In a wonderful essay, “In Praise of Crap Technology,” Thomas Hayden extols the virtues of his $19.99 Coby mp3 player, bottom-of-the line Samsung cellphone, 1995 mountain bike, and other devices that aren’t fancy but work. He says of the Coby:
it’s worth next to nothing so I’m virtually assured never to lose it—unlike apparently every iPhone prototype ever—and I don’t cringe at all when my toddler flings it across the room. And because the next Coby is sure to be just as mediocre, I’ll never need to upgrade—I’ve stepped off the escalators of feature creep and planned obsolescence, and all the expense and toxic e-waste that come with them. Crap technology, it turns out, is green technology.
Much food for thought there. However, the thing that caught my attention, of course, was the use of the NOOB crap as an adjective. In an interview last night on public radio’s “Marketplace,” Hayden expanded on the distinction between crap and crappy:
Crap technology is basically stuff that doesn’t have cachet, you know? It’s not slick, it’s not cool, but it works. Crappy technology, on the other hand, is stuff that simply doesn’t work. That’s the sweet spot of crap technology: no cachet but all the functionality you’ll need.