Is the Computer Mouse Facing Extinction?

Ariana Eunjung Cha, The Washington Post:

Swipe, swipe, pinch-zoom. Fifth-grader Josephine Nguyen is researching the definition of an adverb on her iPad and her fingers are flying across the screen. Her 20 classmates are hunched over their own tablets doing the same.

Conspicuously absent from this modern scene of high-tech learning: a mouse.

Gilbert Vasquez, 6, is also baffled by the idea of an external pointing device named after a rodent.

“I don’t know what that is,” he said with a shrug.

Nguyen and Vasquez, who attend public schools here, are part of the first generation growing up with a computer interface that is vastly different from the one the world has gotten used to since the dawn of the personal-computer era in the 1980s.

My nephews are the same. Multitouch trumps the mouse every time. And that’s increasingly true for me as well; I rarely even use mice anymore. My MacBook trackpad is intuitive, smooth and  the gestures are a joy to use. If and/or when I get a Mac desktop in the future, I’m getting a Magic Trackpad. The trackpad works well for almost about every task that I regularly throw at it. I say almost because there is one major area where the mouse is still needed.


Though not impossible, it can be quite tedious trying to play games like Starcraft without a mouse and its buttons. Sure, I can right-click easily with two fingers on the trackpad, but with a mouse it’s just one click on the right mouse button. This may seem like a small difference, but when you consider just how often each mouse button is used within even one mission, it all adds up.

Will the mouse go the way of the floppy disk and—increasingly—the CD/DVD drive? I think in time it will. At the very least, it’ll be relegated to specific use cases where people require the tactile feel and ability of mouse buttons, like gaming. But if (when?) areas like gaming move on from the mouse and adopt different and perhaps more intuitive modes of interaction and input, there will be less and less reasons for the mouse to exist, and most people will only have one for those just-in-case moments.

Like my Logitech mouse that’s sitting on my desk, for those moments when I want to play Starcraft again. I’m trying to figure out when else I’d ever use it… and I got nothing.

Marco Arment’s Retina MacBook Pro Review

Marco Arment:

I just returned from a five-day trip in which I worked a lot, doing significant amounts of writing, web development, and especially iOS development. And I did it all on my base-model Retina MacBook Pro: the $2199, 2.3 GHz model with “only” 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD.

This is the best computer I’ve ever used. And I can say that with no hesitation, qualification, or equivocation.


How the iPhone Disrupted and Changed Everything

John Gruber:

The iPod’s success fooled almost everyone (including me) into thinking that Apple’s entry into the phone market would be similar. The iPod was the world’s best portable media player; the “iPhone”, thus, would likely be the world’s best cell phone.

But that’s not what it was. It was the world’s best portable computer. Best not in the sense of being the most powerful, or the fastest, or the most-efficient to use. The thing couldn’t even do copy-and-paste. It was the best because it was always there, always on, always just a button-push away. The disruption was not that we now finally had a nice phone; it was that, for better or for worse, we would now never again be without a computer or the Internet. […]

And that’s how it always starts. Apple introduces a device that may not have all the bells and whistles, but which often disrupts the status quo and changes how things are done.

The iPhone has seen many upgrades and add-ons, and it stands as one of the best phones on the market. It changed the mobile and computer industry into what we know it to be today. Whether you like it or not, there is no disputing this fact.

Isaac Asimov on the Future of Self-Directed Learning

Isaac Asimov in 1988:

Once we have computer outlets in every home, each of them hooked up to enormous libraries where anyone can ask any question and be given answers, be given reference materials, be something you’re interested in knowing, from an early age, however silly it might seem to someone else… that’s what YOU are interested in, and you can ask, and you can find out, and you can do it in your own home, at your own speed, in your own direction, in your own time… Then, everyone would enjoy learning. Nowadays, what people call learning is forced on you, and everyone is forced to learn the same thing on the same day at the same speed in class, and everyone is different.”

Uncanny prediction.