Page 2 – News Debris For The Week Of July 31st
Do iPhones Promote Teenage Depression?
Do modern smartphones promote a certain kind of obsessive, loner mentality that leads to teenage reclusiveness, depression and even suicidal thinking? Jean M. Twenge who has been “researching generational differences for 25 years,” has written a learned, responsible but unnerving article for the September Atlantic magazine. “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?”
My take is that the vision of adult smartphone designers has had unintended consequences. Early smartphones with tiny screens and limited speeds were good for phone calls, email and address books, but not a whole lot more. The revolutionary iPhone and those smartphones that mimicked it engendered an immersive visual and social experience. iOS is so capable that social media apps sprang forth like weeds and captured the psyche of very young people. The author writes:
I call them iGen. Born between 1995 and 2012, members of this generation are growing up with smartphones, have an Instagram account before they start high school, and do not remember a time before the internet.
The author delves into the psychological allure of these devices in ways that adult designers probably never envisioned. Namely, disinterest in physical activities, dating, driving, and timely assumption of adult responsibilities.
Every parent should read this very important article.
Are Apple’s retail stores in malls the new anchor store? Are they contributing to the survival of some malls? This report at The Street doesn’t have a lot of research data, but it raises the specter, backed by the observations of Gene Munster (Loup Ventures), that the traffic generated by an Apple retail store can have a halo effect for its concourse neighbors. See: “Apple Has Triggered This Major Phenomenon That Is Preventing Many Malls From Dying.”
Grocery stores are also taking up the slack as traditional department stores like Sears and JC Penney incur difficulties. “Grocery stores could save dying suburban shopping malls.”
Perhaps, some day, we’ll see Amazon eventually squaring off against Apple in the malls.
• There has been some disagreement about whether Apple should have caved to China’s demand that certain VPN apps be removed from the App Store in China. It’s one of those issues that can be seen in two distinct ways.
Tim Culpan at Bloomberg does exactly that. In paired paragraphs, he beautifully presents both sides of the argument. “Two Sides to Apple’s China Story.” IT just goes to show that for any sufficiently complex issue, there are two sides to the argument. It’s like an optical illusion. A subtle shift in mental perspective casts the imagery in a new light.
• President Calvin Coolidge once said that “The business of America is business.” That seems to be the current political theme. And so I present that as backdrop to Mashable’s “You’re not going to like where Congress is going with net neutrality.” As added punctuation, the site I found for the quote adds: “Coolidge’s words are often mentioned as typical of the overconfidence in the American economy that preceded the Great Depression.”
There could be good reason, however, for this political emphasis. Companies are like black boxes. They’re easy to deal with. And all they want to do is build products and make money. Irate citizens have much lower priority.
The prospect of also dealing with complex socio-economic issues of the populace has a less clear outcome and is awash in conflicting views. I can see how politicians, pressed for time and not technically deep, can elect to take the easier path.
Worse, when complex technical issues are explained to non-technical people, the tendency is to withdraw into a fixed-framework and cling to comfortable notions. Anything that upsets that mindset is seen as self-serving agenda. Original notions are reinforced instead of questioned.
Helping things along, the well-known internet “echo chamber” reinforces the influence of like-minded individuals. This is discussed in the April 2017 issue of Scientific American: “Inside the Echo Chamber.” The more a socially acceptable truth is bandied about, the more veracity it appears to have to individuals.
And so, when politicians gather to undermine Net Neutrality, they’re not being evil. They’re just acting like teenagers do on social media. That is, confirmation bias in an echo chamber of their own construction. More technical experience combined with exposure to critical thinking methods is the answer.
• Mark Gurman at Bloomberg tells the story about the lengths Apple goes to in preventing trademark sleuths from unearthing new Apple product names. “Apple Versus the Trademark Sleuths.”
For years, self-styled gumshoes have unearthed the names of soon-to-launch gadgets by searching trademark offices from Jamaica to Trinidad. Then that got a lot harder.
• Finally, I bring this next item up because there was a time in 2016 when we thought that a company as smart and successful as Apple could beat Tesla at its own game by building electric cars. But the truth is, it’s very hard to start up an advanced car company and make a lot of money out of the gate with cutting edge technology and a small installed base. Both Faraday and Tesla are having some serious problems. “Tesla lost $401 million from revenues of $2.7 billion in Q2 2017.”
Apple never gave any indication that it was working on a car factory, with tens of thousands of square meters of floor space and monster car assembly robots. That became quickly obvious as Apple rethought the whole car business thing. It looks like Apple’s decision to work only on the software side will turn out to be much smarter.
Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro’s observations and opinions about a standout event or article of the week (preamble on page one) followed on page two by a discussion of articles that didn’t make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holiday weekends.