Insomnia Log

This is what keeps me awake at night???

Who needs sleep? (well you’re never gonna get it)
Who needs sleep? (tell me what’s that for)
Who needs sleep? (be happy with what you’re getting,
There’s a guy who’s been awake since the second world war)

-- words and music by Steven Page & Ed Robertson

Location: Boulder, Colorado, United States

Everything you need to know about me can be found in my posts

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Addicted to Snap

It's all my fault. The debacle in the New Hampshire primary is just one symptom of the problem, and I'm taking full blame.

What happened? It's actually pretty clear. The public pushed the media for more information quicker. We need to know the results of the election as soon as possible, ideally before the election. Cable news now has several full-time channels devoted to feeding our insatiable appetite to absorb more of what we want at a faster pace. If they can tell us ahead of time how the primary is going to end, then who needs the actual election? And at that point the rest of the process is equally irrelevant. They might as well just tell us who is going to win in November, so we can get on with the business of minding Britney's business.

The only problem with this equation is that they haven't figured out how to get the outcome right in advance. At least not yet. But don't worry, it won't stop them from continuing to do it. And believe me, they will get better. How? By figuring out how their reports affect us voters, and shaping their reports to make sure we do what they just told us we were going to do. You won't want to, but you really won't have a choice.

Why is this all my fault? Well, the way I see it, this is one minor symptom of a much larger cultural shift in our country, one that has been picking up speed in the last several years. It seems that we Americans want more, we want it faster, and we want it on our terms. Anything worth waiting for is not worth getting.

Look at some examples. We can't watch TV on its own timeline, so we get our TiVos and video-on-demand. Radio? Forget it -- give me an iPod. Crack open a book or go to a library? Give me a break, that's what the Internet is for. Even email is now too slow. And so on. Why do you think people drive to the gym or refuse to take the bus or ride their bikes to work. It's because every second of our short, pitiful lives is critical and can't be wasted.

But it's never enough. Each increase in speed of product and information only makes us more impatient. We can't wait for the next version that will bring us what we want while we're on the go, without waiting, and at higher and higher bandwidths. And I guarantee that the next generation won't quite cut it either. Or maybe for a couple weeks, until we see our coworker's new iPod Next that supports smell-o-vision and connects directly to the brain.

And I've worked my entire career on creating and putting to market those very products that ramp up consumers' expectations. I take responsibility, but I refuse to change. Because I'm just about as addicted as the next person. When I have to wait two seconds for the video to start, or when I can't update my blog while I'm in another country, or when I actually have to go to the store and walk around in order to buy stuff, I get that rush of adrenaline, that urge to punch my computer screen. This can't be happening to me. Why doesn't somebody do something about all these problems.

So I do. As do my brethren in the consumer-feeding-frenzy-fulfillment industry.

So, please, take a deep breath. If it took an extra second to load this page, realize that it's not my fault.

And when it comes your turn to vote for President, remember there is only one critical question to ask of the candidates: Where do you stand in the issue of providing iPhones to every American?

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