Touchscreens were for me a lesson in humbleness: when they were first introduced, I was utterly convinced that they would never take off.

Inspired by the responses to the previous toot, I open the issue: what was you most blatantly wrong technological prophecy?

- I was sure touchscreens would never take off.
- I believed that the idea of registering digital art on the blockchain was ridiculous

- I used to be convinced that "files" or similar units of storage would remain relevant forever. Today, some people have in their life never encountered the concept of files, or basically anything that would persist when a computer system is turned off and on again. Almost all aspects of computer usage have become transactional, and people prefer to orient themselves in the dimension of time more than anything (although that is crumbling, too).

@despens @entreprecariat do people prefer it or has the capacity for it been systemically stripped away by the mobile OS duopoly? Google minimizes the file system on Android devices because they want everyone to search for everything (which generates intent data they can extract profit from). Apple obfuscates the fs because they don't even really want users to think of their devices as computers (because consumption appliances are their big moneymakers now)

@despens @entreprecariat these changes are carefully directed acts of top-down user mindset engineering, not some natural evolution toward universally better ideas. these devices still have file systems under the hood and with the right UI design those systems could still be extremely valuable affordances to users.

@jplebreton @entreprecariat Yes, sure, I agree, but it is not that simple.

Many users struggled with the burden of organizing their files before these designs were introduced[1], Apple & Google exploited this to their gain in a similar way Apple, IBM, Microsoft, Sun, and many others exploited users struggling with file management on the command line and gave them a desktop. There was lots of criticism towards that, users would become dependent on GUIs and never be able to understand how the file system actually works, etc.

But indeed, the mobile design patterns have a different ring to them, esp. when it comes to behavioral surveillance. Yet, Apple and Google produced a set of idioms that users prefer over something like Windows CE or Windows Mobile. These designs are based on user research and A/B testing and do represent something that users actually prefer. (Of course this goes hand in hand with the choices presented to them.)


[1]: witnessed this for more than a decade teaching programming to designers and artists, and there's lots of literature about it.

@despens @entreprecariat Agreed, yeah. A key difference between the GUI revolution and the rise of mobile is that GUIs were seen as massive accessibility wins that simply made computers more appealing to people. Whereas with mobile, the two companies were very much aware they were creating new markets (platforms, in the modern sense) whose design had to enact their overall business strategy, a constraint that I don't think was present in the GUIs of the early 80s.


@jplebreton @entreprecariat I honestly believe that this was the case as well for Microsoft Windows, the Macintosh, Sun, Acorn, etc. Going GUI was a market shakeup that allowed the OS makers to replace existing established software from competitors with their own, tie developers to themselves, and expand their market. Microsoft's OLE design was on the one hand a realization of Kay's dynabook ideas, but also making it very hard to port a Windows application to multiple platforms. Sun tied their OS to their own processor architecture. Apple created a parallel file system universe and selling diskettes with an Apple logo on it for 5x the prices of a regular one.

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