The thing that I thought about today was that will anything less than mind-reading actually bring us the level of usability quality in digital systems which we seek?
It probably sounds pretty odd, right? But if you come to think about it, our needs and craving for good quality software and user experience is actually limitless.
40 years ago I had my first touch with personal computers. You can listen to the story on AnchorFM.
I think the relative experience or the kind of stimulation out of seeing something novel was much greater than what I get from seeing technology today.. But still there are a lot of things that I look forward.
When I studied computer science in University there was this thing that I remember forever: Innovations take about 15 to 20 years from the laboratory to the street. If you are working every day with a particular piece of technology or innovation you probably think this is impossible that it would take so much time. You might even have a very clear vision of how the future will probably turn out to be. But the fact is that having a vision of the future doesn’t mean the future is shared among a big amount of people. It always takes some persuasion to get something through and through the goal.
For nowadays we might have noticed for the past 20 years. Passwords are a nuisance. There have been various kinds of technology trying to subside passwords so that our authentications computers would be much more fluent. We are in fact going to get there! It just took us a good 20-30 years of effort. 😎
But this is just scraping the surface of the digital sphere. Everyday digital world is so much more than just passwords. What the total efficiency of digitizing and automating things can be, I think we are not yet capable of answering.
And that is exactly the reason I am raising certain questions about the future and how we should do things. Discussion and scenario analysis with a big group of people involved in the future is really crucial to making sure that we can cater for everyone. There’s a saying that’s in usability tests only five people are enough to assess most of the bugs or problems with a system. I don’t disagree with this statement at all, but suffice it to say that certainly 5 people are not representative of the humanity. Demographic inclusivity as well as a wide view into the real needs of people is crucial to make a digital world that is truly better.
When there was a lot of talk about Steve Jobs and his role in Apple and whether Apple would have been what it is without Jobs, a very common street lore was that if you ask people what they want they cannot give the right answer which will be the most Innovative one. It was said that people cannot actually Envision the future very well on average. We are good at projecting the progress which is linear which means that things get incrementally better but we are quite bad at predicting radical change.
Quantitatively the biggest change that has happened in 40 years is that digital systems are much more person pervasive in our everyday life. Bricktown pool our mobile phones are with us 24/7 and we constantly do things with them. This scenario where we are constantly and physically engaged with the device with our fingers and eyes is not necessarily the only one available. The promise of ubiquitous Computing and wearable technology is that the technology could be much more invisible and natural feeling. We are already getting a glimpse of the wearable Computing actually by mobile phone apps such as fitness trackers. I mean we are not expected to push a button every time we take one single step but instead the fitness app automatically using smart algorithms and GPS can estimate our movement. Which has become the norm he is something that we take for granted and this is the reason that we are actually pretty bad at seeing the next 20 years and can bring to us.
Did you know that it only took me about 15 minutes to produce this whole blog post. I am using a massive computational resource called speech recognition and to Google’s Cloud to enable this fluent typing of text. That is to say I don’t type. I merely speak to the microphone and Google does the transcription. 😎 🙏