Future Work in ABC

  • John N. A. Brown
Part of the Human–Computer Interaction Series book series (HCIS)


According to Bardzell and Bardzell (Pers Ubiquit Comput 2:1–16, 2013), Weiser’s ideas of ubiquitous computing and calm technology have generated two very different responses. “Calm” was intended to become a fundamental factor in the design and creation of hardware and software. Instead, engineers and technology-oriented scientists have continued to pursue technology-centered solutions, while psychologists and human-oriented scientists remain on the periphery, chasing a vision of human-centeredness. My work has been an attempt to build a bridge between the two groups Brown (Intuitive interaction with a smart environment. Fundamentals of collective adaptive systems (FoCAS) reading room. Jan 2015 Last retrieved May 2015).

I’ve been trying to create interactive technology that works based on how humans naturally perceive, process, and respond to environmental stimuli. Key to this idea is the understanding that humans perceive reality differently than many of us seem to think. The idea that we filter perceived data has been suggested before, but don’t we also rebuild it to suit the mental models of our expectations, hopes, and fears? Isn’t that how we see sequential images as movement and why we hear the laughter of those lost to us on the wind at night? This may be why the art that touches us the most is that which lets us fill in the empty spaces – the silence between the notes, the words left unspoken, and the action that happens off-screen.

We never see the whole picture, we never hear the entire song. Our nervous system picks up stray threads of the larger tapestry of life, and we unconsciously knit them together, as best as we can, into recognized and anticipated patterns. Artists understand that. It is time for computer scientists to understand it, too.

Like in a classroom, human-centered information should never be presented “whole cloth”: that style of presentation limits how much we can perceive and process. Better to share suitable patterns, as Vannevar Bush proposed Bush (Atl Mon 176:101–8, 1945) and to provide us with threads deliberately designed to suit them. The designer or computer scientist who tries to knit the cloth herself is more likely to elicit an “uncanny valley” experience where unconscious perception of “dropped stiches” make the blanket feel uncomfortable. A good lecture, like a good interface, provides just enough information so that the human on the other side can subconsciously knit the tapestry themselves.

I’ve already told you about some of the threads I’ve spun and some of the patterns I’ve supplied to mental looms across Europe. In this chapter I want to provide you with a few more threads before you to begin to spin your own.


Negative Feedback Loop Ivory Tower Uncanny Valley Willful Ignorance Reflexive Processing 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • John N. A. Brown
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Informatics SystemsAlpen-Adria Universität KlagenfurtKlagenfurtAustria

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