I'm about half way through a wonderful book: The Inmates are Running the Asylum, by Alan Cooper. As an aside, the author's primary claim to fame is the invention of something truly horrible long ago. But I think he's sorry now.
The book does a good job of explaining why most industrial products are becoming increasingly unusable.
The simple reason is that it is cheap to add a microprocessor to anything. Once the manufacturer does this they: 1) can add new features at zero marginal cost, 2) put software engineers (and their feature mentality) in the critical path of product design. The book's issue is usability, my issue is security, and I'm quite certain we're on the slippery slope to downloading code into our kitchen appliances. I really have wanted to blog about the security aspect of this problem for some time [economist: apparently not]; the post would be called "Someday, your alarm clock will try to kill you".
Cooper has the first chapter of his book ask, successively:
- What do you get when you cross a computer with an Airplane?
- What do you get when you cross a computer with a Camera?
- What do you get when you cross a computer with an Alarm Clock?
- What do you get when you cross a computer with a Car?
- What do you get when you cross a computer with a Bank?