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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Mountain Lion - Veering off the "Social" Cliff?

I am writing today about the new Apple "Mountain Lion" release.

And no - I have not yet downloaded it and I probably won't until I need to. (More on this below.) I say this after the release of the new Synthodeon iMIDIProbe which runs identically on both iOS and OS X.

The big "push" here from Apple with Mountain Lion relates to "notifications."  Notifications from Twitter, Facebook and other similar things.  From the reviews it seems that now these are all more "integrated" - I suppose that means even more dancing, jumping or throbbing icons bouncing around on the screen at the least opportune moments.

There are also supposedly tools to make it easier to "share" things like Safari pages; as if copying and pasting a link is less efficient than fifteen pokes and stabs and drags and distractions to do the same thing.

All this makes me wonder what people do with computers today.

Clearly actual work is not part of any of this.

When I am trying to get something done I like to be able to concentrate.

Again, this (working, concentrating) now seems like something abnormal.  Apparently most people either don't work and sit in front of their computers on Facebook all day doing nothing (while perhaps collecting a paycheck from an unwitting employer) or they can work with intense distractions coming in constantly from a thousand sources.

So why is one of the most valuable companies in the US turning its primary products into what I say are basically toys.  (Now I use the term "toy" to indicate something that's not related to doing something productive or work related.  I suppose that socializing is important if you do nothing else but its hard to see how or why you would spend that much money if there wasn't some value to it.)

Now I have toys - large and small - but they are just that - toys.  I don't expect them to do anything productive other than entertain me.

Now I post this blog to Facebook everyday because there are people there that read it.  And I look at Facebook from time to time to learn about social events.  But there is a huge amount of useless crap posted there as well: "look at this picture of my lasagna" and "my dog made a bad poo poo today (picture attached)" and so on. 

Do I really need this sort of "notification" to arrive every twelve seconds?

But it seems that Apple is turning all of its products into toys.

And I find this troubling.

I've worked hard to create some products that give a seamlessly smooth experience across Apple's products, e.g., MIDIProbe as well as other new products in the pipe line, because I think that in the sense that people like to work "one way" there is a future.  Especially as Apple turns its phenomenally useful work tools into toys.

But Apple's been seduced by the dark side: socialization.

I now have adult children who sit at the family dinner table texting crap back and forth rather than talking.


What's the point of this?

Its not even social.  We call it social but its not.  Not when we are interacting via an electronic surrogate while sitting within inches of the partner with which are are socializing.

What's even worse is adults interacting with their children via this same electronic surrogate.

And one of the largest, most successful companies in the world is doing this.

But I think there are some problems here.

For one, there is a limit to how many people will buy and use a "smartphone."  People will change computers for these but then no long pay for their computer (or cable).   So we are shifting away from the "computer" model to the "phone" model.  This is fine and its what technology is for.

But at the same time we are shifting away from computers as some useful tool to computers a mere toys and/or surrogates for socialization.  Does everyone on the planet really need to carry around a toy to play with all day long?


And this is sad as well.

With the only purpose in your life being to socialize through some electronic surrogate you life probably won't be all that fulfilling.  Sure you'll be connected - but connected to what?

Not to a human... (think Siri).

Apple and Samsung and Google will continue to sell toys to the masses - but each step in the process takes us away from being full grown adults that engage in "adult" activities and makes us more childlike - less responsible, more apt to push off responsibilities to others, more self absorbed than we should be, less likely to work and do productive things.

Sure play is good - but not as a lifestyle...

Now with integrated Mac OSX facilities Facebook will continue to chop up your social world into little photographic and video vignettes - parodies of reality - instead of doing anything meaningful.

I will eventually get Mountain Lion - but only for work reasons - I have email, and voice mail, and access to plenty of "social apps."  But I don't need this social stuff pushed in my face 24 x 7.

What will happen if a decent sized solar flare wipes out power for a few weeks?

What will people do?  Stare wide eyed at their blank iDevice waiting for it to come back on?

The modern way to me seems to be based on a large quantity of crappy (or poor or weak or distant or faux) social connections.  (For example, I only get asked to be your "linkedin" friend when you get fired - so you want to be my friend so you can get a new job...)

Like the disaster of US debt (equal to GDP like Spain and Greece) we are veering off into an "all in" introspective world of self gratification and entertainment.  Little wonder few understand the magnitude of the debt problem - they're too busy texting about the "Dark Knight."

With this release Apple is going "all in" too.

I just wonder if its the right thing.

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