Want to build a social network for the Middle East or North Africa? The US State Department may have $500,000 to $2,500,000 for you.
Criticizing Twitter and its users is one of the lowest forms of shallow condescension - right up there pointing out that the things in the Alanis Morissette song aren’t technically “ironic”. The “why do I care what you had for breakfast” routine is one best relegated to bad stand-up comedians and 24-hour-cable-news hosts.
That said, I don’t think I’m cool enough to use Twitter (translation: I think I’m too cool to use Twitter). If I did, though, this is what it would be like:
- Getting a new toilet seat is like getting a whole new toilet
- Movies that I won’t see because they have numbers in the title: 3:10 to Yuma, The Taking of Whatever 123
- Movies are too long.
- Whenever I come from getting my teeth cleaned at the dentist, I feel like I need to gargle with CocaCola to get my mouth back to normal.
- When do single-parents shower?
- Shameful confession: I enjoy getting promotional emails from Dell.
- Get off my lawn!
Before my friends helpfully point it out, I actually do “use” Twitter in several ways. I have an account to follow the posts of friends, and I have helped create Twitter to the Editor and Hungarian and Back. Twitter is actually a very cool service, but I’d prefer a more open system.
This 9-part lecture on New Urbanism (in 10-minute bite-sized chunks) is a pleasantly common-sense criticism of car-centered urban planning.
In all of the talk about devices that provide pervasive internet connectivity (like the iPhone, Palm Pre, and Android phones), I had yet to see anyone address what I see as the most significant drawback of such devices. Until, that is, Tim Bray wrote up his experience with his Android G1 phone and included this:
Temptation and Work-Life Balance
If you haven’t had a real Internet phone before, and you’re a wired kind of person, there are social stresses. If you can always glance at your email or Gtalk or Twitstream, the temptation to fill any otherwise-blank moment by doing so is considerable. Your mind may find itself classifying a lull in conversation with your spouse as an “otherwise-blank moment” which turns out almost always to be inappropriate. [Tim Bray, July 19, 2009]
I’ve never been good with self-discipline. I don’t have cable-tv for this reason. Not because I don’t want to watch it, but because I do. If I had cable, I would watch it - for hours - and not anything in particular. I don’t see any reason to think that my behaviour with an always-connected phone would be any different.
I’m not particularly concerned about inappropriate use (during conversations, etc.). The problem for me would more likely one of frequency and volume. I would probably be better off if I could only check my email and feeds twice a day, rather than any time I want. Adding the ability to do it while I wait in line at the grocery store might not be a net gain in my quality of life (and grocery-line magazine covers are my only life-line to celebrity gossip).
Neil Postman talked about how the dawn of electronic communication filled our lives with impertinent information, mostly due to the proximity (or rather lack thereof) of the information sources. It seems we’re about to start carrying that entire problem around in our pockets.
I certainly don’t mean this as any kind of judgment on others with such devices. You’re probably a better person that I am and can manage your impulses. If you have the discipline to use it wisely, then great. I’m not sure I do.
Imagine for a moment that you are a brilliant person. Are you with me so far? Ok, now imagine that you’ve created a software application that everyone wants. Maybe it’s Lotus 123, or Mathematica, Doom, or a screensaver with flying toasters.
Imagine then, that as you went to sell your application, Microsoft charged a tax for it to run on Windows (or Apple for it to run on Macs). Given the freedom we have to install whatever we want on our personal computers, this situation sounds absurd and unacceptable.
This is pretty much how it works for iPhone applications. In order for anyone to actually use your brilliant new application, you have to give Apple a 30% cut of the purchase (Palm plans to do the same the Pre, and Google for Android phones, but more on that later).
Of course, Apple has the right to charge for this distribution service. They provide bandwidth, quality control, visibility, and do most of it quite well. The problem arises, though, when Apple intentionally precludes any alternative distribution methods for iPhone applications.
If Microsoft (or Apple) decided tomorrow that the only way to install applications on Windows was through a Microsoft owned and controlled distribution system (let alone take a 30% cut), we wouldn’t accept it. There would be overturning of cars.
The trouble isn’t that Apple charges for their application distribution system. The trouble is that it’s the only means of distribution for iPhone applications. It seems unclear if Palm is going to make the same mistakes with their Pre/WebOS platform as Palm’s position on “home-brew” applications isn’t yet clear (even the term “home-brew” is a bit troubling, as it seems to imply negative connotations to non-Palm-distributed apps).
Google can do whatever they want with the Android marketplace, because you don’t have to use it - you can install applications on Android phones without using the centralized marketplace system.
Why do we accept this system for phones when we wouldn’t for our laptops?
The Kids in the Hall are making an 8-episode murder mystery series for the CBC.
Today I watched footage of a fatal plane crash and all I could think was, “Did YouTube redesign their search box?”