32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Technology or people?,
This review is from: In the Bubble: Designing in a Complex World (Hardcover)
In the Bubble
This is a very intelligent book written by a remarkable designer who is fascinated by the impact of technology on our lives. The author is neither a technophobe, nor a technophile. Techno wise would be a better description. The title of the book comes from an expression used by air traffic controllers when there are in the flow and in control of all the surrounding instruments.
Throughout the 10 chapters which cover as many aspects of, or approaches to technology, John Thackara shows a constant capacity to think "out of the box" about our complex artefacts and technical prosthesis. He never looses sight of what should be the centre of progress, namely the user.
His concern is clearly expressed in every angle from which he develops his observation. Using both the microscope and the macroscope, under criteria such as lightness, conviviality, smartness or flow, he maintains the interest of the reader through a fascinating journey of increased awareness into our everyday experiences.
If all designers and producers where able to listen to people as he does, we would indeed feel the full benefits of a more humane technology. It is not surprising that "Doors of Perception" where John gets people to share many intuitions reflected in the book, is a yearly conference held at the crossroad of different cultures.
This book is an absolute must for all of us who are deeply frustrated by an ever more complex world which so often fails to bring this feeling of being "in the Bubble" and yet who cannot put our fingers on how to change it for the better.
Perhaps the most important lesson learned is that most of those frustrations are not so much caused by the perversity of our fellow citizen, experts and leaders, than by initial flaws in the design of those systems and processes which we accept as normal and unavoidable.
The good news of this very positive book is that, if we put ourselves in trouble by bad design, the damage can be easily repaired by better design. This is of course a lot easier than to expect people to abandon their legitimate desire to obtain maximum benefits from our social tools.
This is the most challenging, thought-provoking and convincing of all the recent publications and "best sellers" about our technological civilization that this reviewer has read.