Posts Tagged ‘mit’

Breaking Through the High-Tech Bubble

October 2, 2009

bubblesThe joke about charities is that their mission is to put themselves out of business. It can be said, then, that the mission of computer manufacturers is to make their product invisible.

As I mentioned last week, students in my program are required to deliver weekly micro-presentations on a technology or interactive media topic not yet covered in their studies. New products or prototypes are popular subjects. What makes many of these items captivating is the degree to which they push the computer to the background.

They mimic traditional platforms:

  • Flyp Media presents multimedia content in magazine-style Flash movies.
  • BumpTop seeks to make the computer desktop more like its real-life counterpart.
  • Google’s Fast Flip lets readers browse content more like they do in print.

Or they reduce or eliminate the presence of a tangible user interface:

  • The NeatDesk scanner automatically extracts data from business cards, receipts and other documents.
  • Argentina-based BCK’s wireless-enabled rings allow callers to start and end conversations using hand gestures.
  • MIT Media Lab’s Sixth Sense transforms any surface into a Web interface.

We have a saying here on campus about breaking through the Elon bubble. In an active, self-contained community like a university, it’s easy to become insulated from the larger outside world. One must constantly work to break through the bubble.

The technology community isn’t any different. Those who live and breathe on the cutting edge are liable to shut out traditional approaches. Developing products like those mentioned above, however, requires a healthy understanding of old media as well as new media, the real world as well as the virtual world.

Be cognizant of this bubble. And act to break through it.

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