A dedicated follower of fashion

My name is Paul and I am an addict. I lust after anything new and shiny. But is that really wrong?

I cost Headscape a fortune. If its new and shiny I want it, and being an impetuous child I am I normally get it. Whether it is a new online service or the latest Macbook Pro, I spend company money like no tomorrow.

In many ways I feel guilty about this. However, should I really feel guilty? Is there value in my addiction?

Normally I try and justify my new purchases individually, arguing I need them to do my job. Although, these argument have some truth I think there are better justifications for my ‘habit’. In fact as I have been agonising over whether to purchase the new Macbook Pro, 3 things come to mind. The new and shiny…

  • Inspire me
  • Cause innovation
  • Give me confidence

Let me explain what I mean.

Inspiration

There is no doubt that the ‘new’ inspires me. It encourages me to look ahead and think about where design and technology is going. The ‘shiny’ also inspires me. It inspires me to produce something better. Something easier to use and more attractive to interact with. The joy I get from playing with a well designed gadget or a beautifully crafted web application, makes me want to give that experience to my users. Experiencing the exceptional work of others makes me want to be exceptional too.

The opposite is equally true. Experiencing the disappointment of using something that did not meet my expectations can inspire as well. Learning from their mistakes and a desire not to repeat them, are valuable experiences.

The new and shiny also inspire me to innovate.

Innovation

One of my most valuable roles within Headscape is to cause us to innovate. Whether it is introducing new approaches and techniques into the company or sitting with a client inspiring them about the potential of their site. This role is vital in the ever changing world of web design.

But how do you innovate? By being inspired by the new and shiny. I learn so much from good design wherever it is. For example the design principles of Apple has fundamentally altered my attitudes towards the web. From them I have learnt that simplicity is more important than features. Would I have learnt this from reading a book about Apple? Possibly. However, the experience of using Apple products everyday has helped drive that message home.

Equally, if I was a person always happy with what I have then I would never innovate. Innovation at its heart is about wanting more, wanting better. Without those of us who lust after the ‘new’, technology would never improve and design aesthetics would never change. It would be a dull stagnant world.

Confidence

This last point may cause you to laugh, but the ‘new and shiny’ gives me confidence. This happens in two ways.

First, it gives me confidence in my sales role. Gadgets impress. Sad, but true. Walk into a sales meeting with the latest gadget and people respond. I remember walking into a number of presentations back in the day when tablet PCs were the ‘in’ thing. Every time I would get comments and every time it put the presentation on the right foot. Am I saying we won work because of my gadget? Not at all. However, it did break the ice and start a conversation.

However, the more important way that the new and shiny give me confidence is through a knowledge that I am exposing myself to the cutting edge. I do not want either myself or my company to be in the long tale of web design. I want us to be at the forefront of our industry and to do that we need to be experiencing the forefront of design and technology.

So there you go. Am I putting forward a valid argument or deluding myself to justify my habit? You tell me.

  • Will

    Dude, you seriously need to get out more, it’s only laptop!

  • http://manwithnoblog.com Gary Barber

    tsk the justifications of an addict.
    Be strong, wait, the current MBP 3 is not good value and really is all gloss.
    I can sell you a used bridge if you like… :)

  • http://www.emoore.co.uk Ed Moore

    I think the marketing / impressing clients angle is completely valid – but whenever I find myself thinking, “if I only I had X, I’d be so much more inspired / creative / talented”, I get the horrible feeling that someone genuinely all of those things has no need for any such crutch.
    However: the USB connector on the left hand side of my MBP is a bit bent, so it’s a complete nobrainer that I need a new one.
    Utility is the vice that defeats all… (especially when filling in expenses forms)

  • http://www.flexewebs.com Jason Grant

    The purchase (emotional) process works like this:
    1. User sees something
    2. User decides they ‘want’ something (not ‘need’ something)
    3. User starts logically proving to themselves that they ‘need’ that thing
    4. [Optional] User starts blogging about how their over-consumption habbit is somehow good for the humanity. :-D
    Cheers.

  • http://searchlightdigital.com Teifion

    That’s a pretty good argument in my mind, not the argument I would make myself (simply because I think differently to you) but a good one nonetheless.

  • http://benwerd.com/ Ben

    Hmm. So would you be willing to sell your old MBP at a bargain price? ;) I have no such qualms.
    For me, the only part of this that really resonates is the client factor. Clients really are impressed if you bring out a fancy machine rather than a battered plastic workhorse. Almost unbelievably, I know a design company that also maintains a company Porsche and a Mercedes for the same reason.

  • http://www.davidhendersondesign.com David Henderson

    Yea..I think that is a valid argument Paul. Something I may not looked at so deeply, but if there has ever been a way of justifying buying a new mac, i think, you have just done it!

  • http://surfthedream.blogspot.com/ Justin

    It’s all about finding what motivates you.
    It could be something new and shiny, it could be a new work wardrobe( I often find I work differently whether I’m in tshirt and jeans, suit and open collar, or suit and tie), or it could be travel that starts your creative juices flowing.
    I find the best time I write & film is when I’ve been traveling, but the best time I can build sites and deal with clients is after three weeks back at work once I have my new shiny mac book pro, iPhone, and dressed slightly better then jeans and tshirt…… that’s right I put shoes on as well.
    And Will, it’s never just a laptop ;)

  • http://mattwilcox.net Matt Wilcox

    Inspiration can be gleaned in one sitting. Innovation can be seen in one sitting, but you can not be innovative yourself by copying things – by definition. Confidence? I would be distraught with myself if my own confidence came from a purchase of someone else’s achievements. You can’t /buy/ self confidence, and if you try it’ll last only as long as you feel it’s new and shiny. As for other people thinking it’s great if you have gadgets – that lasts only so long. I’ve already heard a number of people blanket associate “iPhone” with “wanker”. Just like when people see BMW they think “idiot driver”. A device is not the perception of the people, the perception changes. As soon as something becomes the must-have-cool-gadget then the tide is already starting to turn. Owners perceptually either become “attention whores” or “trend followers” with no individual expression.
    By all means get the new shiny stuff, it’s attractive and useful. But I couldn’t use any of those “justifications” myself. Far too much about what other people think, or just “inspiration” that doesn’t require buying to get.
    Yes, I do want a new MacBook. For me, because it’s useful. And screw the Mac ethos that surrounds the damn things.

  • http://www.simianenterprises.co.uk Gary

    It’s all the fault of Edward Bernays you know… You don’t need it, you want it. You want it because Apple has a positive association in your mind which (as Jason Grant pointed out) you will then subconciously (or publicly on your blog) attempt to justify to yourself (and to your accounts department).
    Don’t worry, we’re all the same… this is why I’m seriously considering spending 3 grand on a mac instead of half that on a new pc.

  • Chris Morledge

    Paul Wrote
    “The opposite is equally true. Experiencing the disappointment of using something that did not meet my expectations can inspire as well”
    Does that mean Headscape should give you a 5 your old laptop to work on to keep you inspired. :-)
    Nice justification, I think I will forward this onto my business partner to explain why my spending habits are good for the business :-)

  • http://boagworld.com Paul Boag

    I love writing blog posts like this. Nobody knows if I am serious or not. I like the contrasting comments this creates.

  • http://scrivna.com Ross Scrivener

    I totally agree with your viewpoint, I myself have just purcahsed the new MacBook Pro and in my head convinced myself that it will change the way i work.
    No longer will i be chained to a desk, i can go out in the real world where the real creatives are and work my magic there.
    Your point about the clients being impressed, it is sooo true, a real ice breaker and it shows your company is on the edge.
    Good article (helps me justify the savings dwindling away)

  • http://minute44.com Dan

    Fact of the matter is, the new MBPs are pretty sexy but at the same time are obscenely expensive.. but hey, it’s Apple.
    I’m sure they’re pretty nice machines to use and if you’ve got the cash, you’d be pretty happy with your purchase.

  • http://danielfelton.com Dan

    You don’t have to justify yourself. Stop feeling guilty – If you have the money, spend it, life is too short to worry about how your spending your money, after all, when you go “You can’t take it with you”.

  • http://jkg3.com Jamie Knight

    Hiya,
    hehe, i don’t think they are the “Most” valid reasons for an upgrade though they are reasons i suppose, at least you admitting you have a problem / addiction.
    Although its something we may not like, there is something to be said for impressions. I work with a number of local designers, its very interesting to see how their own personality and beliefs about design effect their choice of clothing and “gadgets”. Of the three of us, 2 of us have iPhones. All three of us have Macs (Macbook my self, the other two have macbook pros and one of them has a 24″ Alu iMac too….).
    These gadgets are, i suppose, easier to justify when we are working people who work with their technology and it becomes part of our day to day life.
    My MacBook is getting slightly long in the tooth (brought early 07) however it still has a working life left (a good 3 years if not more). I have on a number of occasions reached the limit of what this machine will do as it is pegged at 2gb of RAM. I will shortly be selling my MacBook on to a client (who wants a mac portable) and replacing it with the “bottom” spec 13″ MacBook. The decision was made before the new MacBooks were released. The time is right and my cost to upgrade (or my cost for another 18 months IT you could say?) is going to be about £250.
    If i was buying a new laptop outright (IE without selling on my current one) then there is no way i could justify the expense. But i think the extra performance (circa 25% quicker to 45% for video encoding than the 07 model) justifies the cost. The new Shiney case and screen etc are just bonus.
    Hope that help, and yeah, i am an addict to!
    ^licks^
    Jamie & Lion
    (Written from my current mac while stroking my iphone and trying to decide wether the lion needs a designer coat or not ;) )

  • Adrian

    How old is your current macbook pro?
    If its still doing the job then you don’t really need a new one.
    Sure everyone likes a new shiny macbook but its wasting your money with little real gain.
    Do the rest of Headscape get all new macbook pros to? ;-)

  • http://www.wiltshirefarmfoods.com Matt Curry

    Copy this article into Word. Replace the word “Apple” with “Louis Vuitton” and “New Macbook Pro” with “Damier Graphite Ieoh Laptop Bsg”, and this is my current predicament.
    Only mine is cheaper.
    Does this mean I can buy it now?
    Yes?

  • http://www.dougstewartdesign.com/ Doug S.

    I feel your pain, Paul. If I had the money I would have bought one the millisecond they came out.
    However I won’t and I’ll tell you why. Right now they’re pretty cool and some nice features. But there’s nothing there that REALLY means you have to buy one, especially if you have a later one as it is.
    Do as I’m doing, wait for Snow Leopard. Why does an OS make so much of a difference to the computer I buy? A lot of reasons but the biggest is the fact that Snow Leopard (Expect the release to be Q1/Q2 of next year) has built-in technology that will allow you not to have to choose between your graphics cards but would allow you to use both in tandem! Suddenly the graphics processing capabilities of your laptop increase dramatically.
    There are other things like ZFS that will be easier to use if you wait to buy it all at once.
    Besides, this is a brand new laptop with a new trackpad and the like, it would be wise to wait for Apple to get the kinks out before you jump in.
    That being said these are all logical reasons not to buy one. But that doesn’t stop me from going, “Ooooo shiny I want, I want!!!”

  • http://montgomerystudios.com Michael Montgomery

    Paul,
    That you feel it necessary to write a full blog post to explain your addiction means you need help.
    Buy it if you want, but use your own money. Otherwise, step away from the shiny. Embrace the patina!

  • http://blog.scrumpy-jack.com/ Simon Hamp

    I just ordered my new 2.4GHz MacBook.
    I need it. I want it. It looks cool. It will last forever. I didn’t have to pay for it. I will use it to the max. I will learn new things. It will probably stop being new and shiny, but I don’t care as I have something that will last longer than a cheap laptop!

  • http://boagworld.com Paul Boag

    Setting aside the seriousness or not of this post, Ill tell you one thing that annoys me; the way people conclude it is over priced by comparing specs. It is the assumption that features/technology is the only way to judge a piece of hardware. That offends me as a designer. I will happily pay more for a mac because it is gorgeous. It is a beautiful piece of design and that is worth paying for. I like the feeling of the way the keyboard responds. I like the curve of the machine, the feel of it in your hands, the backlit keyboard and everything else that screams style and quality. Sure it costs more than a comparable boring box from Dell but screw it, design counts for something.
    I have to use a computer 10 hours a day. I am blown if I am going to use something I think is ugly and I don’t want to work with. I want something that is a pleasure to use in the same way as a musician wants to play a quality instrument. Its about the experience.

  • http://www.keanrichmond.com Kean Richmond

    Paul i’m with you that for certain things the aesthetics have to be right in order for me to buy it. Unfortunately at times my head over rules my heart and I end up having to compromise between form and function. Rarely do both seem to come together.

  • http://www.flexewebs.com Jason Grant

    HHmmm. I am a musician as well as a web designer and music pleasure for me comes from music itself and not from the instrument. Although I play piano, I can sometimes have fun just by tapping a rhythm for hours on an old shoe box. It’s a ‘state of mind’ that makes the difference IMHO.
    When it comes to design OR functionality, for me satisfaction comes from having design AND functionality. AND is the ‘magical operator’ and that simple short word can change your whole life. Always use AND instead of OR is how I think.

  • http://aloestudios.com Andy Ford

    @Paul,
    I couldn’t agree more with your last comment. User experience is difficult to quantify by accounts for so very much

  • http://aloestudios.com Andy Ford

    D’oh! My last comment should read “…’but’ accounts for so very much”

  • James

    @Jason Grant, like you I’m a musician as well as a web designer, and there’s no doubt that playing a scruffy, out-of-tune instrument can be great fun, but nothing beats playing a beautifully crafted work of art. There’s just no comparison.

  • http://www.pjtr.be Pjtr

    I have often argued to people, like you did, that the design of the computer I work with, and even more importantly the look and feel of the operating system, matters. For some people that is total nonsense: what matters for them is that a computer ‘works’ and that it is fast.
    What is strange is that those people will talk endlessly about the design of their car (or dream car) and how they wouldn’t want to be seen dead in this or that car model because it’s just plain ugly.
    Seeing that they spend about an hour a day in their car and a minimum of 8 hours in front of their computer screen, I find that very strange to say the least.

  • http://www.justinviger.com/ Justin Viger

    I know I will be getting one of the new MacBook Pros as soon as I can afford. I bought a MacBook because I preferred the keyboard. I no longer have to worry about that. I will also be getting the Cinema Display. I don’t need FireWire and I will be able to keep the look of my desk even cleaner. For me the “shiny” clean design is worth it.

  • http://www.dreamstation.cc cnc137

    I would really like a Mac or MacBook, but it is hard for me to justify the expense, since I can get a Windows laptop cheaper that can do all the same things as a Mac. Sony has some elegant looking laptops that I think are cheaper than Macs.
    I also have a newer Windows Vista machine I built last year that has an Intel Core 2 Duo 1.6GHz processor overclocked to 3.0GHz, 2GB of RAM, an NVIDIA 8800 GPU with 512MB of RAM, 400GB Hard Drive, etc., so I am fine with it.
    But, I feel like I should learn how to use a Mac as well as I can my Windows XP or Vista machines because I am a web designer/developer. It seems like a lot of designers and agencies use Macs and it would probably be good to have on my resume that I know how to use a Mac. I have played around with them at the Apple Store and they seem pretty easy to use and I could probably figure it out in a day or two, but I currently can’t honestly say I know how to use a Mac, since I don’t own one and really can’t afford to buy one right now.
    Our local Target store had an Apple TV on clearance for $160 last week and I was half tempted to buy it and hack it to run OS X using the info on the Apple TV Hacks website. I talked myself out of it since the Apple TV only has 256MB of RAM and limited. Plus, you need another Mac computer to install the OS on the Apple TV hard drive, which I don’t have.
    My friend is also playing around with getting OS X working on his IBM laptop using the Hackintosh information, but I can’t go that route, since my PC mentioned above is built on an NVIDIA motherboard. I wish I could somehow get access to a cheap Mac to test and mess around with, but for now I will be sticking with Windows XP and Vista.
    But, I will admit that I would like to buy a MacBook for my next laptop if I can afford it so that I can learn the ins and outs of OS X and also use Bootcamp to run Windows Vista on it. I think have a Mac computer and the knowledge of how they work is good for my resume, but I am not sure it would help me be anymore innovative or confident.
    Paul,
    I am most suprised that you are huge fan on Macs even though you use .NET and all Microsoft products for Headscape development. You would think that since your company is a big proponent of Microsoft’s development environment that you would want the latest and great Windows Vista PC instead of the enemy (Apple).

  • http://www.simianenterprises.co.uk Gary

    Paul, you make a very good point…
    I remember the day (around three years ago) that I bought my new computer desk and first flatscreen monitor. These two things really made no difference to the capability of my machine, or indeed myself… yet I know that they improved the way that I felt about my work, and therefore the work that I produced.
    Workspace is important, and so, I guess, are the tools you use…
    This argument is pushing me yet more towards migrating from pc to mac…
    Although I still think you probably have an awesome macbook that’s got a lot of life left in it.

  • Clare

    Ironic really – I remember back to the early podcast days when a certain Mr Boag was vehemently anti-mac !!!
    Cracking debate, speaking as a technology addict,
    Clare

  • http://www.chamberlainsofharrogate.co.uk Ian Chamberlain

    I understand the gollum like “we wants it” all too well Paul. I have been a certified Microsoft type since there have been such things and working with Messrs Gates and co since the 1980s. But guess what; I WANT a new Mac book pro, and other than my Ipod have never owned an Apple.
    Is it some cunning virus shipped over the global inter web or a drug in the paint on the Ipod Touch.
    The truth is I need a power portable, trying to go freelance without portability is a tad limiting, but to a get a high spec machine does mean spending near the price of a Mac Book so should I spend that little extra for all that class and cool.
    Any guidance from others who have moved from windows to Mac, choices for web tools etc gratefully accepted.
    For examples is there a list of things I will lose if I move from windows; tis hard to find facts.

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