Software Sycophants Header

Software’s Sorry Sycophants

*I’m so fascinated by all of the new colloquialisms, and l especially the “early adopter.”  As far as new, at least in America, we love new stuff, and old stuff is left to collectors. By the way, the prices of antiques are going down sharply. It seems the new young people have little interest in old stuff, the prized antiques of yesteryear. That antique table and chair might be better on the auction block real soon, as I do not see young people praising old stuff.

You might be able to get money from things like old baseball cards and comic books, but as America’s national pastime loses followers, (baseball is losing audience and the major league is deliberating how to change the game to attract more followers)  and fewer and fewer young people read printed material of any kind, I would bet that even your prized baseball cards and comic books are going to lose value soon. By the way, the digitalized baseball cards are here, no longer bothering with those cards or that shoe leather tough gum. Baseball fans young and old can now trade digital cards. Somehow, that just doesn’t seem the same.

Digital Baseball Cards
Virtual Baseball Cards
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Those that appreciate history have always been few in number, and the few is getting smaller and smaller. Young people have no interest in the old, and the old stuff is getting tossed in the trash as no one outside of a museum wants to see it. The treasured antiques of the elderly folks going into nursing homes are going unsold, given away, or scrapped.

When I was young, both of my grandmothers had things that her grandmother had used. Today, I think few people have things that belonged to their grandparents or use them. I use garden tools that my grandparents used. I guess the tools of my grandparents have been replaced by power tools, or lighter, more “ergonomic” tools.

As backward as I seem, I was an early adopter of the internet. I was logging on to Netscape when Microsoft was still just thinking about the internet, when the search engines were Lycos, AltaVista, and Infoseek. I was using word processing when WordPerfect was fighting with WordStar for supremacy.  I know this makes me seem old, but the point is that the now quite proud, self-congratulatory “early adopters” are what is getting old.

So while you early adopters break your arms patting each other on the back, take some advice from a prehistoric early adopter: it’s not what it seems, and it’s not all that. Unless, of course, it is all that in someone’s eyes, i.e. an early adopter “social media expert” is highly coveted talent, whereas someone who can explain the evolution of such of these technologies and their application in context is not even a dinosaur, they’re a fossil.

You can remember when you had to roll the mouse up the pad several times to get to the top of the page, so what. You can remember when one graphic would take up all the memory of the desktop, or all of the space on a 3.5 inch floppy disk drive, so what. You saved all of those graphics and incredibly valuable files that you slaved over, only to have computers that would not know how to take a 3.5 inch floppy disk, and even if they did, the software is far too old to open up the file.

You were an early adopter, and what did it get you?


I have had the same email, and I am not kidding, for well over twenty years. I don’t have numbers, or initials, or anything like that, I just have the name, no numbers or initials, because I had the internet when you bought an interface, hard-wired it into your computer, and called California to adjust the baud rate so that you could get Netscape to come up. Once in a cover letter long ago, I stated that if the firm I was sending the letter to didn’t have an email, I wasn’t interested in working for them; now that’s an early adopter.


As in so many things today, being part of something, or holding a credential is only important when some people say it is, and when it isn’t, then, it means nothing.

“Early adopter” is becoming another “catch phrase” meaning, I think, a young person.

In terms of bragging rights, “early adopter” is a convenient description but a hard to prove credential, not like a college degree, where you either have it or not. In terms of most of the “early adopters” if embracing the technology is important, then I blow anyone born after 1990 into the weeds.

But, of course, the early adoption I did means nothing now. It’s really rewarding to know that your work means nothing; kind of a warm feeling inside. Of course, we cannot choose what is important to people. When you’re young, experience counts. When you’re old, youth (often described as “fresh perspective” or “just out of college”) counts.

I’m thinking that “early adopter” might not be a good idea. Consider what is at stake. You can invest thousands of dollars in hardware and software, along with thousands of hours mastering skills that become obsolete before very long. The skills you developed are “transferrable” when you are young, but not if you’re old, no matter how much insight your experience gives you.

Insight is not needed or even faintly desired, and stop talking about all the software that has been left on the sidelines; no one wants to hear about wasted efforts and misspent young adulthood thinking someone would value those skills or that knowledge. Like so many bragging rights, age and wisdom put them in perspective, and no one wants that either.

It’s like an antique thought, colorful but no longer useful.


Jeffrey Neil Jackson

Jeffrey Neil Jackson is an
Educator & Literary Mercenary



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