back to article Behind the curve: How not to be a technology laggard

I came across a wonderful term the other day: the “technical laggard”. I hadn't actually realised that this was an accepted term that's in (reasonably) wide usage – turns out it's the name given to people at the opposite end of the technology take-up spectrum from the early adopters. Although I've worked for, and with, largely …

  1. Efros

    How about neither

    Not a first adopter (unless I'm particularly flush that month, first SSD was purchased 7 years ago) but quite happy with one step down tech. The constant angst I see some of my friends and colleagues going through over tech purchases is not for me, if I have the cash I get it otherwise I wait, usually I have to wait.

    1. Anonymous Custard

      Re: How about neither

      Or just being able to tell the "technological blind alleys/duplicated standards" from the "new fad which will die soon and be replaced by the next incompatible one", the "this is good, we just need to do a bit more on it to make it perfect" and of course the "this is great, will you beta-test it for us at your own expense and risk" from the genuine new innovation that will change the world (again).

      But then we still don't have USB-powered crystal balls either...

  2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    There's also what Fred Brooks called the Second System Effect. The second system you build is the one that falls to pieces trying to improve the first system too much, but from which you learn what not to do when building the next - working - system.

    Crap - missed being first post by 2 seconds!

  3. Turtle

    Video Cards.

    "The stress was palpable – they couldn't afford to keep buying new Mac after new Mac, so there was constant mental torture over whether to go with the new release or wait for the next one which promised to be significantly better."

    I am exactly this way with video cards. On the other hand, I don't mind being 5 years behind in my gaming.

  4. chivo243 Silver badge

    It's me!

    I am really rooted in what works, and how will the implementation of all this new tech impact my users, and my workload to support them(among my already full workload)? It's all great to roll out new shit on a red carpet and say it's caviar. It's the support of newly introduced tech that is the punch in the balls...

    Roll it out all you like, but I'll wait until the teething pains are long gone.

  5. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    On the other hand

    I do a variation of "If it ain't broke don't fix it".

    I'll leave things as they are for as long as possible (apart from security upgrades) then when the cuffs are getting frayed I'll set up 'nearly new' in parallel as a test environment and if it's tickety-boo do the actual migration.

    I'll never go for the very latest.

  6. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Vista and SQL Server 2005? Whoop-dee-doo

    Vista and SQL Server 2005? Whoop-dee-doo. Honestly, I wouldn't use either one. But (as bad as Vista is) once it's already on there and already paid for, if it runs the applications why would someone want to (at that point) waste money on something newer? This can be replaced at hardware refresh time. And for the huge cost of SQL Server, and the well-known issues with newer versions dropping support for some old stuff, why wouldn't someone just keep using 2005 if it works? They might want to look into if it's possible to upgrade their software in case they have to get a new server & can't get 2005 for it. But why upgrade just to upgrade?

    I thought you were going to rag on people STILL using DOS-based software, old Win-3.1-era software, and so on. Yes, I've seen it -- ridiculously, at the insurance office I saw, each insurance co. (that they sold policies for) seemed to use it's own software, which was often some 20-30 year old thing they wrote once then apparently never updated. This of course means they are running all these 16-bit apps, so no 64-bit Windows. And now that Microsoft has gone to the ridiculous "Who needs version numbers, we'll just keep calling it Windows 10" plan (I hope to hell they change their mind on this!!), they may end up with a situation in the future where "Windows 10" runs 16-bit apps still but "Windows 10" doesn't.

    Or the bowling alley that needed some spare computers that a) would fit into a limited space, so not a full tower b) had to have PCI *AND* ISA slots to run some unholy combination of cards to run their bollowing alley scoreboards and stuff. Yep. It was very hard to find any spares for them.

  7. Doctor Syntax Silver badge


    You know the noise the TV used to make just before the mobile rang? A couple of weeks ago we were in the pub & that noise kept coming over the speakers. The landlord said it was because he was using his phone to play the music. He normally used his iPad but it turned out he'd been one of the early adopters of the borked update. I reminded him of the saying: the early bird catches the worm but the second mouse gets the cheese.

  8. Gene Cash Silver badge

    You can tell the pioneers by the arrows in their back

    I worked for a kitty-litter company that was rolling in the dough for various reasons. We had 3 networked S-100 machines with dual-processor 8-16 bit CPUs (Z-80 & 8088) running a dual-processor aware CP/M (MP/M 8-16) that was able to schedule both 8-bit and 16-bit CP/M programs. Plus we had a nifty $6,000 40MB hard disk (Pragmatics/Fujitsu PD-40M) that came in a cool see-thru visible plastic enclosure. You could see the 12" platters spin, and the stack of heads move. People used various flavors of VT-100 compatible Televideo and other terminals over serial.

    Edit: this was 1984 or so, so we were bleeding edge. The IBM PC was introduced while I worked there.

    I do miss that company, my boss, and my co-workers.

    My roommate brought Linux home from NASA on 40 floppies and we set up a UUCP node with netnews.

    Anyway, after being burned by new technology, or the latest version of crappy old technology, I'm a laggard now. I insist on useful features and a reason to upgrade before buying-in

    For example, I didn't buy my electric motorcycle until they had real motorcycle suspension (not off-road bicycle stuff) and ABS. ABS is a must-have since it's my main transportation, rain or shine. I have been bitten by various software bugs but the company has stood behind its product.

    I held off on SSDs until the "they die at the drop of a hat" furor quieted down.

    I'm a generation behind on Intel processors so I could get a cheap machine. I'm only water cooling it for noise, not performance.

    I did however buy the very first Android phone as my first smartphone.

  9. Anonymous Custard


    The best mistakes to learn from are those made by other people...

  10. jake Silver badge

    Purchase the correct tool ONCE. That's the trick.

    My PDP11-based Heath 11A is still fully functional, and a useful teaching tool.

    I have a couple Sun 3-series and 4-series computers still doing useful work.

    The computer I am typing this out on is an HP zv5000 laptop, 11-ish YO.

    If it does the job as intended, it's the correct tool for the job.

    People purchasing "the latest" without understanding why need their heads examining.

  11. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    The Bandwagon Effect

    What worries me about the bandwagon that rolls as soon as something becomes "accepted" is the possibility that the bandwagon is flawed in some way. When that happens adjustments are made to the new de facto system to prevent the wheels falling off the bandwagon. The resulting complexity becomes more and more difficult to maintain but nobody is prepared to admit that maybe a back-track might have been the sensible step to have taken. Not just to back-track for the sake of it, but to go back and think about designing things in which - in hindsight - should have been built-in from the get go. Security is a good example of this in various manifestations. Look at the whole thing about email. It started off nice and simple and now everyone bolts on things willy-nilly to try to push it forward into the 21st century without reference to any kind of standard.

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