After the Collaborative Unit, time to dig into the Physical Computing Unit with the Social Things brief: “Using the research that you have done on a tribe, you will start designing a tangible or a wearable object for or with that tribe. The goal is to create a meaningful object using physical computing as an agency. By meaningful, we mean that it will communicate the value(s) of your tribe.”
Just to remind, my research was on the Slow Movement. I did already gather ideas during the last part of my ethnographic research. I asked my interviewees the following: “Do you think it is possible to find a balance with technology rather than having disconnected moments?” One answer from Trine Grönlund whom is behind the Go Slow initiative, particularly stuck in my mind: “Absolutely. I think the answer is very much in technology and particular in the “interface”. Today everything builds upon distraction – you are looking for one thing but you are constantly being lured away to other things. Imagine the day we decide to build sites/apps/games in a way that spreads compassion. Imagine if the more time we spend in front of the screen the more compassionate and mindful we become.”
If I highlighted this last sentence, it’s because I immediately had a flashback of one of my past projects: YOU HAVE TO FACE ME that I produced last year for the Festival Les Chambres Numériques, where I asked the audience to literally face the screen in order to trigger its contents. Well, I didn’t know back then that I was crafting an interaction I’m now classifying as slow! And even though I still don’t know what kind of object I want to make, I’m pretty interested in the same contrast I did back then: the effortless technology versus the mindful effort of the audience. Where is the balance? Wouldn’t an interaction that requires time end up frustrating the audience in search of efficiency? Then, isn’t it about the notion of slow to be adjusted at its right moment to intervene?
There are also others keywords I retain here: interface – distraction – compassion. There are definitely links to craft between these, as I don’t believe digital detox is a solution and don’t fall neither in the values of the Slow Movement. Trine also referred me to a talk given by Rohan Gunatillake at Wisdom 2 Europe – here is his own summary wisely named Redesigning not Retreating. He explains his vision balancing mindfulness with technology. He did so with his studio Mindfulness Everywhere which create meditative apps such as buddhify and Sleepfulness. Pretty good starting point for my contextual research!
In the same veins, I also found the initiative Time Well Spent – the founder Tristan Harris gave a pretty good talk that I recommend to watch to comprehend his vision of designing to value time with technology versus the seeker-attention character of technology.