Thursday, April 08, 2010

iPhone, iPad, iPeople

I managed to play around with an iPad yesterday at the local geekfest (see also). It's a beautiful little slab of glass. I won't be getting one, for a while at least, because it excels mostly at content consumption, and I'm more about content creation. My laptop does that just fine.

Then there's the new iPhone operating system, announced today. It brings a whole lot of overdue but awesome shit to the iPhone (and later the iPad), like multitasking and improved organization of apps. I can't wait.

You know what I love about technology? That it keeps getting better every day. The software on existing devices is constantly improving, doing more, and doing it more efficiently. When the hardware can't handle it any more, we jump ship to the new model, twice as good for the same price.

In that way, technology is the opposite of people. Our software is constantly getting worse. Our memory gets downgraded with every passing year; our processes start to run sluggishly and crash often. We're stuck with the hardware we're given; no chance of upgrading, and features are slowly removed until we're bricked for all eternity.

Technology surrounds our lives, but our lives haven't yet merged with it. We're sinking like stones while our creations soar like rockets. And one day I think we'll reach a point where iProducts can't improve any further, but the blockage won't be behind the screen, in battery life or heat management or chip technology; no, the weak link will be in front of the screen. What good is a fast, multitasking computer to a brain that can't keep up and can only do one thing at a time?

Computers have gone from the workplace to the home office to the living room to the lap to the pocket, and personally I can't wait until they take one more step right into our heads. Until then, I'm happy to gawk at beautiful machines that at least hint at the possibilities of an upgraded life.

Update Apr. 9: A recent Maclean's article—Aliens Among Us?—touches on this idea. Some argue that any advanced alien life we find is bound to be at least partially manufactured by earlier versions of itself. Even more intriguing is the idea that we may already be partially manufactured, and can find clues of alien intervention in our genetic code. The article's written by Kate Lunau; the very same person who interviewed me and wrote up my Maclean's appearance.


Harry J. Sachz said...

The new iPhone operating system is nothing new other than a shiny new platform for advertising consumption. After waiting impatiently since they sent notices for the 4.0 release keynote, I was severely disappointed at all the bulletpoints lacking any creativity. They basically just filled the gaps that we jailbreakers have been using with custom software for a long time now...

Oh, and you can keep your memory enhancing chips if I can get a titanium endoskeleton like the T-800.

lo_fye said...

The difference is that our software can continue to exist & function long after the hardware/meatware is rotted & gone (IMHO).

Hey Lady! said...

This reminds me of the song Kip sings to his new bride LaFawnDuh at the end of "Napoleon Dynamite"

"Yes, I love technology
But not as much as you, you see
But I still love technology
Always and forever..."

Anonymous said...

We're upgrading all the time.
Contact Lenses
Prosthetic Limbs
Plastic Surgery
Body Art/Modification

We are just steps away from becoming complete cyborgs.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Phronk said...

Sachz: The updates lack creativity, true, but they're updates that needed to be made. I'd rather they perfect what's already there before taking huge risks. The focus on advertising is a bit sketchy, but ads are a reality so they might as well make them pretty.

I hope nothing gets both enhanced mental ability and a titanium endoskeleton, or we're all fucked.

Lo_Fye: It's a nice thought, and I wish I could believe it. IMHO the nerd afterlife of the singularity is more likely to be attainable, but even that may be wishful thinking.

Hey Lady! Hahaha I love that movie so much.

Anon: True, but lenses haven't exactly followed Moore's law. Where's my friggin 4x optical zoom?

Dead Robot said...

When this singularity comes I will be ready for it. I have Eveready rechargable batteries and I've saved all my techy manuals in great big ball of wrinkly paper in a drawer somewhere.

Some say we've passed the sigularity - that civilization and mankind would die if we were suddenly to go tech-less.

Hey Lady! said...

Titanium endoskeleton sounds awesome to me, though I'd prefer metal alloy adamantium (like Wolverine), then I can begin to implement my plan for world domination...

Anonymous said...

iphone, ipad, ipeople, i

The three most notable insights I find significant when discussing the "Y" generation are as follows:

1) This generation lacks socialization skills. It's a paradox, they may want to "be part of something" or be part of a "team" but they do not have the necessary skills or experience to negotiate themselves as a collective. It is generally understood that this is the first of our generations to grow up in front of the media/television/technology and this has directly influenced the way they interact with people. And studies have proven that this generation lacks the intimacy, desire and want to sustain communicative relationships outside of a technological realm.
i.e. they can't give a speech because they don't know how to address people; they don't know how to read body language; they don't engage in group activities like the film festival, music concerts or go to the movies. The result then, is a generation that is individual in thought and autonomous in practice. There is no need for the visceral experience of traditional forms of communication rather, this generation has created for themselves a new means of interacting that is ultimately focused on individual need and interest without taking into account the collective good. Technology has allowed for this self-absorbed and self-directed learning…as the individual reigns supreme in our technological world as the individual does not use or rely upon the traditional forms of communication that once privileged the input of group thinking.

2) This generation is resistant to Structure/Authority because they don't understand the concept of a dominant ideology, they are a "ME" generation they don't understand "WE". Again it goes back to a new means of socializing individuality—one that is premised on individual interest and one that is skeptical of structure of any kind. The media essentially, at its core, is a structureless domain. The concept of the internet as a “wild west” forum that knows no bounds or censorship is the best metaphor that encapsulates this generation’s mentality. Without doubt, this generation is highly skilled, highly educated and very independent - yes, yes yes! The internet has no censorship, has no filter, and from an early age, this generation has the power to navigate and engage in all subject matter whether appropriate or not. And this power to do so, accumulates as differentiated knowledges of various subjects. So of course, when they enter the workforce and their computer access is limited they are upset and can't understand why and are left feeling mistrusted. Moreover, when their boss puts rules and regulations and policies in place in light of work practice, this generation is at once ready to question this authority as this structure stifles the ways in which they think and do. We need to perceive of this “me” generation is its own boss and ironically enough, they can own this status as they have the knowledge of technology that previous generations lack. Hence, they make their own rules. They need not listen to instructions, rather, they aim to create their own. They want control over every aspect of their employment. This is where more flexibility in the workforce needs to be introduced.

I couldn't respond in 140 characters ;>

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Phronk said...


Re: 1) I think technology could contribute to losing (or never gaining) some skills, but it helps with others. I wouldn't assume that interactions through technology are worse or less real than face to face interactions. Especially as technology becomes more and more intertwined with our lives, the ability to craft a convincing email can be as valuable as the ability to sell yourself in an interview. And groups formed in cyberspace can be just as rich, or more so, than in-person. After all, people coming together online do so for a common purpose or shared interests, rather than because geography plopped them in the same physical space.

Although obviously, it's ideal to develop both sets of skills.

Re: 2) Yeah, I agree that the nature of authority is changing too. An "authority" that used to be an expert in some topic can be undermined when their expertise can be gained by Googling for 5 minutes. And yeah, now we're just used to a free and open Wild West, so the very idea of authority can be balked at.

I don't think that's a bad thing. We've seen that the Wild West of the internet works very well without an authority hierarchy (look at Wikipedia). The benefit of structure is less and less as technology makes it less costly to work without it. If organizations can now work with minimal authority and control, I say good riddance to them.

This is such a tangent, but an interesting one. :)