In JK Rowling’s wizarding world, wizards have the ability of teleportation. During an online Q&A with fans, Rowling was asked if there was any way that could prevent wizards from apparating into other people homes unannounced. Her reply was that it was socially unacceptable to do so just like in our real world.
Spark is a program that covers appropriate technology, one of my passions. And Bill Buxton, Principal Researcher of Microsoft, was talking about design based on acceptable social conventions (be it software, hardware, products, you name it). For example, telecommunication products which mimics real life, face-to-face interaction when you really, truly, honestly just can’t be there.
Say you’re a company developing holographic technology which lets you chat with a friend who lives on the other side of the world (because the price if oil got too ridiculous at this point and no one’s eating anymore). The holographic interface would go where you’d normally be when you chat with a friend. Your kitchen table, living room couch, or maybe the bar. Definitely a lot less intrusive than a tiny window on a computer screen!
That’s also why I prefer Twitter over Facebook— it’s a lot less intrusive and it doesn’t need all those mouse clicks.
Nora Young, the host of Spark, did a fantastic job interviewing Bill. I became even more excited about innovation and appropriate technology which brightened my day (geek!). Her interview is available as a video and mp3 on the Spark website.
There’s a whole lot more discussed during the interview including Bill’s thoughts on why now’s not the time for the One Laptop Per Child project. It’s a golden listen if you’re interested in designing appropriately, successfully and for the future with few mistakes and revisions.