Shovelware is a derogatory computer jargon term that refers to software noted more for the quantity of what is included than for the quality or usefulness. (Wikipedia)
Fair or unfair comparison?
While cruising around my Internet “stuff” this morning I bumped into Ouya. Understand, I am NOT a gamer, so I have the benefit of neutrality when it comes to gaming as art, science, or fluff. I have, however, plunked down some serious coin to purchase the latest or greatest systems for my adolescent and adult male offspring. And we cruised through Atari, Nintendo, X-Box, and Playstation in what has felt like rapid succession, although some were sold on Craigslist to upgrade to the latest and greatest and others malfunctioned or were modded (for some mysterious reason at the time) and soon became useless (again for some other mysterious reason)
But after reading a whole bunch of posts about the relative merits of Ouya or Android gaming systems (and that might be an oxymoron, mind you) I came to the conclusion that maybe the problem is more about what we are doing with them rather than with the devices, OSes, interfaces, themselves. And then came my introduction to shovelware.
When I apply the same attention to the Internet that I did to Ouya, gaming, and shovelware I come up with similar impressions, opinions, and conclusions. The basic problem with the Internet is that it has so much good and bad to offer simultaneously, without much separation or discrimination. And the user is bombarded daily with so much capability, features, and a ton of behind the scenes exploitation, that it boggles the brain. But at the end of the day I always have the feeling that I’ve missed something and that I need to wash my hands.
Again to shovelware: . . . refers to (stuff) noted more for the quantity of what is included than for quality or usefulness. Because its mostly free – the content that is – we can’t get too picky about quality. We get what we pay for, right? And if we pay nothing, then its usually worthless, of limited value, or crap. Now if you are into the prurient side of the Internet, then you might disagree with my value argument. But I’m not into that stuff, so please let’s not argue that point here.
What I’m left with is the few nuggets of excellence that I do get from the Internet. And here are a few – in my estimation:
Newsprint replacement – I can read the news and view pictures and videos at will online. But I still have to put up with all the crap that’s wrapped around it.
The Ball Scores – up to the minute. Gold!
Email – maybe, here- in this context, but it’s souring lately. See my earlier post “Email is Getting Really Ugly”
Social Media – For me its a mixed bag. Clutter and a few nuggets. But impossible to avoid if you want to stay on good terms with your relatives and friends. But considering the amount of discretionary time I have in a 24-hour day, social media seems more like a distraction and annoyance most of the time.
Netflix and Hulu – currently valuable and becoming much more interesting over time. But this depends whether the connectivity providers can deliver the bandwidth and not charge an arm and a leg for it. And then there’s the type of content available that I want for entertainment. And for me that’s usually not during daylight hours, unfortunately.
YouTube is a totally different animal to me only because I crave continutity and more than a snapshot of anything. But thats me, mind you.
Online Education is another untapped resource thats still in its infancy, Salmon Kahn notwithstanding.
The global interconnectivity of everything through instant communcations – wherever there are connections available – is another potential goldmine. maybe not financially, but socially and morally. If we become able to understand, appreciate, and accept worldwide diversity and differences, the content wont probably matter too much to anyone.
So I guess we’re still looking at Shovelware until something remarkable happens and the Internet is transformed from its disorganized, open, chaotic state into something more important and significant. Until then I’ll sift through ny junk mail, put out the trash, and keep my expectations more reasonable, I guess.