A Dongle Doo-Dad

Description: An article I wrote for my mass media and society class. The assignment intended for us to write about podcasts we listened to each week about trends in media.

Date: July 2018

This week on the Vergecast Nilay, Dieter, and Paul talked about a lot on the tech side of media, but I would like to focus on two specific aspects of the podcast. They ranted about Microsoft’s $80 USB-C dongle and Apple’s butterfly keyboard.

These guys are just impossible to satisfy it seems because they had almost nothing good to say about either product. They hate how big, inconvenient, and expensive the USB-C dongle is and how easy it is to break the butterfly keyboard and what Apple is doing about it.

The thing I found most interesting was their conversation about USB-C. They talked about how even though it’s faster and better society just isn’t picking it up.

That was fascinating to me. I have the 2017 MacBook Pro and it has a thunderbolt which uses USB-C. I was told in the Apple store that thunderbolts aren’t the hottest thing in the world right now, but that in a few years no one will be using USB anymore so it wouldn’t be a bad thing to hop on the bandwagon now.

It’s a bad thing.

Thunderbolts haven’t taken the world by storm and now I’m stuck buying expensive adapters I have to carry everywhere that don’t work right. Thus the creation of Microsoft’s dongle, which is one of the more expensive and less convenient dongles.

But I don’t want to talk about the dongle specifically. I want to talk about the way society reacts to new things in media tech. I feel like media tech is like movies, it’s hard to predict what people are going to go crazy for.

Not very many people have picked up USB-C, and many people are unhappy with the butterfly keyboard. However, both of these things are better than their predecessors. The only thing holding them back from taking over is us. We hold onto old tech because we trust it and we don’t want to risk something else.

But that something else is better and if we don’t ride with it where will the technological developments go? Will they eventually be stopped not for lack of imagination or resources, but by lack of consumers?

How many brilliant ideas are dying in a desert of reception?

The dongle and the butterfly keyboard have their problems, but they work better and faster than their predecessors. It’s our job to embrace them and move forward with the wave of tech.