Lately I’m all about taking chances on tech that may or may not improve how I work and what I get done. It can be expensive, but it’s fun and (most of the time) it’s deductible, too. I do it because one of my few hobbies includes being an early adopter of new tech, but recently I’ve been thinking that there’s probably more to it than that.
The fact is that companies aren’t willing to field test new mobile tech unless they receive a huge incentive to do so. Breaking ground with new tech often falls then to freelancers and contractors who have a greater degree of freedom regarding choice of tools they use. Not only is it just plain cool that field testing new toys often falls to us and then trickles up, it’s also a responsibility I think web workers and the places that support them should openly and actively embrace.
Sometimes this means taking a risk with your money and investing in something relatively untested, but that’s not necessarily what I mean to encourage. Some may not be so quick to drop hard-earned cash on things that might end up collecting dust on a closet shelf. You don’t always have to spend your own money to test things, though. There are ways to have your cake and eat it, too.
Firstly, if you think you can make a strong enough case, you can roll equipment and software purchase or rental costs into your contract price. This can work more often than you’d think, partly because companies like to spend money on software and equipment since it makes them feel like they’ll have a greater chance of getting a quality product back. I still can’t really get over how many times I’ve been asked to suggest a paid alternative to the free tools that I’ve written into contracts.
Secondly, you could ask for things you want to try out to be adopted at the places you frequent for work. That could mean the local coffee shop, or it could be your neighborhood coworking office, if you’re lucky enough to have one. For example, I’d like to get Qi-standard wireless induction charging pads to be made available at my own coworking haunt. It wouldn’t be hard, since there are even inexpensive Nintendo Wii charging accessories using that standard. You may face resistance and skepticism, but if a few others support your argument, you shouldn’t have too much trouble working something out.
Helping to discover and spread the word about new mobile tech advances is rewarding in its own right, but it also benefits you as a web working professional. You’ll be occupying the cutting edge, and it’ll show in the products you deliver and in how knowledgeable you come across to employers and peers. That’s worth the price of a few duds, even if you are buying your own gear instead of folding it into contracts.
Does anyone else feel that part of their role as a web worker is to test out new things, or is it just my way of justifying an extreme gadget-buying process addiction?