Rufdog.

Don’t back down

Social Technology Needs to Tread Carefully

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Design is changing within mobile technology. User Interfaces and User Experience are becoming the key; they used to follow technology, now they lead.

A sea change is happening. Yes it’s been talked about for a long time, but it’s starting to happen now. Mobile technology, or rather, social technology is now a part of human nature. Whether you like it or not, it is woven tightly into the fabric of human existence, everyday human existence.

Already we are witnessing the birth of ‘what would we do without technology’ fly-on-the-wall type TV programs. A recent such show relinquished a group of young people, teenagers I believe, from their mobile phones. The producers simply sat back & filmed.

Some woke up in a state of anxiousness in the middle of the night, believing that they heard a text message come through to their now non-existent phone. The dejected teenagers showed similar human reaction to those who have kicked a habit – smoking, drinking etc.

Technology is part of the fabric of our lives. Swimming against the huge surge of social technological furtherment are some, who believe that natural human contact and interaction is dying a slow death. They cite that technology is silently neutering a generation of technophiles only capable of communication through electronic means, devoid of good ol’ fashioned communication.

There is a lot of truth in what they say. Most over the age of 25/30 use technology as an extension to their normal daily lives, they appreciate it, are impressed by it, and can afford to buy into it. For some it’s a lifestyle choice. Today’s teenagers see the same technology as a right. It’s normal, not impressive. It is part of their being, much like driving a car or fresh tap water is to the developed world.

The current generation will grow up in a bubble of technology, wrapped up in a cosy blanket of txt spk, spl chckrs, blogs etc. Acutely aware of what is happening in the outside world, but not feel physically connected to it. There is a danger that the human race will become inward looking, utterly reliant on technology. Sure, they will be highly capable at anything IT related, well educated & worldly aware (in an encylopaedic sense), but they might be unable to cope with life outside of technology. Stand them up for some public speaking and they wouldn’t know what to do. Drop them in a third world country with a map, compass & their brains… they would probably stand their jibbering about the lack of sat-nav or language translation tools.

Just look at any city centre in rush hour. City workers all staring at their phones, trying to get somewhere in a rush. They are like drones, not wanting to have any human interaction. Not looking up from that game of snake, no deviation from tapping away on a Blackberry, simply plugged in to whichever device allows them to not interact. When you sit back and think about it, it’s insane. This isn’t improving our lives, it’s destroying them, very, very slowly.

Social technology has the ability to greatly advance and improve our lives, but it also has the ability to turn humankind into tech-reliable robots, devoid of soul and ol’ skool ingenuity.

Therefore social technology needs to move towards expanding natural human behaviours, not dumbing them down. Technology needs to become more human-like, more socially friendly, and aware of its environment.

Written by rufdog

February 12, 2009 at 1:56 pm

Posted in Design

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