The Tyee has published my article Bad Apple. Excerpt:
Teaching in Capilano College's Mac-based Infotech program even before the web, I could see that we write and read differently on the computer screen. The medium really is the message online, and the message is jolts.
Jolts are the little sensory rewards the computer gives us. They come when we turn on the machine and it bongs at us. Jolts come with every alert, every new window, every avian squawk and porcine grunt in Angry Birds. Jolts come with every email and text message. Isaacson [in his biography of Steve Jobs] doesn't use the word, but his description of Apple packaging shows that jolts of pleasure are designed right into the boxes that your Mac and iPhone come in.
Jolts also come in the form of verbal abuse, which inspired the email and forum flame wars of the 1990s, the ongoing hysteria of today's political blogs, and the punchlines of Twitter.
Like lab rats with electrodes wired into their brains' pleasure centers, we learn what gives us the strongest online jolts, and we keep doing it. We forget that the lab rats preferred to push their jolt button until they starved to death, but in our few lucid moments we realize that we're well and truly addicted to the jolts that Apple gives us.
Hence our rapt anticipation of the next jolt machine: the iPhone 5, the iPad 3, or something completely novel that Steve knew we'd want before we ourselves did. (In one of my 1980s SF novels, I imagined something like the iPad, but assumed it wouldn't arrive until circa 2080.)