David Foster Wallace was wrong about video calling

It's been almost fifteen years since Skype introduced video calls, and almost nine years since FaceTime popularized the mobile version, it's a good time to revisit one of the best-known modern predictions about video calls. exactly what went wrong.

The prediction comes from the 1996 epic of David Foster Wallace Infinite Jest who imagines a future in which information saturation and corporatization have devastated human consciousness. There are many surrealistic predictions, with the videophone bit arriving at approximately 150 pages. In the timeline of Infinite Jest the boom of video calls lasted just over a year, collapsing with terrible economic consequences and the majority of the population returned to regular phones. Technically, this part is capitalized for strange stylistic reasons (is it the whole title?) But I put it on the top to save your eyes:

In 16 months or 5 quarters of sales, the tumescent demand curve collapsed As a year of underwear for dependent adults, less than 10 percent of all private telephone communications used fiber-video data transfers … the average user of US phones. UU He decided that he actually preferred the old retrograde low-tech Bell. After all, the phone's interface is only voice.

The problem, according to Foster Wallace, is that video calls made people aware of how involved the parties were in the conversation, fundamentally changing the social implications of a call. As he says:

The audio-only telephone conversations allowed him to assume that the person at the other end was paying full attention to him, while allowing him not to have to pay anything even to complete his attention …

There is also a concern about what you see in the video call, so while you can get out of bed and receive a regular audio call, vanity's basic requirements are much higher for the video. This leads to a complete tangent over the HD masking, which for some reason implies a physical plastic mask of your face hanging next to the phone. Those masks evolve into more attractive versions of the caller ("stronger chins, smaller eyeballs, airbrush scars and wrinkles"), which eventually replace the physical form of the caller, until the disjunction between our bodies real and the online presentation becomes untenable, causing everything to collapse.

Obviously, there's a lot to do here about self-presentation and alienation, etc., but it makes it a pretty specific prediction about technology:

There's a kind of revealing lesson here in the shortest one. In the long term, the viability curve of advances in consumer technology … First, there is an incredible type of science fiction as the advance in consumer technology, such as the auditory call to video, which always advances, however , has certain unforeseen disadvantages for the consumer; and then, but the market niches created by those disadvantages … are ingeniously occupied by the business margin; and yet the same advantages of these ingenious disadvantages-offsets seem all too often to undermine the original high-tech advancement.

I was writing all this before the Internet accelerated, so I do not want to be too hard. But this is not really what happened at all. The most important piece that is missing is the sending of text messages, which has almost completely overcome voice calls for the reasons described by Foster Wallace. Not only does he not need to pay attention or look good, he does not need to be consciously present at the same time as the person he is talking to. The reading receipt is our only and best technical mechanism to determine if a person is at the other end, and is considered invasive to the point of rudeness.

At the same time, the easy distance of text messages can be said to have become a video Calling plus important. FaceTime allows you to scale beyond the world of text messages to an uncomfortable and attentive intimacy. Sometimes that is exactly what you need. It has become a central part of almost all smartphones and mobile platforms, even without going into parallel formats like Snapchat and Instagram Stories, which are basically atomized video calls in sharable media. There are many face-filtering animations (again, for most of the vanity reasons that Foster Wallace talks about), but they make you look like a cartoon dog or a CGI extraterrestrial rather than a more attractive version of you same, so there is no future.

There is still something disturbingly familiar at work here, particularly in the idea of ‚Äč‚Äčendless technology cycles that attempt to fix what was broken in the previous cycle. We create applications to distract ourselves, and then more applications to help us concentrate. But from time to time, we really make systems that bring us closer, and text messages are a good example. Fortunately, the facial filters are not as destructive of the soul as they seemed.

Please Note: This content is provided and hosted by a 3rd party server. Sometimes these servers may include advertisements. igetintopc.com does not host or upload this material and is not responsible for the content.