I hope you’re the kind of nerd who keeps 3D glasses somewhere around your batchelor pad, because Keiichi Matsuda‘s film is best viewed in all available dimensions.
The most important book I read in 2010 was Jaron Lanier‘s You Are Not a Gadget. Being the father of virtual reality, Lanier’s spent a lot of his life thinking about man’s interaction with machine, and is uniquely qualified to comment on it.
Humanism & Lockin
The two most salient concepts of Gadget are “humanism” and “lockin”. Taken together they are the commnet Lanier offers on our rush towards a techno-mediated future.
/ˈhyuməˌnɪzəm or, often, ˈyu-/ –noun
1. Any system or mode of thought or action in which human interests, values, and dignity predominate.
2. Philosophy: an ethical theory and practice that emphasizes reason, scientific inquiry, and human fulfillment in the natural world
1. An act or instance of becoming unalterable, unmovable, or rigid.
2. Commitment, binding, or restriction
Lockin is used in the context of software design: sometimes initial concepts or methods, whether well thought out or not, become the basis of future systems and are too widespread to ever practically change.
Think of Microsoft Office as the standard email client for business, or even the omnipresence of email in business communication, and the rise of Blackberries as the enterprise-level mobile platform. Hard habits to break.
Designers have to be careful when they create new human experiences, lest something that is culturally, morally or otherwise maladaptive become an unbreakable pattern.
Augmented Reality, Humanism, & Lockin
Matsuda’s film is beautiful, and could very well represent reality in x years, when the mobile web truly becomes a given.
What I was struck by in the film, though, was the complete isolation of each character from their environment and fellow humans. People in Matsuda’s future are literally in touch with their data, and though it does ultimately facilitate human contact IRL (the two friends tweetup), it prevents them from seeing the beauty in the world around them. The kind of beauty that doesn’t need augmenting.
The film shows head-up-the-ass self absorption dwarfing today’s cellphone-at-the-table rudeness.
Let’s be conscious of the patterns we’re instituting with new technologies, whether we’re software designers building them, consumers adopted them, or critics and philosophers writing about them.
Let’s take the time to ensure the behaviours and ethics we’re locking in truly value human dignity. Unlike Outlook.