Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Waste of Mind

I was watching someone on the train the other day using an iPad - swooshing here, scrolling there, zooming here - they spend the best part of 45 minutes engaged in _navigating between and amongst apps - they spent very little time actually reading or viewing a given piece of content, or engaged in anything that looked even couch-potato-ish, let alone worthwhile productive intellectually stimulating pastimes - i.e. they were marginalised in the sense of being pushed to the margin of the universe of ideas by the sexiness of the UI, rather than pulled in to the actual creative work as a consumer or producer (as John Naughton has pointed out in his excellent memex blog, the iPad is a consumer device par excellence anyhow, not really a producer device, but nevertheless this person wasn't even consuming much, except in t he sense of being stimulated pointlessly by the whiz-bang-gee-core-lummyness of the groovy graphics Apple had devized.

This, coupled with adverts taking more and more eyeball time/screen real-estate, and attention, seems to me to be doing the very opposite of Mark Weiser's vision for calm computing.

I bet if you measure people's productivity (or their time spent gainfully involved in a fine ebook or movie or game even) it is falling lower and lower, whilst the bits of the brain that deal with being over-stimulated are going into over-drive - I bet if you measure people's stress-levels using this junk, you'll find that they are getting worse and worse.
I bet we could do a whole lot better - when I look at someone using a kindle (no, I am not trying to sell you amazon's gadget, nor do I have shares, I'm just using it as an example), with its ultra-stripped down UI, concentrating screen real estate and interface on one and one task only, you'd find calm, productive use of time and lower stress.

I reckon, as I've said elsewhere, that Apple (and others - Android phones and tablets are no better, since the Googleplex is just another PARC wannabe just like Apple), are basically at the point of Decline and Fall.

I bet a really good cultural historian could look at giant empires like Apple, and point to Gibbons fine work (or if you prefer, Isaac Asimov's re-setting of it in the Foundation "trilogy"), and see exactly the analogous signs of fin-de-siecle setting in - the concentration on the superficial (interface rather than content) the use of Ryan Air style tricks to turn a profit (change the plug/cable, instead of innovate like Nokia doing cordless charging:), basically decay, and rot and bloat and basically, decadence (love that word - say it slowly:- de-cadence).

There, that's better....

Thursday, October 11, 2012

dilemma on your mind

so i was reading these fine papers due to a colleague pointing me at them:
and decided we need to re-christen these
the acursed dilemma,
the re-cursed dilemma
a theory of mindlessness

this essentially then reduces to the ultimate game - viz

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misery me, there is a floccipaucinihilipilification (*) of chronsynclastic infundibuli in these parts and I must therefore refer you to frank zappa instead, and go home