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Home arrow Computer Science arrow Calm Technology. Principles and Patterns for Non-Intrusive Design


One of the biggest technology issues in the future is going to come from systems that don’t talk to one another. Without connectivity throughout different networks, people can get caught in very difficult situations .

I rented a car once for a conference in Denver, Colorado . Initially it seemed fine, but once I got it onto the highway, the car wouldn’t go above 30 miles per hour.

I pulled into a parking lot and called emergency roadside assistance . Instead of being instantly connected to an emergency line, I was put on hold for 22 minutes . I was told to leave the car in the lot and that a tow truck would come pick it up I was going to be late for my meeting, so I called a cab and headed into town . I figured I’d cancel my entire rental car reservation for the trip

On the 50-minute cab ride to the hotel, I called the rental company to cancel the car reservation . I was put through to four different people, connected by a support person to two discontinued support numbers, and had to identify myself and explain my situation every time . They wondered where the car was . I told them emergency roadside assistance had picked it up . They didn’t have confirmation of the pickup or who I was .

I finally got them to cancel the rental, and I asked for a confirmation code Three days later, I got the charge for the full rental I had to get my employers to call a special number to reverse the charge and explain the situation I was stuck in an automation trap The systems didn’t talk to each other

How can one product inform another? What can be done to keep different systems, or at least the people who are manning them, informed the entire way through a process? The real world runs on interconnected systems, not separate ones Without ways for systems to communicate, you can get completely stuck


Without feedback, people won’t be able to tell what’s going on with a system . They might assume something is happening when it isn’t, or get frustrated or stuck as automation increases . For critical systems, always ensure people are around in case something breaks, and make sure there are systems that pass information from one system to another in human-readable fashion!

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