Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Against gadgetry

Purportedly intelligent functionality increasingly finds its way into consumer electronics of all kinds. Consider video cameras as an example. Instead of manual brightness and focus controls, these can be handled automatically by pointing the camera at the right target. Fine, except that this makes it more difficult to gain control over the footage if the automation cannot be overridden.

In theory, it would be possible to have a function on your camera that finds out the name of a person whose face you point it at. Similar risks and annoyances are likely to crop up in all places where too much electronic connectivity is built into products.

Someone said that a good music instrument is one that allows you to play badly. It doesn't correct your mistakes, so you have to practice. If you have practiced and try playing a gadget that corrects your mistakes, it will only stand in your way.

There are many reasons to keep things simple and stupid. Open modular systems is one interesting trend offering the perfect antidote to these over-designed digital marvels.

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