Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Time to hang up that skull and crossbones flag...?

Here’s a funny thing. A few years ago, in a piece for Ovum about the long-term future of telecoms and all that, I segmented the consumer market into three categories: Digital Citizens, the mainstream consumers of media content and applications; Digital Metics, those largely excluded from the digital world by reason of poverty, transience, lack of skills, or even choice; and Digital Outlaws, who rejected the mainstream world for a DIY ethic and an interest in encryption, open source, free content, and so on.

I thought of myself as belonging in the latter category, even though I’m not that much of a hacker. I used Linux (Ubuntu) on my personal laptop. I used a G-Box for my smart TV. I got my content through BitTorrent kind of on principle. I even used an alternative version of Android on my Samsung smartphone.

In the space of about a week I’ve ended up turning my back on almost all that. My new laptop, an Asus X550C, won’t play nicely with Ubuntu (it won’t recognise the wireless connection, or even install properly). We despaired of the G-Box, which needed to be rebooted almost every time we used it, and made it fiendishly difficult to add a new channel ever, and we bought a Chromecast instead, which has turned out to be rather brilliant and really simple to use. Ruth got herself a Netflix subscription. And I got a new Samsung phone, and I can’t face going through the tortuous process of installing Cyanogenmod on it when it’s working quite well at the moment and I can’t think what the actual benefits would be.

Right now I don’t think this is a permanent change of mindset, but perhaps the mindset will follow where the behaviour has led. I’ll keep an eye on it.

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