Thursday, January 18, 2007

Ive on being whole


In an article on Time.com there's a quote at the end from Jonathan Ive, Apple's head of design:
"I think there's almost a belligerence—people are frustrated with their manufactured environment," says Ive. "We tend to assume the problem is with us, and not with the products we're trying to use." In other words, when our tools are broken, we feel broken. And when somebody fixes one, we feel a tiny bit more whole.
How much of our consumptive behavior really is about "getting whole" and trying to purchase the parts of ourself that we think are missing? And as technology becomes ever more magical, ever more integral to how we live, isn't there an increasing sense that we're less if we don't have the latest iPhone, iPod, iMac etc.? And is that really so bad? And is this anything new? Hasn't technology (stone axe, sword, plow, pen) always been an extension of ourselves, something that makes us more? And will there be at some point in the future a big jump, when software and hardware converge with fleshware? Or are we already really there and don't know it?

What I do know is that we haven't seen anything yet. But also that despite all the technology, our brains are stretched to comprehend--and will be for the foreseeable future--the complex possibilities of our actions. Witness Iraq. Maybe what we need are novelists running our government. Maybe what we need are people who are capable of understanding the complexities of plot and character, and can conceive of alternate futures. I don't know what technologies would have extended that part of our brain. But our tools in that domain have definitely, recently proven themselves broken.
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