Human scale technology

Mushroom cloud from a hydrogren bomb
Inexplicably complex password reset form
Punchcard used by the Nazis for the 1933 census
“Software is eating the world”
Saturn Devouring His Son, Francisco Goya
Design for Real Life
Calm Technology
Toward Humane Tech
Can Technology Be Humane?
“There are ingenious devices for unimportant functions, stressful mazes for essential functions, and drastic dislocation when anything goes wrong, which happens with increasing frequency.” — Paul Goodman
Small is Beautiful
The Real World of Technology
Current problems
Products don’t address major shortcomings
Invasive tracking
Things you thought were yours disappear without warning
Things that you don’t want appear without warning
Google search: “how do i get u2”…off my phone
Services disappear completely
What’s going on here?
Technology is an amplifier
Impact beyond human scale
Impact without human correction
“Edge cases”
How do we make something different?
(Technology as if all people mattered)
Human scale
Small is simpler
Small is accessible
Small is cheap
This is a chord. This is another. This is a third. Now form a band.
The Ramones
Bad Brains
The Teen Idles, Dischord Records no. 1
Crowd at a DC hardcore show, 1979
“Punk feminism rules okay” — Bikini Kill
Community Memory, the first public computerized bulletin board system
Computer Lib, Ted Nelson
Computer Lib, detail
“Home taping is killing record industry profits! We left this side blank so you can help.” — Dead Kennedys
Mark Zuckerberg with a roomful of people wearing VR headsets
Found on the circuit board of a guitar pedal: “May the music passing through this device somehow help to bring just a little more peace to this troubled world.”



Code, design, infovis, music. Current: Netflix. Past: NASA/JPL, OFA 2012, Figure 53, IBM Research. All rights reserved, all wrongs reversed. He/him.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store