TVs, stereos, whatever. But too often, we get wrapped up in the stats and numbers, and forget about the feel of what we use. Not that it's unimportant, but frequently when we're researching a new purchase, we'll ignore it in favour of the specs, and only learn about the subjective experience of using the device later. Sometimes to our detriment.

What brought this to mind was a blog post my younger daughter L, who is nine, made a couple of days ago. A few months ago my wife replaced her old laptop, so our daughter gets to use it now. (Her sister has a different desktop computer.) So L wrote:

This laptop is very special to me. I love the way the keyboard feels when I type. The way the lock opens when I ummm… open it.

I had to think, yeah. How the keyboard feels and how the lock opens are important. They're what make the laptop familiar, what define how she interacts with it, what makes it different from other technology around the house. Along with the programs she uses and the way she sets up her desktop and so on, they're what makes it hers. The speed of the processor, the size of hard drive, the amount of RAM—as long as there's enough of those things to do what she needs, they're irrelevant.

So next time you're looking at getting a new mobile phone, or a new TV, or a new camera, or whatever, take some time to figure out whether it feels right first. If you're not allowed to get it out of the package and try it, find one you can.

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fro marina:

but I am lauren's sister, and I am 2 years older than her, and she STILL gets the LAPTOP!!!!!!
Yup, and you got the camera!
I agree - my laptop doesn't feel right (it's an Acer) as far as the keyboard goes. I preferred the Compaq keyboards, if that makes any sense. I feel that I lose speed with this one.

Any hypotheses?
Keyboards are shockingly personal, so I can't really say why you'd prefer one over the other.
So very true! It's always interesting to see the view of the world through my daughter's eyes as it is for you too.
The feel is very important, I thank her for the reminder!