the paradox seems to be that web 2.0 which was supposed to bring MORE interactivity, eventually reduced it
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/
apropos, Simondon argues that the machine replaces the tool-equipped individual (the worker)
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
i guess the fundamental question is: can we really consider the web a metamedium?
forgot about Striphas notion of "controlled consumption", which is quite related to the user condition I'd say (source is my thesis)
and now I'm in the rabbit hole of understanding the evolution of AJAX and XMLHttpRequest. Is it true that the "killer app" for the technology was Gmail?
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
Apparently at the time there was some discomfort with the idea of turning webpages into apps. Where can I find more about this?
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
automatism > automation
shall we talk of misusers?
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
atm "The User Condition" magnum opus (which obviously will never see the light) has the following chapters:
- Multidimensional Agencies
- Interface Proletarization
- Vita Administrativa
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/
subchapter title: Infinite Scroll and the Paginated Mind
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
gesture producing a single meaningful action, i.e. *being* the action (fully manual) : Angry Birds
gesture modulating an external autonomous flow (full automation): Flappy Bird
Convenience, seamlessness and straightforwardness are other names the backgrounding of low-level agencies.
action != behavior
action = disruption of behavior
behavior = absence of action
greeting someone with "howdy" = behavior
greeting someone with "the end is near" = action
agency = the capacity to disrupt behavior
p.s. action movies should be called behavior movies
<<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/
"There is no variation or evolution in gameplay throughout the game, as the pipes always have the same gap between them and there is no end to the running track, having only the flap and ding sounds and the rising score as rewards." again Flappy Bird
"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)
interface proletarization: disappearance of navigation, the user doesn't go anywhere, things come to them
a good interface: one that, despite its complexity, you can understand so well that you can forget about it
e.g. the theremin
"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
currently in the rabbit hole of ppl programming on their mobile
manipulation vs customization
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
the most "active" user of an hegemonic technology is the one who decides not to use it
"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
mobile screens are tiny
the most representative experience of being a user of a network computer nowadays is the mobile phone:
1) on average, more time is spent there than on laptop or desktop
2) most websites became fundamentally mobile-first in their design, or even mobile-only (think of Instagram)
"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
two ways to determine behavior and reduce agency:
1. calculate all the possible variables
2. reduce the variables to the minimum
agency as the extent of deautomatization available
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/
computers these days: mindless alertness
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?
on the concept of user
if anyone needs the reference I can collect them
"The computer is as inhuman as we make it" Ted Nelson
behavioral wet dream: software that doesn't need explicit input. all input is deduced by rhythm and modulation. software responds only to eye focus and adapts accordingly
aka Buttonless computing
apropos "IF THE BUTTON IS NOT SHAPED LIKE THE THOUGHT, THE THOUGHT WILL END UP SHAPED LIKE THE BUTTON" by Ted Nelson, ca va sans dire...
here's some thoughts on movement and relocation on computers, blessed by @luxpris beautiful gif https://networkcultures.org/entreprecariat/on-movement-and-relocation/
"There is one game in town: a positivistic dominant of reductive, systemic efficiency and expediency". Galloway, The Interface Effect, 99
knowledge as know-how
Knowledge is always a know-how. This know-how, which might be implicit, is first codified and then automated: a technique becomes a commodity. Example: online search. What search engines commodify is not the information itself but the information retrieval process. The PageRank algorithm codifies the social practice of linking. The list of results is the commodity that derives from such codification process.
terminological conundrum, help needed!
How to call that messy assemblage around computers made of popular devices, semi-standardized interface layouts of apps and websites, widespread functional expectations, daily online habits, prevailing sentiment towards technology?
- mainstream computing
- the anti-Stallman
- the Techium
- the generalist software-hardware continuum
- normie computerdom
- platform consensus
- hegemonic computing
@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 thanks for including me in your work: love the topics you choose to write about. Will read more thoroughly this evening.
@luxpris thank you! I really like the image :)
@entreprecariat LOOK AT IT!
@m1k3 is this I N T E R A C T U V I T Y
@entreprecariat I have no idea what it is. 😂
@entreprecariat We tried to make eye-tracking tech an alternative input source to mouse and keyboard but it was immediately cannibalize into a advertising and privacy nightmare.
@rune what was your main use case? was it for able bodied users?
@entreprecariat I wasn't personally in a project, but there was a startup developing the tech back when I was in university.
It was aimed at the general population, but it didn't really get traction.
@KnowPresent I'm aware of this project. In the dystopian scenario I tried to depict in the toot, I meant a system that doesn't allow eye "point and clicking", which now that i think of, I guess it would look like a smart TV with a camera…
@entreprecariat Ah so like google glass with a bit of Clockwork Orange?
@KnowPresent that's it!
@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.
@KnowPresent but we have to thank him for smooth scrolling apparently!
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