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Nathan Balasubramanian's Response to Assignment 8

Read Buxton, W. (2001) "Less is More (More or Less)." In P. J. Denning (Ed.), The Invisible Future — the seamless integration of technology in everyday life, McGraw-Hill, New York, pp. 145-179. available at:

Briefly discuss the following issues (articulate the answers in your own words) :

1.1 What did you find interesting about the article?

• Buxton’s argument that our social and behavioral, not technological, issues are the ones that are slowing down the progress of human kind

• Using the 6Ws (Who, What, Where, When, Why, & hoW) to articulate the importance of ability, usability, and intentionality in a human-centric world

• The truism of Kahn’s quote that thoughts differ from one room to another

1.2. What did you find not interesting about the article?

Nothing uninteresting.

2. what do you consider the main message of the article?

Successful design applications, like the Symbol Technologies’ ubiquitous Barcode Readers, although transparent, satisfy legitimate human wants and needs. Growing opportunities exist for “renaissance teams” to develop their expertise and insights to solve human/application centered problems.

3. Please comment on the following claim: “Despite the increasing reliance on technology in our society, in my view, the key to designing a different future is to focus less on technology and engineering, and far more on the humanities and the design arts.”

3.1. agree / disagree?

I disagree because an overwhelming majority of our population already downplays (or is afraid of) technology and engineering while glorifying the importance of art, for instance Americans for the Arts.

3.2. which are the personal consequences which you draw from this statement?

Binaries such as technology or the humanities, engineering or the design arts, only polarize society further and such discussions often become counterproductive to effective citizenship.

3.3. are the educational programs you are involved addressing this claim?

Not really.

4. Please comment on the following claim: “Given the much discussed constraints on human ability, how can we expect an individual to maintain the requisite specialist knowledge in their technological discipline, while at the same time have the needed competence in industrial design, sociology, anthropology, psychology, etc., which this essay implies are required to do one’s job?”

4.1. agree / disagree?

I agree that there is a need to pull our strengths and skill sets from the different disciplines to benefit human kind. Creating mediocre generalists or short-sighted specialists is not an option – as Buxton recommends, “Renaissance teams” are viable and necessary.

4.2. which are the personal consequences which you draw from this statement?

Despite Buxton’s observation that we won’t have many Renaissance men like Herb Simon, some fundamental guiding principles can help. Even as we seek utility, simplicity, and coherence in our creations, it would help to embrace Rogerian humane principles of genuineness, care, and empathy to bring out the best in all.

4.3. are the educational programs you are involved addressing this claim?


5. Do you feel that the “Design, Learning, and Collaboration” course addresses these two claims?

Yes, I think a deliberate attempt is being made to address these claims.

Nathan Balasubramanian

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