Let's put it like this, using a thought experiment. The offline world suddenly disappears: no cities, no buildings, no bodies, no objects. Human agents are only able to interact through and within current digital interfaces. How human activity would differ? How our understanding of current online activities would differ?
Reminded now that in his reflections on the "automatic society" Stiegler describes a shift from the everyday life to the administered life. Might be the 'Vita Administrativa' (both administering and being administering) the crucial sphere of activity missing in Arendt's model of human practical capacities?
if I were to point out a fundamental paradigm shift of user behavior in terms of interaction with an interface, due to the advent of the corporate web, I'd say that the user was reconfigured as a scroller, and therefore as passive consumer because the interaction is purely mechanical and only accidentally performed manually.
ok, I put some of these notes quickly together on the blog. Main idea: proletarisation of user interaction. Comments welcome! https://networkcultures.org/entreprecariat/infinite-scroll-proletarisation/
and soon this book on "lurking" will be out! Subtitle: "How a person became a user" https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/02/lurking-by-joanne-mcneil-a-lurkers-history-of-online.html
ok, so here's my tentative chronology of XMLHttpRequest/ AJAX:
2000: Microsoft comes up with XMLHttpRequest (the cornerstone of AJAX) and implements it in Outlook Mail: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XMLHttpRequest#History
2004: Google borrows several ideas from Oddpost to create Gmail: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oddpost
this might have been the historical bifurcation moment: "There were two implementations [of Outlook Web Access] that got started, one based on serving up straight web pages as efficiently as possible with straight HTML, and another one that started playing with the cool user interface you could build with DHTML." https://web.archive.org/web/20070623125327/http://www.alexhopmann.com/xmlhttp.htm
Paul Graham in 2005: "Near my house there is a car with a bumper sticker that reads "death before inconvenience." Most people, most of the time, will take whatever choice requires least work. If Web-based software wins, it will be because it's more convenient. And it looks as if it will be, for users and developers both." http://www.paulgraham.com/road.html
God bless the Wayback machine, which salvaged my 2015 thoughts on hyperlinearity https://web.archive.org/web/20151114093433/http://silviolorusso.com:80/a-couple-of-thoughts-on-hyperlinearity/
ok, I tried to put together a tentative chronology of this idea of Interface Industrialization, connecting the emergence of web apps, the invention of the infinite scroll, the appearance of syndication and aggregation, the introduction of smartphones and thus the swipe gesture. Spoiler: it ends with a US Senator wanting to ban infinite scroll
<<Nguyen [creator of Flappy Bird] wanted to make games for people like himself: busy, harried, always on the move. “I pictured how people play,” he says, as he taps his iPhone and reaches his other hand in the air. “One hand holding the train strap.” He’d make a game for them.>> https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/the-flight-of-the-birdman-flappy-bird-creator-dong-nguyen-speaks-out-112457/
"We could have games for anything. Games for attending classes, co-working, and making art. Games for work. Games for just hanging out. We're going to make these kinds of games. But at this point, it's time we stop thinking about them as games and start considering them part of a broader field: spatial interfaces." https://darkblueheaven.com/spatialinterfaces/
"The accumulation of gadgets hides these meanings Those who use these devices do not understand them; those who invent them do not understand much else. That is why we may *not*, without great ambiguity, use technological abundance as the index of human quality and cultural progress." Wright Mills (1959)
"I realized that we can't have a single good term to describe what we do with digital media for a reason.
In the 1960s-1970s digital media pioneers like Alan Kay systematically simulated most existing mediums in a computer. Computers, and various computing devices which followed (such as "smart" phones)came to support reading, viewing, participating, playing, remixing, collaborating.. and also many new functions.
This is why 20th century term s- reader, viewer, participant, publisher, player, user - all apply."
Lev Manovich in 2011
"From the perspective of system developers, a utilitarian morality governs technology use. The good user is one who adopts the systems we design and uses them as we envisioned (Redmiles et al., 2005). Similarly, the bad or problematic user is the one who does not embrace the system or device. This creates a moral problem, a stain to be eradicated." https://www.ics.uci.edu/~djp3/classes/2012_01_INF134/papers/nonuse-ozchi.pdf
ok, I finally have a synthetic table of what I mean by "user proletarianization" https://networkcultures.org/entreprecariat/the-user-condition-03-user-proletarianization/
@entreprecariat [about the banner of your post] this image reinforce the idea that apple "invented" the touchscreen... but it has been around since the 90's at least: https://www.popularmechanics.com/culture/web/a14764511/a-crt-touchscreen-from-the-90s-shows-how-far-weve-come/
i'm aware it is not the topic of your essay, just that maybe using this image as a banner is not the best choice :)
thanks for building an history of web interface by the way!
@frankiezafe hey thanks I'm aware that Apple didn't invent the touchscreen, as it didn't even the mouse either. I chose it because it's a synthetic rendition of the idea of the chronology!
@entreprecariat well it worked. I think it's interesting that the concept of pages still exists though, in an infinite scroll setting. Like DDG showing results and adding more but putting a little 'page 2' somewhere inbetween. Makes me wonder why they do that
@joop based on what i read, people don't paginate much when it comes to web search, so it's not a big deal to click a couple of times on the "more" button, which in image search people would have to click that button a lot
@entreprecariat I don't like the word, not only because I am allergic to Marxism (having lived in the paradise delivered) but also because word's origin is coming back to people who only own their children. Maybe the Vatican Latin dictionary has some root words for people who only own a smartphone?
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