Technology frightens me to death. It’s designed by engineers to impress other engineers. And they always come with instruction booklets that are written by engineers for other engineers — which is why almost no technology ever works.” John Cleese
Have you ever seen those shots of one guy standing still while traffics of people are sped up around him. It seems as if this one guy is outside of the hustle and rush of daily life. The reality is that doesn’t happen.
I don’t stand in the one spot and shut out everything around me. I can’t. So why does my mobile technology think that is this is my context at near all times?
Reconfigure and make my tasks easier.
From the break in the morning I get up I check my emails, I eat, I leave the house, I get on my bike and I make my way to the Metro. I put my headphones in as I cycle and I get to my Metro stop. People move around me and information lights up on displays to tell me oncoming trains. I check my phone and see what apps and information is available to me quickly and easily while I have a few minutes to spare, standing and quite frankly a little cold and maybe not very awake. But the context of my apps, the ease of how I get the information hasn’t changed since I woke up and it won’t change no matter what my context is.
If you think about it behaviours are modal. I need to put my head into the context of what I need to get done. I am fluid. My behaviours switch from ‘home mode’ to ‘travel mode’ to ‘office mode’ and other variants. I wish for technological systems that anticipate and respond to my immediate needs. Learned behaviours are common place in apps. The app Path claims “Path should learn about you as time goes on. It should help you see interesting patterns in your life, and the lives of your loved ones. It should learn to write itself, and require less effort from you over time.”
Make my content quick and skimmable.
One of the side-effects of this mobility is that I can’t give any one thing focus. but the content I am looking at doesn’t care that I am in transit. It doesn’t truncate the info I am going through. It doesn’t care to make apps available to me as needed. It waits dormantly until called by me and then I summon the information.
I feel let down by my mobile technology and the integration of software. Is the fact that its portable the sole reason we call it mobile? It isn’t responsive, it shows me the same information whether I am sitting at my desk perusing through reams of content or moving through hordes of people trying to find the right platform to get my delayed train.
I want my mobile technology to be responsive to my mobility. I want to work in conjunction with my technology so it provides me with opportunities. Show me the path less taken when I travel, show me the advantages of all this big data being accrued all around me. The revolution of ‘the quantified everything’ is in full swing where sensors are attached to the most unlikely items so we can use this data and make my life easier and possibly more fun.
Push me usable and relevant information.
Currently my interaction with my iPhone or my iPad is that I go and I take data from the devices. Usability and clarity within the design of phones and apps are decried but to present a clear structure and steps to get to a defined payoff, we are happy to do it. So control falls to whom here?
When my apps communicate with me it’s when it is pushing notifications telling me that Maire checked into my local coffee hangout, but this does not aid me in my daily life, only providing a distraction from the goals I’m trying to achieve. How is it helping me?
Technology can break boundaries.
The opportunity that these technologies provide is astounding. Individual apps can learn and process what I do and to an extent how I do it. They can provide insight based on friends’ learning. They can offer suggestions for places to eat and drink more suited to my tastes. They provide an array of chords for me to choose from. Right now they are all chords within a disharmonious concerto called the operating system.
When I run, run with me, when I read, read with me.
But imagine that it was a reality unburdened by the idea that we would be inundated with irrelevant information. Imagine that I got up in the morning and my computer realised there was movement and quietly booted itself up and had my emails to hand. Imagine that I decided to go for a run and my Nike+ or Human app tracked my movements because it realised my actions. I didn’t need to worry about having the setting right or even if I remembered to turn the app on. Wonderful, quiet and enabling/quantifying my daily routine.
When I sit down to read in the comfort of my home extend the information to realise i’m looking for the same kind of information just not as bitesized. I can enjoy a video, I can read extended articles. So offer me all the content I said i was interested in while I was travelling but now in a more open format. Wonderful.
What I look for is simple. I don’t want static technology I want fluid behaviours to enrich mine. Help me achieve my daily goals through relevant apps that arrange to suit my condition at that time. The platform of mobile operating systems don’t really want this, but why not?
We are in the future right? If we can’t have flying cars let’s have mobile phones that present us with modal, relevant, contextualised information as and how we need it to make help me enjoy my life.
It’s a thought at least.
Paul O’Connell | Design & Product | Co-founder Favour.it