Wednesday, August 23, 2006
"..the possibilities are endless."
In the same issue of Interactions that I mentioned in my last post, one article ends with the words "..the possibilities are endless." The article is written by Lars-Erik Holmquist and is called "Tagging the World". It is an interesting article that once again pushes the idea of a world where the physical and the digital are blended. Holmquist is correct in many of his observations and has good knowledge in the field. However, I do have problems with research that has as its major argument for existence that "..the possibilities are endless." Possibilities have always through history been endless. Humans have through history only explored a fraction of what have been our possibilities. We also know from history that all possibilities are not equal when it comes to how they influence our lives and our planet. Expanding the space of possible futures and especially manifesting some of them are ethical actions. I am certain that we will explore the "tagged world", I am sure it will help us to create desired outcomes, but I am also sure that some of the "possibilities" that a tagged world entails are not to our best and some will be outright dangerous (see the post about "The Traveller" earlier). Research must handle that responsibility in a serious way. The fact that "..the possibilities are endless." is not a sufficient argument for doing research in a specific area. If that would be the case then research is transformed in pure development, in the sense that the future is more or less something we "follow" or just try to unfold. Instead we have to realize that the future does not unfold, the future is not developed, it is designed. And design is about desire and will. There is not desire and will in the notion that "..the possibilities are endless."
Posted by Erik Stolterman at 9:06 PM