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A View from John Maeda

The Right Hand Rules

Entering a hotel in New York, I’m struck by the subtle traces of constant and consistent human interaction.

  • October 1, 2007

When visiting the comfortable Bowery Hotel in New York recently, upon entering the lobby, I reflected on the situation of the handles on the double doors that opened to let me in. Both doors opened freely, yet one of the doors was clearly used more often; guess which one. I wondered about the other situations of regular use that reveal how we human beings erode our synthetic surrounds when we interact. Things close to us made of leather, like a wallet or a purse, are good examples of how objects soften, adapt, and engage us through a relationship. Forgiving wooden objects bear the scratches and stains incurred through our many foibles and slips. Yet computers rarely weather our interactions in a meaningful way.

Sure, there are the files upon files of hidden settings that fill up the system folder. And sure, we leave a messy desktop. But if need be, everything can be made entirely pristine with a simple hardware reset. It’s why nowadays I often think about permanence and the computer’s lack thereof.

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