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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.>>

"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."

"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

"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

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."

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

"At root, [World of Warcraft] is not simply a fantasy landscape of dragons and epic weapons but a factory floor, an information-age sweatshop. custom tailored in every detail for cooperative ludic labor" Galloway, The Interface Effect, 44

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)

"[…] 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.”

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?

"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



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"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?

Some ideas:

- mainstream computing
- the anti-Stallman
- the Techium
- GAFAMondo
- the generalist software-hardware continuum
- normie computerdom
- platform consensus
- conveniencism
- hegemonic computing

terminological conundrum, help needed! 

platform defaultism?

terminological conundrum, help needed! 

probably the best allegorical rendition of what I mean

Something I should have added in the conclusions is that *monoculture is plural*: monoculture is not Mac but Mac vs PC, or more recently Apple vs Huawei. Monoculture is in the intersection of cultures that attempt hegemony. Do we see a clash of cultures in this video? Yes, but we also see a monoculture. The dichotomy *is* the monoculture.

"The question today is not so much *can* the subaltern speak, for the new global networks of technicity have solved this problem with ruthless precision, but *where* and *how* the subaltern speaks, or indeed is *forced* to speak." Galloway, 128

"The role of consumer or worker has a modern edge, but userships is even less defined—what is traded, and the cost of it, is hard to see" Joanne McNeil, Lurking, 8

"People used to talk about the internet as a place. The information superhighway. A frontier. The internet was something to get on. Even the desktop metaphor was in turn clarifying, then confusing: it helped people understand how a personal computer organizes information, while it invited a user to think of the experience as three-dimensional and spatial. Now people talk about the internet as something to talk to; it is someone." Joanne McNeil, Lurking, 17

On externalized knowledge/know how: "When he was CEO, Eric Schmidt called multiple search results a 'bug'. Google 'should be able to give you the right answer just once. We should know what you meant.' When a Youtube video ends and autoplay selects another, that's Google attempt at a 'right' answer." Joanne McNeil, Lurking, p. 36

another expression for the monoculture: impersonal computing

"[…] if the interfaces of the city itself address everyone as 'user', then perhaps one's status as a user is what really counts." Bratton, p. 10

"Think about what this means in the context of say, a Mac, an iPhone, an iPad. They aren’t full-fledged users. They’re just television watchers of different kinds." Alan Kay

some user-related Benjamin Bratton's quotes from *The Stack*:

"In practice, the User is not a type of creature but a category of agents; it is a position within a system without which it has no role or essential identity." p. 251

"[The User's position] never allows someone to enter into it fully formed; it also forms that person (or thing) into shape as it provides them tactics for shifting systems and their apparatuses." p. 252

" […] the User is both an initiator and an outcome …" p. 253

"We, the actual consumers, are the shadows of the personified simulations of ourselves" p. 255

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terminological conundrum, help needed! 

@entreprecariat I like conveniencism, maybe IT conveniencism.

terminological conundrum, help needed! 

@cirku17 nice!

terminological conundrum, help needed! 

@entreprecariat I was following you until that last one. I'm not seeing that "normie-ness" in there but a future vision. I would like a word for normie-UX too. I've been using "monoculture" without the substantiation it needs.

terminological conundrum, help needed! 

@air_pump yeah, not a fan of the word normie anyway. One point is that part of the present monoculture (good term indeed) is the future vision. For instance, one might suspect that the no-keyboard, touchscreen only telos is already inscribed in much of today's mainstream interface culture. In this we see also the software-hardware continuum aspect. Device being used shaping on screen presentation. I guess i need to put together all this in a blogpost. Thanks btw!

terminological conundrum, help needed! 

@entreprecariat my pleasure. I think you really are on to something which I got a sense for in your recent 'infinite scroll' piece. Agreed that the future vision is folded onto the present and informs it. To me the Zuck image is potent no doubt, iconic even, but it's in the realm of this Wall-e classic while I'm thinking about /r/oldpeoplefacebook. Same thing different focus I guess.

terminological conundrum, help needed! 

@air_pump wow this pic. I have a little discomfort coming for the fact that the infinite scroll/factory analogy or wall-e or computer as tv are quite cheesy, but the more I think of them, the more I find them convincing!

terminological conundrum, help needed! 

@entreprecariat they are! for me your infinite scroll resonated because it gets beyond that cheese (or maybe I read that into it) in a way that the Zuck pic doesn't allow. I'm thinking along the lines of "we are all constantly looking-at/filling-out spreadsheets" via various UI/UX. which may be another variety of cheese :) 🧀

@entreprecariat sorry for the like-spam, I loved this entire thread!

@rra read first chapter: well written, easy to read, very much "personal", maybe a bit nostalgic for now? I'll be able to tell you more soon.

@entreprecariat Been thinking about this series of toots for a while now.
Linux and other FOSS oftens gets a bad rep for having shitty UX.
But a lot of the appeal of Linux for me is how it can break so completely with this monoculture/hegemony in UX and UI design.

personally it feels very empowering to rethink computer usage especially when it comes down to behaviour that is nothing but a habit.

My latest move was to rename the standard home folders away from "Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures" To things that I actually do
"Development, Music, Publishing:

@cmos4040 i agree: shitting on linux/foss UX is very often driven by default soft power. But then, for instance, we are on Mastodon, and one might say that its interface comes from computer monoculture. How to deal with that?

@entreprecariat In the case of webdesign I really don't have an answer to that.
The default answer would be to operate from a position of power (Design, Development, improve your own)

But what mastodon has also taught us is that "Just fork it" often means "Just fuck off".

And so far in this thread the subject seems to be people who are not in the position of power, who can't fork it.

In that case for me personally the real beauty lies in misuse and disobedience.
Uploading movies disguised as pdfs, wrong browser window ratios, standard to high zoom levels.

I once had a student that had a browser plugin installed that gave her the ability to select a font and size that would be used in all webpages. Imagine everything in Impact 35px.

@cmos4040 if om correct the browser plugin works as the browser itself was meant to function

@entreprecariat You mean that it would render HTML according to the users settings?
Instead of having CSS dictate every minute detail of a site design?

That early history of browsers is very vague to me.

@entreprecariat I did some looking about for it. (w3 consortium 20 years of CSS celebration)

"Style sheets in browsers were not an entirely new idea. The separation of document structure from the document's layout had been a goal of HTML from its inception in 1990. Tim Berners-Lee wrote his NeXT browser/editor in such a way that he could determine the style with a simple style sheet. However, he didn't publish the syntax for the style sheets, considering it a matter for each browser to decide how to best display pages to its users."

Even though the same power structure is at play. Creator of software does or doesn't want users to have control.
I think it is very different from the current hegemony of the web or software interfaces in general.
The sheer scale of UX design through user statistics(A/B testing etc) plays an important role too.

terminological conundrum, help needed! 

californian cloud consensus

terminological conundrum, help needed! 

@rra not bad!

terminological conundrum, help needed! 

@entreprecariat @rra i think ye already have it.

I'll throw in an idea, based on what you wrote (particularly that bumper sticker anecdote). Assuming people generally know they are going toward convenience and are ignoring any detrimental effects because they assume everyone else is on the same page:

Abilene computing?

terminological conundrum, help needed! 

@ephemeral @entreprecariat abilene is very applicable!

terminological conundrum, help needed! 

@ephemeral @rra oh this makes sense! i had forgotten the bumper sticker story, thanks for digging it up!

ButI'm not sure the Abilene paradox fits, I mean users for instance can be genuinely willing and excited to upgrade to Catalina. On the other hand, these days we witness the unwilling acceptance of a technological solution based on peer pressure…

terminological conundrum, help needed! 

@entreprecariat @rra true enough. There's still something missing...

terminological conundrum, help needed! 

@entreprecariat human-centered hells

terminological conundrum, help needed! 

@rra human-centered computer dehumanization

terminological conundrum, help needed! 

@entreprecariat human-centered des..topia

terminological conundrum, help needed! 

@entreprecariat intuitively I'd say the solution can be found by going deep in UX blogs/ terminology and borrowing from there

terminological conundrum, help needed! 

- The Valley of Wretched Conformity
- Commodity Cameraderie
- General Acceptance Fault
- Virtual Suburbia
- Inhuman Resources
- The Motherfucking Shitstack

terminological conundrum, help needed! 

@KnowPresent you're too good at this Brendan :)

terminological conundrum, help needed! 

@entreprecariat It's one of my favorite games. I love this thread. Hope you're not done yet.

terminological conundrum, help needed! 

@entreprecariat funny names, they reminded me about Guthrie Lonergan's table

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