Bokardo.com highlights a Wired editorial by Will Wright, creator of SimCity, SimEarth, The Sims et al. I was particularly drawn by this quote:
Think of it this way: Most technologies can be seen as an enhancement of some part of our bodies (car/legs, house/skin, TV/senses). From the start, computers have been understood as an extension of the human brain; the first computers were referred to as mechanical brains and analytical engines. We saw their primary value as automated number crunchers that far exceeded our own meager abilities.
But the Internet has morphed what we used to think of as a fancy calculator into a fancy telephone with email, chat groups, IM, and blogs. It turns out that we don’t use computers to enhance our math skills – we use them to expand our people skills.
Will’s experience is in computer games, and he goes on to say how games are becoming more social. One glance at World of Warcraft or The Sims Online – not to mention his upcoming title Spore or future Xbox Live developments – will back this up. However, this represents a wider trend in software, towards more social designs.
Software doesn’t have a life in itself; it doesn’t do anything, just as a hammer is dormant until someone picks it up and performs an action with it. Remembering that a software tool is simply a tool that allows a person to perform a task, usually involving other people at some stage, allows for more efficient design. Everything must be optimised to enhance the user’s ability to create, share, discover and collaborate.