What does tech do? To find out, turn it off

To find out what a technology, a gadget, or device does, we normally turn it on and hit the buttons. Social technologies are different, because what they do is not in what they do, but in what they help us do… Communication technologies, for example, serve no purpose until they’re part and parcel of our daily routines. Social technologies are technoloiges + social practice. (One reason I think we designers need to move from user interface to social interface, user centric design to practice oriented design.) So to discover what a social technology does, you turn it off. What you can’t do anymore, is what the technology “did.”

A friend of mine was recently banned from using Tribe at work. His tribe is now dying off, and none of us here from him anymore. I used to think that online communities were just a supplement, but not a substitute, for the everday. It’s a bit weird that some of our friendships owe so much to maintainance online, or in some other mediated fashion, that when the mediating technology is taken out we’re surprised by the sudden distance they create…

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