Thursday, June 05, 2008

Gartner: Seven Grand Challenges for IT

Gartner has formulated seven Grand Challenges for the development of IT in the next five to twenty years. These kind of studies are always interesting and gives you a possibility to compare with your own reflections about the always present future. It is intersting the the seven challenges are mostly based on well defined technical problems, such as, recharging batteries, persistent and reliable storage, speech translation. Some of them are based on a hope of better production effeciency, such as incresing programmers productivity.

There is one Challenge that relates to interaction and that is "Non Tactile, Natural Computing Interfaces". The idea is that we really need to get away from any "mechanical interfaces". Interesting since so much in interaction research today is about making the experience with computers more physical and tangible. Personally I think we will enter the age when interaction becomes more physical and embodied in artifacts.

Anyhow, amybe the most interesting observation is that the challenges are almost all about ways of doing things, but they have no relation to the purpose, or maybe the purpose is "obvious". Reading the list with the question "why do we need this" is an interesting experiment. Do it, and you will notice that there some deep underlying assumptions about what kind of usage of IT we "need" or "desire" in the future.


Phoebe Sengers said...

Please tell us what you think those assumptions are!

Erik Stolterman said...

Hi Phoebe,

Thanks for givning me extra and difficult work :-)

Well, to me the most obvious observation is that the challenges are "more of the same". Almost all challenges are focused on how to make the present use and production of IT faster and more efficient which is all good and well, but does not feel like grand challenges to me, kind of boring, and will not really intrigue people to go into research to do good in the world. Hmm, now I have to come up with some better ones :-) maybe things like new forms of interaction that supports peoples well-being both for mind and body...hmm, not easy.. help me!!!

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