The article investigates forms of the trivial in both device materiality and interface design from a media studies perspective. Pertinent philosophical positions on human-technology relationships by Günther Anders and Hans Blumenberg are discussed to explore the ramifications of a highly productive epistemology of ignorance. A focus is placed upon the process of blackboxing, a technique of invisibilization common to media technologies wherein the social and material prerequisites of a given artefact are hidden from users. The black box also serves as a model of thought to offer a way of analysing unknown complex systems as proposed in cybernetics, and it has more recently been picked up and refashioned in significant ways in actor-network theory.
Playing with personal media is situated between the poles of user infantilization and the freedom of exploring new practices. Triviality in interface design is ambiguous in that it denies insight into more fundamental processes but at the same time creates a space for playful variation not requiring professional knowledge. The article aims to negotiate between positions of elitist criticism and affirmative technophilia, which are widespread in the discourse on mobile devices.
Keywords: Mobile media; epistemology of ignorance; Apple; Friedrich Kittler; GÃ¼nther Anders; black box; cybernetics; interface theory