The iPhones of Fall

These days, Apple is more properly thought of as a fashion label, not an electronics company.

When Apple launched the iPhone 4 in 2010, the company’s website featured large images of the device with the text “This changes everything. Again.” Change has been a constant refrain in Apple’s marketing over the years. The famous 1984 Macintosh ads framed the computer as an agent of revolution. And the “Think Different” ads of the 1990s implied that purchasing… read more

On the iPhone: The Anxiety of Openness

The openness of web applications demonstrates the real treachery of the iPhone's closed platform

This is the first in a series of short editorials on the iPhone, which I’ll be writing occasionally. Now that the geekqueues of iDay have come and gone, perhaps we can start talking more seriously about the device without all the fanboy ardor. For some of us who have not (yet) adopted the iPhone, one major disappointment is its status… read more

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Don’t Hate the Phone Call, Hate the Phone

Our telephone habits have changed, but so have the infrastructure and design of the handset.

One of the ironies of modern life is that everyone is glued to their phones, but nobody uses them as phones anymore. Not by choice, anyway. Phone calls—you know, where you put the thing up to your ear and speak to someone in real time—are becoming relics of a bygone era, the “phone” part of a smartphone turning vestigial as… read more

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A Master Key to the Ultimate Dumb Device

The future of the iPhone could be a way of tethering people to Apple products even when they don't want them anymore.

Lock-in. That's what we call it when you're dependent on a specific vendor for particular services. When you buy a single-serving coffee machine boasting convenient, mess-free coffee inserts, like Keurig K-Cup or Nespresso, you're bound to its brand of coffee pods. When you purchase digital music on iTunes, proprietary formats and digital rights management (DRM) make it difficult to listen… read more

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The Geek’s Chihuahua

Living with Apple

This book is available in digital or physical format. Buy from Amazon The evolution and meaning of our love affair with Apple and its devices. At dinnertime: check. At a traffic light: check. In bed at the end of the day: check. In line at the coffee shop: check. In The Geek’s Chihuahua, Ian Bogost addresses the modern love affair… read more

Steroid Slugger

Steroid Slugger

An unpublished 2007 New York Times newsgame

In 2007, my studio Persuasive Games embarked on a series of newsgames published by the New York Times. It was Kind Of A Big Deal At The Time, because it was the first real attempt for a major newspaper to publish videogames as news content (rather than as puzzles). We completed two games, Food Import Folly, about the effects of reduced… read more

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The Cathedral of Computation

We’re not living in an algorithmic culture so much as a computational theocracy.

Algorithms are everywhere, supposedly. We are living in an “algorithmic culture,” to use the author and communication scholar Ted Striphas’s name for it. Google’s search algorithms determine how we access information. Facebook’s News Feed algorithms determine how we socialize. Netflix’s and Amazon’s collaborative filtering algorithms choose products and media for us. You hear it everywhere. “Google announced a change to… read more

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Future Ennui

As we march onwards towards wearables and alerts on our wrists, we're no longer shocked by technological progress, but rather exhausted by it.

It’s been seven years since the first launch of the iPhone. Before that, smartphones were a curiosity, mostly an affectation of would-be executives—Blackberry and Treo and so forth. Not even a decade ago, they were wild and feral. Today, smartphones are fully domesticated. Tigers made kittens, which we now pet ceaselessly. Over two-thirds of Americans own them, and they have… read more

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My Phone is Dying

On elderly iPhones

Everyone knows that iPhones are manufactured with planned obsolescence built in: processors and RAM allocations that can’t keep up with operating system upgrades purposely designed not to account for earlier models. Apple makes too much of its profits from hardware sales, so handsets have become akin to fashion seasons. Hardware upgrades entail power and capacity. The new activities made possible… read more

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What Do We Save When We Save the Internet?

We cannot champion Network Neutrality without admitting that the Internet is no Utopia.

Think about regret as if it were sin. Some regrets are mild, but acute. The regret associated with choosing the wrong supermarket checkout lane, or buying an outfit that you notice goes on sale the next week—these seem woeful. They chafe, but their pains are pin pricks that soon subside. These are venial regrets. Regret is more severe when it steeps… read more