Inbox Bloat and Apple

Blogger C-Monster complains about inbox bloat from artists and publicists sending her photos, PDFs, and other unnecessarily large files. Commenter KS has a theory for the large files besides the simple rudeness of the senders:

I blame this sad state of affairs on Steve Jobs, for bringing us ever closer to the Totally Thoughtless Convenience promised by high tech.

By burying complexity (including any notion of file size or format) under an intuitive interface and lozenge-like packaging, we’ve been turned into apes like the ones hooting at the monolith in Kubrick’s 2001.

Bill Gates has brought untold suffering to the brains of billions, but at least some of them have an idea what “100K” means.

This comment arrived at a timely moment, since yours truly had been arguing with Apple fans who are shocked, shocked to learn that anyone out there could dislike the Apple (TM) spherical trust family of products (I haven't read the last few comments--I was starting to feel overwhelmed). It is true that Safari started the trend of resampling and zooming whole browser pages that now Windows and even Firefox are following. Hey, Moore's Law means more processor power, right? Let's start using that puppy!

But Windows is hardly blameless in the "let's hide what's under the hood from users" dept. In Windows, file types are hidden by default. You have to poke around in the control panel to turn on extensions so you know whether that sound file is a 3 megabyte mp3 or a hard-drive filling 20 megabyte .wav. Microsoft also invented something insidious called an .mht file for rendering Web pages. Instead of just the html code and some pictures in an associated folder, when you click an .mht it immediately goes on the Web and looks for CSS information and other data necessary to render the page. Maybe it will find it, maybe it won't and you will be looking at nothing or a logon screen somewhere you didn't ask to see.

C-Monster's and KS's points are good, though--people should have some basic awareness of the size of the files they are sending and the effect of that size on the recipient's hard drive, Mother Earth, etc. C-Monster refers to the "low res world" of email HTML--heck, a few years ago emails were text-only and some hackers still think it was bloat-inducing when HTML became standard issue.