The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

The Rise Of User Unfriendliness …
December 9, 2015, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Attitude & Aptitude, Cunning, Design, Technology

For years we’ve heard about the importance of simplicity … intuitiveness … seamlessness …

While it has led to an incredibly improvement in all manner of technology, it has also – to a certain degree – led to an entitlement attitude.

We now live in a society where if you have to actually do something, we see it as a negative.

Get up to turn on the lights?

Are you fucking kidding me!

Have to turn on the music system to hear your favourite music?

You want me to do what!

Look out the window to see what the weather is?

Why are you torturing me!

As I’ve said many times, I appreciate I am a massive hypocrite with all this given I live in a gadget nightmare household.

Wifi lights. Multi-room sound systems. Digital weather stations.

And then there’s the tons of robot dogs, cats and rabbits.

But despite this, I can’t help but say I’m kind of excited by the user unfriendliness movement that has started to show itself.

I’m not talking about tech that has been designed by someone who has no understanding of how humans think and work … I’m talking about people who are actively making products whose goal is to make you work for what you want.

Designer Weng Xingyu has designed a lamp he calls, the Angry Lamp.

It’s a light that, when it detects a room is bright enough to read in – either because of daylight or another lamp that is turned on – turns itself off. In other words, your reading is at the will of Angry Lamp’s interpretation of ‘bright enough’ because it absolutely, categorically, steadfastly refuses to use power if you are not going to the light for good reason.


Weng has also created a digital photo frame that automatically starts blurring the pictures appearing on it if you fail to interact with the frame for a period of time.

In other words, it shames you into paying attention to images that you probably claim are ‘important to you’.

Then there’s Albert Clock by Axel Schindlbeck & Fred Mauclere.

This is a clock where it tells you the time by mental arithmetic.

In short, if you want to know the time, you have to do the maths.

Yes, I know it’s horrific … but it’s also massively cool.

OK, so maybe I’m the only person who is excited by this sort of stuff, but I like that this technology is offering you something more than just ‘making your life easier’ … it’s offering you the chance to value the moment.

We spend so much time passively engaged with life.

Of course, we will passionately argue that we’re fully focused, but the fact is we’re not.

We watch movies while checking out details on our phones.

We listen to music while playing video games.

We talk on the phone while reading websites.

We don’t get to truly value what we have because – as my wife says about me, far too much of the time – we’re not living in the present.

The wonder of this technology is it changes that.

It makes you care about the book you’re reading.

It makes you truly value the time you’re enjoying.

It forces you to embrace the memories that have importance in your life.

Sure, it may be annoying … sure you might regret purchasing it the moment you are negatively impacted by it … but in a World where we seem to be focused on NOT making people appreciate what they’ve got, I think this is a brilliant movement.

We’ll find out whether I still feel that way, once some of these items arrive at my house.

29 Comments so far
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Weren’t you terrible at math? By the time you work out the time it will be 45 minutes later.

Comment by Bazza

So all the meetings will be finished before he arrives. This has amazing implications for productivity.

Comment by John

always a silver fucking lining.

Comment by andy@cynic

I can hear the sigh of relief from wieden shanghai from here.

Comment by Bazza

I am all about the positivity.

Comment by John

That is a very good point that I failed to take into account during my purchase decision process. Bugger.

And John, this positivity side of you – albeit backhanded positivity – is very disturbing.

Comment by Rob

purchase decision process. whats that then? that looks fucking nice, ill buy it. twat.

Comment by andy@cynic

You have too much money. And too much stupid.

Comment by Billy Whizz

so much for that bollocks about a fool and his cash being easily parted.

Comment by andy@cynic

I have no money now. But I have a shitload of gadgets that have only been used once.

Comment by Rob

tech to make things easier. tech to make things harder. just fucking admit you like tech you sad wannabe nerdy loser twat. and next time jill tells you youre not in the moment, remind her she should consider herself lucky because if you are, her life goes to a whole new level of shit. she can thank me later.

Comment by andy@cynic

I am not sure about the technology, surely it would be easier and cheaper to just unplug all your gadgets and leave your smartphone at the office, but the sentiment of the post is excellent.

Comment by Lee Hill

good fucking point. you know the soft twat bought a cup that uses wifi to tell him what the fuck hes drinking. i always thought taste buds were supposed to fucking do that for you. hes a tech hypocrite and a gadget companies fucking dream.

Comment by andy@cynic

People from Nottingham have no sense of taste.

Comment by John

No Robert. Tell me Andrew is joking.

Comment by George

Sadly he isn’t George. On the positive, I haven’t received it yet … even though they received my cash ages ago.

Comment by Rob

+ 1

Comment by George

That is a very good point Lee, which highlights my decision to purchase was actually driven more by my desire to have some new tech than a new way of living.

Please do not tell Jill.

Comment by Rob

The consumer technology industry, like the advertising industry, will always look to associate and assimilate with any emerging trend that could maximise or undermine its relevance or profit.
I believe it is called “playing both sides”. It works because people like to buy things, even if they could get the same result by a simple change in their actions and behaviour.

Comment by Pete

Yes, Lee basically said that. I get it … I get it … I’m an idiot, but surely everyone knew that by now. Even I knew that and in theory, I should be the last person to want to acknowledge it.

Oh, and I don’t think it’s just the tech and ad industries who play both sides – the whole point of capitalism is to identify ways to protect/maximise your earnings which is why we can have brands like Macca’s go into ‘healthy eating’ products despite the fact they’ve been pushing high salt and fat products for years and years and years.

They call it ‘satisfying demand’, I think your description is better.

Comment by Rob

Pay me the money and I’ll turn your light off when I feel like it.

Comment by Billy Whizz

I think I have found my new investor. Speak soon Robert.

Comment by Jonathan Rosenberg

I could be if I hadn’t spent it all on a wifi suitcase. Which also hasn’t arrived yet, despite waiting over a year.

Hope you are well, I am touched [read: shocked] you still check my rubbish out. Hope we can catch up soon.

Comment by Rob

“I can’t connect to the coffee machine”. Words that have been said in our apartment. Shameful and yet fun all at the same time. Although we’re not as bad you you, Robert, we seem to have put and awful lot of internet into an awful lot of things in our home. We do, however, try balance our gadget madness by oftentimes doing what Lee has already suggested and go for long walks in the Alps.

Good morning.

Comment by Marcus

Better than your wife saying, “I can’t connect to you”.

Comment by Rob

cant. dont. wont.

Comment by andy@cynic


Comment by Marcus

trying to be passive fucking superior with your one word answer? it didnt work. i shit one word passive superior answers. mate.

Comment by andy@cynic

[…] performing a function that saves you approx 0.3 seconds doing. Kind-of like the premise behind user-unfriendly tech I wrote about a while […]

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