We usually think about technology making us smarter, more productive or more social – but not always more compassionate, wiser or happier. The “positive computing” movement, championed by Rafael Calvo andDorian Peters of the University of Sydney, hopes to change all that. Supporters of positive computing make the case that technology should contribute to well-being and human potential. And that’s a message that’s starting to attract interest in places such as MIT, Stanford and Google.
If positive computing takes off, it will be because the design of new technology has somehow lost its way. Technology now makes us distracted, busy and unhappy. People are turning away from social networks and finding ways to tune out the noise around them. Technology is making us stressed rather than mindful. All of that goes against what Calvo and Peters described in the July-August 2012 issue of Interactions magazine as what should be the higher calling of technology: “to support well-being, wisdom and human potential.” And this is a theme that is now the basis for their new book, Positive Computing: Technology for Well-being and Human Potential, published by MIT Press at the end of 2014...
...In many ways, positive computing is a natural outgrowth of positive psychology, which focuses on what makes people well rather than what makes people ill. This focus on the “positive” is perhaps best exemplified by Harvard psychologists telling us how to make our kids “kind” and“happiness” showing up in the titles of TED Talks. Now it’s designers, not just psychologists, who are talking about happiness. Combine ubiquitous computing with new thinking about psychology, and you have the basis for something potentially fundamentally new: a movement that focuses on ways that technology can make lives more fulfilling.
Continue reading: Positive computing: The tech buzzword you need to know for 2015
Dominic Basulto is a futurist and blogger based in New York City.