Though I’m a computer engineer studying to be an interaction designer, and should feel more comfortable with technology than anyone else (it seems), I often feel overwhelmed and frustrated. The great thing about technology is that almost any information I could care and/or want to know is at my fingertips. The worst thing about technology is the very same. It can easily turn into noise-information.
How many hours have I wasted on Wikipedia learning information I didn’t actually need to know? How many hours have you wasted?
This noise problem, I feel, has similarities with the act or craft of writing in an explicit manner*. When writing a scene in a chapter, you could, if you wanted to, write every single detail. Your reason for doing this? To immerse the reader: they will have to feel like they are there with the characters if they can sense every detail about the surroundings, clothing, scent, etc. Right? Wrong. If you were to do this, it would be noise. Your readers would skip over that paragraph because it was fluff-laden information. Where is the meaning? As an example, why tell the reader the exact color of the clouds if…
- The character isn’t looking at the clouds in the first place,
- Even if the character was looking at the clouds, they probably don’t care, and
- The reader probably cares even less?
This is my problem with technology. Life as we know it today is riddled with the noise of knowing every detail about everything. We have lost the poetry of life. And maybe I’m a romantic, but I miss that poetry. I want my life to be poetic in the way of meaningful interactions and experiences.
Modern poetry is more often than not the written word at its most succinct, sparkling form. It takes the remarkable details of a moment and arranges them in a way that often conveys more meaning than an entire chapter describing the same thing.
So this is my question: can we do the same thing with technology? Can we create human-computer interactions in a way that emphasize the poetry of life? Can we create technological objects that capture the remarkable details that make something meaningful?
However we do this, I feel it must tie back to creating “an experience,” as described by Dewey, and it’s a challenge I look forward to undertaking.
*I received an undergraduate minor in English, and am taking a creative writing course for graduate credit this semester.
See my sketchnotes from the Discussion Club session that inspired this post.