Imagine that you’re a proto-prosimian about 65 million years ago. You’re about the size of a dormouse and live in the trees. You have a long tail and a pointy nose, but underneath your furry little frame, you have the same basic physical and neurological characteristics of a modern human. What’s more, the tiny, furry version of you uses the same kind of physical and mental processes to deal with everyday problems as the version of you currently reading this abstract. According to MacLean’s triune brain theory, there are three fundamentally different but interconnected subsystems of the brain, each responsible for a subset of the basic ways that you perceive, process, and respond to the world around you (MacLean 1949).
Spoiler alertNone of those ways is based on a computer’s operating system, a viral advertising campaign, or whatever is trending right now on your choice of social media.
Items perceived in any of those three streams can easily become the center of your conscious thoughts, and can just as easily be relegated back to the periphery of your attention. This dynamic environmental focus (DEF) is the key to designing interaction that is truly human-centered. In this chapter, we will briefly examine the natural forces that created the demand for DEF, and demonstrate that you have been using it all of your life.
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