Thursday, July 23, 2015

In the future, everyone will be stupid for fifteen minutes.

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." 
--Sir. Arthur C. Clarke

"Magic." Well that sounds swell, don't it? When it works, yeah. Like some freaking magic genie (or Reddy Kilowatt), technology pops out of the wall socket to fry your eggs, blend your smoothie and electrocute Charlie Starkweather. When it doesn't work ...

Black magic.

See, Arthur neglected to mention that part.

The hellmouth that suddenly opens below your feet. Thousands of living brooms drowning you with water. A witch putting a curse on you and your children. A door that won't open. All the words coming out of your mouth turned to nonsense and gibberish ... 

Yeah, that's magic, too.

And it ain't always your servant.

The shiny tech that makes our lives wonderful is a demon (or daemon) only temporarily tamed. Forget the magic word, step out of the charmed circle -- and it can turn on you in the blink of an eye.

Blink. The CPU of your Mac G5 just died. Those ancient iterations of Photoshop and InDesign are digital dust: ones and zeroes floating in the breeze like Donny's ashes in The Big Lebowski.

Blink. You buy, borrow, rent or steal a new computer.

Blink. You get "Adobe Creative Cloud."

Blink. You've gone from Photoshop Master to Photoshop Moron. "You" in the sense of "I." Yep.

I've been fighting this for years, damnit. To state it as a rational argument: I don't want new stuff! New stuff sucks! The old stuff works just fine!

See, there's a reason updates make me upchuck. Every time they upgrade a program, they make it worse. Yeah. It's a fact, people. Every program, no matter how elegant and intuitive when it starts, increasingly turns to kludge and caca. Do the math ...

After X number of versions, the software developers get the program as perfect as it can possibly be. Then what? Do they tell the customers, "Hey, the program's perfect. We're gonna close up shop and spend the rest of our lives volunteering at Habitat for Humanity. Which end of the hammer is up, anyway?" Hell no.

They add crap to the program. They reinvent the wheel, turn it into a square wheel, then add a patch to make the wheel round again. They make the simple complicated, the intuitive arcane, and turn the interface you know like the QWETRY keyboard inside out and reset it in Cyrillic characters.

Every time they upgrade a program, they make it worse. 

Call it The Fugate Principle. The software variant of The Peter Principle, namely ...

In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.

So, all computer programs rise to their level of incompetence. But, much like your ex-wife or the Grand
Panjandrum, this is never the program's fault. It's the user's fault, of course. Yours. You've gone from expert to idiot in fifteen seconds, pal. Get used to it.

In the future, everyone will be stupid for fifteen minutes.

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