3 August 2006

The dashboard as metaphor for the next wave in technological culture

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Linda Stone
Linda Stone, former Microsoft and Apple researcher and world-renowned specialist in understanding and quantifying human productivity, stated recently at the Collaborative Technologies Conference in Boston, that continuous partial attention characterises the way most of us react to the world most of the time.

It involves constantly scanning multiple sources of information (e-mail, instant messages, RSS feeds, TV, podcasts) paying partial attention to each. That’s different from old-school multitasking — talking on the phone while stirring a pot of soup, for example — which involves doing multiple nonintellectual tasks at the same time.

According to Stone, the focus for the next technocultural wave (from 2005 to 2025) will be on simplified, trusted communications. We’ll be looking for tools that help us sort through the chaos of overconnectedness and replace it with “meaningful” connectedness: Instead of tracking 3,000 online friends, we’ll deepen our connection with the three or 30 friends who really matter.

If the metaphor for the first generation (from 1965 to 1985) was the PC and for the second generation (from 1985 to 2005) was the Internet, the metaphor for this generation is the “dashboard” — a tool that simplifies multiple sources of information and allows us to focus on what really matters.

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– Blog transcripts of Stone’s presentation: Nancy White (mirror), Annette Kramer, Jeffrey Treem

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