26 March 2010

Extensions of the WHOLE man.

Kevin Kelly has his thoughts on where tablets might end up going.  He states two things that will make them different than the average cell phone or computer/laptop, the second being:
The tablet window goes two ways. You watch; it watches you. Its eye can remain on all the time, watching you as much as you like. Brian Eno once famously said (in the pages of Wired) that the problem with computers was that there was not enough Africa in them. By this he meant that computers as we knew them could “see” only the wiggling ends of our fingers as we typed. But if they could see and employ the rest of our body, as if we were dancing or singing, we could express ourselves with greater finesse. This window tablet injects some Africa into computers. It overthrows the tyranny of the keyboard. Gestures are king. Swoosh your fingers to scroll, wave your arms as with a Wii, shake or tilt it. Celebrate its embodiment. The craftsmanship of this device will matter. We’ll spend hours holding it, caressing it, stroking its magic surface, watching it. The feel of its surface, the liquidity of its flickers, the presence or lack of its warmth, the quality of its build, the temperature of its glow will come to mean a great deal to all of us.
This is interesting to my Marshall McLuhan (somewhat) obsessed mind.  McLuhan always referred to technology as extensions of man (or woman) and here Kelly is pointing out that technology is going to feel better to us as it extends more and more of us.   McLuhan saw our actual nervous system being eventually completely extended by our technology.  Conventional computers have done a good job with sight and sounds... and maybe our thought...but now touch screens will start to take our whole body as extensions.  Causing us to move, to dance.   I think McLuhan would also see it as interesting that the newer innovation of touch screens and gestures overthrows the need to know the phonetic alphabet even more.  The keyboard isn't gone completely, but I think this is a move closer to not needing to know written language.  Which moves us farther from the visual to the oral community.  

It's also interesting to see how Kelly describes the romance between the individual and the technology.  The relationship is tangible to the user.   Kind of scary in a way.  You thought that people were already zealots about their Macs.... now their iPad is going to be their lover and best friend.   That might be more scary, I'd hate to see Apple fanboys more obsessed with something.

I think McLuhan would have loved this stuff.  I do too.... and I've only been thinking about it for a little while

1 comment:

Adam said...

Did you see this post from Nicholas Carr?