Wednesday, December 08, 2010
Inconvenience: the new convenience
I just bought an ancient iMac so that I can write in the mornings without web drift. It has no internet connection, and makes weird clicking and whirring sounds as the hard disk drive spins. I think there may really be cogs in there.
The iMac runs OS9, but to run the edition of Word I like I need at least OS10. In order to update to OS10 you have to update the firmware, in order to update the firmware, you have to update the OS to 9.1. And to find any of this out, you need to spend a great deal of time searching arcane retro Mac forums. Which you can't do on an iMac which is not plugged into the internet.
Yes, but it was fascinating right. Not just because I'm likely to find any procrastination ritual around writing wholly absorbing. It was like a problem solving treasure hunt.
This agency is on an eco kick at the moment, and they've installed these kettles. If you consider a kettle as a labour saving device, these are shit kettles, in that they make it harder to boil a cup of tea. They have two chambers, so you have to fill one chamber, and then pump the water into the other chamber to boil it. The mechanism forces you to actively choose how much water you're boiling. They also sometimes squirt boiling water out of the spout when turned upright, which I think is just an unintentional piece of design, rather than a ploy to put you off the whole idea of drinks served at boiling point.
Video games too, have this same balance of toughness and easiness. Part of their appeal is to allow you to achieve virtual mastery of very hard things on a much more forgiving learning curve than in reality. Think the scene in the Matrix where Keanu Reeves masters kung fu in 5 minutes. Or Guitar Hero. They are designed to be just hard enough that you keep playing, but not so easy that they're no fun. Essentially they're designed for difficulty. Overcoming the difficulty induces satisfaction.
Design used to be about making our lives easier. But now our lives are easier I reckon DESIGN IS ALL ABOUT THE PROPER ACTING OUT OF OUR FUCKING NEUROSES.
Right, I'm now going to get dressed up as Victorian dandy and go the office Christmas party.
Posted by william at 4:09 pm