The Goals Of Technology
“good design is as little design as possible” – Dieter Rams
There are a few things evident from this statement. One, that design needs to be present both in hardware and software. Two, it should be little enough to effectively step out of the way of the user and content.
Lack of subjective design to an objective product makes the use of the product challenging. Look at most powerpoint presentations done by a mechanical/civil/industrial etc. engineer. I look at them every day and more times than not, my eyes hurt.
The iPhone (and most Apple products) find a good balance between the subjective and objective design and thus create a quality product. When I jumped on the iPhone bandwagon in 2009, I thought it was the best thing since the invention of written language. It very effectively put content in the hands of the user. The content became the device while the design stood out of the way. If you did not want to use all its apps and features, you simply didnt launch them. They never bothered you. For example, I never used the native Voice Memos app.
Unfortunately, the iPhone 3G with iOS4 is standing in my way of acquiring content. I will eventually downgrade to iOS 3.1.3. Since I am using less iPhone, I am automating tasks more. I share articles on twitter and facebook straight out of Google Reader. I automated my emails using mmmmail.com instead of mailbucket.org. I now check personal emails only once a day if that. I tweet using SMS. Mentions come to me via a text message using feedtwit. This almost wants me to try going back to a non-iPhone cellular device. I am also tired of planned obsolescence.
I can do most of the work on a simple phone that does text messages and takes decent pictures. I plan to buy an iPad sometime next year, so mobile browsing will be taken care of. iPad does a better at web browsing than an iPhone anyway. I will have to dust off my Creative Zen MP3 player. When my AT&T contract runs out in Feb 2011, I will use a regular phone till the next iPhone launch in Summer.
During that time, I will have to live without google maps though. Maybe I will get lost a little. I hear it is fun.
Mindfulness in every day activities makes us aware of life’s constraints and limitations. It emphasizes the value of each activity we do in its fundamentals. It is in the fundamentals that timeless creativity takes birth. The iPhone’s voicemail feature is an example of finding creativity in fundamental functions.
Technology cloaks the interface between the human touch and the fundamental task. This is not always a bad thing of you consider jobs in the foundry, mining, waste management etc.
Tea bags take the human touch out of brewing tea with tea leaves. The best tea I have ever had was at a tea garden in North Eastern India and it didn’t come from a tea bag. A motor vehicle takes the human touch out of commuting. Rarely do people want to walk or ride a bicycle to a business even though most commutes in USA are less than 2 miles.
A vacuum cleaner is guilty of taking the human touch out of sweeping floors. I have hardwood floors, so a broom is more than sufficient to remove dust, immaterial of what swiffer commercials say. I take a broom, start at one corner of the room and methodically sweep to the other corner, collecting the dust and pet hair in its way. Staying mindful about sweeping helps you not miss any spots. Not rushing through it ensures a high quality job.
As a bonus, a slow mindful sweeping job is very relaxing. It slows the pace down to a constant rhythm forcing the mind to focus on the immediate present. Having a small apartment does not make it a bothersome chore.
My greyhound is deathly scared of the broom. This is the only drawback.