It can be seen that in the past usually two or more equivalent categories combine to get a viable technology. Social media and smart phones are a recent exception, involving a greater number of categories. Yet these categories are primarily technical, rather than being based on specific social or concept categories.
It can be argued that the technologies that have developed are broad enough in function that these social and concept categories don’t need to be specific. And products may depend on general approaches for marketability. But as markets grow, this may not always be the case. A point is reached where specific categories become viable agents of the economy. This is already the case in a kind of macro-sense about smart phones themselves—-they embody a technical response to the environment which was not previously possible.
But there is more potential to integrate with the environment than has usually been assessed. I don’t just mean ATMs, recording audio or taking pictures. The second two are somewhat one-way technologies, and ATMs remain bulky. I am not fully convinced that the emergent technologies are just technology-to-technology devices either. There is a strong value in networked devices which remains ‘one concept’ in the system of related technological ideas. In some ways it has remained a technical angle, and not a social or conceptual one.
I will push the assessment of current technologies aside. These technologies essentially embody categories of future technologies—combinatorial possibilities. I can count the types of categories that might be used on a computer: Games/Graphics, Interpretation/Extrapolation/Preferences, Networking/Social Media, Personal Media, Specialized Applications. I can add to this a number of arbitrary categories that expresses technological capability—there may be many of these, but most of them are unsurprising. They may consist of sub-components—what I will call syntactic interfaces—such as keyboards, mice, lasers, etc. which constitute a linguistic or syntactical limitation on the potential of the technology. Outside of these re-combinations of syntactical relationships, media (the word we tend to use recently for computers) consists essentially of information.
So there are three choices:
- Combine existing syntactic interfaces into something new and yet appealing—this may seem impossible or untenable.
- Find a new syntactic interface, or
- Work with information alone. This may be a simplification, since it is also possible to find syntactic interfaces that only work with new takes on information.
So my caveat is, since these three categories are so limited, why not look into the relationship between technology and environment? Environment could easily change the prospective relationship between information and syntax, or even create new syntactic interfaces. The potential is huge.
What about games that are designed specifically for sub-casual play? These could easily be constructed on transparent wall-panels and windows to appeal to user-generated aesthetic sensibilites. There is a potential to combine these with electrodes also. It is miraculous that these have not already been thought of with greater popular interest. Digital interactivity at Starbucks has the potential to create a genre. This might also hook into highly specific applications, such as personal products and useful advertising, creating yet another genre, of responsible public interfaces.
What can be done with syntax in cafes and public areas? There can be more intermediate interface that lubricates the consumer interest in games and their own media devices. These might be public servers, or social-interface components which cater to the needs of travelers, students, business people, or other types of consumers.