perconnectivity also has the power to
mobilize us, as citizens and members
of global communities; we are now in
touch in more ways, and with more
people, than ever. What these changes
mean, how one designs for them, and
how one judges value within the myriad forms of being in touch are all substantive issues for HCI.
Fourth, our heightened ability to
be in touch is equalled by a passion to
capture more and more information
about people’s lives and actions—
information that hitherto would have
been discarded or forgotten. This
trend is reflecting as well as driving
the massive gains in computer networks’ capacity. What it means to record, why we record, and what we do
with the collected material is changing hand-in-hand with the systems we
use to capture, manage, share, and archive these burgeoning stores of personal data. Each of us is developing an
ever-increasing “digital footprint”—
sometimes in ways we desire, sometimes not, and often in ways we know
little about—not only on a personal
level but also within the databases of
government agencies and other public, as well as private, institutions. We
call this transformation the end of the
Finally, the proliferation of new
kinds of digital tools (exemplified by
Web 2.0) and their appropriation by
people from all walks of life are enabling us to work, play, and express
ourselves in new ways. Computers
were once limited to the automation
and mechanization of routine aspects
of work or problem-solving. Now, more
than ever, they are also instruments
for creativity. This trend is manifested
not only in the explosion of computer
tools for play and self-expression; it
also propels more “serious” pursuits.
For example, computational tools
are enabling advances in the world
of science and medicine as they assist researchers in discerning, analyzing, and solving problems. This fifth
transformation—the growth of creative
engagement—underscores the fact
that flexible computer tools, which
can be assembled and appropriated
in new ways, allows us to see the world
in wholly new ways too. Computer-enabled creativity means we can all
become our own producers, programmers, and publishers, whether in our
personal or professional lives, with potentially far-reaching consequences.
new Questions for
a future-Looking hci
The five transformations are provoking questions that HCI has not had to
address before, as they concern issues
that simply did not arise in a world
where using a computer essentially
meant a person sitting in front of a
desktop machine doing email, writing
a document, or working on a spread-sheet. Because our relationship with
computing is now far more extensive
and complex, these new questions deal
with how we design for the emerging
For example, the end of interface
stability raises questions such as:
˲ What interaction techniques are
appropriate if devices embedded within us have no explicit or recognizable
˲Should new interaction techniques build on the skills we have already acquired for dealing with far less
complicated systems? And if so, how?
˲ How do we enable people to understand the complexity of new ecosystems of technologies, and the results of interacting with them, so as to
proceed most effectively?
Our growing dependency on computing provokes a different set of questions, including:
˲ How do we design computer systems to help people cope when infrastructures break down or when devices
malfunction or are lost?
˲ What will be the taken-for-granted
technologies of the future and how
might they alter the skill sets of the
people for whom we must design?
˲With computers becoming increasingly autonomous, seemingly
able to make their own decisions, what
will be an appropriate style of human-computer interaction?
The end of the ephemeral leads us
to consider what is being recorded,
stored, and analyzed regarding our
beliefs, preferences, and everyday
Questions of Broader Impact
Computers will soon be able to
monitor the bodily functions
of people without requiring
their awareness or necessarily
seeking their permission.
Who should have the right to
access and control information from
embedded devices? it is obvious that
such devices will alter the knowledge
that medical professionals will have
of a patient’s body, but less obvious
is how this will alter their perception
of the sanctity of the body. Similarly,
the output of such devices will alter
the conception that people have of
themselves, but in what ways and to
An increasingly complex
set of computing devices will
pervade our homes.
Who is responsible for
fixing problems, and ensuring
protection from unplanned and
undesirable consequences? Users
or householders will need to be
accountable to some extent, but
in other cases it may need to be the
service provider or government. in
addition, the identity of the user
can be difficult to ascertain when
venturing beyond the work setting.
at home, are children to be held
responsible for the consequences of
their interactions with technology?
or does responsibility rest on a
child’s parents or legal custodians?
New technologies will
continue to shift the balance
of labor between people and
machines in ways that will
change our skills, strengthening
some and atrophying others.
the increased burdens taken
on by machines may come at a cost,
in terms of human skills, that is
not so easy to see or understand.
how do we examine and judge
what is the best balance? human
factors engineers sought to answer
this question for the workplace,
but what about social systems or
households, for example? how does
one analyze the relationship between
loss of engagement in one area and
the opening up of opportunities
elsewhere if the activities involved
have to do with play rather than
work, expressiveness rather than
calculation, desire rather than labor?
Digital footprints are
expanding in ways that we
understand and are visible
but also in ways that we don’t
comprehend or see.
as an example, we place tagged
photos of ourselves on photo-sharing
sites only to find images of ourselves
already there. Should we have the
right to remove such pictures?
What about other kinds of stored
information about ourselves? Do we
want to have a copyright on our own
digital footprints? if this applies to
the digital world, what does it imply
for the physical world?