Notes from the San Jose Airport

Recently, I started to take a visual survey of what types of laptop, notebook, and netbook personal computing devices people are actually using. Today for example, after checking in with airport security the long walk down the terminal causeway provided the perfect opportunity for a visual inspection of computer usage. The results were very interesting. People were using a series of Acer, Asus, and Dell computers. Only one computer could not be identified. Somebody working near the coffee bar was using a very small nebook that did not have a manufacturer label. The system was obviously running Windows Vista, but however built the system did not provide any identifiable markings.

During the last few days at the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) 2010 conference in San Jose, California people were using Acer (Ferrari), Dell, and Macintosh. Academics run the gambit of computer usage. Some academics are true computer power users that demand absolute performance. However, some academics take an almost Luddite approach to accepting technology. Technology buyers tend to be a rather bimodal group of spenders. The first category of technology buyer avoids overspending at all costs; even performance considering are secondary to a perfect fit between price and basic functionality. The second category of technology buyers tends to spend based on the intersection of the bleeding edge of technological innovation and mass production.

Technology seems to be a topic that requires constant reevaluation. Without question understanding how people value computers requires empirical evidence based on observing what technology people transport with them across the country. If people value technology enough travel with it, then the way people use that technology needs to be functionally understood.

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