June 16th, 2007
|12:01 am - Life During The Acceleration|
Charles Stross coined the term The Acceleration for the time shortly before the the Singularity , when the technology curve starts heading up especially swiftly. I'm fairly confident we're in the first stages of that point, from stem cells, to brain implants, to 3-d fabricators, it's all starting to come together, which is very nifty. However, on a far more prosaic level, it also makes decision to purchase technology more difficult. After much searching, I finally found, precisely the webphone I want, with all the capabilities I want, keyboard, wi-fi, GPS, bluetooth, word processing, camera, touchscreen, and the capability to store up to 4 GB of music, ebooks, and etc… However, this company is coming out with an even better model later this year, as is another company. So, I've decided to wait until Christmas before asking my folks for whatever nifty device looks good at that point. Then, I saw this article on electronic paper, which describes how various companies have finally gotten almost all of the bugs worked out of it. So, I'm expecting something using a full-color, video capable e-paper in less than two years, which would make any previous devices vastly obsolete. In short, for at least the next 5-10 years I expect that any handheld computer-phone I acquire will swiftly and decisively be made obsolete shortly after I acquire it.
As with everything else, I don't expect this to continue for much longer than that, because everything eventually reaches a point that is good enough. I enjoy my current computer (acquired new in early 2006) more than my previous one (acquired new in early 2002) but the practical differences for my level of use are fairly minor, well less than between either computer and my previous Windows 95 machine, which was acquired in 1997. I'm betting pda-phones reach that point by 2015 or so (and likely by that point have many more capabilities than the computer I am now using), but from now until then the level of improvements will be fast and furious. By no later than 2020, I'm betting that this same level of acceleration will hit implants and various performance enhancing drugs and gene therapies. Such is life during the acceleration.
Current Mood: impressed
While I'm all for miniaturization of computing technology, the user interface aspect still proves problematic. Thumb operated keyboards are all well and good, but they are just at this side of being too difficult to use effectively. Handwriting recognition has been workable for years (Roberta and Graffiti come immediately to mind) but is falling by the wayside, unfortunately. As displays begin to overtake more of the usable space of devices, though, it will begin to make a comeback.
|Date:||June 16th, 2007 06:51 pm (UTC)|| |
I've tried handwriting recognition and utterly loathe all systems I've seen and very much hope they are gone for good. OTOH, while I don't mind thumb keyboards, I completely agree that they are far from ideal. I'm am definitely hoping for some new alternative, perhaps some sort of chording keyboard, glove-based interface, or perhaps even neural interface controls
I was very impressed with Roberta - after working with it for half an hour, it was able to translate my (admittedly poor) handwriting without any trouble. It took me a little while to get used to Graffiti, but it proved very easy to take notes and program in.
I rather like the idea of a chorded keyboard, similar to this
when used with a PAN.
|Date:||June 17th, 2007 01:59 am (UTC)|| |
That looks like a very nifty keyboard. I'd love a chance to try one, and given the size and number of keys, and can see it working very well for a pda-phone, since the keys could be made literally more than twice as large.
So would I, but it's quite a bit of money for a keyboard that one might not be able to get used to. A try-before-you-buy would be nice.
|Date:||June 18th, 2007 09:30 pm (UTC)|| |
Most definitely. The hard part is that I have no idea if any one system will work for most people, even if (like this one) it comes in both left and right-handed version, and w/o that we are left with a multitude of confusing options.
I currently see input as the biggest barrier to full-time universal access. Between recent advances electronic paper, wearable displays
, and eventually direct electronic input, portable digital output is doing remarkably well. However, finding a way to allow people to walk around their daily lives and still have easy and near continuous information and communication access is more difficult and all the answers I've seen are fairly clumsy.
Generally, one solution does not, in fact, fit all.
At least keyboards can be remapped if necessary, but that supposes that one can touch-type and so won't be bothered by the key labels.
A lot of it is the fact that the ergonomic factor hasn't been taken into account yet. People assemble their own rigs, but don't actually try to make them look sleek or stylish because there isn't a marketing need to. Once the mass of individual modules and structural design is taken over by marketing, expect that to change in a hurry.
Wendell Barry writes about how the future sometimes "colonizes" the present in that we become so enamored with what will "soon" be possible that we never really enjoy living in the present with what we have now. It's part of why I've actually started to avoid "Popular Science" type stories about how great the future is going to be.
|Date:||June 16th, 2007 08:13 pm (UTC)|| |
OTOH, if you can wait six months before having an item, and a better item will be available in six months, then waiting makes sense.
True, but as the acceleration accelerates, there will be an even niftier item available if you just wait another 6 months. And after that 6 months there will be an even better gadget that is only another 6 months away. etc. etc.
As you say, at some point you just have to be willing to enjoy "good enough". Whether consumer culture will allow most people to do that is another question entirely.