The Future of the Mouse – An Interview with a Second Life Banker

In the beginning, the intersection of brilliant, pranksterish academia and the military gave rise to gaming. Later, the widespread adoption of computing and gaming demanded a system of usability standards. Thus, the mouse was adopted.

Finally, after a long hiatus, the era of a trackpad or surface-bound mouse may be trumped by a Wii-like distance mouse. This means that mouse-inventor Doug Englebart’s vision may be closer than previously thought.

Or does it?

I asked a number of people about where the felt the mouse would go in the future. The most interesting response I received was from a guy I met last month at Reed College in Portland, Oregon (Steve Jobs semi-alma-mater). The guy did security for Second Life’s online banking systems.

He said that the computer screen will evolve to be closer and closer to the eyes, in the form of glasses. The user will be able to track and move objects on the screen through the use of rings on his hand. Also, image recognition will allow better photo tagging in real time. Viewed objects will have associated tags used to help the user. The digital will blend more and more seamlessly with the real.

However, computing has flirted briefly with near and far control tactics. The Wii-like controller path will usher in an era of larger screens with more movement from the user, but glasses could allow that as well. What do you think?

Carnegie Mellon Grad Student Rediscovers 3D Mouse

A usability rediscovery recently brought back into the market by a grad student in Human Computer Interaction from Carnegie Mellon.

Using Tweetvolume vs. Addictomatic

Twitterers may enjoy Tweetvolume for it’s ability to graphically display the search volumes of up to five terms at once.

While this is an interesting concept, it does not show when and where the posts were created. Neither does it provide data on what users have posted what.

My vote still goes to Addictomatic, because of the sheer volume and choice of search results.

When I type in ‘Anthropology’, I get results from 16+ sites, including Twitter (where, who, when), Youtube, Flickr, Technorati, Google Blog Search, Delicious Tags, News, ect.

Conclusion: Tweetvolume is useful for volume comparison of terms in one space, while Addictomatic is more encompassing. However, neither provide dates of data, and thus do not provide “to the second” updates useful for creating a catchy targeted post. And, since they both do really different things, I may be comparing apples and oranges.

Another Harbinger of Facebook’s Coming Demise

Youtube Facebook video parody of “we didn’t start the fire” with
“I’m Getting bored of Facebook” hit Youtube two months ago.
Now it’s snapped up approx. 4 million hits.

The SEO community moved on from Facebook to Twitter, Linkedin, and others for a long time now. Now the mass will move somewhere else as well. It could be Twitter, but it may be something newer than that.

Is it legal for one site’s user contents to migrate to another site by the press of a button? Could Facebook users simply export their photos and settings into a new, cleaner Facebook-like database?

My law textbook on Internet Commerce does not have the answer, but I am sure that this event will quickly appear on the digital legal landscape.

Notes on the Synthesis of Form

Notes on the Synthesis of Form. Christopher Alexander. Really widely applicable philosophy. Every architecture student is taught this, but hey are taught that it is very difficult to put these concepts into play, because it contradicts the institutional structures of architecture, because architects plan places beforehand in a very modular way.

Pattern Language

Christopher Alexander, an architect and author, coined the term pattern language. He used it to refer to common problems of civil and architectural design, from how cities should be laid out to where windows should be placed in a room. The idea was initially popularized in his book A Pattern Language.

Alexander’s book The Timeless Way of Building describes what he means by pattern language and how it applies to the design and construction of buildings and towns. However, the system has been used in many fields of design, from designing computer programs to designing a classroom curriculum.

The Oregon Experiment – his third book.

What is Cyborg Anthropology?

A cyborg (shorthand for “cybernetic organism”) is a symbiotic fusion of human and machine.

Humans have always developed technologies to help them survive and thrive, but in recent decades the rapid escalation and intensification of the human-technology interface have exceeded anything heretofore known. From satellite communications to genetic engineering, high technologies have penetrated and permeated the human and natural realms.

Indeed, so profoundly are humans altering their biological and physical landscapes that some have openly suggested that the proper object of anthropological study should be cyborgs rather than humans, for, as Donna Haraway says, we are all cyborgs now” (The Cyborg Handbook, by Cris Hables Grey).

Definition, from Powerset, a Wikipedia compendium, on Biogenetic Structuralism.

A cyborg, short for “cybernetic organism,” is a being that is part cybernetic machine and part organism, a term coined by two NASA scientists, Manfred Clynes and Nathan Kline (1960, reprinted in Gray 1995).
These men suggested some of the advantages for space exploration of altering the human body with machines.

The group’s analysis of the cyborg is grounded in the findings of modern neuroscience. The perspective is grounded upon the presumption that human consciousness and culture are functions of the human nervous system. In other words, consciousness is as much the function of the brain as digestion is the function of the stomach and grasping the function of the hand.

Their reasoning and research led ultimately to a four stage account of the evolution of the cyborg — a natural, but special case of the evolution of technology as a whole. The group hypothesizes that the emergence of the cyborg is following these stages:

  • Stage I: Replacement or augmentation of the human skeleton. Examples: wooden leg, hook for lost hand, armor, false teeth, etc. This has been going on for centuries.
  • Stage II: Replacement or augmentation of muscle. Examples: mechanical hand for lost hand, other prosthetic devices, mechanical heart valve, replacement of lens in eye, etc. Began to emerge in the mid-20th century.
  • Stage III: Replacement or augmentation of parts of the peripheral nervous system, autonomic nervous system and the neuroendocrine system. Examples: bionic arms and legs, pacemakers, automatic biochemical pumps, etc. Emerging in the later 20th century.
  • Stage IV: Replacement or augmentation of parts of the central nervous system. Examples: video “eyes” for blind, Air Force cyborg fighter plane control, etc. Rudimentary steps in the later 20th century.

Quality Management, Information Prediction, and Pre-Optimized Resource Networks

One of the problems of this information-chocked world is that answer-seeking becomes too quick to be well-refined. Artificial Intelligence pioneer Herbert Simon explains this problem very well with his term “Satisfice”.

Satisfice: a hybrid word formed from satisfy and suffice, referring to the tendency of time-starved, information-overloaded users to select the first good-enough solution that crosses their path. Users often use satsificing as a triage strategy, based on the time and effort a more comprehensive search might entail.

How does one avoid making mediocre choices due to last-minute information needs? The solution is to predict what future information will be needed, and then create networks of experts based on those future needs.

Where to start?

  • A good place is Answers (when people you don’t know answer your questions well, add them to your network).
  • Facebook notes (tag friends in a note and ask for experts, blog reccommendations, and books).

In this way, your network researches for you en masse, and you can simply wait for the information to return. In the future, your network may rely on you for your specific expertise in order to avoid their own Satisfice on the subject.

Definition of Satisfice taken from Bob Goodman’s Usability Glossary.