When Cheap and Simple Is Just Fine

This was an interesting article from Wired about the development and start of the humble Flip camera. I am not a great fan of the Flip camera; I much prefer more sophisticated video cameras. As it says in the Wired article:

The stripped-down camcorder had lots of downsides. It captured relatively low-quality 640 x 480 footage at a time when Sony, Panasonic, and Canon were launching camcorders capable of recording in 1080 hi-def. It had a minuscule viewing screen, no color-adjustment features, and only the most rudimentary controls. It didn’t even have an optical zoom.

You would have thought such a “rubbish” specifcation would mean that this camera wouldn’t sell.

Within a few months, Pure Digital (the makers of Flip) could barely keep up with orders. Customers found that the Flip was the perfect way to get homebrew videos onto the suddenly flourishing YouTube, and the camera became a megahit, selling more than 1 million units in its first year.

Just shows that though I might like decent high quality gear, the market prefers what Wired calls good enough technology.

This same preference is probably what also accounted for the growth of the netbook, another good enough technology.

Now having said I want a decent camera and a decent laptop, when it comes to software… well I don’t need Microsoft Office, for most things good enough Google Docs is just fine for me. I have noticed over the last couple of years that I am using more and more web tools. Why?

Web tools are succeeding because they’re Good Enough.

Yes I can use Photoshop or Fireworks for image editing (and I do) but for some image editing I have been using Picnik for some simple photo editing, as it is good enough. I use it in the main for images taken with my phone, which are good enough!

Wired says that the reason why I and others are happy with good enough is for the following:

The attributes that now matter most all fall under the rubric of accessibility. Thanks to the speed and connectivity of the digital age, we’ve stopped fussing over pixel counts, sample rates, and feature lists. Instead, we’re now focused on three things: ease of use, continuous availability, and low price.

You have to wonder if education will now follow a similar path?

Will our learners no longer worry about many of the best features of educational institutions, but start to look at learning experiences that fit in with their busy social and online lives, is available at a time and place to suit the learner and will be cost effective?

Enhanced learning experience using a range of technologies, online services and third party Web 2.0 tools and services can improve the learner experience, but does it need to be complicated and expensive? Sometimes cheap and simple is just fine.

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