Archive for March, 2009

Changes and Transformations

Late, late, late…

Here is the start of some comments concerning the Microsoft report “Being Human: Human-Computer Interaction in the Year 2020.

The report starts by giving an overview of recent developments (and foreseeable trends) of computational artifacts. Changes are visible from the simple number of available devices and the “relationships” with their owners to the ways of interacting, keeping trace of activities, being creative and pro-active in terms of content production, novel ways of communicating and staying “in touch”, work, learn,everyday home/leisure activities etc etc. In fact, I have to confess that I am frequently surprised by new incursions of computer devices into people’s lives.

After the initial setting of the scene, the report goes on presenting what the authors term “five major transformations”:

  • The end of interface stability.
  • The growth of techno-dependency.
  • The growth of hyper-connectivity.
  • The end of the ephemeral.
  • The growth of creative engagement.

I will try to discuss each of these transformations in turn in the next posts, but just let me give you a flavor of the remaining points made. The authors argue that the design of future computer products will have to incorporate an analysis of the implications of use from a “human values” perspective. Such new perspective will have an impact on how designers conceptualize the user, the design cycle, the methodologies employed not only when actually developing but also when doing the evaluation. But of course to define human values and their relationships in value systems is not an easy task (at a personal or societal level).

I found the report inspiring and posing a new set of challenges to the field that for sure will change its shape. It seems to me that the broadening of scope will stress once again the profound multi-disciplinary nature of HCI (or Interaction Design) and for a dilettante as I am that is always good news because it gives me the chance to explore other areas and domains.


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