Similar promises

19 09 2008

Okay, here’s a link to the Judith Thomson piece I mentioned earlier:,Fall02/thomson.htm

I haven’t re-read the piece, but there it is. You could probably find it in other formats—the piece was originally published in 1971—simply by searching ‘Judith Jarvis Thomson’ or ‘A Defense of Abortion’. Anyway. Have at it.

The computer is now 4 days old, and I’m mostly happy with it. I did have to ditch my old WordPerfect software: too old. So I’ve downloaded a 30-day trial version of WPX4 (just released!) while waiting for the software to arrive.

I do feel like a bit of a hypocrite. I regularly opine that ‘brand loyalty is for suckers’, but here I am chasing after this software (and, for that matter, after a particular pair of Doc Martens, which I CANNOT find in my size) when Microsoft Word is snugly installed in my operating system. Why bother?

Well, I guess I’ll have to nuance my way past my snark. See, I really do think brand loyalty makes no sense: corporations don’t care about you, they care about money. If they can make money by creating things you want, fine. If they can make more money creating other things, that’s what they’ll do. This isn’t personal, ; this is capitalism. So the appropriate response to the self-interested behavior of corporations is one’s own self-interest: I will buy your product if it suits me, or another corporation’s product if it suits me better.

Thus, I ended up with my third Dell not because I’m wild about ‘Dell, The Brand!’, but because after a months-long search of reading reviews, checking out different computers’ websites, trekking to stores to test keyboards, and much to-ing and fro-ing about my finances and do-I-REALLY-need-this, I decided Dell suited me best. That had nothing to do with loyalty, and everything to do with my wants.

But WordPerfect, hmmm, I do have a soft spot for it. I started with it in grad school, when the computers in the pol sci computer lab still had the blue screens with the off-white text. I pirated a copy from that lab, then later bought my own upgrade. I like how it works, and what I can do with it. C. pointed out that a couple of the features I mentioned I like I could also get with Word, but it always seemed like more of a hassle.

Yeah, it’s an habitual preference (which, admittedly, may have a not-minor role in loyalty) as opposed to obvious WP superiority, but it’s not only that. I wrote my dissertation and two novels using WP, and NOT ONCE did it crash or lose my work. NEVER. And I was paranoid about losing work: chapters of my dissertation are scattered repeatedly across numerous floppy disks, and I bought an external hard drive years ago as a sop to my fear. But my trusty word processor hung on to my every word, and never booted me out of my thoughts with a pop-up stating ‘WP has encountered a difficulty and must close. We are sorry for the inconvenience.’

Unlike, say, Word. And WP never froze, unlike, say, Word.

So, based on track record, I’m a-goin’ with WP. And if it becomes as unreliable as its ubiquitous counterpart, I’ll look for another word processor.

Is that a kind of loyalty, or just extreme customer diligence? Pfft, maybe a bit of both. Maybe I am a sucker.