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“From Solid to Liquid to Air: Cyborg Anthropology and the Future of the Interface”
We are now entering into an era of liquid interfaces, where buttons can be downloaded at will, and software flies through the air. Phones have been untethered from their cords and are free to colonize our pockets. They cry, and we must pick them up. They get hungry, and we must plug them in. We increasingly live on interfaces, and it is their quality and design which increases our happiness and our frustration. We are tool using creatures. Prosthetics touch almost every part of our lives. Until recently, humans have used their hands and bodies to interface with objects. Early interfaces were solid and tactile. Now, the interface can be anywhere. The best interfaces compress the time and space it takes to absorb relevant information, and the worst cause us car accidents, lost revenue, and communication failures. This speech will discuss how the field of anthropology can be applied to interface design, and how future interfaces, such as the ones employed by augmented reality, will change the way we act, feel and communicate with one another.
Amber Case is a cyborg anthropologist, examining the way humans and technology interact and evolve together. Like all anthropologists, Case watches people, but her fieldwork involves observing how they participate in digital networks, analyzing the various ways we project our personalities, communicate, work, play, share ideas and even form values. Case founded Geoloqi.com, a private location-sharing application, out of a frustration with existing social protocols around text messaging and wayfinding.
“She’s a digital native. She’s from the future. She’s come back to help us figure out how to think.” – Kris Krug, in Fast Company