Monday, 15 September 2014

In praise of the clunk

The future's bright; the future's Apple. And it's all about the interface.

To judge from the obiter dicta of Tim Cook (born 1960, reputed 'net worth' 400 million dollars - net of what, one wonders in such cases*) the mission of Apple is to drag us out of the 1970s. Some of us are still stuck in the 1960s and have but a dim awareness of just what it was that gave the following decade, in which Mr Cook must have spent his formative years, any claim to distinctiveness. 

But Tim Cook knows and has just pronounced that the problem with television, in which Apple still maintains a keen interest though it has yet to make its carefully planned takeover, is that it has 'not changed since the 1970s'. The thing is it is 'too clunky for the modern world'.

The 'modern world', the world of Apple, is the 'seamless' interface. Some of us think that is the problem, and that the 'clunk', as a quality of experience - the perceived otherness of things - is a something to be valued and even striven for. 

Is the epiphany a clunk or a seamlessness?

*It would of course have been a pertinent question in many other cases: Bernie Madoff perhaps, or, in an earlier decade Robert Maxwell, who was hitting the headlines in the 1970s and knew how to clunk, or his nineteenth-century precursor, in death as in life, Augustus Melmotte. The nature of finance has moved on since the nineteenth century and even since the 1970s: those who now wish to become seriously rich quick need not suffer the worries and aspersions that drove Mr Melmotte to his death. Ask any number of modern CEOs. Inebriation in the House of Commons may still be with us but it is seldom followed by recourse to the prussic acid bottle.The rich, it seems, as well as the poor, are always with us; it is just those in between who seem to be going away.