The paradox of value

Shawn Blanc wrote an interesting post about using his iPhone as his only camera, and he ends with some great insights on the drawbacks:

…some of the most memorable moments are also the ones where you do not want your iPhone anywhere near you.
If the best camera is the one you have with you then the worst camera is the one you refuse to take. Funny how that can simultaneously refer to the same device.

In many ways the iPhone punched massive holes into the inexpensive digital camera market. But there are some instances when the iPhone is the worst option for a camera. Because there is something to be said about the fact that there are some places where you really want a camera yet you are not going to take your iPhone into that situation.

This creates a paradox of value. The high value of a device1 can be the very reason you don’t want to take it into a specific situation where its value is relevant. An expensive camera on a dangerous hike, a nice guitar through international travel, or in Shawn’s case, an iPhone to the beach. Expensive gear might perform better, but it also carries a much higher risk. Sometimes a cheap camera or an old guitar are enough — or even better. Which brings us back to the idea that there really is no single “right” tool. As Shawn’s example highlights, even the apparent “best” tool is not right for every situation.

  1. Not just financial value either: as Shawn mentions, devices like the iPhone carry a lot of personal information. They’re very versatile, so losing an iPhone can mean more than just losing photos and money. 

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