The visible problems of the invisible computer: A skeptical look at information appliances
AbstractThe future is said to belong to information appliances, specialized and easy to use devices that will have the car tell the coffee pot to brew a cup of coffee just in time for our arrival home. These gadgets are supposed to eliminate the complexity and resulting frustrations of the PC. The thesis of this essay is that while information appliances will proliferate, they will not lessen the perception of an exasperating electronic environment. The interaction of the coffee pot, the car, the smart fridge, and the networked camera will create a new layer of complexity. In the rush towards the digital era, we will continue to live right on the edge of intolerable frustration. The paradox of information appliances is that while they are presented as products for a mature market, their main effect will be to unleash a tidal wave of innovation. When technology changes rapidly, greater ease of use serves to attract more users and developers, creating new frustrations. The most we can do is ameliorate the spread of the information appliance products and services. To do this, it appears necessary to recognize that flexibility and ease of use are in an unavoidable conflict, and that the optimal balance between those two factors differs among users. Therefore systems should be designed to have degrees of flexibility that can be customized for different people. It will also be essential to provide for remote administration of home computing and networking.
How to Cite
Odlyzko, A. (1999). The visible problems of the invisible computer: A skeptical look at information appliances. First Monday, 4(9). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v4i9.688
Authors submitting a paper to First Monday automatically agree to confer a limited license to First Monday if and when the manuscript is accepted for publication. This license allows First Monday to publish a manuscript in a given issue. Authors have a choice of: 1. Dedicating the article to the public domain. This allows anyone to make any use of the article at any time, including commercial use. A good way to do this is to use the Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication Web form; see http://creativecommons.org/license/publicdomain-2?lang=en. 2. Retaining some rights while allowing some use. For example, authors may decide to disallow commercial use without permission. Authors may also decide whether to allow users to make modifications (e.g. translations, adaptations) without permission. A good way to make these choices is to use a Creative Commons license. * Go to http://creativecommons.org/license/. * Choose and select a license. * What to do next — you can then e–mail the license html code to yourself. Do this, and then forward that e–mail to First Monday’s editors. Put your name in the subject line of the e–mail with your name and article title in the e–mail. Background information about Creative Commons licenses can be found at http://creativecommons.org/about/licenses/. 3. Retaining full rights, including translation and reproduction rights. Authors may use the statement: © Author 2016 All Rights Reserved. Authors may choose to use their own wording to reserve copyright. If you choose to retain full copyright, please add your copyright statement to the end of the article. Authors submitting a paper to First Monday do so in the understanding that Internet publishing is both an opportunity and challenge. In this environment, authors and publishers do not always have the means to protect against unauthorized copying or editing of copyright–protected works.