Faenasphere, a Web site that I can best describe as part of the universe of digital and physical properties created by Argentine real estate magnate, hotelier, and William Gibson-character-come-to-life Alan Faena (think Humbertus Bigend, but with a much cooler name and even better fashion sense), has a really sharp piece about contemplative computing.
A large part of the Net’s users are realising that technology has developed so quickly, we never truly had time to learn how to use it in a healthy manner that would not have negative repercussions on our health. Beyond this, our technologies are designed to maximise the shareholder’s profits, and if that implies distracting, confusing or gathering users, that’s acceptable. For this reason we need new technologies within our technology. These will enable us to take a break from a system even if we participate in it. This is the purpose of “contemplative computing” one of the greatest ideas to emerge from this period.
It takes a lot to make me like a phrase even more than "one of the greatest ideas to emerge from this period," but somehow "we need new technologies within our technology" does it.
Not surprising for a design firm, the post zeroes in on the design issues and my section on restorative spaces, and concludes:
Pang is suggesting we design more computer apps that are restorative spaces —parks within the digital city. Most of the apps we use reinforce the appearance and the general feeling of our host operational system, but there are a few, especially among musical and writing apps, which disregard the systematic interface in order to create the feeling of being “outside” of the computer.
I only wish I'd come up with the phrase "parks in the digital city." But hey, I'll take credit for inspiring it! I've got to meet these people one day.