Monday, September 29, 2014

future ennui / the glancicle

Ian Bogost in The Atlantic writing about  about the Apple Watch and how we've become numb to future shock, exhausted with and by innovation: 

"Technology moves fast, but its speed now slows us down. A torpor has descended, the weariness of having lived this change before—or one similar enough, anyway—and all too recently. The future isn’t even here yet, and it’s already exhausted us in advance.
"It’s a far cry from “future shock,” Alvin Toffler’s 1970 term for the post-industrial sensation that too much change happens in too short a time. Where once the loss of familiar institutions and practices produced a shock, now it produces something more tepid and routine. The planned obsolescence that coaxes us to replace our iPhone 5 with an iPhone 6 is no longer disquieting, but just expected. I have to have one has become Of course I’ll get one. The idea that we might willingly reinvent social practice around wristwatch computers less than a decade after reforming it for smartphones is no longer surprising, but predictable. We’ve heard this story before; we know how it ends.
"Future shock is over. Apple Watch reveals that we suffer a new affliction: future ennui. The excitement of a novel technology (or anything, really) has been replaced—or at least dampened—by the anguish of knowing its future burden. This listlessness might yet prove even worse than blind boosterism or cynical naysaying. Where the trauma of future shock could at least light a fire under its sufferers, future ennui exudes the viscous languor of indifferent acceptance....

"Our lassitude will probably be great for the companies like Apple, who have worn us down with the constancy of their pestering. The poet Charles Baudelaire called ennui the worst sin, the one that could “swallow the world in a yawn....  When one is enervated by future ennui, there’s no vigor left even to ask if this future is one we even want. "

Maybe the problem isn't so much the "pestering" frequency of the changes and upgrades causing us to succumb to boredom, but the triviality of these changes - how they enable us to do what we already did reasonably easily anyway, even more easily.... 
These devices don't look spectacular, and they don't promise or threaten spectacular changes in the way we live our lives -  just increments of convenience.  Access to information that we probably didn't really need, in unmanageable quantities.  Images and (vicarious) experiences we quickly forget, that don't make much impression because we're hurrying to the next image and (vicarious) experience....

Bogost touches on this with his reference to how the Apple Watch heralds "the emergence of a new, laborious media creation and consumption ecosystem built for glancing. The rise of the “glancicle,” which will replace the listicle. The PR emails and the B2B adverts and the business consulting conference promotions all asking, is your brand glance-aware?"

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