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Design in the Post-PC Era


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Introductory remarks given at Device Design Day 2011

Design in the Post-PC Era

  1. 1. The PC has taken us a long way. Theywere amazing. But it changes. Vestedinterests are going to change. And, Ithink we’ve embarked on that change.Is it the iPad? Who knows? Will it benext year or five years? … We like to talkabout the post-PC era, but when it reallystarts to happen, it’s uncomfortable.Steve Jobs2 June 2010
  2. 2. Design in thePost-PC EraDan Saffer@odannyboy
  3. 3. The Memex (1945)The Memex entirely warped how we think about “computers.”
  4. 4. One computer……for millions of people (1951)…for thousands of people (1961)…for dozens of people (1971)…for a single person (1981)…for home and one for work (1991)…in your pocket and your car (2001)…in every device imaginable (2011)…in everything imaginable (2021)
  5. 5. 2000s1970s 1980s
  6. 6. 2000s1970s 1980s
  7. 7. 2000s1970s 1980s
  8. 8. Marc Weiser’s1991 TaxonomyTabs (e.g. mobile phones)Pads (e.g. tablets)Boards (coming soon?)Missing: Dots (invisible objects), Boxes(e.g. toasters), and Chests (e.g. stoves)
  9. 9. Today’s devices are... …networked ...context-aware and using ...sensor-powered ...often multi-purpose ...can change after they shipThis wasn’t true 60 years ago during the golden age of industrial design. Or 20 years agoduring the PC era. And probably not even five years ago. These were characteristics that wethought only a PC could have, so blinded were we thinking about the Memex computers.
  11. 11. DEVICES PHYSICAL TOYS SPACES MOBILE DESKTOP APPS WEB ROBOTS InternetPlate techtonic theory of post-PC era
  12. 12. We shape our tools, and thereafter our tools shape us.I’m going to put another thing out there in the back of your heads. MM said...If that’s true, and I suspect it is, then when we make tools, we’re making a lot more than justthe object. We’re making ourselves.
  13. 13. What we’re creating is a new kind of consciousness— ours: digitially- distributed among our devices.With the internet glueing it all together. I know this sounds very San Francisco, so let’s back itup with a little science.
  14. 14. “Readiness-at-Hand”Heidegger is an asshole, but he had a good notion, and that was the idea of readiness-at-hand.
  15. 15. “The tool isn’t separate from you. It’s part of you.”Franklin and Marshall Study of people using a computer mouse rigged to malfunction. Theresulting disruption in attention wasn’t superficial. Extended to the very roots of cognition.“The person and the various parts of their brain and the mouse and the monitor are so tightlyintertwined that they’re just one thing,” said Anthony Chemero “The tool isn’t separate from
  16. 16. If that’s true, all the millions, billions of devices we make and will make aren’t just objects.They aren’t just things. They are us, millions of bits of us. They allow us to do things wecouldn’t before, which as many have pointed out before, are almost magical. This post-PCera era we’re in is magical. We can do things now that seemed like science fiction even 5
  17. 17. So when we’re designing devices, it’s not really about what we want the devices to be. It’sabout about what kind of people we want to be. Helpful, generous, exciting, thoughtful,useful, beautiful. Those are the kinds of devices we need desperately in this, the post-PC era.Please go design some.