JOSS: A Designer’s View of an Experimental On-line Computing System

Posted in 1960s, Hardware, History, Visionary on March 31st, 2014 by Dan – Be the first to comment

J.C. Shaw, “JOSS: A Designer’s View of an Experimental On-line Computing System,” (1964)

The choice of a character set and key positions for any on-line keyboard input device isn’t to be taken lightly, especially if one hopes to encourage senior technical people to use the keyboard in the direct solution of their problems. It is customary for these people to pay others to drive teletypewriters, keypunches, and even typewriters.

Portable Cathedrals

Posted in 2010s, Articles, Hardware, Mobile on March 18th, 2012 by Dan – Be the first to comment

Dan Hill, Portable Cathedrals, 2011

Each mobile phone handset is not a mere product, perhaps like the other products that have traditionally adorned the pages of this magazine—as a chair is, or a lighting fixture is. Instead, each handset is a play in a wider global contest, a node in logistics networks of immense scale and complexity, a platform for an ecosystem of applications, an exemplar of the internet of things, a window onto the daily interactions of billions of users, of their ever-changing personalities and cultures, a product that consumers traditionally consider the most important in their possession, after the keys to their home.

The phone is an intimate device, not simply through its ubiquity and connectivity, its relationship with the body. While objects have long been cultural choices and symbolic goods, the mobile phone, being the most personal connection to the internet, is a device for generating symbolic goods, a vehicle for culture, a proxy for the owner’s identities. It is vast business and cultural phenomenon, all at once.

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men

Posted in 2000s, Articles, Hardware, History on February 14th, 2011 by Dan – Be the first to comment

Paul Atkinson, “The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men: The Computer Mouse in the History of Computing” (pdf) (2007)

The history of the mouse raises a number of interesting questions: Why did it take so long to become a mass-produced item? How did people react to the introduction of the mouse? What did the mouse represent, and what does it represent today? How and why did it become the single most accepted interface technology?

There is no denying that the computer mouse is a phenomenally successful product in its own right – a success which can be measured by how ‘natural’ a product it has become as an everyday object. So familiar, that it disappears from our observational and analytical ‘radars’ to become an object people do not stop to consider. Yet, despite this success, few people are aware of its full history, of the way in which it was first conceived and then appropriated by the computer industry, or of the ways in which it has been used, intentionally and unintentionally, to shape our social and technological worlds.