Archive for the TECH Category

ces. is. doomed.

Posted in TECH with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 10, 2008 by sketchycharacters

I have big ideas for this blog. I don’t intend this to just be a sketchblog, but more of an all-purpose dumping ground for anything and everything I obsess over in my life. One of the many things that I crave is a tech. Lots and lots of tech. I have no money, so the obsession is almost purely wishful thinking, but there’s nothing wrong with window shopping right? That is unless you are a big dark-skinned dude who’s got security asking you if you need any help every five minutes. That can get a little annoying. But, that’s a whole different post.

Anyways, I’ve been following CES like any other self-respecting techie with a free wireless internet connection. I have Engadget and Gizmodo on my Google Reader (yes, yes. Go ahead and laugh….) in order to get my daily news. This morning I got up and noticed this little story by Adam Frucci of Gizmodo:

Ten Reasons Why CES Is Doomed

Interesting, though he seems a little too bitter and probably wouldn’t last a day in a comic convention. Number 9, in my opinion (I am not going to use Internet speak, goddamit!), is the most true. I don’t know if it means much for CES as a show and convention, but the introduction of and continued capital being put towards gadgets that force us to stay isolated from one another seems completely counterintuitive to our basic human instincts. Seems a little closer to the cold machine-like demeanor of a business market. I wonder if these things will ever get any play outside of CES.

This reminds me of the whole debate around video gaming. One of the arguments of anti-video game pundits is that its a solitary activity that puts the user into a bubble and basically imprisons them. The user, then becomes isolated and socially inept because he/she has not built up the proper skills to interact with others. Of course, in individual cases, this may be true if you take other factors such as home and school environment into account. As a generalization the argument falls apart. I point to the surprising success of the Nintendo Wii as a prime example.

Nintendo gets a lot of slack from techies for not having bleeding edge tech in their consoles. Sony and Microsoft shouted to the heavens for all to hear about the incredible specs for their new machines. So much so that one (this one also) would think that monsters and robots would literally be reaching out of the screen and taking over your dorm room if you didn’t smack them down with your X, Y, A, B, B, L, R combo. Then, the things dropped. Literally. 360 rode off hype alone for a little while and, though Microsoft’s Live system is some of the best online gaming you could get, the system itself didn’t really impress. Sony comes with an overpriced and underpowered system with little storage called the PS3. The system turns out to be just a glorified Blu-Ray DVD player with Sony focusing much of their marketing power on the mulitple uses for it other than just gaming. All good in the things that they do, but again, not impressive.

Then, Nintendo comes with a real innovation in their new Wii console. No, I don’t mean the Wiimote and motion sensor technology (though that does play into the real innovation). Nintendo had the wacky, crazy idea that gaming was a social activity and that more people would gravitate towards a system where you could play together with other people, not just online, but in the same place. What a thought! While tech- and gaming blogs were criticizing Nintendo for being too kiddy, not having the right tech, or the third parties behind them, the company pushes forward and releases the Wii touting social gaming as the main selling point. And guess what happens? People who usually don’t play video games get a Wii. Gamers get a Wii (along with their PS3 and 360). Nintendo has another hit on their hands.

OK, the graphics aren’t so hot. The games can look a little too cartoony for their own good. But, to this blogger, the Wii is the only way to go. If only Sony and Microsoft could get off their fat, complacent butts and realize that they could use their considerable tech and marketing power to create a blockbuster gaming system that could actually bring people together in an active environment, we, the consumer, would be SO happy. And the world would be a better place.

Oh, and Nintendo should hurry up and hire this guy:

Head Tracking with a Wiimote

But, back to my original point. The success of the Wii just goes to show that people aren’t marching towards a more isolated future where we are all wearing MyVu glasses and texting each other instead of seeing what’s around us and talking with our own voices. We still feel the need to connect to other people. Yes, the internet, cellphones, IMs, and Youtube, are all ways we strive to do that in more and more convenient ways, but at the very base we don’t, and I believe, can’t break those ties to the real world around us and the real people in front of us. I can remember countless times when I use my phone to text friends just to work out getting together that night, or using my email to get the word out about events, family dinners, etc.

Number nine may be foretelling a grim future for us, but the Wii makes me hopeful about where we, as an increasingly tech-savvy society, are going.