2009 IA Summit Presentation: Are Human Beings Becoming Dumb Terminals?

An Atlantic Monthly article posed a provocative question and set off debates across our electronic spheres: “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” However, the article didn’t engage whether or how specific interactions and interfaces may contribute to increased intellectual acumen, or lull us into somnambulistic stupor. This presentation will examine that question at the interface level, in an attempt to discover how seemingly routine interaction design decisions made in the name of ease of use may be inadvertently shaping human consciousness, as with our laptops, into becoming “dumb terminals,” with more and more thinking processes “outsourced” to The Cloud. This discussion will also be strongly informed by the framework presented in Jonathan Zittrain’s new book, “The Future of the Internet—And How to Stop It,” comparing prescriptive use interfaces associated with “tethered appliances” with those considered more “generative” technology.

Notes (not too extensive) and Works Cited from my talk at the 2009 IA Summit in Memphis, titled “Are Human Beings Becoming Dumb Terminals? Implications for Deep Structure Interfaces.”

(Boxes and Arrows podcast is unfortunately unavailable for Day 3 Morning Sessions due to technical difficulties)