The digital revolution? Just how much has this Web delivered on its ultra-hyped promise of the mid 90s, when futurists and ‘imagineers’ dreamed of phantasmagorical virtual worlds and ultra-utopian real ones? As we get into 2009, I thought I would look at all the unfulfilled promises of the Internet – the things that should have all happened by now, if we hadn’t been rebooting, anti-spamming, watching Star Wars Kid Remixes, or Googling Anna Nicole Smith and Britney.
International Smiley Face Standards
How many times have you whipped off an email with a witty retort that could only be taken in the right context with the accompanying smiley face – only to discover that it had turned into a :J or a $@&# in the recipient’s email program – completely changing the meaning of the message and leaving you feeling rather ~:-0?
Why haven’t Google, Microsoft, Nokia, ISO and W3C held a conference and agreed on a definitive set of cross-platform graphic smiley faces?
Someone sends you a nicely formatted email. You hit “reply” and start typing. All the formatting disappears, including your own signature, then all your “ENTER” keystrokes shift down double lines… what is that about?? Do Apple and Microsoft executives meet up every Friday 13th at Skull and Bones HQ for a good belly laugh? This is my life you are wasting, people!
More’s the law.
Why is it that memory and processing power have been doubling every two years – but every task I do on my computer takes exactly the same length of time to complete as it did in 1985? To top that off, I just bought a 2-Terabyte USB drive to conveniently store my entire digital life on – but it now takes three days to copy all the files on to it, and another 4 years to re-name all the files in a way that won’t make any sense to anyone by the time I’ve finished.
The Paperless Office
There’s a reason why Tasmania is getting clear-felled – every computer these days seems to ship with a free printer. I’ve bought four new filing cabinets in the last few years. “Think about the environment before printing” the footer says… We think. We print.
Power to the People
How can it be that 150 million people can join a social networking site, like FaceBook or MySpace, and the most significant impacts of that unimaginable level of people power are that a bunch of virtual pets got fed and a band called OK GO now have global cultural significance, regardless of the fact that no one bothered to question whether they were good musicians or not? There are only 7 countries with populations larger than 150 million – where is the FaceBook parliament? The MySpace armed forces? How can so many people be so mindlessly irrelevant? When is all this ‘social networking’ going to turn into something of substance? If we all chip in $1,000 each, we could overthrow governments, take over global corporations and fund a few small armies. We need better Web 2.0 apps.
Cloud computing – sounds like we’ll all just wave our hands around and our digital lives will just float into perfect formation, automagically self-organising without so much as a file rename, right-click or Control-Z. There is no cloud – only warehouses full of very complicated computers, built and maintained by super-geeks who love the complexity. When ISPs are run by poets and ballerinas, cloud computing might just become a reality.
Sadly I am running out of paper on this page – I could go on all year. Now switch off your computer, go to your window and scream “I’m mad as hell and I can’t take it any more!” Turn your computer back on and start blogging. That’ll fix it!