Tuesday, February 28, 2012

It's crazy - Part 2


I firmly believe that President Barack Obama was well aware of the goings on in Libya long before anyone snapped a picture on their Iphone or sent a text message.  It almost rises to a level of technological arrogance to believe otherwise.

I say arrogance because many consumers look down on those not so enthralled with the latest whatever.  In their mind, how could someone NOT be on Facebook or be willing to spend upwards of $500 on a device that is nothing more than an Internet portal. 
There's even argument as to what a computer is now.  Many pundits believe a smartphone is a computer because of its purported functionality.  If you don't do anything important on it I suppose it could be.  Of course that begs the question of what's important.  Watching movies, updating social media and playing games are largely recreational pursuits none of which fits the definition of productivity. 

Even when one chooses to use consumer devices for work they ultimately diminish themselves by being constantly available and ultimately surrendering their own privacy.  Civilization had no issue with advancing before these devices came along.  In fact it may be hindered because of them.

Small applets that provide everything from entertainment to convenience supposedly make the device rise to a status formerly reserved for their PC.  Look closer and you find that you're frequently working with only a subset of the same functionality saddled with less capable hardware.  It's another case of shiny objects and dulling minds.  Because it's convenient and cool it must somehow be superior even if the end product comes up short. 
So while we busily communicate with people we really don't know and make judgments based purely on superficial evidence I have to question the value.  It seems to me that all we've gained is a tremendous amount of busy work.  


Oh but the Internet is open and free with contributions spanning the spectrum of human expression.  Here's the thing, most of it is crap.  Volume doesn't equal value.  Like the old (flawed) contention about monkeys and typewriters the ultimate result is incoherent babble and monkey feces on the walls.
We're in this incessant upgrade cycle where we cajole and tease each other if we don't get the latest version of a device.  Why?  are we keeping up with the Jones'?  Perhaps.  Is it all a product of a slick marketing program? Possibly.  Or perhaps it's simpler than that.  Maybe once the novelty wears off and we realize that our new devices aren't much better than our old ones we become dissatisfied. 

So we anxiously await the next product cycle hoping we'll ultimately satisfy an insatiable desire for our devices to meet a need that doesn't really exist. 

I don't believe a tablet, smartphone or even a computer make the world any more connected.  We're just more aware of it on a superficial level.  It's not unlike the World of Warcraft guild member who's recent passing is observed by a gathering of other guild members in an area of the game. 

On the surface it seems an authentic expression of emotion but the reality is that the  mourning is more for the loss of the player than the person.  Outside of the game the circumstances of the human being have no value.  Not unlike the Facebook "friends" or all those SMS messages sent to people that most of the time we hardly know. 

No, it's a value question.  Does change for its own sake have any intrinsic value?  Only if you like circles.  Change without direction or meaning creates an unproductive feedback loop.  We have fooled ourselves into investing the precious commodities of time and attention on things that ultimately have dubious value.