Simple things

Almost too much discussion recently… lengthy articles, details to debate, personas to ponder, errors to exasperate. Yesterday I walked along The Embarcadero, looking out over the San Francisco Bay. Made me zoom out, look at the bigger picture on this technology curve.

Woodblock prints in the 1400s… Linotype in the 1880s… digital in the 1980s… webpages more recently. Each enabled more people to communicate, more easily, more expressively.

For communications, very few owned signal towers and elevated roadways, until carrier pigeon, then telegraph, later telephone made communications more accessible. We started with one-way broadcast TV, later asynchronous videotape, now realtime peer-to-peer. Remote expressivity evolved from smoky symbols to text, to speech, to photos, to video.

The natural evolution is to become more diverse, more open, accessible to more people. Richer. More options.

Personal computer screens are only twenty years old. Their expressivity has become richer, their communications offer far more choices. From white-collar workstations, to blue-collar laptops, and now to the global denim pocket… different than fifteen years ago, or fifteen years from now.

A future using networked pocket devices will be a little bit richer than a hypertext viewer on a workstation.

How to design presentations and interactions for a world where your audience is using multiple devices throughout the day, where sometimes they may want short text, other times a passive movie, but at times heavy interaction? A world where your devices know where you are and can augment your environment… a world where your friends can “be” with you, no matter where they may be?

We simply don’t know much yet about optimal design of such interfaces. Using networked pocket devices will be much richer than surfing the web.

We heard DHTML will kill Flash, Ajax will kill Flash, “HML5″ will kill Flash. That’s a very limiting way to look at things.

“We’ll do that, but better” seems narrower than “We’ll do something better”. Second-movers may need confrontation; first-movers need vision.

Take a walk along the water sometime. Look out, and think about the more important things you could do.

Close with two quotes… wanted to close with three, but couldn’t find something from Gregory Bateson about how the natural tendency of successful ecologies is towards increasing diversification over time, and how it’s less-successful ecologies which focus on killing off The Other… but couldn’t find it from Bateson, though, so there’s just two:

Robert Anton Wilson:

“Information is doubling faster all the time. It took from the time of Jesus to the time of Leonardo for one doubling of knowledge. The next doubling of knowledge was completed before the American Revolution, the next one by 1900, the next one by 1950, the next one by 1960. You see how it keeps moving faster? Now knowledge is doubling every eighteen months.

“With all these new bits, bytes, blips of information, no model can last long because models only include the bytes of information that were available when the model was made. As new bytes of information come in it gets harder and harder to adjust our old models to include the new blips and beeps of information, so we’ve got to make new models.”

JBS Haldane:

“My own suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.”

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