Tag Archives: post-humanity

stay thirsty, my friends

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being a transitional

laEvolucion

one of the fun parts about being human is that we are always evolving

like it or not — the only thing we can truly count on actually staying the same is the fact that things always change — and we are a species that is very much under the influence of things — so, following that logic, to some degree, as our things change, we change, almost purely as a means to adapt to our things

this concept, in many ways, is in direct conflict with my very purpose as a human-centered designer — my job and daily activities are focused solely on driving and guiding the design process, mostly aimed at creating technology-based experiences, to hopefully result in interactive and dynamic software and interfaces that: intuitively make sense to users { or people as i prefer to call them }; that are usable and valuable and user-friendly { or ‘easy to use’ and understand with a minimal learning effort }; and that largely serve the actual human goals and business goals of the overall technohumanic experiences being delivered

we now live in a world population increasingly geared toward the digital natives

 

the other day my son Maceo was taking a bath and, with Maceo being extremely social and fun-loving but also a bit co-dependent, he invited me to come in to the bathroom to talk with him while he relaxed and washed { before settling in to read and eventually fall asleep in his bed on this typical school night }

Maceo is 10 years old

he’s definitely a digital native, meaning, he’s grown up in The Digital Age and for the most part has never been in a world without computing machines, as we used to call them — he understands computers and our mobile devices in a much different way than my wife or i do because he’s grown up with them as a simple and accepted set of objects within his natural living environment — and he’s grown up in an era when, for the most part, the information-based, interactive experiences delivered via the medium of our digital technologies already have a lot of the kinks worked out of ’em — due to Steve Jobs and the iUniverse he’s created through his prosumerization of our computers and devices, through Jobs’ efforts to make these relationships we have with our modernday technologies ‘just work,’ Maceo’s never really had to deal with the first 3 or 4 generations of the rather krudgy software and digital experiences we previously had with our devices in the first few decades on the new digital island

needless to say, he probably doesn’t have the same amount of frustration and associated psychological baggage that i have with these technologies that were invented to somehow serve humanity but also somehow typically don’t ‘just work’ the way we were promised they would in our non-native explorations of the digital island

with Maceo sprawled out, his body submerged under under the warm water of his bath, we discussed his daytime learning activities out at Spofford Pond School in Boxford — i asked him if today’s special { as they call all non-core classes at his school } was gym and he said, ‘No, today was Art’ — i asked him what special he’d have in school tomorrow and he said, Media’

‘Media? What’s Media?’ I asked him — i kind of knew what the term implied, of course, but wanted to know what the school system teaches him about media

i wanted to know what media now means
to a third grade student living in our modern Digital Age

he started laughing and said, ‘they teach us things that we all already know, like how to save a document,‘ and then he really started laughing pretty hard, which of course made me laugh

i could tell the whole idea of teaching media to the new breed of our digital natives seemed totally preposterous to him, almost like they were trying to teach him how to breathe or something so innately embedded in our humanness to feel like futile effort or even farce

we were laughing for quite some time

he went on, ‘its like, go to file and then move the mouse down and click on ‘Save”

he was like a little bathing stand-up comedian, delivering the ultimate punchline to the most hilarious joke i’ve heard in years, and i was both his receptive, laughing audience and an instant co-writer to these new jokes that almost seem to write themselves now

‘what are they gonna teach you next week, Maceo? how to log off of the computer?’ i quipped back — we were both laughing even harder than ever now, he returned the volley with, ‘i know, its like, here’s how we right-click on a mouse’ — he was kind of saying the entire little phrase with an intentionally slow delivery, mocking how remedial and silly this class must feel to him and his fellow student colleagues sitting through each special weekly session of Media at Spofford Pond

i haven’t laughed that hard in about half a year

as a digital native, Maceo just gets it

and, if the technology does live up to its original promise — this high-level promise from Steve Jobs and other pre-Apple visionaries that promised these technologies will ‘just work’ and that they’ll actually be helpful, useful and valuable for us all to use — if the experience isn’t living up to our expectations, well, quite frankly, Maceo’s ready to dive in under the hood and actually make the technology do what he needs it to do for him

i, on the other hand, get immediately hung up on my overall, continual disappointment with the promises that are never quite met from my standpoint as both a user of these technologies and a designer that’s constantly trying to devise ways to improve the human experience of our digital technologies

and i get frustrated rather easily, i might add

i actually want the technology to ‘just work’ the way we were promised it would

but it doesn’t

9 times out of 10, from my own personal lifelong experiences with computers, devices and technologies, these experiences fall extremely short of the expectation

maybe i’m more aware of these discrepancies between the promise and what we really experience from our technologies right now because i remember the promise, whereas Maceo doesn’t have the same context at all — and, unlike a lot of people that will spend a lot of time jerry-rigging these experiences like some sort of delusional Digital MacGyvers that just want so desperately for the technologies to be so cool as to ‘just work’ that they paperclip and chewing gum back together the actual, shitty and broken experience design in an attempt to sort of pretend perfection or merely band-aid a nearly-usable hackensteined-up app or something — unlike those folks that are drinking the digital koolaid with wireless ice, play-acting like everythingz all too cool for school an’ all, i like to tell it like it is and assess these experiences at some sort of reasonably realistic and honest scale

macgyver

 

if we can’t evaluate the current-day experiences we have with our technologies with at least a reasonable sense of honesty then we’ll never be able to: level set where we are; identify critical areas for potential improvement; and then iteratively work toward any real sense of improving our overall human experience

now, unlike my son Maceo, who is considered a digital native, i am what’s called a digital immigrant — i don’t particularly like this terminology, but this is what anyone can Google up in a few seconds as a definition of who i am and what it means to be in my demographic in relation to the introduction to our interactive technologies and my particular abilities and views about the technologies and experiences we all use and deal with on a daily basis

i think by including the term digital in the semantics, definition and language so nicely weaved around these digital demographics, we almost immediately begin to think of absolutely everything as needing to be associated with the term digital — which in itself is quite interesting, this power of language to sell a movement

but i would like to think of myself in an entirely different way and perhaps affiliate my personal demographic less around the technologies and more around the actual times we’re talking about — or, better yet, it might even be nice to entirely decouple the term for my demographic from both the technologies and the times

let’s agree on at least one thing up front, though

we live in The Age of Information

we might also consider this to be The Digital Age, too, but for the most part the way that most of humanity views the entire world today is through an almost frighteningly pure informational lens

back to self-identification, though

so, instead of considering myself to be a digital immigrant, i would prefer to be called a transitional person, or just a transtitional

the term hints just a little bit toward our eventual post-humanity, which, like it or not, we’re already embarking on the journey to — i hope that its not an entirely inevitable place we’re heading to, but its pretty much nearly guaranteed just through the economics quite purposely confounded with our innovations through information and inventions — we’ll most likely just keep driving ourselves deeper and deeper into the human-machine-integration that futurists like Ray Kurzweil foretold decades ago in books like The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology

i guess, then, i consider myself as transitioning from a mediated yet mostly analog time in the world we live in to one that is heavily dominated by: digital experiences; computing machines and devices; and datasets of information

where there is no transition necessary for Maceo — he was born with computers and smartphones in the household — i’ve needed to learn entirely new ways of doing just about everything i do in life just to fit in, and to perform and survive within our increasingly more and more digitalized culture

i think of the world we live in now
as our technohumanic ecoSystem

we live among the machines

and the machines outnumber us at this point, too, if you think about it

and, i guess one could even say even the culture we live in itself is still mostly transitional by its very nature, too — its not necessarily just a demographic set, but its also a way to categorize life in the modern age as we move to more and more digitally-mediated interactions and experiences

as much as the current trend shows us as a humanity moving closer and closer to merging with machines to evolve to a supposedly higher place, i would like to think the kind of design story we should be more focused on should center a lot more on developing a better sense of human and environmental awareness that really is totally unrelated to our technological inventions altogether

but how do we design for something like greater awareness?

this isn’t one of those ‘there’s an app for that’ results we’re looking for — there’s no real profitable product or service that i’m aiming for as a human experience designer, actually, which probably leaves me in a bit of a bind, right? i personally believe that we can invent a lot of amazing and innovative technologies that will help us survive or make our lives seem somewhat more comfortable or enjoyable, but at the end of the day i would like to do more than merely survive

i would like to see humanity start to grow again

and i don’t mean growing as in growing a user-base or expanding a knowledge set or some other similar information-based endeavor we get distracted by along the real path of where our human evolution should be headed — in this case, its not about the information

we need to start feeling the vibe of the universe again — we need to stop dissecting everything so much and mapping it all to some fictional, self-serving, data-related set of attributes that we as people invent to make sense of our chaotic universe to only feel somewhat in control of our little destinies — we need to start focusing in on our emotionality, our spirituality and our purpose

someone or something else designed these things for us, however, and we can only discover, shape and guide these interesting topic touch points in the story of our lives

we cannot truly control them

i don’t want to leave this planet to the next generation with my contributions merely being the design and delivery of a bunch of apps and experiences — i want to leave the future people of tomorrow with a sense that we helped change the direction of our destiny toward something more meaningful and real, and something far more valuable than the code for an information-based set of experiences, but maybe instead, the code for how to better behave and interact with each other in the world in which we live in together as we all move forward toward a more holistic, harmonious and humanistic civilization