Leonardo’s Laptop

[via Brij Singh] Leonardo’s Laptop by Ben Shneiderman seems a fascinating book. From the introduction:

Ben Shneiderman’s book dramatically raises computer users’ expectations of what they should get from technology…He proposes Leonardo da Vinci as an inspirational muse for the “new computing.” He raises the intriguing question of how Leonardo would use a laptop and what applications he would create.

Shneiderman shifts the focus from what computers can do to what users can do. A key transformation is to what he calls “universal usability,” enabling participation by young and old, novice and expert, able and disabled…Shneiderman proposes new computing applications in education, medicine, business, and government.

I haven’t yet got the book, but will do so soon. I followed a link from the site to an interview with Shneiderman on Ubiquity (done about a year ago). Some excerpts:

The intellectual heart of the book is a new understanding of human needs defined by the relationships people have and the activities they carry out. Instead of trying to apply the latest new technology, we start by asking what is it that people want to do in their lives? This theory starts by recognizing that there are some things you do on your own. There are other things you do with family and friends, others with neighbors and colleagues, and yet others with citizens and markets. So the first understanding is how we would change applications that are built for personal use into ones that are for a small group of intimate trusted friends and neighbors, people who you have a shared knowledge with, who you will see again, and who wouldn’t harm you. Things like security are less important for that community. As you go out to larger circles, the neighbors and colleagues, and citizens and markets, issues of security and shared understandings become ever more important. The second dimension of this theory is human activities.

I separate the activities into four groups. The first is collecting information — the information superhighway concept. Next is forming relationships with people through communications media — e-mail and instant messaging and so on. The third category is making innovations — the creative works that you do, whether in science or art or commerce. The last category is disseminating. We need better tools for disseminating or donating to others in order to bring the results of our innovation to a wider range of appropriate people.

The book could be a good source of ideas for our Emergic vision.

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.