Is it possible that computers like when we care for them?

September 23rd, 2015, 12pm

I’m snacking on some crunchy pretzel chips and hummus and I’m wondering, what do computers get out of the deal?

Is it possible that computers like when we care for them? That they respond better when we take the time to pay attention to them and clean them up? Should web developers, IT support people, and the rest be taught what gardeners already know—that the care and attention of the gardener is as important as the air and water and dirt?

Computers are the “bicycle for the mind.” Steve Jobs, clairvoyant of the digital realm, Delphic oracle of hardware, told us that. They augment our abilities, the human power of logic and reason and productivity is exponentially amplified when using a computer. This opens our capacity for other ways of thinking while we let the computers run their routine errands.

But in order for this to work there has to be an interface layer. Some way for the computer and human to interact. Doug Englebart, pathfinder of mice and screens, taught us that. Without this layer, the symbiosis between human and computer is flawed and incomplete.

So what makes a successful human-computer symbiosis? The positive effect of the interaction on the state of mind of the human. The human is able to stay in a calm, mindful state of mind, and focus on intentions, overall purpose, and working toward a goal. Not getting caught up in the mundane, mind-numbing tasks that distract from the effectiveness and purpose of what they are doing.

And what does the computer get out of this? The care and attention of a human who tends to its needs and maintains its quality so that it can serve its meaningful purpose. The human cares for the computer. The computer helps the human. A feeling of quality and rest.

The future belongs to those who can create the best symbiosis with their machines.

Meanwhile, I walk down the street to my car, unaided by scooter or bike. I bet I could cut three minutes off my commute if I had the right set of wheels crafted for my use, and pass up the other pedestrians who haven’t seen the light.

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Kevin McGillivray

Stories about creativity, mindfulness, and design (and often tea, too).

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