I spend too much time thinking about why my phone is always fighting with me. I want to do x, and it wants me to do y instead.
For example, I just read
Shipping in May, starting at $1,400, the ThinkBook Plus Gen has a 17-inch display with a widescreen 21:10 aspect ratio, and an iPad Mini-sized color touchscreen to the right of the keyboard
and I want to see it. Typing sucks. The thing I want to learn more about is in front of my face. Already I’ve stumbled into a dilemma.
Ok so iOS has a “Look Up” feature. I double tap “ThinkBook” to highlight the word, and usually sometimes this works and I can get the whole phrase selected. Other times I have to adjust the selection a few times. But I’m used to this now. It’s muscle memory. (Yes, Android has a better feature for guessing the extents of a selection, etc, but I have an iPhone.)
The “Look Up” feature seems to first do a Apple-best-effort-search which is bad because the results suck, and if you accidentally are tempted to click on the enticing wikipedia link it puts in front of you, your phone will completely lose track of the context that you’re interested in seeing the weird embedded ipad to the right of the keyboard. If you click that link, and then want to learn almost anything else about the ThinkBook Plus Gen, you’ll have to repeat that awkward selection, or suck it up and type ThinkBook Plus Gen into Google yourself.
Fortunately there’s a work around. If you scroll to the very bottom of the Look Up menu there’s a sad looking Search Web option. Click that. It Googles the text you went through the trouble of selecting. You get a Google search page which is a tolerable proxy for the context I’d like my phone to know: I’m interested in learning about ThinkBook Plus Gen.
I was reading a different Gruber article about how the podcast ad model is changing to one where an intermediary chooses the ads. In his view, the ad intermediary companies (aka Google) killed RSS for text articles a decade or so ago because they couldn’t make money on it. And so what we have is people reading articles on the web which has evolved into a display ad hellscape.
Along with triggering several other rant-worthy topics in my mind (including having to listen to a former cofounder patronizingly explain to me 5 years ago that podcasts were going nowhere and not worth his time), this gave me some insight into why I always feel like I’m fighting with my phone: because I am. There is deep, enduring conflict playing out over years between users and tech companies, continually seeking some equilibrium grounded in the dueling psychologies of aggravation and addiction.
I suppose the irony in this ThinkBook Plus Gen example is that the context I want my phone to grasp (hey I’m a person here and sometimes I’m curious and would like to learn about something!) is also know as intent, and should be the basis for an actual business model. So sell me that product please. Figure out that I’m curious, and help me learn. I won’t be nearly as mad at you for putting a Buy button on my screen (next to a picture, a list of links, a favorite button, etc) as I am for the measley Search Web button, I promise.