UI & UX
In the summer of 2009, I began to deepen my love of music through the uprising of piracy. In the past, I had gone to great lengths to listen to music. As a child, I would place a tape recorder adjacent to the television set to capture the audio from my favorited video games. I could then transport the music to enjoy in my own personal space, or perhaps even – if I was good – my father’s car. Napster and Peer to Peer networks dawned unprecedented accessibility for those who felt somewhat disaffected by retailers monetising and gate keeping. Furthermore, the CD was always troubled; unlike vinyl it lacked any aesthetic material and experiential value (other than the music itself – which is a subject of discussion I am perpetually shackled to) also, the medium itself was deceitful insofar as the music does not even EXIST on the CD, no - upon microscopic inspection it is revealed that beneath the plastic only lie etchings of either two sizes, these translate to either a 1, or a 0. The vinyl, when viewed closely reveals intricate crevices. The unique shape of the valleys, their depth, pattern and width translate to live kinetic energy. Say all you want about ‘the artwork’, the ‘musty smell’, or the way you remember paying for the record – the most enchanting thing about the vinyl is hearing the music gently whisper and radiate from the stylus when spinning the turntable with the power off. This may sound like a loving analysis; but please be assured I have no intimacy regarding analogue dissemination of music, the past can keep the cassettes, CDs, and wax - the static hum, the tangling reel; it all pains me.
The sheer delight of dragging and dropping a digital file of waveforms from a computer to a portable music player to then have the experience forever repeatable, crystal clear and weightless was the best for me, and to this day I still have no regrets regarding a complete lack of interest in any material artefacts of the countless musical experiences I have accrued. A decade ago, I would argue the transition of traditional media content to compressed digital portable formats arrived before consumers, and media companies alike could adapt. There was a certain inertia felt as the consumable media became abstract and no longer tangible; for many this resulted in sadness. Record shops closed, committees died and the artefacts that served as vessels for people’s favourite art became relics and (most egregious of all) collectables…
Experiencing music, sadly is as intangible as the feeling of love, the vessels of which carry the music don’t even really carry the music – apart from the quiet whisper of the turn table of course – so then, how are people listening now? What is the experience? When the CDs, record stores, and fairs went, what replaced them?
Its unproductive to rally against such capital behemoths - it doesn’t matter that understanding Apple’s strategy for success is relatively open and non-secretive; Apple is a computer/software company as far as NatWest are robin hood like crusaders of ‘unfair banking’. Apple is an experience vendor.
The sort of minds that dress up as Steve Jobs for Halloween and cradle his late biography, may ague he was a ‘fan of music’; this is of course true. But the iPod, was not and charitable gesture. It was an experiment and an example of what would sow the seeds of a global takeover. The iPod was an exercise of shedding light and articulating purpose through experience unto the abstract void of music. The controls yielded an experience – the capacitive touch wheel felt intuitive enough to be used without learning, yet felt new and unprecedented enough to reinforce a new pattern of behaviour. The wheel would produce a clicking noise that would respond the speed of your thumb scrolling. The sound effect radiated from the iPod itself and not through the headphones. There were no skeuomorphic design ques either, the iPod itself was original and completely new and relied on no previous experience of other devises for its intrinsic usability.
Fans may argue the wonder of the profound user experience of an Apple product such as this. The reality though, is that Apple merely gave consumers a set of metaphorical lenses to see digital content through hardware and software UI design and capitalised on the love and desire to consume music, much like how early GUIs of the first MAC OS computers capitalised on the human lead practise of productivity by utilising skeuomorphic renditions of desktops, recycling cans and filing systems.
Now, this ideology is consistent everywhere as if human lead UI and UX where the natural routes of providing goodbusiness. There is a slice of Apple in all modern companies/products/services now. Fro better or for worse.
Every step in a good direction in terms of UX is essentially the process of removing the UX. Morals need not apply.