The Humanization of Technology

From a design perspective, when is technology helping us, and when is it just taking up our time and effort? This is a concept that's always surrounded us, and one that I try to internalize when I start a new project or engagement. This evolutionary scale of human-computer interaction can help illustrate where a company or initiative is, and where it should be aiming.

Safe to say, most technology firms are striving to get to the end of the scale here. I've found that many hardware makers claim to be much more "evolved" than they truly are: while their marketing will talk about people and their lives, ultimately, their goal is still to ship as many pieces of hardware as possible. And since the majority of earthlings don't need more than one computer, and many don't have the luxury to view obsolescence in as short a timeframe as the manufacturers would like, they end up fighting against volume. Once everyone and their dog has a computer (or three), what then? While there will always be a constant flow of new systems into the channel as old ones fail, technology adoption into a society's lifestyle doesn't grow from this approach.

Application companies are further along the scale. While all are still concerned about how many boxes they sell or how many users have adopted a particular application, their direction shows a concern for how their technologies actually fit into a user's day  — with varying levels of success as to the implementation, of course.

It all comes down to thinking not about how a user will interact with your product, but how your product can integrate with the user's lifestyle and work patterns. Turning this interaction on its head is key.