I've recently been asking a question to which, so far at least, I have not got a satisfactory answer. It has to do with the software programmes that are better known to us as "Apps", short for applications.
These programmes are developed for use on the new version of Internet-enabled phones called "smartphones" and the devices that look like photo frames or trays called tablets or tablet computers.
The iPhone of
The best-known tablet computer is, of course, the iPad, a 2010 product developed by
It has recently become the toy of choice for
No dollar spent on a computer is a wasted dollar, even if these MPs' iPads usually end up in the hands of relatives, friends and side dishes.
So back to the Apps. An app is the soul of a smartphone or tablet. It is the equivalent of the SIM card of a phone, the CD of the CD player, the diskette of the 1990s computer era, the flash drive of today's USB-dominated computers, or to go even further back in time, the cassette tape of the radio cassette player.
The app is the thing that brings to life these hand-held computers and phones.
I am told that even without an app, one can still log onto the Internet with a smartphone or tablet via the more established web browsers like
In other words, you can still get onto the Internet even without a so-called app.
Big question My question is, why are we being flooded with so many apps these days? Every newspaper, TV station or website in the advanced industrial world or emerging market now tells us to "Download our new app for iPad, Kindle Fire and Android now", or whatever gadget it is.
The reason I'm told rather than that I know, is because I don't own a smatphone. My phone is the bare bones "kabiriti" GSM type that older or more rural Ugandans use, whose purpose is simply to call, beep or send and an sms --- and yes, receive mobile money. Nothing fancy. A simple phone just meant to be a phone, not an electronic version of the Swiss Army knife with its fork, knife, screwdriver, spoon, nail cutter and wine bottle opener.
So, once again, if one can get onto the Internet as one does from a laptop or desktop computer, why this craze for apps? I find that most apps are a repetition of what already exists.
Then 80 per cent of apps are more like children's toys than serving a serious purpose. There are apps to remind you to feed your dog. Apps to prompt you to say the Catholic rosary. Apps to help you find street directions. Apps to share jokes with friends.
Apps to help you share photos with friends. Apps brighten up your mood. Apps to help you choose whether to wear red or green toenail polish that day.
In other words, the further we go into the 21st
People just have nothing better to do with their time these days, especially in the Western world. As
We are into a new era of being idle and disorderly on a massive, global scale.
But because today's information economy is driven by numbers and pairs of eyes, clicks of computer mouse or finger touch of tablet/smartphone screens, the end justifies the means. The logic of the vast, networked economy is that what's hot is "cool", so go with it.
That is why the world's largest gathering for idle gossip, Facebook, recently bought another meeting point of idle minds, WhatsApp, for a staggering
These social media networks like Twitter,
Everything is now about collective, crowd action. 2012 cames with a video called "Kony 2012" with the theme "Let's make Kony famous".
The crowd got tweeting (the term for publishing messages on Twitter), re-tweeting, liking (
More than 100 million views of
However, Kony appears to have had his cake and eaten it. We gave him invaluable global publicity but so far he has not been captured.
Recently, the crowd action moved to a kind of "Let's make Boko Haram famous" campaign, and in our naive hippy-idealistic way, a global effort undertaken, with celebrities and the US First Lady
Rather than allow experienced counterterrorism experts and hostage negotiators to discreetly handle these sensitive matters, We the world now want to have our say in everything.
Last year when a
The crowd, speaking from its base on social media, is now the world's parliament, opinion leader, the judge and jury, the media, the police. In the more sober past, we left certain things to competent people.
Today, every Tom, Dick and Tweep wants to be an authority on things that they know little of.
All this idleness made possible by the app. I say "Down with the Up!"
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