Monday, October 09, 2006

A Co-operative Beginning for new Institute

Predictions about the future of design and technology ...

"Howard Rheingold is smart, sassy and profoundly optimistic. He is speaking at the launch of the Institute of Creative Technologies (IOCT) at De Montfort University, UK, and while 'ease of use' is number one on his list of principles for the design of technology enabling co-operation, his topic is essentially a new world order and scientific evidence for a vision of (self-interested) collaboration. All this, and he has been wooed to become visiting professor for the newly minted IOCT, his first such position in Britain and a bit of a coup for the interdisciplinary team behind the appointment.

De Montfort professor of new media, Sue Thomas, warms up an audience of local academics, practitioners and invited guests with tales of the extra bandwidth laid on so that we can blog live, and send video through the ether. 'Writing in notebooks is fine too,' she tells us, 'and requires no extra capacity.'

But then Rheingold starts, and his funny visuals and rapid delivery make video a far superior form of record than the shorthand I am taking. We traverse the history of communication media, evolution and the threat to openly accessible resources such as the internet, scientific knowledge and the electromagnetic spectrum. We traverse this fast. He makes all sorts of points on the way, of which here are a few:

* Luther's challenge to the Church, coming at a time when printing presses could reel off thousands of copies, fueled Protestantism: 'the first large-scale virtual community', a community which went on to fight wars together.

* Within 20 years, every person on earth will be carrying technology more powerful than today's laptop and connected to bandwidth broader than what we understand by broadband.

* Weighing about 38kg and without claws or fangs, human ancestors had to band together to hunt. The disappearance of the woolly mammoth is attributed to their success at collaborating.

* Although, left to their own devices, humans have a tendency to ruin any common space over time (cf cod fishing), some groups have evolved design principles that protect the shared resource."    (Continued via Usability News)    [Usability Resources]

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