artwork by Emmanuel Laflamme
The Internet is over 40 years old; the World Wide Web, over 20. Google has made the Internet navigable. Apple has made it portable. Facebook has made it social. So, it’s all happened, then?
Maybe that’s why we keep encountering more of the same.
There are aspects of the digital ecosystem I know I’ve had enough of, each time I see them. It’s then I also realize I’m feeling bored, surfeited, jaded. What might they be?
Cloud. “Cloud” this. “Cloud” that. In theory, each time you come across an observation about the “cloud,” an invisible ring of déjà vu should descend on you. Not because the word denotes a meteorological phenomenon, but because it’s become a digital tech buzzword of our times.
And, as if we’re not getting enough of it in tech blogs, venerable dailies, literary magazines, local rags, we also are seeing them pop up else elsewhere, as posters, sculptures, and whatnot. Interestingly, we’ve been using cloud services for a long time, unbeknown to us. Were we to have adhered to the old paradigm, we’d still be calling it the “Internet?” Cloud=Internet.
The Big Four. Tech news seems to be dominated by constant updates on only the Big Four: Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google (worthy successors to the erstwhile giants Intel, Microsoft, Dell, and Cisco), each of which is fighting to colonize the “cloud.”
Is it just me who experiences a dull fatigue reading about them? It’s a bit tiresome that one of them has, sort of, even spilled over into the supermarket isles of household cleaners. Tide Pod, the latest product offering from Procter & Gamble, palm-size, liquid detergent-filled capsules that is being hailed as the biggest innovation in laundry in about a quarter of a century has an uncanny Apple-y flavor (no pun intended) to it. Meant to pique the curiosity of consumers who dote on hi-tech gadgets, did you notice that the Tide Pod is a phonetic cousin of the iPod?
Infographics. Unless you’ve been leading the life of an oyster under the rock, you’ve probably noted the explosion in the trend of non-textual storytelling, of presenting complex information, visually.
We’ve entered what many observers are dubbing as the “Golden Age of Infographics.” Soon, the day may be upon us when even news headlines are depicted pictorially, resurrecting the mode of communication of the Neanderthals. Infographics are eye candy. I love them. Only, I see too many of them, too often.
Apps. There is an almost frightening array of apps. In early March, the Apple app store registered a staggering 25 billion downloads. It hosts well over 10,000 apps. That’s a drop in the ocean compared to the 600,000 or so apps available in the iOS app store. There seriously should be moratorium on them.
Social Networks. No one should expect extra credit for knowing the names of the social network behemoths—Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Tumblr, and Google+. But, ever tried Proust? Badoo? Cowbird? Jaiku? Orkut? FetLife? Jotting down the names of the entire swarm of all such platforms that are out there, globally, would exceed the length of this feature.
Point is, with these sites, there is a visceral feeling that you’ve encountered them somewhere before, for they betray an uncanny familiarity. Their content is surprisingly similar to the one that came before it; their message as hackneyed as the other; their format as predictable as the next. Let us not make them anymore.