Just somewhere to put down my thoughts on Interactive Media Strategies (IMS) and occasionally some other stuff that pops into my mind...

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Mind Mole Says, "Don't Cut The Corner!"

I am a keen driver and so often travel by car. I have been driving now for about 4 years and I generally enjoy it. I know some people drive out of necessity and just put up with it but I have always been quite fond of this mode of transport. I wouldn't say I'm a boy racer type or drive particularly fast, I just enjoy being able to get around and not being restricted by bus timetables or anything else. However, of late I have been getting increasingly frustrated when driving at what seems to be a growing phenomenon; people cutting the corner at a right turn.

Here is the highway code's rule for making a right turn:

Wait until there is a safe gap between you and any oncoming vehicle. Watch out for cyclists, motorcyclists, pedestrians and other road users. Check your mirrors and blind spot again to make sure you are not being overtaken, then make the turn. Do not cut the corner. Take great care when turning into a main road; you will need to watch for traffic in both directions and wait for a safe gap.

Remember: Mirrors – Signal – Manoeuvre
Highway Code
I have highlighted my main point, “Do not cut the corner”. This seems quite reasonable doesn't it, especially when you consider that in essence, cutting the corner equates to driving on the wrong side of the road!

From my experience I wouldn't consider this a universal trend. People everywhere aren't developing this inability to drive properly, it's very much a localised tendency. Drivers in the Bournemouth area, what's going on here?! Is the sea air doing something to you so that even driving around other cars on a bend becomes too much to ask? You don't seem to be that bothered that sailing round a blind right turn on the opposite side of the road could have dire consequences.

Sorry to have a bit of a rant here, but it's difficult to enjoy driving when inexplicably you're faced with oncoming cars at every turn.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Predicting the Future

In my recent Interactive Media Strategies lecture I was shown examples of books which had, to an extent, successfully predicted the future. The Neuromancer by William Gibson back in 1984 made use of the term “cyberspace” and described a “graphical representation of data abstracted from the banks of every computer in the human system”, while most people recognise the move towards the world described by Orwell in his book 1984, written in 1949. These authors have shown great insight into the progression of technology and how it would be utilised in years to come. That's right isn't it, people haven't read the books and then just decided to work towards creating these predictions have they?

What I'm really asking is who decides the direction of our future? Does it simply come about or do we attempt to achieve what we have dreamt or even read about? I haven't read Orwell, but aren't the predictions in that book rather dark and unpleasant. That isn't a future anyone would actively strive for is it? As I have hinted at in my previous post, The Ins and Outs of Progress, surely the future should be shaped by technology that delivers some real benefit rather than what someone has dreamt up to establish an interesting premise for a story.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

The Ins and Outs of Progress

We think of progress as essential to being measured as successful. If we didn’t make progress, or simply stood still, we’d have failed. Progress is making things better. So maybe it’s fear of failure that drives us to claim we’ve made progress when there is none. Or that pushes us to change things, even complicate them, just to keep moving.

Real progress is rare nowadays. Instead, we simply complicate our lives to achieve something different. Something our generation can claim as their addition to the world. When you think about it, new technology does anything but make our lives simpler. There are a vast array of tasks that need to be completed before this kind of progress can work. A huge network of people employed to administer several little tasks that combine to give the end user a simpler life. A simpler life this end user spends working within other networks which help other end users enjoy the same simplicity.

When thought of like that, our lifestyle seems moronic. At least we’re kept busy. But this is just one view. Another is that the human race, in its desire for something different, so that we don’t become bored, is pushing its capabilities. Testing our environment to the maximum to see what we can achieve. It’s somewhere between inquisition and pomposity. A quest to master our environment. However, is “because we can” a good enough reason to employ resources to technologies that do nothing to improve things?

Would we, in our capitalist society, continue in this manner without the financial rewards developing these technologies guarantees? These rewards exist because people demand new technology. We want new things, to be at the cutting edge, but do we need to think a little harder about the good new technology does us before we go out and buy it/sign up to it? Wouldn’t this make new product developers work harder for us and actually generate real progress?

Slightly off topic but vaguely related; I watched 2001: A Space Odyssey the other day. Initially I was slightly put off by the pace of it. It takes an incredibly long time for anything to actually happen, and when it does it’s rather abstract. That being said, subsequently I have enjoyed mulling over the issues it raises, especially those to do with human race’s progress. Ape’s, having developed the ability to use the tool, evolved to humans who took this to the extreme, eventually managing to achieve hugely powerful computers and even space travel. However, this is almost their downfall when a computer (HAL), being used for most of the functions of a space mission, determines human’s themselves are too risky to keep around. Could this be considered a progress trap?