Monday, November 25, 2002

Watch out for Novelty

When I was in junior high, calculator watches were just being introduced. They were really something cool at the time. (Honestly- they didn't get truly nerdy for almost a decade - if you don't believe me, check out Sting in any photos from 1982-83, and see his proudly worn Casio) Remember, handheld electronic calculators hadn't even been around for ten years.

Anyway, I wanted one sooo badly, I waged a full-scale birhday-Christmas-good-kid gift combination lobbying campaign with my mom, and managed to get one of the very first calculator watches sold. Ahh, the Casio CA-50. Very special due to its newness, its rarity, and the future it represented. It was incerdible, I had the power to add, subtract, multiply, even divide, out to eight places right on my wrist.

It had the desired social effects. In math class, my knowing fellow students snickered as they waited for the teacher to notice my wrist-mounted math-in-your-head-eliminator. All the time, people would notice, ask about it, ask to use it. I still recall sitting in the cafeteria as I ate my lunch, talking to friends on my right, with my left arm outstretched and a rotating group of people experiencing the watch. I couldn't take it off and let it get passed around, it would have never come back.

Only a month or so later, I wasn't the only kid with one anymore, and six months later, they were not uncommon to see around. As a continued early-adopter of new technology to this day, I thought recently of how it's still true that the attention that novel things bring is fleeting and superficial. If you transported me back to seventh grade, I'd still want that watch, but I would realize the difference between "Everone will think that I'm cool!" and "Everyone will think that it's cool." But it is easy to forget with lots of shiny things with lights and buttons that will be the last that I ever need to acquire.


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