Big business is out to steal your PC from you. You may not realize it but if you are a real consumer, you have a plethora of technological gadgets at your disposal: digital camera, digital camcorder, cellular phone, smartphone, desktop computer, laptop computer, digital reader, digital handheld (iPad, Xoom) devices.
Have you noticed the trend in the industry to convince you to consolidate your devices? They tell you its about you having the convenience to carry only one device or less devices. Hence your digital camera and your cell phone became a single unit. Now it takes crappy pictures and can barely hold a decent call while you are moving faster than a walk, but you only have to carry one device. Then they wanted you to believe your cell phone could double as a computer interface giving you access to the internet and your email, and your Facebook and your Twitter account.
So, now you have a crappy camera, connected to a barely usable cellphone that also allows you to connect to the internet at dialup speeds (Wheeeee!) and can surf the overburdened telephone network with your supersized web pages that have long since ditched any level of simplicity and instead download scripts, and php pages and database files and viruses to your handheld that does not have any anti-virus protection and they tell you its a good thing because you don’t have to wait until you get back to your computer to use Facebook or Twitter or email or whatever services they are pushing off onto your bank account next.
Lets not forget the constant push toward the cloud, and the constant need to convince you the cloud is good. “To the cloud” is the watchword for Microsoft ads these days. Does anyone watching these ads have any idea of what “the cloud” is? Do they have any idea of the fact they are simply doing what we have done for the last thirty years as distributed computing. If the word “Wang” means anything to you, you have dealt with distributed computing before. And if it doesn’t, you are likely paying for a service you don’t need or know enough about to be giving money away before you find out what it is. I am not trying to cause anyone to be concerned, per se. But I am tired of hearing about how the cloud is going to save us. Let me tell you what is really going on.
Big business has only one agenda. To separate you from your cash. If you work for corporate America, their second agenda is to make sure you aren’t make much cash to begin with, the better to keep you coming to work tomorrow. The best way to separate canny consumers from their cash today, because let’s face it, you are going to be more frugal than you have been in the past, with the economy the way it is, so you have to be convinced, okay, let’s keep it real, tricked, into giving big corporations your hard earned money.
So the three card monty goes something like this: Big business wants more customers to pay more fees for services they don’t need so they need to convince people to use something they don’t need and create a non-existent need so people will feel they are being left out if they are not able to participate. The predicted market for smartphones is estimated to be sixty million devices by the year 2014. There are a lot of fees associated with smart phones. Phone purchase, check, service activation, check, data transfer fees, check, peak hour fees, check, non-subscriber connection fees, check, the purchase of apps for your smart device, check, antivirus (not yet available, but coming soon to a smartphone near you,) 3G or 4G or 5G network connection fees and any miscellaneous fees they can hide inside of the fine print you are too damn busy to read, check.
So what does this have to do with your computer? Glad you asked. Smartphones suck. They are, for all of their technological wonderfulness, simply inadequate for you to do anything significant on. Hence the creation of the laptop, notebook, notepad, iPad, Xoom devices designed to cost less than a desktop/laptop, in theory, and offer you access to a computer-like interface so you can be away from home and work on ideas while you are sipping your latte at Starbucks. And they sell them, like the second coming of Jesus, and if they were as wonderful as they are made out to be, they might be worthwhile, but in comparison to a good desktop, they are simply inadequate to the task.
Underpowered, overpriced, sleekly designed, and marketed with a level of cool that would make liquid nitrogen jealous, they are the most useless devices on the market today. They have all of the failings of smartphones, only bigger. Pitiful CPUs, slow performance, laughable network speeds, slow loading browsers, in some cases, incomplete or poorly performing operating systems (no Flash? Come on, only one of the most important developments since video came to the computer) No keyboards, no mice, no connectivity to printers (in earlier iterations) and most importantly, no real reason to exist except someone said they should. They are designed to required a variety of external peripherals, wireless interfaces, specialized keyboards, stands, covers, bags and the list goes on. When you are finished equipping the device with the tools necessary to be useful, you would have been better off with a laptop that you could actually work on.
Which brings me to the ultimate idea here. When you have been convinced to give up your desktop for this underpowered interface device, you are basically being told, Go Back to Being a Consumer of Content. We want to sell you access to the internet and its services. Anything you used to get for free, we expect you to pay a pretty penny for, in some cases more than you did when it actually cost twice as much to create. This is another fee you have to pony up for and you are losing your ability to create content easily because none of the interface devices: smartphone, iPad, Xoom, etc make it really easy to create content worth looking at, with the power, speed, facility, and connectivity you get from your computer. So the real message here is stop trying to make good or complex content. Just sit back and consume. Take your Soma and go to sleep. We will handle anything worth reading, creating or doing.
All of these smart devices are a menace to the internet, they are simply adding addresses and using resources, utilizing bandwidth and providing nothing useful for anyone, while big corporations lap up the network resources and leave you reading CNN and ESPN and the Wall Street Journal in 720dpi and thinking how cool you look reading while you drink your latte and drive to work at the same time. When the internet, overburdened with crappy, underpowered devices turns into the cyberghetto, you can expect that big corporations will have crafted a new internet with better security, better interfaces, more friendly tools that works better than the Internet they just corrupted and you can join them on the NewerNet for a fee equal to three times what you used to pay on their previous network. And you will pay it. The difference will be the NewerNet won’t have any means for you to create content without paying THEM.
No, I am not a Luddite, or advocate running away from technology. My point of this essay is to make you question, WHY you buy technology or the company line and have you considered the ramifications when hundreds of thousands or millions of these devices, whichever they are, being created, designed and sold without any consideration for the future or the unintended consequences of those devices on everyone using the Internet. How many new devices can we create before we collapse the Internet in a twittering, social media orgasm of video feeds of cute kittens and American Idols as common as houseflies.
I don’t ever intend to give up my computer. They will get my computer and my ability to create content when they pry it from my cold dead fingers.
Soma and Lattes are counter-indicated.
If at this point, the title doesn’t make sense to you, I will help you out. In my personal belief, the iPad and all of these underpowered pieces of technological balderdash are, except for their video output a step backwards in terms of capability, usability and functionality. One day, they may grow up and be more useful or powerful but right now, we are heading backward, mesmerized by pretty video displays while we struggle to post an email using that damn touch screen.