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14 Jan 2014
Invisible Tech

The world Her shows us is one where the technology has receded, or one where we’ve let it recede. It’s a world where the pendulum has swung back the other direction, where a new generation of designers and consumers have accepted that technology isn’t an end in itself–that it’s the real world we’re supposed to be connecting to.

Kyle Vanhemert’s Wired Article on user interface design in Her is a look at how our visions of the future might be maturing. We’re starting to question the ubiquitous nature of technology, how our smartphones, tablets and computers have become barriers to our experiencing of the world rather than an enhancement of it.

In Her we see the extrapolation of our current trend to start getting tech out of the way. From laptops to smartphones and smartphones to smartwatches our electronics have come off rather self conscious, a brash American tycoon demanding attention in the center of the room metamorphosing in to a Victorian manservant waiting at the side and anticipating desires.

It’s a shift that a few successful companies are already engaging with. The Kindle was designed in part to become invisible, not in a military-grade-cloak kind of way (which would be a right pain) but in terms of user experience. It’s offering what you’re used to, words in ink, with controls that drop below the radar of conscious thought.

Maybe the future we had was a bit too shiny. The iPads in Star Trek were a massive disappointment because of how very dull they made the future look. Shinier. Whiter. Orange and Teal. But no real paradigm shift, just a slightly more refined version of the future were waiting for in the 80s. I hope Her is the first of many films and games which try to tackle envisioning the future in a more nuanced manner, drawing on some of the fleshed out universes of authors such as Iain M. Banks and Alastair Reynolds.1

That said, maybe the debate has already peaked.


  1. Two authors it would seem I’m destined to mention in every post.


Domo aregardos,
J at 14:00

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