calm tech

intro via bg because of Mark Weiser‘s ubiquitous computing (and Steve Jobs wanting Mark with xerox deal, and Mark being called smartest man)..

diving in here via Mark and John Seely Brown:

the coming of age of calm tech (1996)

[oscar wilde quote .. heard via Rutger Bergman.. stronger than a thousand armies is an idea who’s time has come ..perhaps we haven’t yet.. because of coming time.. but also because it’s more than one of these ideas.. ie: people need to be free (free money or no money) and have calm tech. let’s do this firstfree art-istsfor (blank)’s sakea nother way]

Ubiquitous computing will require a new approach to fitting technology to our lives, an approach we call “calm technology”.

rev of everyday life

major trends:

1\ mainframe – many people share a computer

2\ personal computer – each has own [When doing personal computing you are occupied, you are not doing something else….The personal computer is most analogous to the automobile – a special, relatively expensive item, that while it may “take you where you want to go”, requires considerable attention to operate. ]

internet – widespread distributed computing.. transition to..

3\ ubiquitous computing – many computers share each of us [Two harbingers of the coming UC era are found in the imbedded microprocessor, and the Internet. It is easy to find 40 microprocessors in a middle class home in the U.S.A. today…….when computers are all around, so that we want to compute while doing something else and have more time to be more fully human, we must radically rethink the goals, context and technology of the computer and all the other technology crowding into our lives. Calmness is a fundamental challenge for all technological design of the next fifty years. The rest of this paper opens a dialogue about the design of calm technology.

io dance/hosting life bits (blockchain/stack ness: replace server farms – chip energy efficient –dna\nessps in the open (idiosyncratic jargondecision making/B redefined via self-talk as data


Why is one often enraging, the others frequently encalming? We believe the difference is in how they engage our attention. Calm technology engages both the center and the periphery of our attention, and in fact moves back and forth between the two.


It should be clear that what we mean by the periphery is anything but on the fringe or unimportant. What is in the periphery at one moment may in the next moment come to be at the center of our attention and so be crucial.


A calm technology will move easily from the periphery of our attention, to the center, and back. This is fundamentally encalming, for two reasons.

First, by placing things in the periphery we are able to attune to many more things than we could if everything had to be at the center. Things in the periphery are attuned to by the large portion of our brains devoted to peripheral (sensory) processing. Thus the periphery is informing without overburdening.

Second, by recentering something formerly in the periphery we take control of it.


For us the term “affordance” does not reach far enough into the periphery where a design must be attuned to but not attended to.


THREE SIGNS OF CALM TECHNOLOGYTechnologies encalm as they empower our periphery. This happens in two ways. First, as already mentioned, a calming technology may be one that easily moves from center to periphery and back. Second, a technology may enhance our peripheral reach by bringing more details into the periphery. An example is a video conference that, by comparison to a telephone conference, enables us to attune to nuances of body posture and facial expression that would otherwise be inaccessible. This is encalming when the enhanced peripheral reach increases our knowledge and so our ability to act without increasing information overload.

The result of calm technology is to put us at home, in a familiar place. When our periphery is functioning well we are tuned into what is happening around us, and so also to what is going to happen, and what has just happened. This is a key property of information visualization techniques like the cone tree,[14] that are filled with detail yet engage our pre-attentive periphery so we are never surprised. The periphery connects us effortlessly to a myriad of familiar details. This connection to the world we called “locatedness”, and it is the fundamental gift that the periphery gives us.


The inner office window is a metaphor for what is most exciting about the Internet, namely the ability to locate and be located by people passing by on the information highway, while retaining partial control of the context, timing, and use of the information thereby obtained.

and ability to remain in the shadows.. ish


Continuous video from another place is no longer television, and no longer video-conferencing, but more like a window of awareness. ….Multicast shares with videoconferencing and television an increased opportunity to attune to additional details. ….. A properly designed real-time Multicast tool will offer, but not demand. The MBone provides the necessary partial separation for moving between center and periphery that a high bandwidth world alone does not. Less is more, when less bandwidth provides more calmness…. Multicast in our periphery will utterly change our world over the next fifty years.



It seems contradictory to say, in the face of frequent complaints about information overload, that more information could be encalming. It seems almost nonsensical to say that the way to become attuned to more information is to attend to it less.It is these apparently bizarre features that may account for why so few designs properly take into account center and periphery to achieve an increased sense of locatedness. But such designs are crucial as we move into the era of ubiquitous computing. As we learn to design calm technology, we will enrich not only our space of artifacts, but also our opportunities for being with other people. When our world is filled with interconnected, imbedded computers, calm technology will play a central role in a more humanly empowered twenty-first century.


wikipedia small

Calm technology is a type of information technology where the interaction between the technology and its user is designed to occur in the user’s periphery rather than constantly at the center of attention. Information from the technology smoothly shifts to the user’s attention when needed but otherwise stays calmly in the user’s periphery. Mark Weiser and John Seely Brown describe calm technology as “that which informs but doesn’t demand our focus or attention.”

The use of calm technology is paired with ubiquitous computing as a way to minimize the perceptible invasiveness of computers in everyday life.


app chipsimple enough mechshort


via #dwebsummit – amber case – calm tech – @caseorganic