I thought I understood the internet. I’m older than the damn thing and I’ve been using it since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. Back then it was a hip, edgy, slightly obscure body of information that came into homes over a phone line, much like characters in the Matrix. Now it has become something more like Obi-Wan’s description of the Force, an invisible energy that surrounds and binds all living things.
Communicating long distances over the internet is not a new idea, but it used to be done in via ICQ or chat room or AOL Instant Messenger, by someone sitting alone in a dimly lit room. The advent of wireless internet and social media allowed people to take that aloneness out with them, socializing with everyone in the world except the people actually around them. Apple’s world conquest of the early 2000’s culminated in the unspoken Mobile Mandate: that all proper individuals must acquire and abide smartphones and tablets . We are currently undergoing a paradigm shift in delivery and consumption of content: Web 2.o, the long-awaited sequel to the cyberpunk classic Hackers.
What defines the rebellious youth cultures of the past half-century? What do the hippies have in common with the punks? How are the slackers the same as the hipsters? At the heart of these ideologies, there is an essential rejection and redefinition of the ideal of the American Dream. Somehow, the image of universal success persists despite outcry after outcry from disillusioned twenty and thirty-somethings. The call of these prophets fall on the deaf ears of younger, more jaded generation, who invariably views the previous generation as having failed to change a misleading societal expectation. The costumes and the approaches have varied but the mission has remained the same.
Hippies aimed for a universalizing utopian society. Show the world how great life on the commune is and they will all join hands with us, etc. Punks and hip-hop heads aimed to change society by tearing it down. What it was supposed to be rebuilt into was unclear, but step one was, without question, destruction. These are the cultures that put graffiti on the map. The slackers paved the way for hipsters in being “over it,” a generation of “whatever.”
This is where it all comes together. A few minutes browsing this blog will reveal several common themes. I dig yammering about voice recognition and near field communication because they are extremely useful technologies, plus, they light up the part of my brain that responds to living in a Jetsons episode. I jump on any opportunity to talk about how Google+ fell off like a bad bag of dope, and why they can’t get it together. This week they all come together in the context of question I posed a couple weeks back about artistic integrity and the fine line between inspired imitation and intellectual larceny.
In the context of a Guinness Ad that appropriates its direction from Requiem For A Dream, I asked if copying or stealing ideas was an inevitable or acceptable practice in the creative world. After many hours of book-larnin’ and brain-thinkin’ I came to a couple conclusions. For better or worse, good ideas are going to be repeated over and over. You might even go as far as to say there are only a handful of good, original, ideas, that have been refurbished, refabricated, and repackaged over and over throughout time. Regardless of whether imitating ideas is inevitable, it remains impossible to make a blanket assertion about whether or not it is wrong. In this moral vacuum, I posit one maxim for all men to accord equally, “If you are going to step to someone else’s game, you HAVE GOT TO BRING THE HEAT!”
Google consistently brings a knife to the gunfight. Google+ was late out of the gates and has been lagging behind Facebook since the first turn. When it decided to play Facebook at its own game, it failed to bring an ace up its sleeve. Every aspect is an imitation of a Facebook feature. Circles expanded beyond privacy settings only slightly, but ultimately crashed and burned while trying to do a barrel roll. Suggested friends was not suggested by anyone to their friends. A weak attempt to one-up likes, +1 never amounted to much. The recent GMail mobile app was a GFail and had to be returned to sender. Just a few years ago Google was an innovator for putting our mail and docs in the cloud, but now they are trying to trying to pick up the pieces as iCloud makes it rain. (more…)
I meant to write this article last night. But, when I sat down to find some news to discuss, the first article I came across was a New York Times piece bearing the headline “Wave Glider, a Floating Robot, Seeks to Network the Oceans.” Naturally I became entirely preoccupied with drawing this picture of what I could only assume “Wave Glider” looks like. Unfortunately, the real Wave Glider looks more like a boogie board with training wheels and less like Optimus Prime’s extroverted cousin from Maui. This was such a disappointment that I lost interest in the whole affair. Overall, this was a good move, though. Today I found something more interesting to write about, and that’s a Win for both of us.
Initially, I was considering debating Jordan Crook’s semi-disparaging remarks about the shortcomings of Apple’s Siri. Unfortunately though, since getting the 4s, all I’ve done with Siri is repeatedly ask “What does a weasel look like?” and try to text tweet @Beeribot, “Could you pour me a beer?” (I see they also programmed the robot to pour one out for its dead homies) Speaking of which, I’ve heard, from a reliable source, that Siri, when asked about where/how to dispose of a body, will return the locations of nearby swamps, landfills, and pig farms. Apparently the app is down with being accessory to murder, but not with editing calendar events. It really is hard to find good help these days. (more…)