Successful Technologies are all about Catering to Modern Cyborgs
In 1960, when Nathan S. Kline and Manfred Clynes mooted the idea of the cyborg, not many were amused. The cyborg was ideated as a self-regulating cybernetic organism that was formed by the interaction of the human with the machine – the computer. No wonder, this weird creature was written off as imaginary and far-fetched.
Today, with modern communication technology ruling the roost, cyborgs are no longer an imaginary construct. It’s more real now than ever before! By default, all of us are now transformed into part-biological, part-machine hybrids. Technology and our biological bodies are so interwoven that one does not mean anything without the other.
Pause and think for a moment. Are our biological capabilities just enough to help us make sense of the world we live in? Can we afford to divorce communication technologies from our lives, even for a moment? Perhaps not! Today our lives depend on countless technological products, without which, our humanness would be nothing more than a helpless Chimpanzee perched in the Amazonian wilderness or a wild rabbit strolling in the Himalayan highlands.
Today we are accustomed to a state of augmented reality wherein our sense of reality is mediated and extended by technologies in myriad ways. We live in physical communities as much as we occupy virtual settlements (Facebook). Socialness, for us, is about multiple-citizenship and real-time information sharing. Our mobile phones cling to our bodies and we occupy multiple spaces, cutting across time and space. Amidst this techno-biological jamboree, we remain ensconced inside a technological cage, as cyborgs.
Our experience of cyborgism is primarily guided by a plethora of computer technologies around us. In this sense, all softwares try to address our biological disadvantages and serve as prosthetic systems. We cherish an enhanced synthetic cognition which enables us to experience new forms of sociality.
Our transformation into cyborgs has brought about some remarkable changes that software strategists need to address. As cyborgs, we no longer are so naïve as to embrace any technology that comes our way. We are choosy, and we have been transformed that way. Constant exposure to multiple technologies has converted us into critical consumers, wherein we reject anything that does not conform to our new found social stature. Thousands of applications and products that have failed to impress us over the past two decades only support this rapidly shifting equation.
In this renewed social environment, software interfaces have become the new battleground for all human-computer interaction. All technological products now call for a strong and robust representation on the interface because it is where we make decisions about adopting or rejecting a technology. If the interfaces do not appeal to us we simply navigate elsewhere.
Thus, software development today calls for a renewed strategy where technological understanding is as important as the socio-cultural knowledge of the users. Technologists should now try to delve deep into the users mind and unraveling particular behaviors. They should now think holistically and ask pertinent socio-cultural questions like, “what colour scheme in the interface will appeal to an average Canadian?”, “how will users react when the interface is displayed,” or “how does the users eye navigate in the screen?” Asking such questions does not mean that we are deviating from technology; it signifies our ability to extend the boundaries of technology. After all, what’s the fun of all these software technologies if they are not attuned to their ultimate beneficiaries – the Cyborgs!