Musings on designing experiences & (re)engineering complexity

Oct 2018

Brigadoon Annapolis Transcript, Pt3

Continuing a sharing of the notes which led to our Brigadoon Annapolis lecture on Digital Humanism.

Filters, Awareness, Noise, & Poise

There’s that “design” word again. You see, this constellation of devices is simply the colors on a palette, tossed against the canvas of my life, aiming to make a decent picture of what life I’ve been living. Thing is, all of this connectivity, all of these services and their implications, these are merely a negotiation of noise and poise. Humanism is a philosophy of agency — a freedom to determine collective and individual movement. I’m leveraging my meger economic standing, alongside some quick knowledge of connected services, to create the life that works best for myself and others in this age. Digital humanism simply meaning that I’m using sand and electrons to come to this place of agency rather than theology or philosophy.

I think we’ve heard it termed by a few magazines very well: there’s a war for our attention, and the technology tools we wield are the protagonists and antagonists. If you are a “techie” then, there’s a good chance you welcome the additional filters devices and services may offer. You learn coding to build your own, or scripting to manipulate others. You ascribe to open source philosophies if your viewpoint is access and ability. You take to decentralization if you’ve noticed the levers of control are stacked against you.

If you aren’t a techie, you’ve got the other side. Tools work when they do. You opt for putting technology in its place, and most of the time, its not in the space of taking over your attention. It feel more like noise when the conversation happens. Perhaps something like the adults in the Peanuts cartoons, “blah blah blah.” Ultimately understandable, but not without several moments of intelligible babble. Reading manuals, babble. Understanding terms of service, cookie and privacy notices — babble. And don’t even get to talking about cryptocurrencies, 2FA, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. It is all noise.

For me, and people who are oriented similar to myself. It has been towards these topics we’ve found a deliberate sense of poise (instead of noise). Not so much to understand all of it, but to flow with what is and isn’t important about them. When people ask about my Oura Ring for example, I don’t go into the levels of machine learning which correspond to some of the leading-edge understandings about the narrow application of data on wellness. I’ll speak instead about how its helping me understand sleep and the implications of one bad sleep night. I’m not so much confident in what I know, but comfortable in what I don’t know and let both shape how I’ll employ agency to live forward.