Interview with Bill Tomlinson

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Video transcript: "There are a variety of different areas of computing research that have together been looking at aspects of ways to not have quite so much computation of technology in the world around us. Self-obviating systems is one possible approach, this is one that my own research group has been looking at - the notion of building systems that intentionally extract themselves over the course of their use.

There's an interesting paper by Eric Baumer and Six Silberman called "When the Implication is not to Design." The idea that there might be some contexts where, when you learn about the system, what you realize is that there should not be a technological intervention, let's not add more technology to this, that isn't the right way to solve the problem. There's also the field of undesign which is looking at, if you already have a lot of computational systems in place, should you extract some of those systems, is there a way to reduce the number of computational systems or the complexity of the computational systems that you're interacting with.

This is also embedded in a broader context of a variety of other concepts like the negawatt. This was a concept coined by Amory Lovins, looking at the amount of energy that is saved by a certain activity. Rather than just measuring things in terms of watts, you might measure something in terms of negawatts that this innovation reduces the amount of energy needed. Often human civilizations and humans individually look at how to add things to a system, how to make things more complex, how to engage in progress. However, there are a lot of different of these efforts that are together working at ways to simplify, or extract complexity, or reduce the complexity of the systems that we're embedded in. And these kinds of things maybe an important countervailing force to push back against the progress and growth-minded mindset that is so prevalent to the industrial civilization right now."

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Related tags: Production, Sustainability, Human Computer Interaction, Design, Systems,