Re: [-empyre-] Re: corporate divisive PDAs

On Mon, 20 May 2002, Melinda Rackham wrote:

> > Is art for the PDA and/or Information Appliance necessarily an elistist
> > form?  Jun-Ann's message almost seem sto presuppose that somehow the
> > ownership of a PDA is inclusive with the ownership of a laptop or cell
> > phone.  Taken into context with the idea that under 15% of the world has
> Net
> > access, it is safe to say that this genre is of the margin.
> but there is that interresting phenomena that happens  where technology
> (excuse the term) developing nations who havent ever built a
> stable electricty or land based telephone stucture but have extensive mobile
> coverage..they skip a stage and just use the practical bits which make sense
> in their particulra area.

Indeed.  I think the phenomenon is most pronounced in asia but it seems to
happen in countries where the local PTT has a slow backward monopoly and
can't deliver any kind of quality phone service at a low price (or within
a reasonable timeframe). So wireless providers (not always 'evil'
multinationals, often local) come in and throw up a quick network that is
cheaper and performs better than the old government beaurocracy.
  And it's not just 'The Man' building a network for rich people like him.
If you don't mind pre-paid service and an unfashionable brick phone,
service can be had very cheap, to the point where it's accessible to quite
a lot of people.
  A couple of examples for Jun-Ann.  
  1. I read about how the Grameen Bank in India and Bangladesh gives micro
loans to very poor people (mostly women) to buy cheap cellular phones in
unwired villages.  The phone owners are then trained to run a sort of
local phone service where other villagers can pay or barter to use the
phone to call relatives, friends or commercial contacts.
  2. I read that in Shenzhen a few years ago it was very popular for
people to own very cheap phones that did not use real cellular technology.
The phones used micro cells that are only about 20-40m in radius.  So
people with these phones tend to crowd around large building entrances or
public squares where there's one of these cells.

> maybe what pda's and their hybrids and mutations will become are the next
> walkmans - mobile computing for the masses  - as they are tiny cost a
> fraction of the amount of a laptop, and will soon be able to do everything..
> so maybe pda art now it is designing for and questioning the future..---

This is kind of an aside but I'm not too optimistic about PDAs.  It's
mostly the limitations of the interface but also the size and hardware. 
The pc is great for doing 3 things that make it ubiquitous in homes:  (1)
Desktop publishing/typewriter functions, (2) email/internet and (3)
entertainment. The PDA is good for none of these things.  I bought one in
'97 and after 6 months gave up and left it in a box, having used it for
little more than a phone book.  I don't think poor people need to worry
about losing fax numbers, get realtime stock quotes or being able to sync
Outlook mail to their desktop. 
  So composing email on a PDA sucks.  The web looks bad/too small. 
Writing a full document would be a painful exercise. Some can play mp3s
but games are slow and teeny and porn... forget it.  None of the 3 killer
apps of the PC are there.
  I think that PDAs are really useful for specific applications but they
are not going to be the digital conduit to the masses.  I imagine that
something like WebTV (with less of a commercial agenda) or some of the
cheaper network appliances will come to serve this function.  And I think
PDAs will remain in the realm of geeks and corporate butterflies who get
PC Envy when their freind in accounting gets an upgrade.
  I don't mean to imply that PDA art is not worthwhile.  I think it's
pretty interesting, and I agree with Patrick that there's nothing wrong
with using a medium that has limitations on delivery or is specific to a
certain demographic.  Certainly, museums and galleries have these
problems as well.

> > usually expensive) technology have any agenda to it?  Of course.
> Technology
> > is never neutral.  WHenever any technology is employed, it's issues and
> > agends follow right along.
> > IMO, where the artist come in is to test those issues through the
> > exploration of techniques, interventions and such that use various devices
> > to see/show their influence on culture and society.
> yes the first wave of net.artists did this on the net..and the second
> wave -the "flash generation" if you like- dont care.. the technology has
> just become transparent - so they don't bother to question it any more.. it
> just is another delivery medium..
> maybe the same thing happens with pda's  -  the phase of exploration , then
> as they become ubiquitious it is followed by the phase of  transparency.

As one who might be considered part of the 'flash generation' (actually I
don't like flash, but that's another topic) I think that I might have some
insight.  I think that the attitude is more one of pragmatism.  Find a
tool or a medium that can best express or represent one's idea or emotion.
And I think this thinking comes from two things.  
  First is the accellerated development of new technologies.  Just in the
past few years the buzzword velocity has started to curve toward the roof.
It's tough to keep up on one let alone several mediums and all the related
tech, standards, software, etc.  So people tend to find something that
works and run with it for a while.  It's kind of unfortunate but to dig
too deeply into analysis of the medium is to stand still and be outmoded. 
Your laser disc is now collecting dust in the antique store of dead media. 
  Secondly, I think a lot of my generation of artists feel a bit
bludgeoned by theory.  I must admit that I was a bit intimidated by the
language when I first signed onto this list.  I felt encouraged to go back
and do some reading to brush up my po-mo lexicon.  But I think the result
for some less geeky people is to try to find something more intuitive,
something more akin to just sitting down in the studio and painting. 
Hence Flash. 


This archive was generated by a fusion of Pipermail 0.09 (Mailman edition) and MHonArc 2.6.8.