Sunday, August 2, 2020

A Love-Hate Relationship With The Modern Web & Smartphones

There is more information at our fingertips than has been the case for all of human history, and it has never been a tougher slog to read it.

There are things I love about smartphones and the modern web, and things I despise.

I'll save the love for last... In each category.

Let's dive into smartphones first, and what makes reading information on one such a colossal pain in the ass:

* Notifications - Yeah, yeah, I know you can turn off notifications for this and for that. I know you can turn off all notifications. 

The former is a butt-load of work to go through and tweak. You have to find the individual notifications in some dark creepy sub-basement corner of your smartphone settings and hunt them like rats in underground Chicago.

The latter leaves you the equivalent of deaf and blind in cyberspace, locked in the bubble of some pocket cyberververse of your own making. It's peaceful, but it's isolated and you have no idea what might be hitting you like a bad radiation field or a missed grocery request from your spouse. (I'll let you decide which is worse)

Why the hell isn't there an easy way to just touch a button on an interesting article that's like "Shields up, Keptin!"?? I mean right there in the browser or app?? One that resumes notifications to your specified settings (The rats you thought were cute) as soon as you leave the web page. Even the Enterprise turns the shields off after the intergalactic conference is completed and the diplomats have beamed back to their own ships.

* Video and audio ads - These winky-blinky, blast your eardrums and speakers out demons from advertising Hell are better-suited to advertising ADHD drugs than actual products. I'm here to read something, which requires focus and concentration. You know, the very things your advertisement just destroyed? It's like dropping a dump truck load of raw sewage in the middle of my rented beach cottage on my ten-minute vacation. Seriously, screw you. Not only do I not look at those or listen to them, I actively seek ways to disintegrate them, and if I could, their creators. Remember the "shields up" button? I mean seriously, these things are the Borg of the cyberverse. 

* Screen dimming - even when I can finally get to a relatively peaceful bubble of information, as soon as I leave my finger off the screen for a few seconds, it dims, completely disrupting my focus as I desperately attempt to prevent the dreaded screen lock from shutting down the phone. This is particularly annoying when I am working one-handed in the place where reading on smartphones is both most common and most appropriate, if you catch my whiff. Another use for the magic button.

I want a button that's the equivalent of Castiel drawing Anokian wards, Sam & Dean pouring a salt circle, and Rowena casting a loud spell over a burning smoking crystal bowl of bat nards and unicorn teeth.

I miss Blogger blogs. I might just go back to reading them exclusively because they are generally quiet, well-decorated, thoughtful, and best of all, non-distractive. They are the web version of British print magazines. (I say British because they dont generally do the asshat trick of "continued on page 897" when the part of the article you're reading is on page five. 

I even used to read the ads in print magazines, it was part of the fun and didn't piss me off. Static banner ads the same as long as they didn't get to the point of cluttering the entire page.

So what do I love about reading on smartphones? Portability, of course! They take up less room in that appropriate place than a stack of magazines, and you don't need a clip-on light to read yourself to sleep.

Dan

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