4. Creativity is interaction. Most of the time with real people
13. be a firestarter, a twisted firestarter
61: have dinner parties for your favorite people.
77: DIY – who knows what you might find ( or ruin)
Now that the dust has settled from the intensity of Austin (complete with nuclear tacos, tornado watches and flash flooding in addition to Will Wright’s keynote and Bruce Sterling’s rant), my inner magpie has sifted through SXSWi’s glitter and taken away a few shiny threads of what are hopefully insightful and inspiring. (as a side note, SXSWi is publishing podcasts of the panels: find them here)
Many of the panels I attended and the majority of the conversations that I had with people indicated a shift towards trying to understand what is being articulated, changed or revealed in us through our relationship with technology. The consensus is that our focus on technology is richer and more reflective when we think about who we are as people and what we want, with critical engagement and inquiry directed towards socio-technical means and motivations.
Empathy – the ability to understand someone else’s condition (emotional, economical, social, mental, etc) – is emerging as the critical factor in not only designing but also living through and with new technologies and technological platforms. Our ability to imagine what people think, feel, want and imagine themselves as is heightened when we redefine what we hope to get out of our relationships and how we may want to use it.
Any goal we define has a set of constraints and metrics applied to it, and data passes through relevance and application filters. Sometimes we permit the information to change the filters, sometimes we do not. What I perceived at SXSWi was a strong motivation to accept and look for the nature of that change in developing ideas. To change the nature of the system which will support and disseminate them, and to imagine new systems.
Along with this comes (among many other things) learning how to listen to what else people are saying and doing when they interact, speak, gesture, etc – through their physiological, emotional and tacit responses to a particular thing. Implicit within this as well is a deeper understanding of context – why does someone feel or want this way, and how much does the design of the thing reflect this want and help them achieve it? A contextual caveat though is understanding that my bias is to look for these kinds of connections and keys, and that there were also discussions that reflected far different ideas and approaches, some of which were, or were not as the case may be, as rich in potential.
Social computing, and its reflection throughout our face-to-face interactions and mobilizations, is increasingly revealing how we are using new tools and lenses through which to granulate and disperse our behaviours. The benefits of social computing are enormous, and as the drawbacks begin to emerge so too does a desire to understand to what affect our social practices, exchanges, and systems will be transformed. In addition to our cognition, physiology, economics, industries, cultures, etc, etc. Insightful and deep approaches to design are being rethought to reflect more of our behavioural, cognitive and physiological responses – as discussed by Kathy Sierra, Alex Steffen, Bruce Sterling, Henry Jenkins, Phil Torrone, Will Wright, etc, etc.
way more after the jump
these are some of the highlights from her keynote on humanity in design – what resonated with me…
Question for the audience: There’s a drowning man – would you save him or photograph him and think how you would tag him in Flickr?
As designers and creators, we’re responsible for the products and services that we make. With sxsw, we don’t actually need to be here, there are livebloggers, podcasts, vlogs, flickr,twitter and everything else… yet here we are. Why? Because we are human, and we need to connect. So if we want to make better applications and technologies we better compensate and prioritize our humanity in our interactions.
Face-to-face interactions matter -whenever you reverse engineer passion, you find that ppl need to get together in person to fuel that passion, to allow it to grow.
The user expressing emotions towards computers negates the intent of the interaction. The software doesn’t respond to gesture, to tone or nuance – the things that we continually use in our interactions with each other. Yet our ability to be understood when making a confused or upset gesture is crucial in the clarity of our interactions.
We have designed all of our applications to have Asperger’s Syndrome – they don’t respond to social interactions, and there is no way for it to know or intuit that someone is confused or frustrated. And nobody’s passionate when they suck. People need to pass the Suck Threshold – the point at which they no longer suck and feel abit better about how there’s using a technology, they understand it and can do some things with it. Then they need to pass the Passion Threshold -where you begin to get really good and you start to develop a passion for what you are doing. The point at which the interaction has nothing to do with the tools and everything to do with supporting the passion. We are not passionate about the tools we use, we are passionate about what they enable us to do.
But our technologies do not support the learning process – we study gesture and voice recognition, but have no way at this point to integrate that into our apps. And FAQs and Help don’t work if you’re frustrated or confused or lost. They don’t think like a human. So… what do we do?
How about a WTF? button.
If you someone you know is confused, the first thing you do (if you care) is ask “what’s wrong?” You build a context around the problem. To mediate and resolve the emotional reaction, a set of understandable and empathetic questions are necessary -an interactive dialogue.
Critically the most important aspect is understanding the impact of our actions and the impact of the things we put out into the world – both positive and negative. We need to generate an empathetic understanding of the implications of our actions in order to act better.