16 Sep 2012

"Designed for Humans": Is this the new nadir?

Today's smartphones are not designed for verbal conversations - they are designed for 'media consumption'. Vivid images (moving and otherwise) flow non-stop across its touchscreens - not words. Even most so-called social media allow for very limited real conversation.

We talk in .jpeg and our correspondence is in .mov formats. Words are largely redundant. Verbal comments are terse - indeed, why bother to leave a note, when there's a handy 'Like' button to express one's approval?

Even one's spelling can be algorithm-corrected, while search-engines help condense the vocabulary. And whereas our interaction with the device may seem 'intuitive' - hand gestures are also the most primitive form of human communication.

So while phones are getting smarter, one should perhaps be concerned about the user's evolution.

This bring us to the Samsung's latest Galaxy S III. More specifically, to its tagline: "Designed for Humans"

As a writer, I find it truly mortifying!

I have come across some astounding jaw-droppers - but "Designed for Humans" is in a league truly all its own... Untouched by subtleties, unsullied by nuances and untroubled by serious contemplation.

Now I will digress a bit, but please bear with me...

In George Orwell's epic, 1984, when the character, Syme says: "It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words", Wiston Smith simply asks (or observes): "So, the revolution will be complete when the language is perfect?"

George Orwell was especially concerned that language could be used both to enlighten as well as to manipulate. One only needs to consider the wrapped intent behind some common modern words - like "terrorist", "collateral damage", "enemy combatant", "homeland security", "civil society", "monetary easing", etc.

By the looks of it, the "revolution" that Orwell meant seems to be nearing its conclusion.

(For the not-so-literacy-challenged, here's a link to Orwell's essay, Politics and the English Language. And the wikipedian take on the essay.)

No comments: