As I've said before, the worst thing about digital is that you have to keep learning it over and over. That isn't a complaint: it just belongs in the category of "it is what it is." An expression my mother hates. Some things, however, just are. And this is one.
But it is different. Suits some people. Others, not so much.
The older I get, the more I see even technical matters as being personality-based. When I learned photographic technique, I only had to do so once. There was always more to learn, but further learning constituted refinement—deeper layers, more thorough knowledge, more subtle understanding and judgment. And further learning generally wasn't imperative. That is, once you knew enough to do your work, learning more was optional. (Usually. I could name a few exceptions, like when I got several bad batches of Kodak paper and couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong. Turned out, I wasn't doing anything wrong, but it took a while to confirm that.)
When I started writing for darkroom magazines, I encountered another type of personality. There were readers who just loved learning new techniques for their own sake. They didn't want to do anything with them, necessarily. If we did an article on making film developer with vitamin C, they didn't really care if the results were better or worse than with D-76. They just thought it was completely cool that they could mix up some vitamin C developer and get usable negatives with it. Even if they never did it again, doing it that one time was fun.
I'm not saying either type of personality is better than the other. People are different.
Nowadays, I think there are people that just love keeping up with the latest developments in computers, software, cameras, and the interactions between them. They like needing to master new things. It's a constant challenge, a continuous entertainment.
Other people are dismayed by the same necessity. I have a friend (I think I've used him as an example before) who, until the demise of Kodachrome, had been shooting Kodachrome in an ancient, long-long-long-discontinued camera for many decades. This friend doesn't like to keep up with the latest developments for their own sake: he prefers to find a method he likes, learn it once, learn it well, and then stick with it. (Remember Allen Swift?)
I admire this, but it doesn't work with everything. I can't quite remember where my friend is with his computer now, but until at least fairly recently he was still using Apple OS 9 in an ancient computer, and pretty unhappy about how difficult it had gotten to do things. Sticking with one way of working for years and years worked fine with old photography, for as long as the materials continued to be available. Sticking with one way of working for years and years doesn't work very well with computers. Or with digital imaging. The work you put in mastering some specific set of equipment and materials is transient; it's fleeting. It has a half-life, a sell-by date. Your mastery spoils, you might say. The clock is always ticking on it.
Of course, we do what we gotta do. It is what it is. (Sorry mom.)
But whether you like it or not probably depends on your personality. I worked with a guy once who had kept a Honda Prelude going strong for 450,000 miles, and was looking forward to seeing how much longer he could make it last. Just recently I heard of another guy who had bought and sold so many cars within one calendar year that he was obliged to wait until the end of the year to do it again, because in order to legally sell one more car he would need a dealer's license.
Takes all kinds.
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Original contents copyright 2012 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by Bryan Willman: "The problem with the pace of change in technology is that it can render things obsolete before you can see enough results to justify your efforts. When technologies are pretty stable for decades, it's easy for a casual user to eventually get value for their investment. When they are obsolete in months, only pretty intense users can really gain good return in time. (Return in general; monetary return is even harder.)"
Featured Comment by tex andrews: "Well, of course there's a lot of truth to what you're saying. But it also must be remembered that we're (still, I think) in the opening stages of the 'digital revolution.' It shouldn't surprise anyone that change has come so fast and furious given the nature of this revolution. I do believe, however, that we have begun to enter a plateau. Everything about this new game seems far more settled to me today than it did even five years ago. My O/S is far more stable and capable, my software is also more stable and capable (for the most part—in one case I'm still using the old LightZone. Still stable but not more capable). My printing has settled down, and my last camera purchase, the NEX 7, and maybe even the one before that, the A850, are maybe my first digital cameras that won't go obsolete on me (they will just whither and die). So, I balance things—maybe a plateau, learning new things. Seems stimulating to me in 2012 without rising to level of frenetic hassle."