A modern totem pt. 2 - General-purpose

Rooms in houses are there for a reason. It's great to have different places for different functions, so your mind instantly knows what's up. Research, for example, shows that having a bed close to your working place makes you less productive and more sleepy and vice versa having a desk next to your bed sleep less quick.[citation needed] Having your kitchen in sight can trigger appetite. Clear separation makes great conditioning, useful, but only for those with a multi-room house.

I think we're still in the cave era when it comes to computers. Your computer's operating system tries to be it all: your entertainment, your workplace, your pub, your altar, your park, your school, your action, your relaxation. One shapeshifting digital context, impossible to become a native in, one massive clusterfuck for your brain.

Smartphones, tablets and laptops are too general purpose to the point that they became a drag. As soon as you start cursing them because of endless waiting on updates, time spent doing your taxes, reading about drama on facebook, they no longer a place of comfort: 'slave boxes', 'glowing rectangles', digital altars, a catalyst for distraction and mood shifts. The screen, desktop operating system and keyboard became a synonym for everything digital, nothing in particular, except for being uncreative and depressing perhaps.

I don't want more apps, and I want things to get out of my way, I don't want more layers on top of layers (operating systems), modes on top of modes.

Single purpose computers (e-readers, mp3-players, game consoles) are different beasts. They are focused devices (places/rooms?) with clear intent. Unfortunately, they are not in fashion at the moment (in comparison to smartphones), but I hope they will be again soon, albeit in a different form, hopefully with some focus on creation. I wonder if we see different internet platforms getting their own dedicated hardware (like Snapchat glasses). I can only hope that we're going to abandon the form of general purpose glowing rectangles (with too-general-to-be-ergonomic interfaces) soon.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not advocating more devices (and thus more waste). I want to everyone to question the screen, keyboard and operating system as an interface (as the solution for it all). Let's start tailoring tools to specific functions. Let's stop complecting OS'es to warrant general purpose, yet be less than ideal to a single function.

This was written on an iPad Pro with folio keyboard and the Ulysses app. My very expensive typewriter lol.

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