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Full Version: "Smart" phones make people into dumb proles
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The iPhone killed my inner nerd
iPhone 1, geek 0

'I used to run a full Active Directory with individual organizational units and push out group policies to manage my family’s local PCs. I had a proxy server set up to control web access, and revoked administrator rights to ensure my family never installed malicious software. All of our email went through my Exchange server, and I had a custom app that pulled mail from ISP and Hotmail POP3 accounts and filtered it through an assortment of anti-spam tools before it was allowed to hit an Exchange inbox. All of my family’s important documents were stored on a file server, backed up in a RAID array. I even used Zip drives for the really important stuff. I was a true IT administrator, and I was only 15.

'All of these PCs were built by hand, with custom cases, cooling configurations, and my own selection of processors or RAM. I laughed at the thought of having to buy a Toshiba or Packard Bell PC, and opted for AMD’s Athlon 64 processors. I’d build powerful gaming rigs and spend hours writing scripts to get a better field of view in games, or a slight advantage by squeezing out every single drop of performance by altering textures per map. I would enter contests and win better processors or RAM, upgrade my PC and push the older components down to my servers.

'These servers were so powerful at the time that I was able to get push email on my phone, something you couldn’t really do back in 2002 unless you were a business using BlackBerry devices. I’d sit smugly reading my emails on a train with my iPAQ or one of the original HTC Pocket PC devices with a stylus. I couldn’t download apps from an app store for these phones because those stores didn’t even exist yet. Instead, I’d find apps on the internet and load them on, modifying the registry along the way to tweak things. I used to spend hours browsing on XDA-Developers for the latest ROMs, downloading and installing them to tweak and test the latest software and firmware. It was an exciting time, and I miss it.'


'Even devices that we’d consider “traditional” computing have been impacted by the iPhone. Chromebooks are locked down with an app store, the iPad Pro continues to push what can be done with a tablet, and now Windows 10 S tries to answer both with an OS that only runs Windows Store apps. Windows 8, Chromebooks, and Android all probably wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the iPhone.

'When I look at modern PCs, tablets, and phones now I’m surprised at the simplicity of them. Not all of them are perfect, but technology is rapidly turning into something in the background that’s accessible to everyone and doesn’t require hours of configuration. I miss the thrill of hacking away and tinkering, but as I shout to Alexa to turn off my lights at night I can’t help but appreciate just how easy everything is now.'


There is something indescribably sad about the last two paragraphs. Back in the heyday of the 80s and 90s, I recall thoughts regarding the digital divide. My thoughts were along the lines of "what can we do to bring the masses up to our level? How can we engage them, train them, and bring them to the table?"

Instead, what we've done is lowered to bar. We've made technology dumb, and, at first blush, "cheap," so that the "amigos" I see cleaning the office buildings now have supposed access. But what access do they have? What control do they have over their personal technology? Their apps? Their information? Does dumbing down technology for the masses really give them the information they need for power, or, does it actually result in a feedback loop leading us further into a state of low information? Furthermore, look at ownership. Who actually owns their technology as opposed to leasing it? Who actually owns their data and info?

I submit that "Smart" phones and the ecosystem which has evolved around technology over the past 10 - 15 years has moved the masses toward being dumb, dependent, low information proles. Things could have been so different. Maybe it is still possible, who knows.
Unless I should ever need a smart phone for purposes of business, I will never have one. I do not now have a working cell phone of any kind, but let me get a job or disability income, and I will be satisfied with a 'dumb' phone. Two, probably -- one to share with a friend in the case that we go to different parts of a shopping mall and get separated. Or something like that.

I have a reader device for travel, and I have used it largely for accessing Project Gutenberg or YouTube while stuck in a waiting room or unable to sleep while someone else is sleeping. I love classical music, and so long as I get WiFi I can put the headphones on and listen to some music. I usually have some reading project on Project Gutenberg. But this is clearly smart use of electronics. I prefer a 10" screen for reading, and I can get that for about $150 in contrast to a large iPhone which costs several times more.

OK -- as with television or radio, smart people are going to use a technology for intelligent entertainment or reject it except as a needed utility. Not-so-smart people will use it for not-so-smart purposes.

I also recognize that applications devour computing power.
I've run into suggestions that Homelanders are going to be LESS computer-literate than us Millennials because they aren't really absorbing how computers actually work like we had to when we were growing up.
(06-30-2017, 06:54 AM)Odin Wrote: [ -> ]I've run into suggestions that Homelanders are going to be LESS computer-literate than us Millennials because they aren't really absorbing how computers actually work like we had to when we were growing up.

I agree.  They see them as the modern equivalent of hand tools.  It's good to now how to use them, but that's about the extent of it.
Part of device literacy is knowing enough to not use applications that eat inordinate amounts of computing power.
But why does it matter? My dad knew how to change the oil in his car, give it a lube, and tweak the carb ... I'm okay with taking mine in for servicing when it tells me to. I don't need to know the inner workings of everything I use, I'm okay with deferring some things to the experts.

What does matter though is the access to unfettered information. As long as technology-for-the-masses gets everyone access to wikipedia & webmd & the like, then I'm okay with the new paradigm. Seriously, most consumers don't need to understand how AD works or what a reverse proxy is.
(06-30-2017, 06:54 AM)Odin Wrote: [ -> ]I've run into suggestions that Homelanders are going to be LESS computer-literate than us Millennials because they aren't really absorbing how computers actually work like we had to when we were growing up.

In many ways the Millies are less computer literate than Xers because of what we had to work with.  Like this:

[Image: TRS-80-vintage-computer-c1977.jpg]

and then there was this:

[Image: Apple-II-cassette-TV.png?resize=525%2C482]

Typical memory would be 4K with a CPU running at 1 MHz for 6502 or 2 MHz for Z-80.  Trust me, if you wanted to do anything really interesting you learned assembly language because you needed the memory and speed that BASIC wouldn't give you.

Later vintage Xers often started with this:
[Image: c64_main_large-11391955.jpg]

Which had 64K of memory but clocked at 1MHz but had a floppy disk that could store a whopping 170K on a disk.  Millies tend to write memory hog code because they never had to deal with these kinds of limits.
from Atlantic Magazine:

Quote:I’ve been researching generational differences for 25 years, starting when I was a 22-year-old doctoral student in psychology. Typically, the characteristics that come to define a generation appear gradually, and along a continuum. Beliefs and behaviors that were already rising simply continue to do so. Millennials, for instance, are a highly individualistic generation, but individualism had been increasing since the Baby Boomers turned on, tuned in, and dropped out. I had grown accustomed to line graphs of trends that looked like modest hills and valleys. Then I began studying (the Homeland) generation.

Around 2012, I noticed abrupt shifts in teen behaviors and emotional states. The gentle slopes of the line graphs became steep mountains and sheer cliffs, and many of the distinctive characteristics of the Millennial generation began to disappear. In all my analyses of generational data—some reaching back to the 1930s—I had never seen anything like it.

At first I presumed these might be blips, but the trends persisted, across several years and a series of national surveys. The changes weren’t just in degree, but in kind. The biggest difference between the Millennials and their predecessors was in how they viewed the world; teens today differ from the Millennials not just in their views but in how they spend their time. The experiences they have every day are radically different from those of the generation that came of age just a few years before them.

What happened in 2012 to cause such dramatic shifts in behavior? It was after the Great Recession, which officially lasted from 2007 to 2009 and had a starker effect on Millennials trying to find a place in a sputtering economy. But it was exactly the moment when the proportion of Americans who owned a smartphone surpassed 50 percent.

The more I pored over yearly surveys of teen attitudes and behaviors, and the more I talked with (current teenagers), the clearer it became that theirs is a generation shaped by the smartphone and by the concomitant rise of social media. I call them iGen. Born between 1995 and 2012, members of this generation are growing up with smartphones, have an Instagram account before they start high school, and do not remember a time before the internet. The Millennials grew up with the web as well, but it wasn’t ever-present in their lives, at hand at all times, day and night. iGen’s oldest members were early adolescents when the iPhone was introduced, in 2007, and high-school students when the iPad entered the scene, in 2010. A 2017 survey of more than 5,000 American teens found that three out of four owned an iPhone.

The advent of the smartphone and its cousin the tablet was followed quickly by hand-wringing about the deleterious effects of “screen time.” But the impact of these devices has not been fully appreciated, and goes far beyond the usual concerns about curtailed attention spans. The arrival of the smartphone has radically changed every aspect of teenagers’ lives, from the nature of their social interactions to their mental health. These changes have affected young people in every corner of the nation and in every type of household. The trends appear among teens poor and rich; of every ethnic background; in cities, suburbs, and small towns. Where there are cell towers, there are teens living their lives on their smartphone.

To those of us who fondly recall a more analog adolescence, this may seem foreign and troubling. The aim of generational study, however, is not to succumb to nostalgia for the way things used to be; it’s to understand how they are now.

It might not be entirely 'stupidity' that is the problem.
(11-22-2017, 07:17 PM)pbrower2a Wrote: [ -> ]It might not be entirely 'stupidity' that is the problem.
An interesting and astute observation, that the current generation is experiencing a technological integrated into social environment unlike any before. Undoubtedly this will have an influence on their collective persona, but what and whether it will be for good or ill?