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Keynote: Designing Calm Technology

A talk by Amber Case
Cyborg Anthropologist; Author, Calm Technology

Our world is made of information that competes for our attention. What is needed? What is not? We cannot interact with our everyday life in the same way we interact with a desktop computer.

Technology shouldn’t require all of our attention, just some of it, and only when necessary. Calm technology describes a state of technological maturity where a user’s primary task is not computing, but being human. The idea behind Calm Technology is to have smarter people, not things.

The terms calm computing and calm technology were coined in 1995 by PARC Researchers Mark Weiser and John Seely Brown in reaction to the increasing complexities that information technologies were creating. The aim of Calm Technology is to provide principles that follow the human lifestyle and environment in mind, allowing technology to amplify humanness instead of taking it away.

The difference between an annoying technology and one that is helpful is how it engages our attention. Calm Technology is a framework for designing ubiquitous devices that engage our attention in an appropriate manner.

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