Eccescopy, part 9

How would things look different in an eccescopic world? I’ve been having great conversations about this with some really thoughtful people, and I’ve begun to realize that the difference between a world of computer screens (even the little screens on SmartPhones) and a world where information is truly in the air around you, is at least as large as the difference between, say, books on paper and the Web.

There are at least two distinct reasons for this: First, eccescopic interfaces will allow us to interact with other people directly, without any screens getting in the way. Second, they will allow us to “paint” and otherwise annotate the physical world around us in ways that are visible only to some people and not to others.

Let’s take the first point. Suppose you and I are having a conversation about American history, and a question comes up, such as: “What was the name of Thomas Jefferson’s wife?” In today’s world, there would be a need for at least one of us to break eye contact with the other, type a query onto a computer screen (let’s say a SmartPhone), and then reestablish visual contact with our conversant.

Meanwhile, the other person is probably also visually disengaging — since it is impossible to maintain eye contact with a person who is staring down at a SmartPhone screen.

But if we knew that the entire search transaction — both query and response — were accessible wherever we already happen to be looking, then there would be no need to break eye contact.

Furthermore, such a scenario will encourage wide adoption of ways of entering text into a computer that do not require you to take your eyes away from the person you are talking to. There have indeed been solutions for this, such as the “Twiddler” pocket sized keyboard that Thad Starner uses for his research, but these have not come into general use — because the situations in which they are useful have been socially marginal.

In an eccescopic world, such “eye’s free” methods of entering text might become not only socially acceptable, but socially necessary.

Next time I’ll talk about the other point: annotating the world around us, in ways that are able to appear different to different people.

2 Responses to “Eccescopy, part 9”

  1. Mari says:

    I’m starting to see the future with people waving their hands in the air like mime! And I guess it would become sort of a status symbol, like now people are walking and talking to themselves hands free…

  2. admin says:

    Interesting point! On the other hand, if it’s something normal that everyone does, then nobody will think anything of it, and it probably won’t be a status symbol once everyone is doing it. For example, I suspect there was a time in history when being seen reading a book was a status symbol (when only privileged people in society could read).

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