Posted by: chrissypurcell | May 9, 2013

Futurists: Predictive Ethnographers of Human Computer Interaction

Today, Kara, Kelly, Ellen and I were lucky enough to attend Integrate to Innovate, the 2013 Portland Communicators Conference. The all-day conference featured a number of accomplished speakers exploring timely subjects, including Brian David Johnson, Futurist at Intel.

So, what is a Futurist? In Johnson’s world, a Futurist is essentially an ethnographer who explores how people will interact with technology 20 years from now. Johnson’s vision of the future is remarkably similar to what we see today – he showed a photo of a college student sitting in her cluttered dorm room using a variety of personal computing devices all at once – except that he predicts a shift in the location of computing power itself. In the future, computer chips will be so minute in size that computational power will be housed in our environment, not necessarily in our devices. The computing power of the future may be found in the walls of the buildings around us, or even in our own clothing and accessories. Which brings up an interesting question: how will that shape our communications?

We are already experiencing a rapidly changing mediated landscape with the advent of virtual worlds, social media, and mobile technologies. Johnson reminds us that as communicators, we are uniquely positioned to draw from ethnography, technology, design, and many other disciplines, to help understand and shape the future of communications – whatever it might look like!

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