Rendered Fat Content


William Blake: Dante and Virgil Among the Blasphemers (1824-27)

"We swallow hard and continue humiliating ourselves …"

I firmly believe that we remain in the first technology era, the same one that featured both steam power and plug board computing. Our more modern user interfaces only appear more advanced, for they remain enmired within the most primitive possible mindset. We have not yet stumbled into any more advanced orientations even though we daily suffer under the yoke of our backward understanding. No better example exists than what I might call The State Of The App. My iPhone and my laptop purportedly run many different apps, though they each feature essentially the same shortcoming, that being that I, their primary user, does not in any way understand how to properly use them. That's okay, the apologists explain, because nobody understands the first thing about the least them, much less even their designer.

I rest my case there.
In a less primitive future world, the typical user of an application would quite naturally understand how to use the damned thing. Then, I suspect, an app will not be referred to as an app unless it exhibits this most simple of attributes, merely that the least of its users experience no difficulty understanding what it's for and how to make it dance. Sadly, we're today far, far, far away from that state. Today, even the most canny "technologists" wisely consider themselves Phobes. They, like the rest of us, live in abject fear of the so-called apps we employ. We live as virtual slaves to them. We understand that we hold no natural right to believe that we'll ever come to understand them. We use them like our forebears employed witchcraft, hesitantly, accepting that if there was anything promising even a little bit more promise, we'd switch to that in a minute. We employ technology now, in this first era of technology, more as a declaration of our abiding ignorance than to demonstrate that we actually know or understand anything. Not a single user of FaceBook understands how to properly use it, and that includes its designers.

Most of us cannot successfully even log into a typical application without the assistance of a higher-order application of which we also possess no real knowledge. We hunt and peck and sometimes feel rewarded, the beneficiary of essentially randomness masquerading in our minds as thoughtful design. We're even grateful sometimes, our memories increasingly foreshortened by experience, lest we remember just how impossible even the least of our transactions one day seemed, and some days still remain. I mention this state of affairs because I'm facing a choice, one for our age, it seems. I'm facing the choice of picking up a new app, which might be a supplement and could even potentially be a replacement. It promises, of course, to be no better than whatever it might replace. I'm certain, for instance, to never fully adapt to or even understand what the app actually does. It's destined to become yet another abiding mystery.

I insist that I'm now performing my due diligence, a laughable proposition with which I surprise myself by merely listening to my sorry explanation. I will find a raft of purported explanations, none of which will successfully explain anything, for they will have been produced by those who've deluded themselves into believing that they understand something about the application. Heaven forbid that they're produced by the actual purported designers of the damned thing, for those folks long ago lost both the language and perspective of someone who's not yet immersed in the app's essential trance. They can only explain to their own satisfaction. Their descriptions might just as well be recorded in pig latin. They employ terms which have special meanings within the application, meanings for which no naive user could ever even imagine the underlying intention. The harder they try to explain, the more opaque their explanation.

I have never once adopted an app that actually worked, or one that I ever felt as though I'd actually figured out. I've used email for decades and still cannot manage to manage that queue. I long ago concluded that it's just impossible to do and that the original designers insisted upon a finished product that accumulates incoming at rates exceeding any feasible possibly of deleting. One uses apps blindly or not at all. One comes to increase their tolerance of potentially catastrophic shortcomings or one could not use any app at all. After fifteen years of FaceBook use, I continue to post blindly. I could not find how to bring up a list of past postings for the life of me. The help menus, unsurprisingly, almost never feature links to anything even the least bit helpful to resolving even the simplest query, and yet I continue to subject myself to the app's abuse.

Success seems to largely involve simply engaging in things which one naturally does well. In a better world, this would probably include nobody ever employing anything even remotely as primitive as apps to accomplish anything. I tell myself that even Shakespeare probably had to at least somewhat master shaving goose feathers, a technology at least as primitive as our modern day apps. He wrote no plays extolling his feather shaving skills or anyone else's, though I suspect that he complained plenty offline. We all have our annoyances and not one of us ever manages to rise very much above our era's technological advances or deeply imbedded setbacks. We swallow hard and continue humiliating ourselves in passionate if thoughtless pursuit of our Successes.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

blog comments powered by Disqus

Made in RapidWeaver