Okay, an algorithm for creating conceptual train wrecks. Think of something that normal humans do. Add a hyphen and then the word “computing.” Wait for lots of new devices and ideas to appear that require batteries, a USB cable or network jack, a deployed call center in Bangelore and few new entries in Wikipedia. Hire lawyers to write voluminous EULAs that you know no one will read. Package it in clear, sharp-edged plastic boxes that can only be opened with heavy-duty shears while wearing those metal gloves butchers use. Wait for puzzled stares. Repeat.
It doesn’t take a skeptical observer to notice how often this rule of adding -computing onto everything under the sun that a few folks think can create markets or research agendas or fill a few pages of popular press.
There’s a weird conceit in here, that the activities and practices of normal human beings will involve data processing and algorithms of some sort, which is an awfully big assumption. So big, in fact, that it has distilled down to a way of seeing the world as consisting of bits of data that can be processed into information that then will naturally yield some value to people.
Why not start with people and their practices and follow this through, without the assumption that something computational or data process-y is meant to fall out from that. Don’t assume that you’re going to play the role of the high-conceit data processing and algorithms specialist and figure out some magical workflow that’ll turn someone’s life into a golden bliss of computer chips and sensors.
Design for people, practices and interaction rituals before the assumptions about computation, data structures and algorithms get bolted onto normal human interaction rituals.