Friday, May 14, 2010

'Curated Computing' !!! WTF is that?

I just read this article by Sarah Epps of Forrester Research and I highly recommend it to any person dealing with software or (PC) hardware product design.

For a long while I've been trying to figure out in my mind the key elements of the actual shift in the consumer computing paradigm that the iPhone and iPod Touch brought about, which the iPad amplified even more. Sarah just gave the answers I was looking for! Well done, lass!

She claims, among other, that 'less is more' is the key element of that paradigm shift. User experience is enhanced but at the cost of imposing additional constraints to end users. Come to think of it though, in fact, there maybe not as many constraints as users might fear they'll get. When the iPad was announced many 'experts' complained about the absence of a camera, USB ports and explicit filing systems like those that Windows (File Explorer) or Mac OS (Finder) so readily offer... This is total BS. Take the camera issue for instance. Did anyone ever think that the iPad might be a wee bit too clumsy to hold 'n shoot pictures with? Yes? I thought so! Why should there be any camera at all, then? In order to VC with Skype, a backbencher screams! OK, fine! Imagine you're busy Skyping with a friend holding his/her iPad. By design, unless the darn thing sits mounted on a docking station, your friend's iPad is bound to make you nauseous! It'll move your correspondent's Skype live image all the time, in and out of focus, unless your friend's hands are either dead paralyzed or nailed on his/her belly!

The iPad is a media consumption device that won't do as well the things you do with common personal computers or netbooks, at your (home) office or on the road. But it will do much faster than anything available out there, and with unsurpassed quality those things that you usually have fun doing. Watch family movies, YT clips, Flickr and your own photographs, read books, newspaper and magazines articles, watch TV, listen to music, even sketch and 'paint', and do some focused surfing without bothering about where did I put that darn URL I was pointing at a few minutes ago.

As I mentioned on another blog, the iPad paradigm is ringfenched, first by Apple and its "enforced disciplined" ObjC programming and component libraries, and then by each app supplier (especially news agencies and online sellers) who want to keep you nailed inside their ecosystems. With plain vanilla browsers 'loyalty' to any given supplier remains subminimal. You 'surf' like a dolphin from one wave to another (replace wave with URL). Once you launch an iPad app though, you'll feel more like a dolphin in an aquarium, confined within its pools far from the wide open sea... His Jobness and his iPads/iPhones condemned all general purpose browsers to an inglorious death. Like he's now trying to do with Adobe's Flash.

OK, am I suggesting Jobs is an oligarch trying to constrain my freedoms? Well, yes... maybe, but, personally, I feel like the Utopia fatso's in Wall-e's world; in other words, as long as I get what I want, and I like what I get, then screw my e-freedoms! This is what Sarah calls 'curated' computing. Suppliers offering you a great experience and holding you to it by shutting off other computing escape 'ports' like a firewall would do. However, I strongly believe that the vast (90% and above) majority of all of us in the end user community feel exactly the same! We just don't care. PC freedoms are a sacred 'thing' only to those Open Source fanatics who spend 18 hrs a day in front of their monitors. Whereas, us, and the rest of the world go on living our lives. So, again, who cares what Jobs does to our e-freedoms? Or whether he's being a monopolistic swine? As long as I can hold his magic gadgets in my hands and can do the things I could only dream of not too long ago... who gives a sh#t?

2 comments:

Didier Navez said...

Thanks Vassily for pointing out this interesting article (wow you are fast, the full article from Sarah Rotman Epps was published on Forrester database on May 14 !)

Now apparently Webcam may well be included in the next version of the iPad. WIRED magazine was pointing out that Steve Job was showcasing in Feb 2010 an iPad including a webcam (see link with pictures): http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2010/02/apple-ipad-may-ship-with-webcam/

So OK for educating users towards a "less is more" paradigm, but still Apple seems to be well aware of certain strong user expectations (cf. Forrester survey indicating that 37% of consumers are expecting webcam to be included in their next computer - 5th expectation on a list of 20)

Hope all is well with you :)

Cheers

Didier

VJK said...

Hi Didier,

Good for you to drop by. I'm sure you are right and they will eventually incorporate a small camera, although it will be the least used feature on the iPad. Even with an iPhone is shooting of pictures quite a challenge.

I started getting magazine subscriptions on the iPad! Fabuleux! And they cost 20% of the paper edition. That's what iPads are built for. Books, magazines, clips, music... in other words, media consumption. I also read my first book on the Kindle app (on iPad). Read this too... sheer fun! Title:"Shit my dad says!"