Reading Response 5

I am responding to Principle 5.18 of Artful Design, which says to "Re-Mutualize!" and design interfaces "as a whole -- and with the human as an integral part of the system" (pg 244).

I found this interesting because it often seems like the goal of a lot of technology is to make things easy for the human (and therefore remove them from the system). A lot of UI/UX design is about making the user have to do the least amount of thinking possible: making main buttons big and colorful so they catch your eye, making text as concise as possible, and arranging things the way other websites/apps do because that's what the user expects to see. Physical objects are also designed to be as simple as possible: you can warm food in a microwave by clicking a button, play music by asking Alexa, and someday you'll be able to drive around by telling your autonomous car where to go.

This makes me wonder: how integral should the human be in a given system, and when should the technology do the work? As stated in Principle 5.17, our sense of embodiment "shapes how we think about and interact with the world" (pg 238). So when a technology or instrument demands our physical interaction and focused attention, we learn about it and come to understand how to make it work. When a technology does not require complex interaction and masks how it works (like a microwave or autonomous car) - the technology recedes into the background and we just don't think about it.

Maybe a guiding question for designing future systems can be: what do we want people to spend time thinking about, and what do we want people to understand about the physical world? In terms of autonomous cars: do we care about people knowing how to drive? Is it important for people to have a physical understanding of braking, turning, and relative position? And if people are not spending their time driving, what will they use their time for? Will people just spend more time on their phones? Will we become the Wall-E humans??

Wall-E Human

Mark Weiser says that the role of the computer should be to "extend your unconsicousness" and "help you do something else" (64). As technology continues to make things easier for people and give them more time to do "something else".... I think technologists should be shifting from a mindset of "how to make things easier" towards "how do we create the kind of world we want to live in?" and "how do we make more things worth doing?"