Sunday, August 15, 2010

Don't Read This If You Didn't See "2001: A Space Odyssey"

It can grant up to three wishes, even if one of those wishes is for an iPhone Computer store sales rep trying to sell an HTC Evo to a cartoon person who wants an iPhone

Patients Take Over Asylum, Google Wants To Look Like Bing! Ron Schenone in his The Blade

It had been a hard day. But at last I was home. After doing the obligatory tasks - checking my snail mail, my voice mail, my email that might have arrived between me getting off the bus and getting into the apartment, I sat down of the sofa to play with my latest toy.

My new cell phone - a Samsung Vibrant Galaxy. Or Galaxy Vibrant. Whatever. It does everything. It even prints money. Well, it tries to I think. I put it down next to me. Also on the sofa was my Kindle, my iPad, the TV remote and my VoIp phone.

I was reading the manual for the Vibrant. The manual is the size of a postage stamp, smaller even than the cell phone that it supposedly describes. Should I get my glasses and read it, I mused. No. I could manage. The user interface is meant to be intuitive. Isn't it?

I looked at the phone. I felt like the monkey-humanoid at the beginning of Kubrick's "2001 a Space Odyssey" when she makes the first step towards civilization, gaining the knowledge of tool use with the thigh bone of a bison.

I turned the cell phone around in my hands - in wonder. Where was the "on" button? How could I dial a number? Was it really a phone?

Suddenly the television went on. How could this be? I looked at the cell phone. A passive black. I looked at the remote. It was too far away for me to have accidentally pressed the "on" button. There was no one else in the apartment.

I froze. This could not be. I turned the phone around. I held it upside down. The channels changed.

Was there a monolith in the house?

I was well and truly spooked.

I found the phone's "on" button and pressed it. The television went off.

I checked my gadgets. They looked harmless enough. The remote was lying where I'd put it earlier. The iPad was next to it. The Kindle was just being a Kindle. Or so I hoped.

I decided I'd set up my new cell phone later. No rush. I could watch telly instead. Or could I?

How would I change channels?

I began to long for a life pre-technology. When women lived in caves and men protected them. When the only music available was Strauss's The Blue Danube Waltz. When "interface" wasn't even a word. And people spoke in complete sentences.

To when Arthur C Clarke wrote the basis of "2001" in "The Sentinel" - where the most intelligent computer was called "HAL". Pre-IBM - HAL was a three one-letter right-shifts from "IBM".

At the end of the Space Odyssey HAL is disabled. What if they all were?




Anonymous said...

Yeah, sometimes I wish for the pre 'intuitive' days. Intuitive to whom? And, were I to communicate in Twitter-speak, I too would long for complete sentences. Now I just wish oldies would turn on their god-given receivers. But I wish for too much,

Unknown said...

I suspect Hal is living in your new phone, I suggest you cut him lose soonest!!!

Jaded NYer said...

Technology - the bane of our existence.

But without it we would not be able to annoy each other so.......


and who says the "ape" was a "she"????????

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