It’s been a bit disturbing for the last week or so to see more and more people I follow and talk to on Twitter and Facebook succumbing to this latest craze.
I understand and expect many science fiction and fantasy fans to be jumping on the Pokemon Go bandwagon. Hell, I would be amazed if many of them weren’t first adopters or even beta testers. No worries, it goes with the territory.
I’m not surprised to see many of that generation (including my kids) embracing it enthusiastically. They grew up with Pokemon, they’ve played the games on one gaming platform after another from teeny-tiny monochrome LCD screens all the way up to Retina display supercomputers that you can carry in your pockets.
But the number of well respected scientists, writers, and researchers that are out there trying to “catch them all” caught me off guard. Aren’t these folks supposed to be out there solving the mysteries of the universe 24/7 and tweeting about it so that I can hover in their shadow? Isn’t that the job description?
Instead, I find that my friends from SF&F fandom are all chasing Pokemon. Younger people I follow (kids, nephews, nieces, etc) are all chasing Pokemon. And now a high percentage of my NASA, NASA Social, flying, astronomy, space exploration peeps and tweeps are all chasing Pokemon.
Thank god I don’t follow any celebrities or sports figures. I can only imagine what’s going on over in that sector.
This may be a classic “Get off my lawn!” moment for me. But augmented reality has been an intriguing possibility for years and I’ve been waiting for it to get into the mass markets. Where’s the app where you can turn on your phone’s camera in an unfamiliar city and have it show you where the nearest subway is or overlay on the picture directions to a restaurant you’ve picked? Where’s the app where you can go house or apartment hunting and have your phone tie into Zillow and show you the price and amenities for all the homes in a neighborhood, while also point out which direction and how far it is to the nearest park or school? Where’s the app where you can point your phone at a sign in a foreign city and have it translated into English for you?
Oh, right, that last one exists. WordLens will translate signs in German, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Russian. On the fly, in real time, you can take something like this:
(It’s what I had sitting on the desk – just go with it)
Nope, instead we’re getting the teeming masses who are (we hope) otherwise sane and rational critters out wandering about aimlessly, staring intently at their phones.
Staring intently and wandering about as they walk into the street, off of piers, into light posts, and so on. It’s madness.
Also, watch out for the Laws of Unintended Consequences. There are some nice stories out there with Marines catching burglars while playing, people getting outside and getting some exercise for the first time in ages, and people meeting people they otherwise never would have met and finding out that they’re just, you know, people. There are also stories of muggers realizing that the Pokemon gyms and hot spots are perfectly good places to find people with expensive phones who are paying absolutely no attention to their surroundings.
Then there’s the whole Westboro Baptist Church thing. Suffice it say that anything that royally pisses off those assholes is a good thing in my book.
I guess in the end, I just don’t get it. I would love to have a HoloDeck from the Enterprise, but this seems a bit lame.
So far as my personal unintended consequences go, I was briefly saddened while reading about people coming out of their houses for the first time in ages. I missed the window of opportunity to buy stock in companies making sunblock and sunglasses. It’s okay – I realized that there was still time to invest in companies that make aloe gel and Ben Gay.