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
if agency is the ability to interrupt automatized behavior, then rewiring the computer means acquiring agency in a computer system
"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/
angry birds (action) vs flappy bird (behavior) for now in Italian, but soon to be translated and expanded
"Hence one has to ask what happens existentially when I press a key. What happens when I press a typewriter key, a piano key, a button on a television set or on a telephone. What happens when the President of the United States presses the red button or the photographer the camera button. I choose a key, I decide on a key. I decide on a particular letter of the alphabet in the case of a typewriter, on a particular note in the case of a piano, on a particular channel in the case of a television set, or on a particular telephone number. The President decides on a war, the photographer on a picture. Fingertips are organs of choice, of decision." Flusser
"Nearly three quarters of the world will use just their smartphones to access the internet by 2025" https://www.cnbc.com/2019/01/24/smartphones-72percent-of-people-will-use-only-mobile-for-internet-by-2025.html
here's some thoughts on computer users and mobile first influence https://networkcultures.org/entreprecariat/mobile-first-world/
"[…] software relies on the assumption that there is something like a programmer and something like a user. This also presents a special set of problems, the most important of which is the status of the actor versus the acted-upon, and under which circumstances which is which" Galloway, The Interface Effect
Alan Kay to Steve Jobs re. the iPad: “Look Steve. You know, you’ve made something that is perfect for 2-year-olds and perfect for 92-year-olds. But everybody in-between learns to use tools.” https://www.fastcompany.com/40435064/what-alan-kay-thinks-about-the-iphone-and-technology-now
in a different timeline we all use the "knee brace" instead of the mouse https://www.dougengelbart.org/content/view/224/217/
on the concept of user
1) User. I can't provide a singular definition of this term, because the tensions between contrasting definitions provide fertile ground on the research. Alexander Galloway points out that one of the main software dichotomies is the user versus the programmer, the latter being the one who acts and the former being the one who's acted upon. According to Paul Dourish and Christine Satchell, the "user" is a discursive formation to articulate the relationship between humans and machines. For Olia Lialina, the concept of user is a way to highlight the system that mediates the interaction. Lev Manovich indicates that user is just a convenient generic term for who can be considered from time to time a player, a gamer, a musician, etc. Manovich's point is something I'm considering further. This variety of uses he suggest is predicated upon the conviction that the computer is, in Alan Kay's words, a metamedium. But, when the main personal computer becomes the smartphone, is that still the case?
@entreprecariat I get really upset sometimes when I feel like we are heading towards a society that will require all citizens to enter into a complex contractual relationship with one of two giant california companies.
If you want to do a lot of simple things these days, you are expected to have an intense intimate relationship with Google or Apple. Otherwise you can't participate.
@KnowPresent I feel you and I also wonder whether in the "mobile first world" wuser are losing agency as interface affordances are drastically reduced. E.g. organizing windows
@entreprecariat If you're not a Steve Jobs fan-victim then you have to be the unabomber. There's no negotiation or anything in between that is offered as a possibility.
@entreprecariat I'm being melodramatic but I feel this is getting worse, where the people who make decisions about these things cannot imagine anyone not using a google or apple product for any interaction.
@entreprecariat Did you ever see this¹ post from Kay talking about how Jobs was not some genius finding and stealing some obscure secret research project when he took GUI ideas from PARC? He is also critical of the fact that Jobs never understood how essential networking and composable software were to the Alto system.
@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?
@saper yeah, the term is heavy. I borrow this specific understanding from Bernard Stiegler. I'm also pondering if bringing Marxism to the table is necessary or not (alienation/estrangement are useful concepts). A simple way to solve it, is to turn the focus to the means and speak therefore of "interface industrialization"
@entreprecariat Ok, thank you. The comparison is so appealing that I wonder what pitfalls are hidden there... it's inspiring
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