i am trying to build a jigsaw puzzle which has no lid and is missing half of the pieces. i am unable to show you what it will be, but i can show you some of the pieces and why they matter to me. if you are building a different puzzle, it is possible that these pieces won't mean much to you, maybe they won't fit or they won't fit yet. then again, these might just be the pieces you're looking for. this is summing up, please find previous editions here.
the lost medium, by yours truly
Our history shows if you free yourself from the idea that the current state of the computer world is the climax of our great progress we can almost magically give rise to new technologies, ideas and visions that do not only amplify humans, but also produce tremendous wealth for our society. We've ended up focusing too much on technology, on things, on devices and not enough on ideas, on the medium computer. The computer world is not yet finished and many ideas for the collective good are waiting to be discovered. We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.
a talk on how we can use the medium computer to augment our human capabilities. it is the summing up (pun intended) of my research over the last years and foundation for things yet to come. i don't want to add much commentary to this as i already said everything in my talk. feel free to share it and if you have questions, feedback or critique, i'd love to hear from you!
The Anti-Mac User Interface, by Don Gentner & Jakob Nielsen
The GUIs of contemporary applications are generally well designed for ease of learning, but there often is a trade-off between ease of learning on one hand, and ease of use, power, and flexibility on the other hand.
Today's children will spend a large fraction of their lives communicating with computers. We should think about the trade-offs between ease of learning and power in computer-human interfaces. If there were a compensating return in increased power, it would not be unreasonable to expect a person to spend several years learning to communicate with computers, just as we now expect children to spend 20 years mastering their native language.
is it better to have a website, an app, a computer which is easy to use or one that offers high-performance but is difficult and time consuming to learn? of course, simpler user interfaces may be easier to learn and use, but it will be hard work to accomplish difficult tasks. on the other hand, high performance interfaces call for considerably more skills, but the ratio of time to effort is dramatically higher. and this is a very interesting perspective: if you happen to use the computer as a tool for your lifetime, isn't it worth to invest time, become skillful and save time in the long run? i don't know the answer to this question, but i guess the truth is as always somewhere in the middle.
Bots won't replace apps. Better apps will replace apps, by Dan Grover
As a user, I want my apps to have some consistent concept of identity, payments, offline storage, and data sharing. I want to be able to quickly add someone in person or from their website to my contacts. The next time I do a startup, I want to spend my time specializing in solving a specific problem for my users, not getting them over the above general hurdles.
I don’t actually care how it happens. Maybe the OS makers will up their game. Or maybe it’ll be delivered in some magic, blockchain-distributed, GNU-licensed, neckbeard-encrusted solution that the masses, in a sudden epiphany, repent to.
But more than anything, rather than screwing around with bots, I want the tech industry to focus on solving these major annoyances and handling some of the common use cases I described that my phone ought to do better with by now.
this comes back to the basic notion of technology does not solve our problems. it's the things we do with the technologies. and i think that the human side of our products and technologies is often ignored in favour of technical decisions, which often do not bring any direct value to the people.
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My letters are about long-lasting, sustainable change that fundamentally amplify our human capabilities and raise our collective intelligence through generations. Would love to have you on board.