This article uses the word “reportedly” far too many times (twice in the excerpt below, alone). Considering it’s not really even a real article, just an amusing anecdote from another article with some bland commentary, it makes me seriously question the state of tech journalism as a whole. However, this little sound byte from Steve Jobs made me laugh out loud (and, I mean actually laugh out loud, not just type “lol”) — then again, most things irreverent about Steve Jobs strike me as amusing…
“Can anyone tell me what MobileMe is supposed to do?” he reportedly offered. Someone in the room ventured a response, reportedly one that made an awful lot of sense.
“So why the f*** doesn’t it do that?” retorted Jobs.
“You’ve tarnished Apple’s reputation…You should hate each other for having let each other down.”
I’m not the type of person who likes to commemorate or memorialize the occasion of a day like Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. For the most part, my observation of any holiday is whether I choose to take the day off and (at least since my son’s been in school) influenced by whether G has the day off. Today he does. I still plan on working. However, this MLK quote was posted to Gizmodo the other day, and I found it poignant:
Yet, in spite of these spectacular strides in science and technology, and still unlimited ones to come, something basic is missing. There is a sort of poverty of the spirit which stands in glaring contrast to our scientific and technological abundance. The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers.
This is the serious predicament, the deep and haunting problem confronting modern man. If we are to survive today, our moral and spiritual “lag” must be eliminated. Enlarged material powers spell enlarged peril if there is not proportionate growth of the soul. When the “without” of man’s nature subjugates the “within”, dark storm clouds begin to form in the world.
I’m not a religious person in the normal sense of the word. But I’m always captivated by the passion, intensity and clarity in the words of African-American ministers and public speakers. I’ve built blogs for a few and those were no exception. They stand in stark contrast to my more conservative, traditional, tedious and boring Catholic upbringing.
This is something E and I talk about often; the idea that the more we, as a culture, become immersed and dependent upon technology, the more we lose a part of ourselves. I’m willing to accept the digital replacements — however inferior they may be to their physical counterparts — for the things we interact with and love. Books, records, tangible things that you can hold and experience and interact with in a primal way. The idea that in 10 or 20 or 50 years every piece of media and information will be digitally encoded makes her blood run cold. And I think MLK gets to the heart of the matter in the excerpt that Giz found; as we revel in our own mastery of technology and science, we lose the mystery and the magic of those things that science and technology has no bearing on, and, in turn, lose a piece of our soul. The latest Kindle may be the best thing for reading books since reading books, but who can deny the joy of holding a book, feeling the tangible weight, maybe sneaking a peek at where your bookmark is in relation to the front and back covers. As we move to a digital world, album covers — once large and beautiful, able to display a great amount of detail — grow smaller and smaller until they’re nothing more than 128 pixels square on an iPod or Zune. I used to love to run my fingers across the spines of my dad’s record collection, pull one out, open it up, and stare at the inside art and read the lyrics. That’s something you can’t do with iTunes, ignoring the loss of fidelity between actual lossless, mastered audio and encoded mp3s. As we put on our 3D glasses and immerse ourselves in “the experience”, we lose the real experience of being in a theatre with a 30 foot high screen.
No, I don’t think MLK is talking about our media consumption, that’s just my angle on it. Because I’m not going to get into a theological discussion about the state of our spiritual beings as a society — although I think he’s right about that, too. I’m not sure where we stand with our moral being, although with the shootings in Arizona, the rise of conservative extremism over reasonable discourse and scientific fact (see: anyone who says the greenhouse effect is a hoax), and MLK’s own demise…well, there’s probably enough evidence there to support that, as well.
Despite my own natural inclinations, I’m thinking about Martin Luther King on Martin Luther King Day. I’m thinking about how unfortunate it is for those of us left when visionaries are taken from us, and that the world that’s left in the wake is a bit darker without their light to guide us.
I just finished reading Nicholas Carr‘s The Big Switch in anticipation of getting a copy of his new book The Shallows. This troubling excerpt towards the end of the book hints at where he takes The Shallows and gives a less-than-utopian view of our dependency on all things web-related:
The printed page, the dominant information medium of the past 500 years, molded our thinking through…”its emphasis on logic, sequence, history, exposition, objectivity, detachment, and discipline.” The emphasis of the Internet, our new universal medium, is altogether different. It stresses immediacy, simultaneity, contingency, subjectivity, disposability, and, above all, speed. The Net provides no incentive to stop and think deeply about anything, to construct in our memory [a] “dense repository” of knowledge…It’s easier “to Google something a second or third time rather than remember it ourselves.”
The implications are unsettling. As we advance toward an age where we will undoubtedly augment our reality and perception with computer-assisted technology (the old “jack me in” philosophy that is particularly prevalent to cyberpunk and no longer describes something terribly far off in our future), there’s a immense probability that, rather than using these technologies to enhance our natural ability to think and learn and remember, we will instead be using them instead of thinking, learning or remembering. Why bother remembering a date or a concert, when you can store it to a flash memory card with a thought? Why bother remembering appointments, birthdays. We already supplement our experience of important events (your child’s birth, for example) with cameras and video recordings, so much so that — I believe — we lose a sense of the moment, we are no longer present and active participants. Instead, we give up our participation in favor of participating later through recorded media. There’s no doubt in my mind that if a storage device was invented that allowed you to offload your memories to an external hard drive, that people would end up using that rather than remembering things themselves. And then, what? We lose the ability to remember how to remember?
It’s easy to see these technologies — a chip implanted in your brain to “enhance” some function or other and plug you in constantly to the Net, which Carr says we’ll start seeing within the next 20-30 years — replacing our natural functions in much the same way as a drug. A heroin addict is unable to quit because their body no longer naturally produces endorphins, relying, instead on the artificial endorphins provided by the drug. The same thing could happen with our memories and knowledge and ability to process data organically — when a chip can do it faster, more accurately, and store the information more permanently in more detail, why bother with these messy meat shells at all? Except, possibly, to avoid being a vegetable when the chip’s taken out…
Okay I admit it. I have been reading too many steampunk novels recently because this is what spilled out of my subconcious when I sat down to create a new wallpaper. Clockwork, ancient tomes filled with long lost technology, a mixture of organic and cybernetic. What will society look like when we’re all dust? What will be “new technology” when artifacts like the telephone and the laptop are preserved in ancient history museums, when our civilization is thousands of years gone?
Included in the zip file are wallpapers in widescreen and fullscreen format, as well as iPhone and iPad counterparts. We’ve also added a Twitter background. The following resolutions are included:
Download Forecast 24.6 MB
downloaded 144 times