Post-literate Society - Indie Hardware - App Nutrition
|Reggie James||Mar 30|
Writing this while sobbing to Cayendo by Frank Ocean, and this verse simply destroyed me as I think of every love I’ve loved before, my current love, love I felt and didn’t do anything with, and the love I’ve yet experienced.
You stood me up, you lay me down
You know too much, I can't be proud
I still really, really love you, yes I do
When I still really, really love you, like I do
If you won't, then I will
If you can't, then I will
Is it love to keep it from you?
Play it on loop while listening if you want another cut into my head.
Chatting with Bryce on Twitter brought up one of my beliefs that we are pushing towards a post-literate society. This term was coined by Marshall McLuhan, a philosopher on the cutting edge of media theory and an intellectual I look up to immensely.
In short a post-literate society is one where our multimedia technologies continue to give us optionality beyond reading and writing. Thus making the act less of a necessity.
If we look at the cone of possibility of our technological mediums. I question if we have chopped every which way to deliver and consume text. Its transition to digital mediums served well, and is still issuing a reshaping of some primary institutions. This is also a larger cultural trend that I simply don’t have the space to go into right now.
I believe the medium itself has limited goals and abilities. However, like any other aging technology — written language will continue to be produced and consumed by a class of individuals.
The question then becomes — and the point of the term post-literacy — if it will fade beyond daily ubiquity. Perhaps only within certain thought work circles will writing continual to be a daily necessity of work.
The thing is, enterprise applications are always a good deal behind consumer when it comes to the mediums we choose the engage in professionally.
What if Slack was only voice notes & calls. It would make that annoying PM think twice about asking a casual question that doesn’t even register over half broken sentences across a channel. Perhaps it would be better if we had stronger frameworks for meetings + video or voice stacks for sources of truth -> allowing for deeper solo work.
This is definitely an industry by industry, company by company, case by case joint. But would be interesting to explore, something as deliberate as running an entire company on Figma could work…
I only have bits of information about Humane but I’m excited to see Apple veterans create a new ~something~ that we might use to better interact with the world around us. Even with my limited knowledge, it was the first external experience I had in a while where I tilted my head and thought — hmmmm if I wasn’t working on Eternal… this could be an interesting place to be.
I think it was Benedict Evans that wrote a bit ago on the smoothing out of the “S-Curve” for the iPhone. (could be completely wrong about that) But everything does seems somewhat obvious from here on out.
Apple bought themselves a little bit more time with Airpods — a baby ‘s’ to keep pushing the device forward if you will — although from what I hear, SiriKit is a mess. Additionally, Airpods are used to shut the world out not invite new flows of the world in. Behaviorally this feels like an uphill battle in terms of building an entirely new product ecosystem around. So maybe they haven’t bought themselves that much time at all…
My point is that expanding the ecosystem of hardware around the phone would be interesting. Very much a Compaq making everything compatible with IBM type moment. But the Apple garden is notoriously not friendly towards this type of expansion. If anyone could crack it in a meaningful way, I would love to know what that looks like.
But just imagine if the first thing Magic Leap shipped actually connected to your phone instead of that fanny-pack. The sense of accessibility and connection to how you already view your extended technologies would be radically different. Even if it didn’t stick.
Plugging into the Apple system or not, I do believe we will have a fracturing in the next 10-20 years of personal hardware.
This idea came to me while reading about the Amish… as we all enjoy doing. How much of their communal identity is built around the rejection / particular adoption of certain technologies. Made possible by the abundance of technology outside of their communities — they have the luxury of choice. And this lifestyle is working. Their communities are thriving, growing annually, and rooted in spirituality. I’m not sure we could all say the same.
But this idea of being able to reject a cornucopia of technologies, and craft what you believe to be your best suite of minimal tools that enhance your life is particularly fascinating. Behaviorally this is embedded in our sense of identity. People tend to make a point of letting you know what they won’t do.
Unfortunately, I feel we don’t have too many options in terms of personal technologies. However this will change.
There will be goggle heads, “Her” like systems, VR shut-ins, purists with only the technologies necessary for work, bio-hackers that make us question how human you have to be to be considered human, and more.
As we see with the fracturing of online cultures and the realities that form out of them — no longer the other way around. We will see the same vibrancy with our devices. Some of the roots are already here.
Lately, my phone hasn’t been a source of nutrition.
Love this essay Personal Computer, Vending Machine — particularly this quote
Think about it: Small rectangles encased in glass, displaying an array of colorful and beautiful packages, each promising bite-sized hits of pleasure/dopamine, each “cheaply” priced (and in many cases, free) — this is a vending machine.
This is a contemporary personal computer.
I believe that technology is inherently transhumanist — and should exists to extend our abilities in living a more human life. To extend our abilities should be an act of overcoming our base human tendencies.
In this current time of social isolation, there’s never been more time to watch myself exists with “things” over a continuous period of time. And the simple realization is that I don’t find value in most of it. Particularly digital products.
So I’m starting this path for app nutrition. We’ll see where it takes me.
I don’t do edits really, so excuse typos and things that don’t make sense.
Thanks so much for giving me your attention. I hope it was worth it, if not… unsubscribing will not hurt my feelings, and will give you back time you literally cannot have back.