I want to recommend you to look at this video from the TED conference by Pattie Maes, maybe some of you have seen this before, it is quite fun and interesting.
When you have looked at it, you can read this highly critical review of the demonstration
The demonstration and the review together presents what in many ways can be seen as core issues of interaction design, for instance, what designs are good, what designs are needed, are there designs we should not strive for.
Look, read, and think…
My reaction is:
I find it interesting (actually I’d like to just say I wish that he would open it, but perhaps he doesn’t feel like he has the time to devote to such an endeavor) that Andy Rutledge doesn’t open his blog to comments, thereby giving him a place to critique others and not for others to be able to engage with him on that critique.
The critique that he makes seems to be rooted in the fact that he beleives that augmented reality is distracting from our own human senses and will lull us into relying on things outside of our control instead of our own senses and instincts.
This is a fairly sound argument as this is certainly how most users will end up using it. The implicit assumption and judgement is that this is a bad thing. While I absolutely agree that “no person is their word cloud” If one is used to interacting with people largely online, some people may actually feel more comfortable having some of those same affordances with them during face to face interaction. I make no judgement on whether this is a good or a bad thing.
Where I do have an issue with this though is for the non-social uses of the technology. It seems that the mantra of “bringing the answers to where the questions are” makes a fair amount of sense. I absolutely agree with Andy when he says that you probably have already done your research on what brands to buy and if you haven’t then you probably don’t really care that much, but there are other issues to be considered. So often our choices are based on old information, or simply habit. What if new values have come into our lives? Sustainability was already mentioned and it’s a good topic. 10 years ago as a working professional I had a very different set of priorities in terms of affordability as well as awareness of what goes into many of our products today. I had only the vaguest sense of buying natural cleaning products or environmentally friendly products, for example I avoided things that contained CFCs. Today the constraints are different as are my sensibilities, and I may not have thought about those choices as I approach the mega aisle in my local giant-mart. If it strikes me that perhaps I may want to rethink my choice there, then I have a hard time saying that would be a bad thing should I want to do so.
The bottom line is always the same though. When a designer makes a choice they embed values. So often these values are hidden, and not obvious. On the other hand our designs, as soon as we let them out of our hands, are no longer ours and will be changed and co-opted by others, and in doing so they will tend to align with the values and interests of those who are doing so. What I encourage all of us to do is to be thoughtful and intentional with our choices.
As for this particular case, I agree with Routledge for the most part, we need not get so wrapped up in techno-fetishism that we neglect the human and trust the five senses and incredible power of our own minds.