Not Signed-In
Which clippings match 'John Seely Brown' keyword pg.1 of 2
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
22 MAY 2011

Universities provide access to communities of scholars and testimony for a student's experience among these communities

"Central to higher education is the way universities provide access to communities of scholars and testimony for a student's experience among these communities. Consequently, universities should explore resources for bringing people together, not, as some interpretations of 'distance education' suggest, for reinforcing their isolation."

(John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid, 1995, p.4)

1). Brown, J. S. and P. Duguid (1996). The University in the Digital Age. Times Higher Education Supplement (THES). London: 1–4.


Simon Perkins
22 MAY 2011

Individual output would be no more than that-an individual output

"The social demassification of newspapers–targeting an audience of one–is made possible by physical demassification, and it is no less problematic. The immutability and mobility of print on paper across a society (ensuring that the 'same' news is available to everyone at roughly the same time) turns items into 'social facts'–common to a broad readership, not merely selected by individuals. If news items were gathered individually out of a vast data base, even if the resulting copy looked like a conventional newspaper, imitating its fold and front page headlines, it would lack the social significance that arises from editorial juxtaposition. A senator is disturbed to find his or her scandalous behavior splashed across the front page not because the story is news to him or her, but because it has become front–page news to 100,000 other people. The newspaper is essentially, as Anderson (1991) described it, a 'one–day best seller' (p. 35)–and, as with a best seller, the point is that 'everyone' is reading it. The personally tailored, genuinely unique 'newspaper' selected privately from a data base–the ultimate outcome of the social and physical demassification of the newspaper as we now know it–offers neither physical, nor social continuity. Each individual output would be no more than that–an individual output. The juxtaposition of the senator and the pork bellies would then be not a composite, if oblique, social fact, but merely a result of personal serendipity."

(John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid, p.24–25)

1). 'Lionel Luthor Reading Newspaper'

2). Brown, J. S. and P. Duguid (1994). "Borderline Issues: Social and Material Aspects of Design." Human–Computer Interaction 9: pp. 3–36.



Anderson • audience of one • borderlinedemassificationdistribution • editorial juxtaposition • expression • genuinely unique • headlines • individual experienceindividualisationJohn Seely Brownmass societymassificationmedia spacenewsnewspapersPaul Duguid • personally tailored • physical demassification • printreadershipshared discourseshared understanding • social continuity • social factssocial fragmentationsocial glue • social significance • the Daily Me


Simon Perkins
26 DECEMBER 2010

Envisioning the Post-LMS Era: The Open Learning Network

"Institutions, teachers, and learners are increasingly turning to the open architecture and customizability of the web. In doing so, they are leveraging the tools and resources of the larger PLE to create their own personal learning networks (PLNs) to manage information, create content, and connect with others. Whether termed PLEs or PLNs, these approaches 'represent a shift away from the model in which students consume information through independent channels such as the library, a textbook, or an LMS, moving instead to a model where students draw connections from a growing matrix of resources that they select and organize.' Scott Leslie's impressive collection of PLE diagrams reminds us that PLNs are infinitely configurable to meet individual needs and preferences. They are, after all, 'personal.'

The vision of individually constructed PLNs and their potential to transform learning extends beyond merely aggregating and using a smorgasbord of web–based tools and content. Gardner Campbell advocated the cultivation of 'personal cyberinfrastructures' that teachers and learners can leverage to become the 'system administrators of their own digital lives.' Instead of implementing tools that simply help instructors 'manage learning,' Campbell argued that we should embrace technologies that enable co–learners to frame, curate, share, and direct learning 'engagement streams.' John Seely Brown and Richard Adler argued that learning with Web 2.0 tools is so different that we ought to call it 'learning 2.0.' They asserted that, unlike old passive forms of learning, the new learner–centric paradigm (facilitated and reinforced by new tools) emphasizes participation over presentation, encourages focused conversation over traditional publication, and 'facilitates innovative explorations, experimentations, and purposeful tinkerings that often form the basis of a situated understanding emerging from action, not passivity.' The net result is an 'open participatory learning ecosystem.'"

(Jonathan Mott, 2010)

Mott, J. (2010). 'Envisioning the Post–LMS Era: The Open Learning Network.' Educause Quarterly 33(1).

Fig.1 Vahid Masrour 'synthetic view of what a PLN/E is, and what it enables'.
Fig.2 Scott Leslie 'collection of PLE diagrams'.



Simon Perkins
30 APRIL 2010

The 2009 Shift Index: Measuring the forces of long-term change

"Corporate returns are under pressure from far more than the recession. The patterns we've uncovered span decades and deeply affect even the highest performing companies, with the single greatest driver of these challenges, and indeed future opportunities, being our underlying digital infrastructure. Regardless of when the economy shifts back to an upturn, the long–term implications for continued erosion of return–on–assets will continue.

We developed the 'Shift Index,' a new economic indicator that suggests the current recession is masking long–term competitive challenges for U.S. businesses."

(John Hagel III and John Seely Brown)

J. H. III, Brown, J. S., et al. (2009). Measuring the forces of long–term change The 2009 Shift Index, Deloitte Center for the Edge.



2009businesschallengeschangecompetitive challengesconvergence • corporate returns • digital infrastructureeconomic changeeconomic recessioneconomyenterprise • John Hagel III • John Seely Brown • Lang Davison • organisationspattern • return-on-assets • Shift Index • technologytraditiontransformation


Simon Perkins

to Folksonomy

Can't access your account?

New to Folksonomy?

Sign-Up or learn more.