Thursday, December 13, 2001

Journal 1: CMC Pop Press Article

For this assignment, I am writing about Wired News's article about Yahoo's new multimedia instant message system.

Article can be found at: http://www.wired.com/news/digiwood/0,1412,47782,00.html

This article described Yahoo's new IM system that allows users to customize their instant message window with cartoons and backgrounds, listen to streaming music, play games, and watch movie clips. Thus, people can use their instant messaging system as an all inclusive computer-based entertainment center. This decision was based on research that suggests that people tend to prefer email for business, and they IM primarily for entertainment.

This system reminds me strongly of Bill Gates's conception of an overarching computer system that facilitates all your activities, rather than having seperate applications for each one. It's certainly a seductive idea, being able to deal with one computer system and then having that system take care of all of the details of daily life. And if the future is anything like the way writers of science fiction imagine it, that's probably the way we're headed (i.e. the computer on "Star Trek"). However, it seems like the downside of such "package deals" is that it doesn't allow you to choose what you want for each application--much like using a GUI interface, you sacrifice transparency and control for user-friendliness. This makes me wonder if, as our society becomes increasingly technologically savvy, people will choose control over ease of use after all. Probably the best way to get a sense of this is to monitor the success of such all encompassing technologies as Yahoo's new program.