On Friday the 23rd of October, Aaron Quigley presented a keynote talk at the 9th annual Irish HCI conference (iHCI 2015) in Dublin. The talk was entitled “Trapped in AppLand: Archipelagos of Interaction”. The conference was hosted at the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) in Dublin and organised by the NCAD+UCD Creative Technology Network and was sponsored by the ACM SIGCHI Chapter Ireland and the NCAD+UCD Project. The conference showcased leading research by researchers in Ireland, and by Irish researchers working internationally, through poster and curated presentation sessions. The overall theme for this year was creative technology and the future of HCI in Ireland.
The abstract for Aaron’s talk was: Technology underpins the human experience and digital technologies in the form of devices, computers and communications are weaving themselves into the fabric of life. Of course, our use and indeed reliance of technology is not new. Indeed, it is one of the defining characteristics of humans and society, our fashioning of tools, instruments and technologies to help shape our world and lives. The digital technologies we have fashioned rely on our data, our understanding of various interaction paradigms and often our choice of apps. However, the question we must ask is, are we now trapped in AppLand?
AppLand consists of silos of interaction, walled gardens of device ecosystems, one off specialised devices and new interfaces. We are forced to travel across an archipelago of interaction as we attempt to navigate AppLand. Each island of interaction serves its purpose but transporting our data, interaction knowledge and experiences around AppLand can be a challenge. While no man is an island, some devices and applications certainly are as they maliciously attempt to keep their users, their data and hence their focus trapped. However, what was once a complex archipelago of dozens of islands, is about to become thousands for each of us as the waters of device fabrication, personalisation and the much discussed IoT rise. What would it take for us to break the hegemony of Apps in AppLand? Perhaps our best approach is to simply help travelers move painlessly across the fragmented interaction landscape? Escaping AppLand won’t be easy, today for many people digital technologies form the substrate of their existence and living without their mobile phone, social media apps and streaming music services seems unimaginable. In this talk we will discuss the visions of computing that have brought us to AppLand and what this means for HCI today and what it could mean in the future.