Permissions for Consumption

Monday, January 27th, 2014 by kylebickoff

I found myself incredibly impressed at how Between Page and Screen expresses the complications of interface. I began by first looking at every page—each page contains an image which alludes to the QR code, the images remain aesthetically pleasing, minimal, plain enough to not alienate the user. Similarly, I find they recall a certain glitch aesthetic as well as icons from 1980s game culture. But beyond these visually alluring images, I find that the interface is the most alluring aspect of this creation to consider critically. Does the pages recall written letters or emails? Stock tickers or narratives? Charcuterie or swinish consumption? The material page, the material screen, and the immaterial interface at the center of this intersection is the point to which the most attention is paid, and the point with the fewest  clear answers. Certainly, capitalism lies near the ‘heart’ of this work.

Moreover, the book forced me to consider consumption. This book’s site encourages me to interact with the book online, which then, after asking permission, starts Adobe Flash on my computer. Instantly, my processor speed kicked up as the window took up a consistent 18-25% of my CPU usage during my usage. Now, there is certainly a way to calculate energy consumption, the coal burned to run this (Boulder, CO electricity’s source is coal) interface, but I will not engage in such a cost analysis. Rather, this forced me to reconsider the inherent required consumption to read both the digital text and the physical text. I realize that not just this text, but all interfaces require similar consumption. My smartphone, my computer, my access to the cloud, all require resource consumption. Each additional interface I interact with similarly requires additional consumption—every gmail server I access, the syncing of this file to dropbox, the electronic confirmation for funds which purchased this book, my access to the course’s website to submit this post for the week—all require additional consumption, which I actively permit at every step of the way. This ‘permission,’ for consumption, which I find myself now even more conscious of now, has been actively allowed by me. Every user agreement I approve (including the several to run this digital work) is active permission to consume. We may tell our systems to ‘remember this choice,’ as I did, but this question is: do we remember it?


-Kyle Bickoff


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