Relationships and Interactions of Humanity and Technology

So recently, I’ve kind of been observing and mulling over those examples that really succeed in creating a technology that is derived and rooted in what I’m going to call “humanism.” Or really, this idea of understanding that the potential for a future in the evolution of technology lies in creating a technology that attends to human nature and instinct. Up to this point, largely, we have created technology to satisfy the use of technology. A means to an end, and exclusively that(most often). By this, for example, I mean that..we created CRT(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cathode_ray_tube) TVs because that was the only way we knew how to create a device that would achieve the need to get moving images into the American home. In this example, said need was achieved..but was still largely an inherently static entity for years, especially in regards to its relationship with the user.

Theoretically the power of technology is only going to grow, the question is how is that power utilized in ways that not only makes said power accessible, but applies itself to the human aspect of its being used? How does art play into technology to achieve this? Design?

For instance, why is there now probably a wii in probably almost every nursing home in America? What is it about the application of human intuition(infused with cultural exposure, to a good degree, and coupled with similarly cooperative software) to a technology that is now, decades old, that has made this product so successful in this regard? Because of this success, Nintendo saw sales figures that it couldn’t have fathomed years before, and couldn’t keep consoles on the shelves for more than a year after launch. So what have we learned from this industrial and interaction designers? Should you really want to make John Q. Shareholder a very happy man—integrate humanism into technology. And do it well.

In a similar vein, I think there’s an incredible potential for what’s now sort of an latent emotion in technology. This applies because of that emotion’s inherent ability to pull it’s origins out of humanity. (By this, I mean that an emotional reaction to something is rooted in the universal human psychology..but is something that is by no means universally applicable inside of the examples given.) As an example, luxury vehicle advertising campaigns have, for years, been trying to paint their respective brands as not merely methods of transportation from point “A” to point “B,” but as these entities that are almost alive in their ability to exhilarate, for whatever reason. This is emotion through technology. We as humans are not strangers to emotion. As something so deeply engrained into the fiber of our living, we know emotion when we see it..and when technology can harness this we take note. Why? Because we typically associate a culture of technology as something absent, typically, of emotion. When we find emotion in what we thought to have perceived as emotionally vapid, we perk up. This is why we “need” to buy said luxury car brand, when theoretically, any car that runs will get us where we need to be. This pays. Think of that one person, maybe, that you know who really loves their car. Almost to a point where there’s a sort of relationship with this inanimate object. Is that not emotion? Attachment, at the very least, but in either case, ask any car enthusiast why they love what they love, and the emotion invested into this sort of relationship becomes apparent. Even if its a 1969 Dodge Challenger, it’s “That hemi that gets me going..those 450 horses,” etc.

Albeit another gaming example, a good representation of this is Bethesda’s Fallout 3. I use this as an example because of the sheer attention Bethesda has put into creating what is, essentially, an immersive and interactive humanism. By painting such a dense and self-supporting picture of a post-nuclear holocaust Washington DC, that is so convincing, so believably bleak and hopeless, Bethesda creates for the viewer an incredibly dense platform from which, one’s imagination is free to jump.

As an example, even the teaser during pre-order season reflected this:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxSdbSNckTQ

For example, (on a strictly personal level) I think that there’s almost something to be said for the creation of questions that go along with just playing through the game like: What is war? Where are we as a country right now? As a society? What do we value? What if those things were taken from us? How would we start over? How does human morality change under such a dramatically altered environment?(This is SO realistically frequent as a motif throughout..) How would we struggle to survive? Where do our priorities and even loyalties really lie, and how would we really act given such a situation? Would I really be the person that I think I am? What is human life? What is inhuman life-and how do we still have the potential for the elevation of ourselves over others that we dub “inhuman?” Even, “How did I get here, and how do I get out?”—By presenting these questions as given situations, with potentially heavy consequences, we as players are almost forced to evaluate our own condition, and apply through the eyes of the Lone Wanderer. For me, there’s a real emotion that goes along with these, especially when coupled with the sheer level of craftsmanship that is applied in the art direction, environment creation, etc(with some examples below).

fallout3-capitol building
The issue in all of this lies in the subjectivity of probably much of the above. While I think that maybe said examples are effective, (there are others who I know personally,) who would disagree with this. Additionally, I understand that maybe the examples I give are sort of a quantum leap. This being said, the trend I believe, will continue, has no choice but to continue, in this way. Too much money, and too much potential for a human interaction with technology, even if as a sales engine, is at stake.

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~ by crossmd on August 9, 2009.

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