Musings on designing experiences & (re)engineering complexity

Nov 2018

Technological Advents

Having written once and found the item gone into the ether, there was the day’s events spent thinking (in the background) about what it means to be at the front of various technological shifts. This topic was made more present when asked about a new keyboard being used — it makes a bit of sense in this season to think again towards advent and technological changes.

Oftentimes, we don’t notice those changes until they happen. Part of the blindness described by “The Innovator’s Dilemma:” shifts aren’t meant to happen when perception or expectation is ready for them to happen. As a matter of course, perception and expectation serve as guardians of what is the “now.” They are the chief ocular elements of doing the best with today’s lessons and continuing them forward.

And yet, when we rely on those elements too much (to “become comfortable” if you will), there lies the opportunity for something else to come from the underside. An unforeseen circumstance, or a likely consequence. Advents of technological change very rarely reveal themselves as the “ideal” next happening. It is a toy, too bulky, requires too many things to be unlearned — advent is marked by anticipation by only those whom society seems to put into a naive bucket.

That naivety isn’t blind. It is hopeful. Blind perhaps to the encumberments of expectations. It finds its way by ignoring or even tossing back those expectations into the face of today’s perspective. Perception finds itself on even looser footing. It looks for clarity among a changing landscape, and yet it has no tools with which to clear its lenses, to focus it light, or columns to ground its paths. Perception doesn’t realign itself to technological advents until what is hoped for has come. Then, and only then, can it begin to stabilize and draw together a langauge for what the new normal must be. Expectation comes behind this — usually dragging some sense of “what it used to be” until what “used to be” becomes “forgotten.”

Depending on the industry, region, or simply hobby, one could say that most of humanity is under a technological advent. There are many prophets who would proclaim one way over another. Who would encourage a strong break from the past and a hearty embrace of what’s to come. Others who move more deliberately. Noticing the changes, and yet gathering into their quiver the arrows and supporting tools necessary — they will take aim and strike forward when conditions meet their liking. And lastly there are those who will revolt until the bitter end. They aren’t wrong in such revolting. As a matter of course, they are most necessary — these luddities enable us to not forget what we might have shifted from, and call to form expectations and perceptions which aren’t born from newness, but have some sense of being part of a continued evolution.

Today was a chance to imagine and perform on a computing device, using two hands which were doing entirely different things, to make the surface of a large screen communicate a different reality. Hopefully, it is not the last change which will happen when inventing realities on and off screens. Hopefully, more of what it means to be human will be embraced by those who wish to empower people with the tools to design such worlds.