One of the best purchases I have ever made was on Woot.com was a pair of webcams for about $20 on a lucky Two-for Tuesday. I love Woot for its assorted gadgetry at cut-rate prices... some of is really turns out to be lousy, but other things are worth their weight in gold, as was the case of these cheap webcams with bendy-necks. As we had more or less just discovered Skype at the time, I thought, Hey, THIS is an opportunity! Arno kind of went "Meh," at it. Oh, that Beedoo! and her crazy schemes, what a rascal.
Turns out, when you have an overseas long-distance relationship, they come in really handy! We can see each other, as opposed to simply messaging each other on ICQ or phoning (which has been out of the question, obviously), and that also makes it easier to chat... I've never been big on phones in any case. And also, when I was in the Netherlands, I could--when my Mom's computer would allow, because it was heavy on the crashing issues at the time--talk face-to-face with my parents and great aunt. Now that Mom has a new computer, courtesy of Arno (a necessity, he called it, because they would need to see their daughter... being unable to fix the problem with it, he bought them a whole new computer, which was very sweet of him) hopefully these chats can now go on without a hitch.
We're trying to get Kayenta used to video-chat, but she seems to think it's a trick like TV and other noise, and tends to want to hide when I'm talking at her during our calls. "Fool me once," she says.
Maybe it is part of being a programmer, or at least the kind of semi-autistic programmer that takes care of the knobly bits and itty bitty bytes. We don't see the real-life value in something. If you know where to look, the internet is full of people with a similar affliction. People who, for instance, think that, if only the general public would see that Linux is so obviously internally superior to Windows, they would throw out all their old software, download the latest .iso of a popular distribution and start mounting their drives the Linux way! What they do not see is that ordinary people have no interest in learning what all the gobbledegook I just wrote means.
Technological innovation is driven by ordinary people, not geeks and nerds like me. People who are not content staring at a black screen with white letters and learning obscure magic box spells like "del *.*". People who just want to turn on their machine, type in a letter, and then press a button to make it go to the intended receipient. People who take no joy out of computers, but only out of the services they can provide, and who dare ask the vaunted question: "But what actual use is that to me?"
The geek will say: "This e-mail program is superior. If I want, I can use this program to send e-mail to everyone in my address book who's name starts with a letter that is a prime number when translated to its ordinal in the alphabet, AND everyone who's name contains a roman numeral. It is perfect!"
The geek will be offended, speak of lusers and sheeple sucking the tit of Micro$oft. But the ordinary person drives the actual innovation.
So, with all that in mind, when Beedoo! announced that she bought a pair of webcams and had one sent to me, I was... Skeptical. I didn't see the point of the thing beyond that of a little gimick. Why bother with the seeing of each other when we had perfectly fine black text on a white background to communicate with each other with! But I was wrong, of course. Using a webcam affects one in a strange way. It decreases the sense of distance between each other enormously, and after a single session it had me sold.
I am used by now to being wrong about these things. Maybe one day I can bring myself to enter the 21st century and use other gadgets that I 'know' are useless. I already made a first step: this year, I started carrying a cell phone!
For now, it's a relief to me that Beedoo! and her parents can stay in touch using the webcam no matter how far apart they are. This is important to me. And who knows, maybe one day we can innovate that frustrating 'computer' part out of the whole system, hm?