Sunday, February 26, 2012

Nursery School World

Continuing my earlier rant, I like having physical possession of my things; I want them to be here, rather than off in the ether where I have to conjure them into my presence.  Further, I want to be able to do what I want with them, not what Steve Jobs or Bill Gates thought I should do with them.


Once upon a time, there was a thing called "thin client".  It was basically a reincarnation of what we originally had with the first desktops: The monitor and keyboard on your desk did nothing but provide access to the central computer.  If the computer or the connection went down, you sat at your desk playing with your paddleball until the large piece of beige decor on your desk cam back to life.  Everybody hated it except the IT guys, who were ecstatic.  They were again the spider at the center of the web, and they could keep everything safe and secure by preventing the rest of us from having access to anything that mattered (I swear the firewall at the office works like this; all the Interwebs are presumptively blocked.  Reminds me of the episode of The Simpsons where Bart goes to the Flanders', and they have 125 cable channels, all blocked.).  We screamed, and once again we had something other than a dumb box on our desks.

And then one day our apps migrated to the Web.  And our data.  So although we didn't have dumb boxes on our desks, we had empty boxes.  It's all for safety and security, to keep bad things from happening.  And it stinks like last week's diapers.  I want my data on my box, not someone else's.  I want the software I want, not what I'm obligated to stream from Redmond or Cupertino with random "upgrades" that require new hardware and turn my earlier work into Linear A.

In short, I want to use my stuff my way.  Unfortunately, more and more producers consider you too much of an infant to be trusted to do anything on your own.  So with things from computers to cars to household appliances, you do it their way or you don't do it at all.  I call this "Frank Lloyd Wright Syndrome."  Wright's later clients told stories about Wright dropping in for visits.  If they had moved the furniture he had designed, he moved it back.  If they (Horrors!) had put in their own furniture, he made them take it out and put his back in.  Some may call this the price of genius.  I call it a crippling case of OCD.

I have a picture of a boy strapped into a "new model" potty chair.  Astronauts aren't this securely strapped in for a launch.  The picture is a joke, but only barely.  Everything has to be safe these days.  Safe and convenient.  We build in safety and convenience to the point that the thing doesn't work anymore.  Computers are a good example.  Cars are another.  Your car practically runs itself.  Until it doesn't.  Then you need a Cray computer and Roger Penske's shop just to find the problem, let alone fix it.  And how convenient is "convenience food" if it's so loaded with crap that it kills you instead of nourishes you?  I suppose it's convenient for the undertaker if you're pre-embalmed or if you're so full of grease that cremation is instantaneous.

It isn't just products.  Our entire society has gone this way.  Kids are regimented in ways that make Marine basic look like Woodstock.  TSA secures our airports by making everyone prefer walking 3,000 miles or simply wish they could blow the place up.  The Wars on Drugs and Terror compel us to rat out our friends and families (Ah, Soviet-style security.  I feel safer already.).
Here's the deal, people.  Risk is unavoidable.  Deal with it with what's between your ears.  Stop trying to find a magic wand that will make it go away.  And stop putting up with people who claim to be making it all go away while ushering you through the door to Prison Planet.

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2 Comments:

At February 29, 2012 at 7:28 PM, Blogger kusumi said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At March 6, 2012 at 9:31 AM, Blogger Knute Rife said...

I deleted the comment because it was pure Spam in a can. If anyone has a real comment, feel free.

 

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