I am still working on the Trillions book by Lucas, Ballay, and McManus that I mentioned in my last blog. The major message in the book is that as computer capability and information on the internet continue to increase (which they will) we will hit a wall with our present approach to information and the internet; that our use of server-client channels, company owned seperate “clouds”, differentiated hardware and software, and retention of old and once adequate formats will result in death through complexity and frustration on the part of users. Not being a computer person, I am going to discuss this book with a couple of friends who are, before I comment on such larger issues.
However, I must admit I resonate with many smaller examples of increasing problems in the book. I am finding it takes more time to find what I want on the internet because of the increasing number of locations my search engine finds for me, and more and more redundancy and unsubstantiated opinion on the internet in general. I just looked up bed bugs on Google, and of course received 3,400,000 pertinent pages in 0.25 seconds. But most of the pages I looked at (many fewer than 3,400,000) said the same thing (they don’t carry germs, they feed at night, they are flat, etc.) and suggested the same cure (tear up your bedroom, look for black bug poop, vacuum, etc.). A few were more valuable than the others. I would have liked to just be guided to the few. Same results if you look up anything having to do with medicine. Ten pages would be enough and easier to deal with in most of these searches. But more and more appear, since there is no barrier to putting them up.
One of my favorite escape-book authors is a very prolific Pulitzer Prize winning journalist named John Camp, who writes under the pen-name John Sandford. In one of his latest books, Silken Prey, he features a couple of satisfyingly edgy computer experts. The hero, a detective named Lucas Davenport, also has a computer background. At one point Davenport, while trying to research some suspects, states “I really need to get background on them. But all I get from Google is a lot of shit”. One of his experts, a woman who goes by the name of ICE, replies “You know that old thing about “Garbage in, garbage out?” “Yeah” says Lucas. " "Google is now the biggest pile of garbage ever assembled on earth”, ICE says. “Give it a couple of more years, and you won’t be able to find anything in it”.
When feelings are common enough to make it into a John Sandford book, they are common indeed.
As to software, some time ago I replaced a dead Mac, and the new one came with a OS 7 level operating system, which did not like my Adobe Photoshop or Microsoft office suite, resisted showing me the scan bar, and refused to offer up the two little arrows on the right of the page which let one move incrementally through a document or photograph. It also offered me new “features” which I found unnecessary and complicated. I went back to OS 6.8, which although perhaps not as “advanced”, was one with which I was totally familiar, more than adequate, liked the applications I was used to, and did not require that I acquire new habits and skills. I was reminded of the days in which Dell would for an extra $150 sell a PC with Windows XP, which Microsoft had announced they would no longer service, rather than one containing the newer Windows Vista. They had lots of buyers. I am still using my Mac OS 6.8 and happy with it, but soon something will make it inconvenient for me to do so, and I will be spending time learning how to do things I once knew how to do in a different way and cursing because I can't disable features I don't want.