Most of the big brands out there are undoubtedly shaping their new tech products with an eye on the future. Few brands are going through this process as we speak… I’m looking at you, Apple!
I am reminded of this anecdote that happened to me last week. I was searching for a new laptop to buy. I was really excited to buy this new MacBook pro 2017, I was eager to leave behind my old windows. Excitement didn’t last long: I found out that this new Apple product didn’t have traditional USB ports but newcomers USB type C ports, using Thunderbolt technology.
I was shocked.
This USB anecdote could easily fit into the case-study of french philosopher and anthropologist Bruno Latour who investigates in his essay “The Missing Masses” (1992) how things prescribe behaviour upon us and upon other things. “The design of things of their physical features and functions not only prescribe actions but also ‘moralities, ethics and duties’ (Latour, 1992).
The french philosopher was also interested in the process by which humans delegate action to objects. Latour’s view of technology revolves around the idea of displacing our actions on to technology, and viceversa. “Walls are a nice invention, but if there were no holes in them there would be no way to get in or out. The problem is that if you make holes in the walls, anything and anyone can get in and out. So architects invented the door, miracle of technology.” (Latour, 1992).
In order to keep using my old USB, Apple is essentially both imposing and delegating upon me to buy a Dual USB or adaptor to make it happen…unbelievable, but necessary!?
How can you, Apple, think people not familiar with this new type of USB ports will take this big change? The only answer I can think of is that someone must kick-start the future…and who better than Apple?
Latour, B. (1992). Where are the missing masses, sociology of a few mundane artefacts. 1st ed. [ebook] Cambridge: Wiebe Bijker and John Law. Available at: http://www.bruno-latour.fr/sites/default/files/50-MISSING-MASSES-GB.pdf [Accessed 12 Apr. 2017].