Sunday, July 31, 2005

Mini Epiphany*

Watching My Architect, I'm realizing why Richard Saul Wurman's voice has such resonance with me.

It's not about projects, or deliverables, or usability, or information architecture, or any of the designs (visual, information, etc.), the current practice of working on software helps us fit technology to our lives rather than the inverse. We're seeing the end of "more," the idea that more complexity and more tools and more information is better. "More" is how technology currently affects us.

Look for ways to give people tools that help them live their lives, rather than give them a reason to use a particular application. Google Search, Flickr, and Backpack are some of the best examples thus far.

Someday the masses of people will rebel against the flood of information and take a step back. Though it may be initially a rejection of technology, the dust will settle and, maybe, they will recognize that there are simple tools out there that help them find knowledge.

Our practice(s) encourage us to use the various art forms as mediums to create the foundations for that time, even if the current climate fights tooth-and-nail to maintain the short-term focus of the status quo.

*Ok, "epiphany" may be a strong word. Maybe "reminder" or "reset" make more sense. Sometimes it's easy to forget this in the interest of making a project real - you know, "Get it done." Anyway, I am hell bent on reducing information anxiety (glut, etc.) and am happy to remember my mission at the highest level on occasion.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Innovation/Information Overload Tipping Point?

New Scientist is having a bit of fun with people, "teasing" them to read on by leading with:
Human inventiveness is so finely honed, and the globalised technology industries so productive, that there appears to be an invention to cater for every modern whim.

But according to a new analysis, this view couldn't be more wrong: far from being in technological nirvana, we are fast approaching a new dark age.

[link from Tomalak's Realm]

Then, they go on and lay out theories about accelerating, exponential technology growth and a long, slow decline, a la cosmology.

What if these theories are really emblematic of a different question?

We may be seeing the extension of the "chasm" made so famous by Geoffrey Moore, as it becomes less obvious to those not immersed in technology what really works, or what is best for them. There may be somewhat more early adopters because of the various ways you can satisfy your tasks with technology, but it becomes harder to really know who to trust. Word of mouth becomes somewhat less effective because around

Or possibly people will reach a level of information overload that keeps them from acting on anything. If the level of technology can expand exponentially, then think of how information can explode even more. Our own Infinite Information Theorem. Think I'll pick up Wurman's Information Anxiety 2, unless someone out there "recommends" that I not do so.

One can easily see how the promise of the Internet capture some harmonic resonance, but we'll see more fractures before this manifests itself in a way that we can all use. Then, these dueling innovation theories will be long forgotten.

Work away...