Computing pervades everyday life: whether used in business or leisure, by individuals or communities, it offers opportunities for new ways of living and working together. It is also having a profound impact on human behaviour and thinking, and on interactions between people and with technology.
How creativity toolkits and virtual collaborative environments accelerate each other
There are several options for responding to all the technologies around us, from being reactive and passive consumers, to being more proactive and personally creative by using technology to be participants rather than spectators, and to form new communities. Today, technology itself is enabling people to make that choice by putting in people's own hands the creativity toolkits and virtual collaborative environments to do things that previously were available only to professional experts – for example in photography, film-making, collective gaming and many other forms of shared creativity and problem-solving.
Combined with the power of the Internet, these tools are not only driving the democratisation of information and resources to empower more people with increasing capabilities, but also setting the stage for the literal evolution of innovation – by anyone, anywhere. This is not merely about new applications: it's about a revolution in how we create, share and refine anything that can be digitally encoded, be it news and information, art, scientific breakthroughs, personal communications, economic transactions and software itself.
This is not just about the next generation web: it's about the next generation world. Among the examples of this revolution featured here are innovations from domains such as High Definition web media, computer gaming, robotics and digital archiving.
At the same time, the increasingly pervasive and interactive nature of technology necessitates a strong focus, in the research and innovation cycle, on ensuring that technology unobtrusively enables and facilitates our lives in ways that make sense, that pervasive technology is not invasive, and that privacy is respected and protected. It is also about going further and putting human values front and centre in the technology research agenda - one that anticipates and shapes the impact of technology rather than simply reacts to it.
Microsoft is at the forefront in reflecting on, debating and helping to define such an agenda for human-computer interaction in the 21st century. In March 2007, Microsoft Research facilitated and co-hosted a forum entitled HCI 2020: Human Values in a Digital Age, in Sanlúcar la Mayor, Spain. The Forum, which gathered luminaries in computing, design, social sciences, and scientific philosophy, resulted in a detailed report, released in April 2008, called Being Human: Human-Computer Interaction in the Year 2020. For more information and to download the Report, please visit research.microsoft.com/hci2020/