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My wish list: Jesse Brown on technology

Down with Apple, on with the Android-pad, and more leaks!


 

Macleans.ca has asked its leading bloggers, pundits and critics to weigh in with what they’d like to see in 2012—in politics, television, film, books, wherever. The wish lists will run throughout the month of December and will be archived at macleans.ca/wishlist.

x-ray delta one/Flickr

(1) Dear Internet, please fix travel: We’re still flying blind when it comes to planning flights. Want the cheapest fare? Good luck. Each airline has its own bizarre and opaque pricing system. Book too early, and you get hosed. Book too late, and you get hosed. What’s the sweet spot? They’re not telling. There are dozens of factors that determine what a seat costs, and they change by the minute.

Search engines (yes, even Google) stink at connecting people with the specific travel info they’re seeking, in large part because relevant keywords bring up a flood of advertising and SEO’d (search engine optimized) sites disguised as relevant data. A perfect travel search would tell you not just what the best fare to Chicago is right now, but what it will be at the precise moment when that flight will be offered at its cheapest. Add a “reseve this rate now” button for a one per cent fee and you’ve got a lucrative business model. I’m sure that greater minds than my own are working on this, and I’m hoping that 2012 will be the year when they finally get there.

(2) $100 Android tablets. For real: Not a marked-down (and doomed) RIM tablet. Not a $200 Kindle tablet that you can’t buy in Canada and that wants me to buy everything through Amazon. Not a $30 tablet you can only get in India or a $100 tablet that sounds great if you happen to live in China. But a cheap, functional Android slab sitting on a Walmart shelf in Canada. Whoever gets there first gets my shiny plastic Borden.

(3) More leaks: Wikileaks was supposed to usher in a new age of whistleblowing and transparency. Every country and company would have a secure site for anonymous data dumps. Volunteers would sort through the information while “old news” journalists would find new purpose in verifying, editing, packaging and publishing the newsworthy parts (vulnerable names redacted). The result would be disruptive and difficult, but incredibly positive–those with power at any level would have no choice but to assume that they were leading in open sight.

It hasn’t happened. Instead, we get the tawdry saga of the persecution of Julian Assange, who by now should be little more than a symbolic figurehead of the age of transparency, shuffled off to the talk show circuit. Maybe this year.

(4) Apple cult deprogramming: Unless 2012 brings with it the second coming of Steve Jobs, Apple fanboys and fangirls will probably gradually awake from years of collective consumer hypnosis. The scales will fall from their eyes as they realize that the pretty gadgets they cherish so are just things, and problematic things at that. Instead of dropping hundreds for Siri on the iPhone4s, when their 3Gs die on them, these zealots might consider buying a phone with a true killer feature–replaceable batteries.

(5) (Legal) OTTI want to be a nice boy who doesn’t pirate video. Really I do. But until I can watch ad-supported video on Hulu, subscribe to the real Netflix, and rent content through iTunes at rates that aren’t 400 per cent higher than what Americans pay, artists won’t get paid when I watch over-the-top TV. Sorry!

Jesse Brown is the host of TVO.org’s Search Engine podcast. He is on Twitter @jessebrown


 
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