The touch of a button

Photo from an old magazine, circa 1967, with a caption that reads: "Control console for the woman of the house, envisioned in Philco-Ford's House of Tomorrow. The video shopper scans shelves through a camera in the store and the lady selects what she wants by pushbutton. Control console for the man of the house gives his current bank balance. He can also find out weather conditions and receive his news, mail, and stock market reports at the touch of a button."
From ‘1999 House Of Tomorrow

Accounts of the future often attempt to describe our evolving relationship with technology. These stories are told by people, for people, with people as the constant. We stay as we are, while the technologies change around us.

What we can now recognise is that constant, perpetual human behaviours are the greater leap of imagination. Our behaviours change in reaction to, and in spite of, technological evolution. Changes happen chaotically, and unevenly, in ways that are challenging to predict.

In the digital era, some behavioural reactions are overtly negative, like technology addiction and selfie dysphoria. Others are positive, such as the MeToo movement and the democratisation of knowledge. Many more fall into the grey area in-between: behaviours that carry some benefits but also come with some costs.

So ‘digital’ can describe both how things work and what people do. Digitally-enabled human behaviours are unlike those that went before. People behave differently once they have crossed a digital threshold. We reset our ideas of how much time, work or value is attributed to an action, and we behave differently as a result.

Previously, the stimulus for technological advancement had been to allow us to do new things, and the same things more easily. Beyond the digital threshold, the impetus is to keep up with our new expectations.

Today, digital is what we do, not what is done unto us.

This is

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