Book: Texture, Human Expression in the Age of Communications Overload

January 19 2011

Here is another bit of Microsoft propaganda from me. This time, it comes from Microsoft Research lab in Cambridge (UK). Richard Harper, who is Principal Researcher in the Socio-Digital Systems (SDS) group, recently published a book titled Texture, Human Expression in the Age of Communications Overload. I haven’t read the book just yet, but knowing his work and the publications from the SDS group, I’m sure it is super relevant and insightful. Here is a snippet from the MIT Press page of the book:

Harper explores the interplay between technological innovation and socially creative ways of exploiting technology, between our delight in using new forms of communication and our vexation at the burdens this places on us, and connects these to what it means to be human—alive, connected, expressive—today. He describes the mistaken assumptions of developers that “more” is always better—that videophones, for example, are better than handhelds—and argues that users prefer simpler technologies that allow them to create social bonds. Communication is not just the exchange of information. There is a texture to our communicative practices, manifest in the different means we choose to communicate (quick or slow, permanent or ephemeral). The goal, Harper says, should not be to make communication more efficient, but to supplement and enrich the expressive vocabulary of human experience.

I had the chance to work with the SDS group in Cambridge last Spring, and I don’t regret one bit of it. It was a very inspiring and stimulating experience. I’ll go ahead and order Richard’s new book right away. Look for a review here soon.

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Available at MIT Press, Amazon US, Amazon UK

January 19 2011

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