About once a month I'll come across an article of book that makes me think, I really wish I'd met that person when I was in Cambridge. This month it's computer science professor Alan Blackwell, whose article "The Reification of Metaphor as a Design Tool" makes this point:
When we propose that a computer be presented as a metaphorical office or typewriter, one of the things we are really describing is the intended user of this computer, describing him or her as an office worker or typist. When we designer-researchers in HCI imagine a UI to be a work of literature, we are describing ourselves as creative authors rather than mundane technologists. The relationship between users and designers structures the commercial and social context of HCI, and is the basis of our academic and professional discipline.
This idea that technologies implicitly or explicitly design users, and that this is a process that we need to pay attention to if we want to use our devices more mindfully, is central to one of the chapters of my book (which is available for pre-order, did I mention?). Our interactions with computers, I argue, change the way we think about ourselves, and the way we value human abilities like memory and cognition-- and usually, after a few turns of Moore's Law, we notice that computers constantly get faster and more powerful, while we seem to stay the same.