8 Insights About The Coming Era Of Interactive Design

This 18-minute documentary talks to some of the brightest in the industry about what’s next.

It’s all moving so quickly. Just yesterday, we were amazed by the miracle of making calls from our cars. Now we’re furious when our 4G cuts out while streaming an HD video on a four-inch touch screen, just because we’re 50 feet underground riding the subway.

Connecting is a short documentary by Bassett & Partners and Microsoft that explores how our lives (and our gadgets) have and will change in a more connected world. It’s 18 minutes long but very worth the time, as it features interviews with designers from Method, Twitter, Arduino, Frog, Stamen, Microsoft, and Nokia. What’s crazy, even with the magic of editing, is that so many of these talented perspectives tend to finish one another’s sentences.

As you watch, you’ll see a general consensus on a few really important points. They’d make a decent poster:

  1. Our phones demand too much attention, detracting from our real experiences.
  2. Analog metaphors are making less sense on digital devices.
  3. We’re waiting for new paradigms in experiencing media like text on screens.
  4. UX is a living, somewhat unpredictable thing. All experiences need to be fluid and flexible now.
  5. You shouldn’t just try to understand a product. You should try to understand its connected network.
  6. An "Internet of things"—countless connected sensors—is coming (and here).
  7. All of our information feeds into something larger than ourselves, a "superorganism" or "colony" of digital information.
  8. The hive mind got so big that greater Internet thought is now manifesting locally (think Egypt’s uprising or Occupy Wall Street).

When you mix all of these ideas into a blender, you definitely spot some dichotomies—how can we pull our attention from our phones when the Internet is a superorganism of all mankind’s thought? Or how can you design a product to be part of a network when networks are living, changing things? Even the smaller concepts are confounding, like if we’re not reading text in ebooks, how should we be reading text?

But that doesn’t make any of the ideas wrong. It just means that they’re going to be very important, and very difficult, to solve.

[Hat tip: The Creators Project]

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  • anorak

    old. boring. full of fluff. less theory and more work examples please. these people take themselves far too seriously.

  • Makethatfive

    Great video and smart people doing predictions about the cool future. However, poverty and misery to the extreme still looks, and have been looking, very much the same, even when sent through Twitter. And it's very much alive, right here on our own American soil, in the midst of all this new tech and education. (This new tech has however spurred an explosion of expensive restaurants that never have a lack of customers.)
    Also, since when is new tech the spark for civil liberties movements in the world? People have demonstrated and come together for ages. But I guess we do get to know about it faster now.
    In our current world, and definitely in the tech savvy Bay Area, the wheel of economy and return on investment are hands down still the biggest priorities.

  • TeslasLovePigeon

    The future looks pretty miserable if you don't have a many friends and/or don't care which trendy coffee shop they are currently having a latte.

  • creatino

    Wonderful. Thank you to the filmmakers, speakers and sponsors. Concise, accurate, visionary and beautifully shot so that the "boring" stuff becomes fun to watch. 

  • Dede Cummings

    It is irresponsible to not focus on global climate change—when the video touched on environmental sustainability, not THAT got my attention! What if all the interaction design in the future focused on carpooling, bicing (as in what the have for bicycle sharing and commuting in Barcelona for example), trains, recycling, solar panels to power the devices built into them, etc. i liked the part in the video about the footprints of your friends and the glow of the block — I imagine a world where sustainable things are happening and not just selfish interactions with your own little digital world...If we were all unified to combat global warming, we could positively effect change before it is too late.

  • Ray Lablanc

    We are becoming an interface to devices. Like this comment. When I will press enter it's not mine anymore. It will be owned by organism called The Internet.

  • Montag

    Well, the revolution in Egypt left those 30% of the population that made it happen, to an extreme Islamic government, elected by 70% of the population which are ignorant. I bring this only as an example that things aren't always so clean and clear. 

  • Colum joyce

    the 70% elected them. Thats the important thing and the govt is less extreme than the one it replaced

  • Inwdc

    Nice video and article. However, privacy always seems to something that is glaringly left out. I always see these kinds of "the power of what technology can achieve" promos which really can be inspirational. Rarely though does the technology deliver the miracles it promises. Instead, it provides a vehicle for companies to collect vast amounts of data from its consumers. Not for nefarious purposes, but certainly not for altruistic purposes either.

  • Penny Christensen

    "You are setting a stage for other people to preform...." @ 5:40 this is a great analogy for any educator watching this video.

  • omaryak

    Part of the challenge for designers in solving the problem of phones demanding too much attention is to make notifications more relevant. Right now there's too much business focus on driving traffic to sites, as opposed to giving people notifications that they actually want to see or could benefit from … geolocation is one possible filter that could be used in more applications. There are others that could tame the flow.

  • Paul Heil

    The future is us, today technology is working against us, separating us. Once we evolve technology to truly connect us and build our relationships then we can say it is perfect. Technology is not the problem though, we are, I am just not sure if we can do what is discussed in this article and video....