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Which clippings match 'Technological Change' keyword pg.1 of 3
18 JUNE 2014

Calm Technology: designs which require only peripheral attention

"The most potentially interesting, challenging, and profound change implied by the ubiquitous computing era is a focus on calm. If computers are everywhere they better stay out of the way, and that means designing them so that the people being shared by the computers remain serene and in control. Calmness is a new challenge that UC brings to computing. When computers are used behind closed doors by experts, calmness is relevant to only a few. Computers for personal use have focused on the excitement of interaction. But when computers are all around, so that we want to compute while doing something else and have more time to be more fully human, we must radically rethink the goals, context and technology of the computer and all the other technology crowding into our lives. Calmness is a fundamental challenge for all technological design of the next fifty years. The rest of this paper opens a dialogue about the design of calm technology. ...

We use 'periphery' to name what we are attuned to without attending to explicitly. Ordinarily when driving our attention is centered on the road, the radio, our passenger, but not the noise of the engine. But an unusual noise is noticed immediately, showing that we were attuned to the noise in the periphery, and could come quickly to attend to it.

It should be clear that what we mean by the periphery is anything but on the fringe or unimportant. What is in the periphery at one moment may in the next moment come to be at the center of our attention and so be crucial. The same physical form may even have elements in both the center and periphery. The ink that communicates the central words of a text also peripherally clues us into the genre of the text though choice of font and layout.

A calm technology will move easily from the periphery of our attention, to the center, and back. This is fundamentally encalming, for two reasons.

First, by placing things in the periphery we are able to attune to many more things than we could if everything had to be at the center. Things in the periphery are attuned to by the large portion of our brains devoted to peripheral (sensory) processing. Thus the periphery is informing without overburdening.

Second, by recentering something formerly in the periphery we take control of it. Peripherally we may become aware that something is not quite right, as when awkward sentences leave a reader tired and discomforted without knowing why. By moving sentence construction from periphery to center we are empowered to act, either by finding better literature or accepting the source of the unease and continuing. Without centering the periphery might be a source of frantic following of fashion; with centering the periphery is a fundamental enabler of calm through increased awareness and power.

Not all technology need be calm. A calm videogame would get little use; the point is to be excited. But too much design focuses on the object itself and its surface features without regard for context. We must learn to design for the periphery so that we can most fully command technology without being dominated by it.

Our notion of technology in the periphery is related to the notion of affordances, due to Gibson and applied to technology by Gaver and Norman. An affordance is a relationship between an object in the world and the intentions, perceptions, and capabilities of a person. The side of a door that only pushes out affords this action by offering a flat pushplate. The idea of affordance, powerful as it is, tends to describe the surface of a design. For us the term 'affordance ' does not reach far enough into the periphery where a design must be attuned to but not attended to."

(Mark Weiser and John Seely Brown, 1997)

"The Coming Age of Calm Technology," Mark Weiser and John Seely Brown, In Beyond Calculation: The Next Fifty Years of Computing, Peter J. Denning and Robert M. Metcalfe, New York, Springer–Verlag 1997.



1997affordancesambient awarenessaround usattentionattunementbecoming invisible • blend into the background • calm • calm technologycalmness • distributed computing • Donald Norman • encalm • encalming technology • engaged interaction • everyday thingsexcitement • explicitly • human computer interactioninteraction designJames GibsonJohn Seely Brown • Mark Weiser • peripheral attention • periphery • sensory phenomena • sensory processing • technological change • technological design • technology affordancesubiquitous computing • William Gaver • Xerox PARC


Simon Perkins
23 FEBRUARY 2014

Beautiful Science: Picturing Data, Inspiring Insight

20 February – 26 May 2014, Folio Society Gallery; admission free, London.

"Turning numbers into pictures that tell important stories and reveal the meaning held within is an essential part of what it means to be a scientist. This is as true in today's era of genome sequencing and climate models as it was in the 19th century.

Beautiful Science explores how our understanding of ourselves and our planet has evolved alongside our ability to represent, graph and map the mass data of the time.

From John Snow's plotting of the 1854 London cholera infections on a map to colourful depictions of the tree of life, discover how picturing scientific data provides new insight into our lives."

(The British Library)







17th century • 1854 • 185819th centurybattlefield • Beautiful Science (exhibition) • big dataBritish Librarycartographychart • cholera • climate models • climate science • colourful depictions • Crimean War • datadata journalismdata visualisation • David McCandless • David Spiegelhalter • diseaseevolutionexhibition • Florence Nightingale • genome • genome sequencing • graph • Great Chain of Being (1617) • hierarchical visualisationhospitalillustrated diagramsinfographicinteractive visualisationinterpret meaningsinterpreting data • Johanna Kieniewicz • John Snow • London • Luke Howard • maps • Martin Krzywinski • mass data • Nigel ShadboltOpen Data Institute • picturing data • picturing scientific data • public health • Robert Fludd • rose diagram • Sally Daviesscience • science collections • science exhibition • seeing is believing • statisticstechnological changetree of lifeturning numbers into meaningvisual interpretationvisual representationvisual representation graphicallyvisual representations of scientific conceptsvisualising dataweather • William Farr • Winton Capita


Simon Perkins
24 AUGUST 2013

Kevin Spacey: television has entered a new golden age

"He said Netflix ... had proved one thing: 'The audience wants control. They want freedom. If they want to binge–as they've been doing on House of Cards–then we should let them binge.

'We have learned the lesson that the music industry didn't learn: give people what they want, when they want it, in the form they want it in, at a reasonable price, and they'll more likely pay for it rather than steal it. Well, some will still steal it, but I believe this new model can take a bite out of piracy.'

But if the medium was to continue in this rich vein, TV executives would have to adapt to the way viewers want to binge on their favourite programmes on the internet or by watching DVD box sets, Spacey said.

Younger viewers no longer saw any difference between watching TV and online. 'For kids growing up, there's no difference between watching Avatar on an iPad or watching YouTube on a TV and watching Game of Thrones on their computer. It's all content. It's all story,' he said."

(John Plunkett and Jason Deans, 22 August 2013, The Guardian)



1950s1980s • Aaron Paul • AMC • AMC Networks • American Beauty • American Movie Classics (AMC) • art formaudience • binge • Breaking Bad (television) • broadcasterbroadcasting • Bryan Cranston • cable channel • cable televisioncharacter-driven stories • cliff-hanger • complex characterisation • control • David Fincher • demassificationdemassified media • DVD box set • Edinburgh Television Festival • Game of Thrones (television) • golden age • HBO • Hill Street Blues • Home Box Office (HBO) • Homeland (television) • House of Cards • iPad • Jack Lemmon • Kevin Spacey • Mad Menmusic industryNetflixOrson Wellespilot episode • programme maker • risk averserisk-taking • sense of total abandon • small screenstorytellingtechnological changetelevision channeltelevision networktelevision programming • The Sopranos (television) • The Usual Suspects • TV • video-streaming service • YouTube


Alex Shutti
19 AUGUST 2013

Steve Jobs at the Insanely Great conference in 1980

"22 minutes presentation given by Steve Jobs at the Insanely Great conference in 1980. It's one of the very first known video footage of Steve Jobs. The quality of the video deteriorates at mid–point, but stick around, it's really worth the watch.

The Insanely Great conference happened just a few months after Apple visited Xerox PARC. Now with retrospect, it's pretty clear when listening to Steve that Apple is working on the Macintosh. He hints a few times of it's development but doesn't disclose any secrets."



1980AppleApple Computer • Apple I • Apple IIAtaribicycles • Bob Metcalfe • building computers • building tools • Californiacomputer historyComputer History Museumcomputer skills • corporate name • Cupertino California • hardwareHewlett-Packard • Insanely Great Conference (1980) • interactive videoMacintoshMacintosh computerpresentation • Regis McKenna • SciAm • Scientific American (magazine) • software versus hardware • Steve Jobs • Steve Wozniak • technological changetechnological innovationtechnology companies • tool building • toolsVisiCalcXerox PARC


Simon Perkins
05 JULY 2013

Technologies, Texts and Affordances

"In contrast to recent sociological emphases on the social shaping of technology, this article proposes and illustrates a way of analysing the technological shaping of sociality. Drawing on the concept of affordances (Gibson 1979), the article argues for a recognition of the constraining, as well as enabling, materiality of artefacts. The argument is set in the theoretical context of one of the most recent and comprehensive statements of anti–essentialism (Grint and Woolgar 1997). The position is illustrated through a reinterpretation of some case studies used by proponents of the radical constructivist position."

(Ian Hutchby, 2001)

Ian Hutchby (2001). "Technologies, Texts and Affordances" Sociology May 2001 vol. 35 no. 2 441–456.



Simon Perkins

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