Passage below is a good rant about the tyranny of design and its implicit goal of stymying us with convenience (my bold). Foreshadows Mark Fisher's idea of "precorporation." We expect our goods to come preconsumed, and that preconsumption is passed off as user-friendliness. The interface already encorporates and directs how a good will be used yet leaves users with positive feelings about the freedom the good supplies them -- freedom from having to figure it out, freedom to use it immediately (albeit in the encoded ways laid out for them). I don't think "commonplace" is the best word -- I think the writer wants to suggest by it technological affordances that are once cliches.
The slogan of modern technology is ‘make things easy’; people have to have easy access to modern technology. They have to use it without noticing why they do this or that. The message is that people do not want to waste time, they do not want to read huge manuals before they start to play computer games or to watch a film from their DVD player. They want their food already semi-cooked as well as they want their lives already lived. The idea is that a good product is consumer-friendly, meaning it does not take time and thought, hesitation or frustration to consume it. A good product is easy to accept without discussion and without contestation. It must be familiar, natural, commonplace and self-evident. When you take the thing in your hand you seem to know how to use it, even if you are seeing the item for the first time in your life. Production process has to create self-evidences, commonplaces and anticipated items, products that in a way contain already the experience of the user/consumer. This means that ‘to make things easy’ the modern production system has to create customs and habits, slogans and phrases, styles and ideas (it does not create concepts, even though commonplaces do look like concepts and smell like concepts, they are only copies of concepts. They lack the contradictory or paradoxical character of a concept)....
‘Making things easy’, production of commonplaces, is production of goods or products that are structured like commands. It is production of ‘you have to’, production of a kind of Kantian moral imperative. This means that it tries to produce a sort of atmosphere in which you speak and work even if you have nothing to say or you are without a work. It creates humble and flexible personalities who are willing to learn and use every possible device, and who are always present for use.
That seems almost self-contradictory. Part of it seems to run against the idea that consumption has become more like production and is more active, or even self-actualizing. But I think design works as a series of soft commands that use aesthetics to secure our assent to tacit authority. The use of Apple products is paradigmatic for this. We don't experience goods as commands but as affordances, opportunities, implicit expressions of fantasies of freedom, the autonomy of our vicarious imagination -- that is, the limited, physical good is in our hands but it authorizes an imaginative flight of fantasy augmented by all the immaterial labor that has gone into that good.
We are commanded to be productive, just like in old-time factory discipline, only the discipline often takes the form of self-chosen entertainment consumption. User interfaces become covert shop-floor foremen.