Digital Tech and Our Lives: Portigal Consulting’s Omni Project

Portigal Consulting has published a 15-part (and counting) blog series related to an in-house initiative on digital technology called the Omni Project.

Related posts:

The project is split up into five themes:

  1. Personal Exposure: ”how technology is impacting our identities and behavior”.
  2. Relational Connections: “[the] role of technology as a facilitator, participant, and obstacle.”
  3. Transformation: ”[the] role of technology in our everyday lives, both in terms of what is changing (us) and how”
  4. Biological ”[the] blurring boundaries between technology and our everyday lives (and bodies)”
  5. Wonderland

Some highlights from the series also include an interview with Near Future Lab’s Julian Bleeker:

What I hope for design fiction is that it could do the same thing and its outcomes or products would be accepted as, at worse — things around which conversations can be had that may lead to new near future worlds that are hopefully more habitable. At best, that same suspension of disbelief makes it possible to have a design fiction speculation accepted as imminently possible. That means that the guy in the room who has the check book and the decision making power can say about some curious idea or a disruptive thing that isn’t just another uninspired, middling “innovative” device – yes..that’s what we should do.

Also worth reading is their interview with technologist (and Lift Conference curator) Nicholas Nova:

The population is not equal. People who grew up with these technologies will be less stressed out by the vague micro-decisions we have to consider, simply because they have lived with this new norm. …. Also see Steven Johnson’s book Everything Bad is Good for You. Overall, I see a set of tradeoffs:

  • A huge and diverse quantity of material that can be useful or interesting for anyone curious. I grew up in the countryside and it was a pain in the ass to get access to “long-tail” music/books/fanzines/etc. The web is a formidable source of difference for people intrigued by others’ cultures and who want to learn.
  • However, this huge quantity of material makes us run like headless chickens, taking a quick bite from lots of sources of information but we may lose our ability to sit still and think deeply about a certain topic.
  • At the psychological level, the capacity to cope with large amount of information, integrate multiple factors and make decisions. Yet we also suffer from decision fatigue (e.g., bombarded by requests, information and data).
  • Privacy is shifting and we are more and more obliged to share personal information with others.
  • An urge to be reachable (and aware of current trends) 24/7 which is tiresome too.

They also speak to ‘A History of the Future in 100 Objects’ author Adrian Hon.

[EDIT: there are more interviews in the pipeline next year, and the project itself is only in its early stages. Thanks Steve for clearing this up.]

Vicky Teinaki

An England-based Kiwi, Vicky is doing a PhD at Northumbria University into how designers can better talk about touch and products. When not researching or keeping Johnny Holland running, she does the odd bit of web development, pretends her TV licence money goes only to Steven Moffatt shows, and tweets prolifically about all of the above as @vickytnz.

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