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The Coming Age of Magic

Mike Kuniavsky, Co-founder and Principal, ThingM

Date: Wednesday, March 28
Time: 8:50am - 9:35am
Location: Douglas BC

The desktop metaphor is dead. Increasingly, as computers become embedded in everyday objects, those objects exhibit behaviors that we do not, and cannot, fully control, based on layers of difficult technologies. Interaction design is significantly trailing the capabilities of the technology because of how difficult it is to explain what all this new stuff does. One side treats everything like a laptop, even if it's a phone. Another is obsessed with making simulations of people. Increasingly, however, the devices in our lives fall in between.

How can we explain new technologies in a useful way when how they actually work is highly complex and interrelated?

The desktop metaphor was useful for twenty years as a way to structure and explain information-processing technology. I propose "magic" as a metaphor for structuring interactions with embedded information processing technology. It is behavioral, embedded, widespread, and it's easy to explain it as a metaphor (i.e., that it's not true, but a useful model). The manuals for magical items have been written for hundreds of years, now it's possible to make the objects themselves.