Monday, May 15, 2006

From Things to Thoughts : Can We Make the Shift?

The current human to machine computing interactions seem to have reached their limits. Desktop and windows analogies were based on managing files. Files based on the idea of translating the industrial economy paradigm of working at a desk and having neat little folders to file information away in and retrieve information from. Files seemed best for the management of things (docs, pics, etc.) but will that kind of thinking still apply in a world already dubbed the “global brain”?

In a global brain world, the collection and creation of information is moving at a breakneck pace, and shows no signs of slowing down. The concept of search is a manageable paradigm to absorb, but it seems that search as it stands now is limiting because “search” tools today focus on the “what” of my search and don’t know the “why” of my search and thus create additional inefficiencies of my having to dig through search results to make any sort of meaning.

However, if we look at the “why” of search, our quest seems to mimic the same process that takes place inside our heads when we try to look for a reference, inspiration or even just a piece of information to put into words. Our brains create relevance by the way we file info into both of our conscious and subconscious databases of our minds. I wonder if the same rules have implications in a world transitioning from things to thoughts?

What if we took into account that we locate information in our minds by the following:

Analogy: This should be self explanatory like the time when...

Shared contexts: Like having “inside jokes” and other shared information with others that you can both relate and derive similar meanings from because you shared the context of the original experience that formed it.

Markers : Like when you meet an old friend or visit a familiar place, and all sorts of information and experiences associated with that mental marker come to you.

Recently, I had the good fortune of hanging with the guys at Humanized who turned me on to the concepts of Humane Interfaces. The ideas of automacity and human interfaces that model our interaction with immediate and wider physical space perspectives was not only validating to my world view, but set off a flurry of sparks in my mind about what may be possible in the near future.

I believe interfaces in our interconnected data saturated world should follow thought, mimic interactions in the physical world and reveal new possibilities as we acquire new lenses of purpose much like how we navigate life. The only difference is that in life, the lenses come after a lot of failure and success cycles, whereas in the connection economy interaction paradigm, they’ll likely come as functionality sets for sale :)

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