Bing’s Putting the Human Touch Back in TechnologyBy: Drew Bowling - May 8, 2012
Here’s a problem that’s totally born of our modern age: at work I use Macs and at home I use a Windows-powered laptop. Every single day when I go home, I have to re-adjust my motions on the scroll pad of my laptop because it is inverse to the way you scroll with a Mac mouse. I do it literally every single day. A couple of times I thought the computer was frozen because I was doing the Mac directional scroll on the laptop’s touchpad and nothing was moving (because I was already at the top of the screen). It’s hardly a problem to write home about, to say nothing about writing about it in this blanks space, but it’s a minor vexation nonetheless that exemplifies one pervasive detail in technology: no two things work the same way.
Whether it’s programming the clock on your DVD player or trying to figure out the keyboard commands between Photoshop and GIMP, it’s surprising that the variance in technology commands haven’t imparted some pandemic of digital dyslexia among the developed world. In the pursuit to be original, the accessibility of electronic devices seems to diminish in importance.
Bing Director Stefan Weitz shared a lament over on Bing’s official blog today about this tragic condition of technology and how, as he says, devices are usually built with a technology-first slant. Instead, he proposes, every computer, remote, gadget, etc. should be designed with people as the foremost consideration.
To address this issue, Bing’s announced that its developing a “Humanizing Technology” series wherein the Bing team has invited some science and technology luminaries like Neil deGrasse Tyson, Peter Diamandis, and Jane McGonigal to return technology into a more “human-centric” field.
Perhaps more challenging but also more revolutionary, Weitz added that Bing will be hosting a Virtual Expo that will feature “companies, academics, and technologies that are building things to align with psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs. For those to whom Psychology 101 is but a dusty memory, Maslow proposed a structure of needs that, as each of them are met, will eventually elevate a person into a state where their full potential is realized, i.e., or self-actualization.
What drastic and strangely fascinating developments could Bing produce when designing new technology from the perspective of humanistic psychology? I have no clue, but Bing will educate all of us at what Weitz is calling a “humanities fair” this summer in New York City.
Truly, it sounds almost like Bing is taking a TED-like approach to advanced technology by simplifying it and making it more applicable and accessible by more people. What do you think? Is technology development really too focused on being unique and not putting a person’s accessibility first? Do you like the lack of uniformity across devices? Let’s hear what you have to say about it.