December 14, 2010
My brain often has a specific "flare stack", a burn off of (hopefully) extra mental cycles. Like, before and after I bought my car, I was intensely into a few automobile blogs. Lately, though, its been how gosh darn awesome the iPad and iPhone are.
I'm always on the lookout for things that justify or explain this obsession. The link Amber posted the other day on devices as literal extensions of our brains. And that helps explain the iPhone I think -- for example I get a little rush of dopamine when I use the Todo app to keep myself organized or jot a memo to preserve a bit of information or make a datebook entry to nudge me at some future moment. It's not a new phenomenon for me, I got the same thing with the Palm Pilot, but the iPhone absolutely upped the ante with Internet connectivity and general slickness.
So an important part of the "brain extenstion" explanation of the iPhone is the portability/pocketability; if it's going to be part of my mental whole, it needs to be at hand pretty much all the time. (Not ALL the time, much like I'm often (clearly) not engaging all the parts of my brain all the time.) But the iPad doesn't have this excuse: sure it's nice and portable, but no more so than a small laptop. So why does it feel so much better than a laptop, while being a bit less capable in may respects?
Amber's article explains that too, I think...it talks about how people who "talk with their hands" aren't just talking with their hands, they're probably thinking with their hands as well. (For that matter, speaking is more a form of on-the-fly thought assemblage than we usually acknowledge--) The physical body becomes the medium of computation. And iPads allow for a deeper physical communion than a keyboard and mouse or keyboard and touchpad. (And more so than the iPhone, even, since the throughput of the larger screen is that much greater.) A barrier to the closed loops as "gadget as extended nervous system" is knocked away, and the result is an almost tangible sense of pleasure at our newly enhanced and extended brain.
We tend to think of ourselves as beings of pure mindstuff (or soul or what have you) inside a bodily shell, but our bodies are part of us, and iPads tap into that in a way few other products can hope to. And connectivity to the Internet is another part of that... iPad eases the way to the groupmind that is the modern net.
The whole app model reflects this. Frankly, interesting computer applications are few and far between. I look what I install on every new PC I get - browsers, paint programs, text editors, IM, programming environments (even cool ones like Processing) -- it's not very interesting, all the action has moved to the browsers. iDevices get past that though, and suddenly apps are interesting again. I would look askance if a bank or entertainment website insisted I use a special application on my Windows box, but with the iDevice, it just kinda makes sense... and it has to do with how the whole iThing seems to transmorgify into a new device, and so that whole eye/brain/hand/screen loop has a new toy to play with, without the klutzy old keyboard or intermediary, one-removed mouse, or other distracting windows to interfere.
TOMORROW: how Google's CR-48 laptop gets it wrong, wrong, wrong.
My buddy Beau is doing a Salvation Army virtual kettle - I split a few hundred tween Boston + Cleveland- HUGE need these days!
"Brownies in the kitchen!"
"Alright, You talked me into it, I'm off-"
"He twisted your rubber arm, eh?"
"Well, I like Brownies more than I like dignity."
--Pedro, Me, and Jon
http://www.cracked.com/article_18927_6-bizarre-ways-architecture-designed-to-ward-off-ghosts.html - I love stuff like this. Plus: ghost-diagrams!
First few real flakes of snow, near Arlington T stop. Damn.
Are cats impressed by our ability to use lights? When I come home to a dark house are they all "Behold! It is Kirk Dispeller of Dark!"?