At the 5th annual UXify conference, sponsored by Infragistics, I had the privilege of giving the keynote address. In my presentation, entitled, Making Technology Personal...Again, I attempted to explain how the process of design has evolved (or devolved, if you prefer) over time, it's implications for people and technology and how we designers bear the responsibility to remove the phrase, "I'm not good at computers" from the common vernacular.
Early Design Process and the End of an Era
Consider this: Early in our evolution, both the decision to create or improve a technology, AND the implementation of that decision, was done by the same person. People designed and built things for themselves. As a result, our earliest technology was not only useful but also very personal. In this way, people and technology evolved pretty much together until well into the modern era.
Then something completely different happened. I would argue that the “something different” was the invention of the transistor in 1947. Over the course of just under 70 years, this key to digital technology went from being large enough to sit on a desktop to being small enough to fit 20 billion on microchip. From an evolutionary point of view, this much advancement over such a short period is unheard of.
To put this in perspective, since 1947 you and I have not evolved at all, relatively speaking. On the other hand, the evolution of technology has increased almost exponentially. Our technology is now so intricate, its ability to process information so great, that our own human perceptual and cognitive abilities – honed over millions of years – pale in comparison. Once the evolution of technology and of people diverged, our technology stopped being “personal”.
More Than A Python Reference
Trust me, there is more to my talk than a snappy Monty Python reference. I've included my complete talk below. It's not too long, under 20 minutes, so please have a look!
Kevin Richardson has been working in the area of user experience for more than 25 years. With a PhD in Cognitive Psychology, he has experience across business verticals in the fields of research, evaluation, design and management of innovative, user-centered solutions.
On the weekends, you can find Kevin on his motorcycle, racing for Infragistics Racing at a number of different racetracks on the East coast.