Why this round of tech optimism feels different

by Ana Lopez

One of my most joyful technology memories concerns Project Origami. The efforts of Microsoft, Intel and others launched ultra-mobile PCs or UMPCs. The devices, akin to squeezing a full Windows machine into something the size of a mid-range iPad, often complete with a physical keyboard, utterly fascinated me around 2006.

At that time I had about zero money, so buying one of the devices was totally out of the question. But when I visited an electronics store with my dad after the first round of UMPCs came out – we were probably looking for a piece of equipment for his company – I walked down an aisle of computer hardware and to my surprise found a promotional end cap of UMPC devices. I can usage the devices I had spent so much time on. It was kind of like meeting a celebrity for my teenage self. I was enchanted.

I’ve had other moments of pure tech bliss in my life: in high school when my friends and I realized that thanks to Gmail’s generous storage limits and my school’s reasonable internet, we could ditch USB sticks altogether and only transfer files to one could email another from about the same table. It felt like magic, using bits instead of everything we had to carry in our pockets.

Technology has a simply wonderful way of taking your breath away at times, showing you that there is a new shortcut or new way of thinking that is now in front of you that was previously completely closed off. Here’s what the iPhone launch felt like, to highlight a well-known example of the phenomenon.

Not much since has given me the same shock. Maybe when I fell in love with Twitter and realized in the blink of an eye that I just tweet as much as I wanted, and no one could stop me; the first moment I had my own blog on the internet and I was freed from any kind of publishing restriction.

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