by Loren A. Roberts (guru of multi-hyphenate media)
To be honest, I most often think of these mogul-people as politicians -- and therefore, anything they say is mostly newspeak [go back and read 1984].
But Dustin Curtis brought up this segment from Mark Zuckerberg's Home announcement:
At one level, [Home] is just the next mobile version of Facebook. At a deeper level, I think this can start to be a change in the relationship that we have with how we use computing devices. For more than thirty years, computers have mostly just been about tasks, and they had to be–they were too expensive and clunky and hard to use, so you wouldn't really want to use them for anything else. But the modern computing device has a very different place in our lives. It's not just for productivity and business, although it's great for that too. It's for making us more connected, more social, more aware.
...and more beholden to Facebook.
Home, by putting people first, and then apps–by just flipping the order–is one of many small but meaningful changes in our relationship with technology over time.
Essentially, Zuckerberg wants us to trust technology...it can become the savior of our (Facebook-designed) social problem!
When I think about the world today, what amazes me most is the number of people who are getting on the internet every day and how it's improving their lives as they join this modern knowledge economy. I grew up with the internet, and I can't really imagine a world without sharing, and messaging, and searching, but actually only about a third of the world is on the internet today–a little more than two billion people. So we're really very close to the beginning of this. If you look out, maybe five or ten years, when all five billion people who have feature phones are going to have smart phones, we're soon going to be living in a world where the majority of people who have a smart phone–a modern computing device–will have never seen in their lives what you and I call a “computer.”
This is true. Good one, Zuckerberg.
So, just think about that for a moment.
Okay, I'm thinking...
The very definition of what a computer is and what our relationship with it should be hasn't been set for the majority of the world. And when it is, I think a lot of that definition is going to be around people first. We're about to see the most empowered generation of people in history, and it's really an honor to be able to work on these problems.
...and to make more money from them...but again, he's right. Computing will cease to be this thing where we have to sit down in front of a screen and start working; rather, computing will only be needed as it applies to various tasks that we go about during our daily lives.
This is a deeply technical problem and it's also a deeply social problem. This is the kind of problem that Facebook, our culture and our community, are uniquely built to work on.
As an observer of science and culture, what Zuckerberg says resonates strongly with me, and yet fills me with dread: Our relationships cannot be governed by technology. They simply cannot. And yet Zuckerberg sees an opportunity: a way for those of us constantly connected to our devices to remain social beings. And he gets to profit from it. But he also will exercise more and more control over those social relationships; I am wary of Facebook's increasing influence and control over how I communicate with my friends on Facebook. Mind you: I know they have every right to do whatever they want -- they are a publicly-held company that wants to make a massive profit. But we, as human beings, need to be in the driver's seat when it comes to how we interact with each other and technology.
Yes? Or are we destined, as Ray Kurweil posits, for a moment when we transcend the biological, human/social constructs that we have relied on for centuries?
LOREN A. ROBERTS produces films, videos and music, designs magazines and logos, plays and sings in a Doobie Brothers tribute band, and is a student of what happens when science and technology and the arts and culture collide. www.hearkencreative.com
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