On Being Human in a Digital Age

Bill Buxton's closing keynote at CHI 2008, Florence

Reconstructed Slides

Some Notes

Saliera (Salt Cellar) by Benvenuto Cellini, ca. 1541

Cellini was a master goldsmith. But he aimed for something higher. For years tried to be as good as Michaelangelo.

Perseus with Head of Medusa by Benvenuto Cellini, 1545-54

Even a talent as great as Mozart’s did not emerge from a vacuum. He was a product of a culture that had evolved to reflect a particular set of values, with or without him. He needed a great teacher (his father), new instruments (fortepiano), and also concert halls to perform his art. What if Leopold Didn’t Have a Piano?

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"In the ealrly 70s I had a copy-cat of Engelbart's mouse – and full hair then."

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State-of-the-art of the science vs. State-of-the-science of the art
Problem solving vs. Problem setting

Kranzberg’s 1st Law:

Technology is not good,
technology is not bad,
but nor is it neutral.

Kranzberg’s 2nd Law:

Invention is the mother of necessity.

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Walter Dorwin Teague, Beau Brownie Camera, Eastman Kodak, 1930
Jonathan Ive, iPod Mini, Apple Computer, 2004

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Jonathan Ive, iPhone, Apple Computer, 2007
Simon SmartPhone, IBM & Bell South, 1993
Newton Message Pad, Apple Computer, 1993 - 1998 (not shown)

The Long Nose of Innovation

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"I am complaining on the level of informed discussions. Write more papers and articles!

The level of discourse about technology, and human-computer interfaces in particular, is awful.  He contrasted two articles he and he wife were reading on a plane recently: hers was a review of an art exhibit, his a review of the $100 laptop (OLPC).  Hers was deeply written and considered the exhibit within social, historical, and philosophical contexts -- something that's just naturally a part of art criticism; his talked about technical specs and barely considered the human context of the device.  We don't have a well-developed practice of "interaction criticism" (a theme that popped up elsewhere at CHI too).  HCI professionals should take time out to write for a public audience. (from questiontechnology.org)

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"societies doe not evolve because their members simply grow old, but rather because their mutual relations are transformed." – Ilya Prigogine

… the explorer is actually one who "seeks discoveries," He is not simply and solely the "discoverer." Instead the accent is upon the process and activity, with advances in knowledge simply fortunate through expected incidents along the way. It is likewise not casual. It is purposeful.
– Goetzmann (1966), p. xi

Can cultures change? Yes, if you consider that you are not permitted smoking in Italy anymore, and that you are ought to clean up your pet's poo.

"Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman" (Yvon Chouinard)

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