In Section 2 of Being Human: Human Computer Interaction in 2020, Harper shows major ways in which the way we interact with technology is changing, and how these changes have larger impacts on society. Harper explains that there are five major transformations which are altering the relationship we have with computers: the end of interface stability, the growth of techno-dependency, the growth of hyper-connectivity, the end of the ephemeral and the growth of creative engagement.
Throughout the work, Harper argues that the changes in technology ultimately are changing our human values, or “the ideas we hold about what is desirable in different situations, societies and cultural contexts”, by touching on each of the 5 major transformations and their implications. In terms of the end of interface stability, Harper argues that shared values must be considered in how spaces represent communities, and that new legislation will be needed in order to help people understand the complexities of new technology and its impact on society. Harper argues that as dependence on technology is growing, it is changing the skill sets of those using the technology, and wonders what this might mean for human-human interaction as well as human-computer interaction in the future. In terms of the increase in hyper connectivity, Harper warns readers that as the amount of connection we consider acceptable rises, we may disregard the need to be alone or to spend time with small groups of family and friends. By “end of the ephemeral”, Harper means that small aspects of our lives are now recorded and we are being increasingly monitored by technology, and further argues that litigation is needed to ensure that people have control over their personal data. Finally, Harper argues that since computers have new creative uses, new tools should be provided to augment human skills and align use for productivity.
Overall, Harper’s review of the major changes in technology and how we define our own digital landscape provides insight into what questions we should be asking about technology and its implications on society. One thing that I appreciated about Harper’s work is that it provided questions after each section that allow readers to connect with the points made in each section, as well as clarify what the implications of the section is about. By suggesting ways in which each change in technology use can be faced, Harper provides readers with tangible changes that can be made/topics that should be addressed. Harper’s argument and warnings are valid in my opinion, especially as we have interacted with technology so heavily throughout the pandemic, and we should be taking his questions and warnings seriously.