“Our reflections are imprisoned slaves, desperate for freedom — and perhaps this is true too of our smartphones, filled with smiling ducklipped images of ourselves that long to escape and fight us to the death.”

Chill dude

To date, the pc + web world has been one of obsessive activity.  Tools and services where users actively seek out information and websites compete for which can be the most thorough and interactive.  Google the king of this game, giving seekers access to the deepest trove of human knowledge ever collected.

The mobile world changed this, and the “internet of things” hardware trend is further reshaping our expectations.  Rather than active users seeking, the game is won by active services predicting and assuming.  ”I see you’re in a different city, let me change the time”, “You’re near a great new restaurant and it is lunchtime, here’s a suggestion”, “When you’re not home, do you mind if I turn down the temperature and save some money?”.

When I see Google purchasing Nest, what I see is a company that is trying to learn how to relax.  Google Glass is poised to be a grotesque failure, largely due to its active state.  It is constantly putting pressure on the wearer and those around them to interact with it (directly or indirectly).

Wearables will succeed as they are forgotten.  People don’t buy products, they buy better versions of themselves.  Google’s push into connected hardware will depend largely on their ability to sit back, chill, and just let people enjoy their newfound superpowers.

One thing is becoming clear, the future is going to be messy.  Quantum computing, folksonomy, healing algorithms, etc.  All built upon the premise that perfection is fragile and hard to keep stable, but to begin with the idea that if you can have some understanding/control of imperfection that it can adapt itself around any new condition.

“I want to instantly find the best of something in a product category without wasting time on my own research. I want a place like Amazon.com, but, when you search for “toaster”, you are presented with only one model of toaster: the one that 80% of people would consider to be the best toaster in the world.”
I want

People don’t buy products; they buy better versions of themselves

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When you’re trying to win customers, are you listing the attributes of the flower or describing how awesome it is to throw fireballs?

“Computers, after all, are just shaky towers of nested abstractions: from the code that tells them what to do, to the interfaces that suggest to the user what’s possible to do with them. Each level of abstraction becomes an opportunity to make work more efficient, communicate more clearly, and assist understanding. Of course, abstractions also become chances to complicate what was clear, slow down what was fast, and fuck up what was perfectly fine.”

Side-channels and security theater

Cryptography and especially public key encryption continue continue to be heavily financed, researched, and developed.  It is possible to send an email using consumer tech that would take years to decrypt.

However, thieves will rarely attack your multi-million-dollar ultra-secure front door.  Instead, it just take a bit of poking around to find the sidedoor left unlocked for the staff smokers or window left ajar.   While passwords that need to be 12 characters, with numbers, case changes, non-alpha characters, and changed every week will be foiled by the contract worker with a post-it note.

The fact is that when security is a barrier, humans will do whatever they need to in order to overcome that barrier.  Too often, the cost of cryptography is paid by the everyday user, while those looking to cause harm can just use the side door.

Security needs to move from the mathematicians to the designers.  Keeping users and data safe is no longer an issue to be solved by longer and longer keys, instead safety will come from a improved user experience.