Saturday, May 19, 2012

Harlan Ellison Nails the Internet: I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream

You know what I hate about the future? At least on the internet?  The need to change all the time, otherwise they aren't keeping it fresh, new, up-to-date, eyeballs on the page.

Here's a hint: changing things just to change them doesn't keep eyeballs on the page in a good way. It keeps them glaring at the page in annoyance as they search for something they know SHOULD be RIGHT THERE, but which somehow continues to not be visible.

I got on the computer today, popped open the internet, and had my Google page tell me that I was looking at the new layout. Things weren't where they were supposed to be. The page offered, by way of apology for trooping out the change, that I could revert temporarily to the old layout, but wanted to know why I wanted to do so.

Then I went to Facebook and my brain exploded, because despite the uproar over Timeline, despite writing in and requesting that they simply allow both profile formats to continue to exist, and despite avidly refusing to adopt Timeline when it was offered, Facebook has now decided to push the red button and change it for me, will-or-nill.

Let me put this simply: some of us organize information, as well as objects, based on their expected location in space. We keep a geometric mental map of where some object is, and go there to look for it. This is why you see us root through an incomprehensible stack of rubbish, insisting that "it should be RIGHT HERE," only to emerge victorious moments later with the sought item in hand. We know where things are supposed to be, relative to that map.

The same is true for information on a website.  We know where to look for the login, logout, information, menus, etc, because we have already mapped a certain page. When we go to a site like Facebook or iGoogle, where large quantities of information come together, we have a ready map of how to navigate that information effectively.

When you take the layout of a page and "update" it, such as the new Google layouts, Facebook's new profile Timeline, and now Blogger's user interface, it's like taking a well-known city, putting it in a tin can, and shaking the ever-loving fuck out of it. It may be look new and different, but it's going to be holy hell trying to drive to work come Monday, since you no longer have any idea where the roads go, or where the building you work in even IS anymore. It means, every time some design prick decides to restructure the look of a page in order to perpetuate his or her job, that ALL THE INFORMATION SYSTEMS have been reordered. Which means, in turn, LEARNING HOW TO USE THE FUCKING SITE ALL OVER AGAIN.

Next time the internet decides to reorder the information systems I've carefully coded in my brain, why not just stick a wire through the bony orbit of my eye and give my frontal lobes a good whisk, 'm-kay?

P.S. Also, I must now determine whether or not to leave Facebook entirely. Meh.

1 comment:

Kelly McCullough said...

Now, tell us how you really feel... I'm right there with you on this one. I also wish those damn kids would stay off my lawn.