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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Neophobiac Or Neophiliac ... And What Are You?

"If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses." -- Henry Ford (despite the questionableness of this quote)
As some of you might have heard already, the upcoming incarnation of Microsoft Windows will offer a completely new user experience called Metro. It is expected to look roughly like this:

Apparently, they are trying to create the same experience on all devices in the future - be it a desktop PC, a tablet, or a smartphone. As for all things newly invented or changed, the press, current and potential users, bloggers, ... are pretty divided into two groups
  • The ones defending what is today, opposing change, willing to stick to what they've come to know over the past decade.
  • And then there are the others, who are outright nuts for the new style, ignoring it's potential glitches and shortcomings
In psychology, two technical terms are used to describe the two extremes of the spectrum:
  • Neophobia is "the fear of new things or experiences", on the contrary to 
  • Neophilia, which describes a person with strong affinity to novelty.
However, a person is not always purely the one or the other, but might be rather neophile regarding certain questions (for example, enjoying the new immediately iPhone once it's released), and rather neophobe regarding other (for example, denying that humans are descendants of apes). Also, one's attitude towards novelty is most likely to change over time. Who might have been wildly seeking for change and revolution in early years might take exactly the opposite stand once he's older (and in some rare cases, vice versa).

I'm quite convinced that each society and organization needs both types. People who drive innovation and change on the one hand, but at the same time, others who do not follow them blindly, but see to some reality check every now and then and throttle the craziest ideas.

All in all, this makes me wonder, which stand you should take? Should you promote change and new ideas? After all, you will not be able to stop change anyways ... like it or not, your children will not even know what this VHS was back then, so better get rid of it now and start adopting new things accordingly!
Or should you rather wait and see what happens, for many new ideas and technologies are doomed to disappear after a couple of years anyways, so why adopt at all? Something in between? If so, when and under which circumstances?

As you see, dear reader, I cannot come to any conclusion on this (maybe there is none). So for me, the question remains, neophobiac or neophiliac ... and what are you?

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