The Human-Technology Ecosystem

The other day while discussing matters of great importance, such as whose turn it was to make coffee, I made the offhand comment to a colleague of mine that we ought to do a podcast about technology’s place in education. Well he took me serious. Serious enough that we’re scheduled to do our first one this Wednesday, The topic? The Human-Technology Ecosystem.

So for starters, I’d better define what I mean. From my perspective when I speak of the human-technology ecosystem I’m referring to the interaction that occurs when human beings use technology to express themselves and to communicate with others. This interaction is twofold: Between people with technology serving as the medium, or part of the medium for discourse, and between people and the technology they are using. In all instances each component, as well as other components that are situation dependent, is needed to make possible and sustain the other.

The Human-Technology Ecosystem

A new technology is introduced –> People adopt/are shaped by –> People shape –> Enhancements to existing technology/ new technology emerges

A cycle starts when a new technology is introduced into the ecosystem. This could be in the form of hardware, such as a smartphone, or software, such as the apps that provide the smart phone with much of its allure. Oftentimes it is the combination of both with the software following closely on the heels of the hardware. This is the case because in many instances the new hardware, or device, finds itself a less than desirable option for using existing software.

To continue on with the smartphone example, , it’s computing power and connectivity options made it a more desirable device that a standard cell phone. We loved it’s portability and the ubiquitous access it gave us and we bought them in droves (people adopt). Then we began carrying them around instead of laptops or tablets, which now seemed onerous in nature (people are shaped). But it had its limits especially when it came to things such as reading web pages or email clients. There came a demand for devices that met these desires (people shape). Soon we had apps to make the content more accessible and touch screens to manipulate things (enhancements). We changed the way we communicated with one another. Instead of telephone calls we sent text messages to individuals or status updates to our network (people shape/are shaped by). And so the cycle goes until a new technology is introduced into the ecosystem that ultimately usurps the existing one.

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    • Joe Mac Nichol
    • March 10th, 2011

    WTF- I’m going to have to sit down and read this, I’m sure it’s good if I grasp it.

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