As each day goes by, the boundaries between user and media are disappearing. We are being part of the rise of a new kind of media. The “Meta-Media” have started popping up on our lives and becoming a part of our daily life. We now use voice commands, hand gestures o tactile interfaces to do things that used to be so simple as changing the channel with a remote. As stated in the text “Super sizing the mind”: My Iphone is not my tool, or at least it is not wholly my tool. Parts of it have become parts of me. (Clark, Foreword, x)
Today’s society wants and needs their devices to do most of their work for them. We need to have the weather, the stock market, communication tools, videos and messages. We are somehow conceding some of our brain power and leaving it all to the machines. Automation makes digitalisation possible, but if it immesaurably increases the power of the mind (as rationalisation), it can also destroy the minds knowledge (as rationality) (Stiegler, 12)
It is as if we wanted the boundaries of media and user to disappear. We believe that this devices are “revolutionary” because they completely eliminate the “middle man”. Who needs a remote control to change the channel? Or what’s the best way to play video games?. Samsung’s Smart TV or Xbox’s Kinect are a clear example of how computing and software may change our lives forever or at least alter the way we perceive it.
This computer-user revolution wouldn’t be possible without new advancements in computing. We are constantly seeking ways to improve our quality of life, We do not just self-engineer better worlds to think in. We self-engineer our selves to think and perform better in the worlds we find ourselves in. (Clark, 59)
It is true that computers and improvement in computing technology have helped us greatly, however things have to be functional in order to achieve success with the consumers. As Janet Murray states in “Inventing the Medium”: “In approaching interaction design as a cultural practice our aim is always to make an object that is satisfying in itself and that advances the digital medium by refining or creating the conventions that best exploit these four affordances: encyclopedic, spatial, procedural and participatory”. (Murray, 53)
What she states is how things need to be functional, appealing and easy to use for the end-user. Technologies may be completely powerful and life changing but they need to fulfill certain parameters so the end user can integrate that technology into his life. Without the use of this logic, the technology might be just a mysterious black box no one knows how to use.
The real question here is how much are we sacrificing for an easier life? What’s the real price of having all this comfort if we are starting to have an automated life where everything is done for us. It is a fact that We constantly create external scaffolding to simplify our cognitive tasks (Hollan, 192). But what if that scaffolding ends or is not as safe as we thought to believe? Are we ready as individuals and as a society to live in a world without the constant use of technology?
Andy Clark, Supersizing the Mind: Embodiment, Action, and Cognitive Extension (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, USA, 200
James Hollan, Edwin Hutchins, and David Kirsh. “Distributed Cognition: Toward a New Foundation for Human-computer Interaction Research.” ACM Transactions, Computer-Human Interaction 7, no. 2 (June 2000): 174-196.
Janet Murray, Inventing the Medium: Principles of Interaction Design as a Cultural Practice. Cambridge, MA: MI