Doug Engelbart: effectiveness and usability.

The 99% Invisible podcast focusing on the work of Doug Engelbart and the differences between his technological creations and those of Steve Jobs led to questions of effectiveness. Even before watching the clip of the monome (see below) the discussion was reminiscent of conversations regarding musical instruments.

Image result for monome   Image result for monome  Image result for monome

What changes when we think of computers as effective instruments? Do we have a goal or function for the instruments we use? If it is to create more collaboration and effectiveness within groups, should we not address the affect of such instruments as well. Thinking of technology as instruments was very helpful– thinking of both the pragmatic functions as well as the (more) unseen possibilities seemed to change the way I have previously thought about my phone, kindle, computer, etc. Rather than focusing on the compulsion to check emails and take photos, I am now thinking: what can these instruments do, create, change, etc. for me? This is a much more empowering way of understanding my relationship to the plastic objects I am in constant contact with.

In the readings, the importance of human intellectual effectiveness was stressed. Streamline, simple functions open doors and broaden possibilities. In my reading, this is all in relation to production. What if production is not the (conscious) goal or ideal function of the instrument?


[I guess my “nugget” from this week is found in the discussion of the monome!]


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