RIP Galileo The Laptop, or How a PC Taught Me Humility
Nearly a couple of weeks ago, Galileo*, my beloved workhorse of a PC, beeped its last ones and zeroes, and with one final choking breath, crashed and burned with barely a goodbye.
(*Yeah, I name all my laptops after astronomers. Yougottaproblemwiththat?)
Attempts to resuscitate him failed, though a nice organ extraction ensured that all my data was backed up. If you must know, I am currently using the Macbook that the IxD department here at SVA (where I am a grad student) very nicely loaned me for the weekend (though it was because of a talk I had to give; that’s another story for later).
While most of the environments I am in favor Macs almost with a cult-like passion, I stuck to my PC, at least when working from home. It has been with me through years of hardcore writing, designing, applying for grants, etc. It has been with me all over the world, through a wide range of temperatures, working for a wide variety of people. The choice of machine was far from a matter of ego; it was mainly the price tag of a Macbook that kept me from getting one. The cost of it was equal to the price of a transcontinental plane ticket. I reasoned that because I still like to consume a lot of information and experiences in the real world, it was ok to be half-PC (at home) and half-Mac (in the studio). It felt a bit like being multi-lingual or culturally mixed, though as one who IS both of those, I can say that my technological preferences left me sometimes feeling ostracized or different.
Galileo had its quirks, but like a mother (or a survivor), I worked my way around them. It had a strange bug that made it shut down after two hours without saving, which made me stop paying attention to online distractions. Galileo didn’t have a slick beautiful design of the Macs I used in school. I would politely smile every time people would exclaim, “You have a PC? How do you survive?” After all, I am currently in a field where most people work primarily with gadgets, whose lives are organized through apps, whose scratchpad is TextEdit and whose thought bubbles are likely in Keynote.
I have nothing against Macs; I love them and absolutely agree that they are easier to work with. But there are advantages to still knowing how to use a PC, or hey even better, a PC with quirks. At the very least, I had trained myself to still be able to produce good work with the scrappiest tech. Because Windows is still the leading operating system in the world, used by developing countries, government offices, and some segments of academia, it made sense to be able to do my job regardless of what tools I had at my disposal, if I should ever find my way into these areas. Personally, it made me reach out to the real world for meaningful experiences, probably a lot more than if I had a computer I worshipped. (Just now I wasted 15 minutes procrastinating because I knew this Mac wouldn’t shut down on me. Bah.) A PC has taught me not to be perpetually dependent on gadgets. I am happy to still be able to write stories and poems longhand. Or do math without a calculator. Or keep my appointments in my head. You know. In case of emergency. And when the computer crashes, my world won’t.
RIP, Galileo. Whatever machine I’ll end up with next, I’ll still keep him around, as a reminder that I am not my gadget.