Sunday, December 15, 2013

Are “Apps” Dumbing Us Down?

I had some sort of epiphany, if you will,  recently.  My wife and I bought our daughter a small bookshelf for her room… that we preceded to put together and store toys on it.

WP_20131212_002 I wish I took a picture of all of the pieces before we assembled this thing.  It looks pretty in pictures, but individually, the box of “stuff” weighed 75 lbs. and contained about 20 individual blocks of wood.  Then there was the mess of screws, nails and cam bolts required as well, all packaged in one plastic bag that had to be separated manually.  I didn’t take a picture before I assembled the shelving, because I didn’t have my aforementioned epiphany until as I was assembling the unit.

Where I work, our CEO loves apps.  I mean, he is absolutely enamored with them.  I can’t limit that statement to apps either, it’s really Apple he is crazy about as well, and he lights up like a kid on Christmas whenever there’s a new phone or tablet being announced.  Before they even announce the features.. he wants it.  He almost doesn’t care about what the features will be… he believes ahead of time they’ll be distinctive, smart and critical to the success of the latest implementation of the device.

Here’s why he really loves Apple though.. he loves the simplicity.  And I can understand that.  Being a software developer, Apple is a pain in my rear-end. Why?  They upped the ante when it comes to user experience and design.  I’m not a designer, I can make my way through those needs when developing applications,  but before Apple, textboxes and pictures were “good enough”.  Now, a simple checkbox isn’t good enough, it must “toggle”.  Animation isn’t a nice touch, it’s now necessary.  Simple “alert” windows are ugly, modal windows are the way to go. 

With Apple, everything is just “a click”, “a tap”, or now just “a command” in that it’s easy to just speak to Siri what you want.  This is like.. Jetson’s stuff, man!  But this brings me to the title of this post.. is this dumbing us down?  What does this simplicity due to our psyche?  Not just from a technology standpoint, but from how we approach problem solving as well?  Furthermore, what about our usage of the Internet, and Google?  It’s *amazing* that we can Google (verb tense) “How do I ask a girl out?” and get tips! 

Apple used to use the phrase “Think Differently”, but are we really thinking anymore?  Or are we just zombified by all of this technology?  I don’t have an answer to the questions in this blog post, more or less I’m trying to remain cognizant of the potential downfalls of simplicity, and I hope you do as well.  I don’t want to live in a society that is so used to simplicity that, over time, it’s considered a unique skill to have problem solving skills.  At this rate, are we only 1.. maybe 2.. generations away from having people not assemble shelving because there are too many pieces?  Or who knows, maybe they do it, only because there are step by step video’s on their phones.  Handy?  Sure.. sounds it.. but it sounds like it’s devolving us somewhat too.. doesn’t it? 

So the next time you’re faced with a problem scenario, challenge yourself to not just Google it, or call over a friend, or launch an app.  Think about it.. and I stress the term Think here.  Churning and using some brain power can do all of us some good…

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