"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
"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
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?
"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
terminological conundrum, help needed!
terminological conundrum, help needed!
probably the best allegorical rendition of what I mean
"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
eventless computers (after Badiou)
"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
just doing some personal computing
"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
updated the list of names for computer monoculture with "impersonal computing", which I like https://networkcultures.org/entreprecariat/the-user-condition-06-the-ithing/
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
'But neural networks, and software in general, do not create new reality—they ingest data and reflect back a reality that is a regurgitation and reconfiguration of what they have already consumed. And this reality that these machines reflect back is slightly wrong. Recall the statistician’s aphorism “all models are wrong, but some are useful.” What happens when we rely on these models to produce new realities, and feed those slightly-wrong realities back into the machines again? What happens when we listen to Spotify’s Discover Weekly playlist week after week, “like” the posts that Facebook recommends to us, and scroll through TikTok after TikTok? I am guilty of all of these, and it would not be wrong to claim that my taste in music and sense of humor are mediated by this mutual recursion between the algorithms and the real world.' https://blog.jse.li/posts/software/
one thing I really like of this essay is how it elegantly bridges single computers with networked ones: "And if the computer was a bicycle for the mind, then the plural form of computer, Internet, was a “new home of Mind.”
more Bratton (p. 257) on The User:
"The more salient design problem seems less to design for *Users*, as if they were stable forms to be known and served, than to *design and redesign the User itself* in the image of whatever program might enroll it."
after many years infinite scroll might be coming to google search https://www.seroundtable.com/google-pagination-tests-dancing-google-logo-29578.html
here's an article from #npccafe, since it's related to this thread. The idea: Angry Birds stands for action, decision while Flappy Bird stands for repetitive behaviour, automatism. An excerpt:
"Angry Birds is the constellation of links punctuating a Wikipedia entry or the landing page of The Guardian or The New York Times. It is Open Street Maps or Google Earth. It is Radio.garden. In short, it stands for any territory that allows a destination, right or wrong. It is a multidimensional (though monodirectional) game. The user-player is here a user-navigator.
Flappy Bird is the bottomless feed of Facebook or Twitter, the chain of Instagram stories, the automatic playlist of Youtube and Netflix. It is all that goes by itself and therefore paralyses the user, making their intervention accidental or superfluous. In the inexhaustible feed, scrolling fells like a mechanical, rudimentary activity, ready to be automated, like turning the crank of a phonograph. You don’t navigate a feed, at best you unfold it. With stories and playlists, instead, full automation is finally achieved."
Some notes on Douglas Rushkoff re: techlash and net apology:
"Computers were the tools that would upscale humanity. But maybe humanity simply wasn’t developed enough to handle the abilities potentiated by digital technologies distributed so widely and rapidly. At least not the sector of humanity that ended up being responsible for developing this stuff." [weird take imo to see human in need of update to work with tech: belief in competence rather than community]
"No matter our current perceptions of our lowly place in the order of things, we are not still in the land of passive television consumption and limited knowledge, taking actions that somehow recede into the past and fade away. No matter how stupid and powerless we have been led to think of ourselves, we have at our fingertips — in our pockets, even — access to the near-totality of human knowledge and capacity." some hope]
"But looking back, I’m thinking the answer wouldn’t have been to talk less about the power and potential of the net, but more." [net maximalism]
"Whether you’re scrolling through your social media site of choice, such as Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, or Instagram, or simply engaging with all the bad news on your favorite news source’s website for long periods of time, doomscrolling isn’t platform specific. And its roots extend back past the internet to the rise of the 24-hour cable news cycles, where it first became possible to gorge on depressing news on an endless loop.
After being first mentioned on Twitter in 2018, the term doomscrolling has become an increasingly popular way to describe the obsessive perusal of social media or news that for many has been sparked by the fear and anxiety around the coronavirus. The word’s close cousin, “doom surfing,” dates back to the late 2000s, when it was used in reference to the game Dino Run (the term described the act of running next to the game’s “Wall of Doom”). In many ways, the concept of doomscrolling—which more specifically refers to scrolling on your phone—has become the word of the moment, at least according to Merriam-Webster, which featured both terms on its Words We’re Watching blog at the end of April."
"[…] il giocatore può articolare un progetto personale all’interno del mondo di gioco che può discostarsi dall’approccio strumentale che è implicitamente indicato dal gioco stesso (e che invita ad accumulare risorse e ottimizzare comportamenti, ricompensando il giocatore di conseguenza)."
"As smartphones blurred organizational boundaries of online and offline worlds, spatial metaphors lost favor. How could we talk about the internet as a place when we're checking it on the go, with mobile hardware offering turn-by-turn directions from a car cup holder or stuffed in a jacket pocket?"
McNeil, Lurking, p. 118-9
wow, Mastodon has now OCR!
@entreprecariat sorry for the like-spam, I loved this entire thread!
@ashley oh thanks so much! I'm truly happy to hear :)
@entreprecariat oh I wanted to look in to that book! How is it?
@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 Right on. Where is this quote from?
@KnowPresent oh sorry, forgot the link: https://www.fastcompany.com/40435064/what-alan-kay-thinks-about-the-iphone-and-technology-now
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