This presentation about is the self, that it is a social phenomenon not a biological one. Most theories of the self don’t give us a social angle but only a biological one. This has an impact for technology design.
The self is an uniquely human phenomenon. It is the internal private reality of the consciousness.It is not anatomical or physiological.It is not a body. It is only meaningful in social situations.
So we have this internal, private reality, this consciousness.Biological paradigms to explain it are inadequate. Bodies are the containers of selves, not the actual self.Containers matter. But they are not the only thing that matters.
HAL 9000 has a self.He is socially competent.Aware of his inner reality. He imagined that Dave and Frank were plotting against him. Victor had no inner reality but HAL did.HAL understood the social.
Our “emotion chips” have differential results.How do selves come to be embarrassed? Inspired? in love?Unfortunately, most of our ideas about the self are really about our hardware.
For example, SigmundFreud.Freud thought biological experiences created the self, In the form of ego and the superego. We learn about our anus and develop a selfBut this doesn’t explain Victor or HAL’s development.
Even psychologist Piaget put biology first. Piaget’s theory of child development relies on sensory experiencesNot social experiences.For Piaget, learning starts with a bodily interaction, not social interaction.
Technology designed for biological selves has a mechanical quality to it. It will fit the physiology. But it will be socially awkward, or embarrassing. Technology that focuses on bodies has a “near miss” quality to it.It is “off.”
Google Street View. This technology has created a few embarrassing moments. Google’s face blurring does not solve our embarrassment of interpreting this image. Street View is functional, not social.
Facebook continually fails to sense what selves need.This self posted a picture of himself smoking.Unfortunately, his mom recognized the room. This is embarrassing.
If we design for selves, not bodies, we think of everyone’s internal private realities. Bodies need ergonomics, usability, accessibility. Selves need to be shielded from embarrassment, awkward situations, and social breaches.
Technology designed for bodies is like an awkward dinner party. The technology we design should provide a consistent, social lubricant. We must design technology like we design great parties.Where the right people sit in the right seats.
Socially meaningful symbols must be present. This can be discovered through contextual inquiry,Selves also require the ability to control their presentation to others. And finally, the social “place” of technology must be clearly demarcated.
In the end, we design our world for selves.Technology designed for bodies just gets in the way. If technology is designed for bodies, selves change to meet the needs of technology. I would prefer that have technology adapt to selves. Thank you
Ignite Toronto 2: Designing for Social Selves
Designing Technology for Social Selves<br />Ignite Toronto<br />November 25, 2009<br />