If you @mention the J-List Twitter account and I reply, there’s a nonzero chance that I’ll be doing so while sitting in a Japanese hot springs bath using the Twitter app on my Apple Watch. This is because I’m a guy who really loves gadgets, and whenever some new technology or application of technology comes along I feel compelled to aggressively test its boundaries. I also listen to audiobooks in the shower or while walking laps in the pool on a waterproof iPod nano and follow Reddit threads on the surprisingly serviceable Apple Watch Reddit app. It’s not that I think that doing social media or replying to customer tickets while sitting in the Japanese massage chairs at my gym (which I also do) is the future, but rather, I want to explore and test out new applications of technology in case I discover something really cool. Sometimes I take it too far: when the first Bluetooth headsets came out, I tried using one here in Japan, but got too many stares from people around me, wondering why this crazy gaijin was talking to himself. When I bought the first iPad nine years ago, my daughter compared me to Oda Nobunaga, the Japanese warlord who was fascinated with new technology and ideas from the West.
In the most recent episode of Kaguya-sama: Love is War, we learn that Kaguya is the opposite of me, a very “analog” person who’s unable to use the Internet like you or I. When she needed information on Twitter, she opened the Kojien, a 3000-page dictionary that serves as Japan’s equivalent to the Oxford Dictionary of English, which is the last place you’d expect to find information on up-to-date technology. I found the episode adorable since Mrs. J-List is exactly the same, unable to use any computing device without constant help and still refusing to carry a smartphone, preferring her trusty clamshell, just like Kaguya. When we adopted Slack as our communication platform of choice for J-List and JAST USA, it was a major effort to get her to agree to learn a new software tool, though we eventually succeeded.
When we started J-List back in 1996, technology was very different, with every computer being an ugly giant beige box that cost around $3500, almost $6000 in today’s money. Laptops were huge, lumbering things far less capable than what we have today. Happily, things have really improved in the 23 years, and technology has gotten faster, cheaper and generally more awesome all around.
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