Thursday, March 4, 2010

Desktops Pigeons And Sociopaths

I never know whether to hug people or punch them - they are both magnificently intelligent, and profoundly stupid, at the same time...  In this case - I think a good smacking might be in order.  (Metaphorically, all right?  I don't actually go around being violent, it's a figure of speech...)

The case is this article about desktops being dead.  I can agree with that, I saw desktops making way for more ubiquitous forms of computing back in the late 90's when I saw PDAs with cellphone technology, cellphones with cameras, and the first tablet computers.  Desktops were already irrelevant when I was a system admin making a living out of maintaining the damn things in their thousands, and butting my head against the stupidity of PHBs who couldn't see past the good ole clipboard and biro let alone to the age of using your a wireless phone thing to check - uh, "email" wasn't it?

So why does this eagle among reporters immediately descend to the rathole of thick-headedness with this quote? "Both companies know that mobile computing is where the action is now and where it will be forever."

WTF?  You've just said yourself, technology changes.  But "mobile computing will be forever?" OMFG.  No wonder even pigeons can think rings around us...

The direct connection to the brain is where the next tech battle is most likely to be, and then the tables will turn and the next battle will be to get oneself into the technology rather than putting the technology into ourselves.  And if that sounds wrong and bad and all kinds of not gonna happen, just think how each succeeding technology seemed to be the worst of its kind - until a few people adopted it and began to use it...

Believe it or not, snail mail (and I'm talking REAL snail mail here, carried over the course of weeks by ships and coaches) was going to disrupt life because people using mail were no longer paying as much attention to local social happenings.  Then the telephone threatened the very social fabric for much the same reasons, no longer needing to deliberate over the wording of a letter or visiting a person to pass on messages.  And OMG if you thought that was bad, you should read about what the cellphone was going to do to our neatly ordered social scenes...

So no - I'm not going to believe that we wouldn't adopt such future technology out of some sense of responsibility or altruism.  It's going to happen.  And it's happening faster and faster, year by year, month by month, week by week.  The real worry is what kind of people we will be once we adopt it.

Going from State messenger to social mail carriers created a group of people who communicated ideas and multiplied their collective intelligence using communications.  But you know what?  Local community DID suffer.  Because all of a sudden it became clear that one of the parts you needed for your Next Big Thing was more easily obtainable at your correspondent's location - and was also infinitely easier to ship to you than to find someone local, explain your idea, and get them to make the part for you.

And at each stage, the technology we've built has reshaped us - a polite nuance dropped here, a social responsibility avoided there - to the hurry-scurry uncaring people we are today.  But it's working, because by and large, we're all evolving into that type of person, and we're very good at adapting to new norms.  So the people who fear new technology because it will turn us into introverted, asocial, and possibly even sociopathic  machines should take a look around, and realise it's already happened, we've prepared ourselves for the next step, and the next, and there's no way to not take that step now.

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