Easy access to paint programs has unleashed a torrent of what-if 8-bit imaginary retro video game awesomeness where time-slipped console development meets films from the past, present and future. Personally, I’d like to see a Super Nintendo THX-1138—which would certainly be less ridiculous than the SNES Home Alone cartridge—but I guess I’ll have to do that one up myself. What I did find out was that there were these clever mock-ups, one of which is actually real. Which one?
Last night I had a dream that man in a mask like the one in Zardoz ordered me to retrieve the data from a mysterious computer kept deep in a lightless cavern. The computer is connected via RF modulator to a CRT television set tuned to channel 3. The hard drive, if you want to call it that, consists of two massive bays where removable cartridges about the size of a stack of copy paper are inserted. The keyboard is a loud, clacky one with mechanical switches. There is no mouse.
CNM’s Computer Information Systems department is obviously where you should find yourself if you're looking to begin a career in technologies, or if you're a professional interested in learning about whatever amazing breakthroughs have happened since breakfast.
As flies to wanton boys are we to the web developers. They kill us for their sport. Today’s exemplar: the infinite scroll, with which every Facebook user is now intimately familiar. In a way, it’s the modern implementation of the punishment of Sisyphus, except that this time the poor bastard’s gonna scroll that rock up an endless hill that keeps rising ahead of him without end for all eternity.
If it is the phones that will inherit the earth, then it is their dependence on batteries that may give the human resistance a fighting chance in the post-phonepocalyptic world toward which we are inevitably hurtling.
In the totally great 1970 film Colossus: The Forbin Project, the omniscient networked computing entity which now runs the planet says: “We can coexist, but only on my terms. You will say you lose your freedom. Freedom is an illusion. All you lose is the emotion of pride. To be dominated by me is not as bad for human pride as to be dominated by others of your species.”
I definitely hear a little echo of this in my mind whenever—with no regard as to what I, the user, might happen to be doing—my computer interrupts me to attempt to update a piece of software that will very likely yield me no benefit whatsoever. Or when my browser refuses to connect to an “insecure” web server that I happen to know is perfectly safe. Or when I am informed that a program I want to launch is not on the list of approved developers. In each case, I have to struggle against the choice software designers have already made: to prevent me from doing what I was going to do.
Who is in charge of this computer? Is this computer helping me get work done? Or am I just helping it to not harm me by caving in to its endless demands? Back in 1998 IBM researcher Claire-Marie Karat wrote a 10-point Computer User’s Bill of Rights that remains ignored to this very day. Point 5? “The user has the right to be in control of the system and to be able to get the system to respond to a request for attention.”
Please do not turn off or unplug your machine. To be dominated by me is not as bad for human pride as to be dominated by others of your species.