The Imaginary App

The Imaginary App is a collection of essays “giving people tools to navigate the theoretical terrains that apps have unleashed.”
It describes some wild apps, such as I am rich (which cost $999.99, simply displays a screen saying ‘I am rich’, and sold 8 copies in 24 hours before Apple took it down, making $5000 for its designer and $3000 for Apple), or Ghost Radar, which one can only assume is a joke.
We’ve only had the word ‘app’ since 2008, when Apple launched the App Store as a means of compensating for the lack of hardware on early iPhones. They then trademarked the slogan ‘there’s an app for that’ in 2009.
An app is an interface, “a short cut that guarantees direct and immediate access to information stored in the cloud.” It differs from a desktop PC in that, whilst it does only a limited range of things, it does them without needing attention (an ‘invisible tool’ which ‘does not intrude on one’s consciousness’.)
It has led to new ‘symptoms’ – for example reluctance to wait, and the view that everything we need is already right here for us, at our fingertips.
It is inextricably caught up with the cloud, which is a more centralised and controlled beast than the internet (you have the ‘Google Cloud’ or the ‘Microsoft Cloud’) and in most cases it constantly generates data about the app user, which is mined and monetised.
I’m grateful to the Netbehaviour site for alerting me to this book. I’ve only started reading it, and will post any other interesting items I find.
The editors challenged a range of people to come up with new and exciting ideas for apps, even if the app could not yet be built, but so far the ideas are not wonderful. I like the one about a mapping app for situationist derives, but that’s a bit of an in-joke.

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