On Enablers

Kindle-reader-007

50 Shades of Gray owes its popularity to the Kindle, and dubstep would die without iTunes.

Now, these don’t need the technology. You could read 50 Shades in paperback, and you could listen to dubstep without headphones.

But you won’t.

You don’t want to be seen reading smut on the morning bus. You don’t want your soft-rock top-40 coworkers judging your bass drops.

The technology enabled a dirty book to make #1 on the Times, and enabled the rise of aggressive electronica. It wasn’t the processing power or the HD display or the megabit wireless Internet. It was just the form-factor and nothing more. The Kindle just removed the jacket from the book. The iPhone just lets you listen privately.

When the media approaches a new technology, they expect that it to enable the impossible. That virtual-reality headset will let you sculpt 3D clay. That 3D printer will replace your Amazon orders. That depth camera will let you explore an art gallery using your personal gesture-controlled drone.

But the real-world impact is always more mundane. Successful consumer products enable options that were already technically possible, but not appropriate. That’s what makes them successful – they pop the cork off pent-up demand, not facilitate an esoteric, cutting-edge niche.

The next time you see a futuristic product, don’t speculate about the next-generation Star Trek possibilities. Think about something you’d love to do, but don’t because it’s embarrassing or a pain in the ass, that would be smoother with the technology.

This article’s picture was shamelessly ripped off Jeff Wheeler.

Post-social and Post-content

bytecover

We once expected cars to become personal planes, microwave dinners to beget meal pills, acid trips to be replaced by cyberspace adventures, and video calls to give way to to robot patsies. Now, we expect Google Glass to create a hell of oversharing, stalking, and consumerism. The caveat is that we suck at predicting the future. We mistakenly expect the next decade to be an upgraded version of today, forgetting that culture advances along with tech. This taints our judgment and makes us worry: Continue reading

Solidus

I got a MacBook Air a few weeks ago. When I replaced the hard drive, I named the new one Solidus.

I picked the name because the previous owner named the computer Solid Snake. In the game, Solidus is the character’s ‘older brother’ of sorts, which fit.

Of course, it’s a solid-state drive, so the name fit.

But a solidus turned out to be an ancient Roman coin. In a society filled with backstabbing and politicking, only a gold coin was truly ‘solid’. That computer is really the first big thing I bought with money I earned myself.

Today I discovered that a forward slash is also a solidus. What does the path “/” refer to on a Mac? The boot drive, or in my case, Solidus.

Something about all that makes me smile.

S**t Cyborgs Say

“I’d like the salmon… wait, my Apple stock just popped to 400. Make that the surf-n-turf.”

“Dude, I can’t believe you tried negging her! It’s trending!”

“Let’s stay for another drink. My car got stuck in traffic after it dropped off the kids.”

“Dammit, son! No live-streaming when I’m telling you off!”

“You get Zuckerberg to add you on LinkedIn, and next thing you know people are lining up for a handshake!”

“What do you mean, you don’t know the directions?”

“AdBlock for vision is great, except I keep walking into sidewalk billboards…”

“Hang on, $500 just got deducted from my checking account. I’ll call you back, need to call my banker.”

“Dammit, son! No going off-the-grid after 10!”

“Look at that guy, strutting around with his 20,000 Twitter followers. What a douche.”

“What do you mean, you don’t remember?”

“Excuse me, my HUD says that you’ve commented on 20 of my blog posts. It’s nice to meet you in person!”