Rough notes for Jyri Engeström – Blind Men’s Baseball

Part 2 of three-part track. Last one’s Chris Heathcote’s one.

Why baseball?

Not beer, hotdogs, hat etc.

It takes a long time… Lot of it is pretending to pitch etc. Pitchers are glancing all the time. That’s the aspect that’s interesting to him.

Important social consequences.

1 Spatial

Seeing surrounding space in the present. Focussing, seeing the whole at once while you’re in it yourself. (Reminds me of Japanese martial concept op zanshin.) Concept of thee whole: when you lack it – example of the three blind men and elephant. What if they decided to go play baseball? They’ll only be able to communicate about their position by shouting.

No peripheral vision = navigating in the dark

Link with tech:

Phone: assumption is that you know who you’ll call.

Except: before dialing you make a lot of other choices about timing etc: where are they, what are they doing?

Phones don’t tell you much currently…

“Oy! Where u at?”

IM: state indicators, place indicators, etc. (Plazes plugin).

Cross pollinate mobile with IM interfaces.

Analogy to driving in traffic, constantly paying attention to what other drivers are doing and adjusting.

When info is out there, people will start being more polite.

This is all about spatial aspect, which is about present tense.

Other aspect: time.

Hockey: great players play where the puck will be. Anticipation.

Seeing each other as vectors, spatial and temporal at the same time.

Spaceballs clip.

Organizing life: calendar designed with assumption that only your won calendar matters…

Mobile 2.0 isn’t about multimedia. It’s about social interactions. Better social peripheral vision.

Where will this lead?

Looking to WoW for examples of ways to enhance peripheral vision.

Question: what will this look like in mobile device?

His social science background isn’t always helpful, but it allows him to look at the other side of the coin – those that are left behind.

People who are left out will seem more and more out of it socially.

Example from Abbott and Costello.

Questions Q Why don’t operators innovate more? A He thinks it’ll come from 3rd party devs that get the web. He doesn’t have much confidence in operators. Technically more and more is becoming possible (Python, Flash, WiFi).

Q Other people’s calendars: Intimacy, are we using tools to replace our innate abilities to track things. A Outsourcing mental activity to devices. You forget how to do it yourself. Phone numbers, you can’t remember them anymore. Technological innovations are built as bleeding edge as long tech chains. If stuff breaks they become useless. E.g. Katrina, boxing day tsunami. Electricity goes out, the rest is useless.

Q Examples shown are only for closely tied people. What are applications for larger groups, filtering, etc.? A Absolutely, third aspect missing is past: recommendations, comments on places visited. Flickr is about the past. Web is good at organizing that stuff. That’s why multimedia won’t take off on mobile.

Q On technological replacement: scale of things is increasing. How do you manage that? Reminds him of Wildfire. Programming devices on reach-ability. A Privacy settings will limit our range. It’ll keep increasing (possible range) become more and more ad-hoc. Instead of networking, notworking.

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Kars Alfrink

Kars is a designer active in the area of play, society and technology. Currently, he is principal at Hubbub, a playful design consultancy and a studio for playful products. He lives and works in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

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