The universe passes around an awful lot of information – an awful lot of energy – all the time.
Go for a run? Bleed calories as heat into the air. Sun’s warm today! It’s shedding its worth into the ambient area at quite literally the speed of light. Atomic bombs? Self-explanatory.
The mechanics are all the same – physics is wonderfully complex but it’s not complicated. Which brings us to tech and design, weirdly.
It feels like every site on the web (including mine, for which I make little apology) features the same elements – because they’re popular and effective – all at the same time. Hero sliders, big images, stunning typography, literally the entire Material Design playbook in action – on every website it can be – 24/7 this year. Homogeneity at its best.
Why? It’s effective. We know what to expect. We know what a clickable link looks like on a desktop, and we can make simple guesses on mobile as to which regions are touch ready. It’s not bad in and of itself, but it will cause exhaustion, and go out of fashion.
Now tech is doing it too! This should not be a surprise.
This morning, Wired had a piece about everyone having the same plans for tech that’s damned accurate – and damning by way of its accuracy. From the article;
You can prefer one design or another, but that will be the only thing separating iOS from Android and Android from Windows. They’re just skins at this point. You’ll have access to all the same apps, all the same services.
Sounds great, right? And we can admit there’s less animosity between Mac users and PC users lately, just as there’s less ague in consumers over which phone to pick. As Wired says, “There are a few differentiators left, sure […] but they don’t matter to most users. A phone is a phone is a phone.”
Heat Death is at hand.
This is where we get back to physics. The idea of heat death centers on the passing of energies – that, and I’m paraphrasing a really large number of ideas here for the sake of demonstration – eventually, given enough passing, all of that energy will become homogenized. It’ll become the same. Momentum will be lost, among the many processes involved, and we’ll suffer the final doom of the universe; a lack of differentiation across all matter and energy, because there’s nowhere to go that hasn’t been gone before.
I feel like design, and tech, might spiral into a premature heat death situation by way of the hegemony of homogeneity.
Or I could be over thinking it. Maybe, as Wired says, this is what we need. Adoption is hard, and getting people on board with new systems is a challenge. Perhaps – going back to Clay Shirky – all of this stuff will become socially interesting as it becomes technologically boring.
Still, who wants to be bored by design items? Not me. How about you?