Keep Calm and Adapt On: How Calm Technology Principles Are Revolutionizing Analytics

Take a moment to think about how many times you’re interrupted by your phone or computer in a day. DING – new email. RING – someone’s calling. BUZZ – text message. DING – two more emails. POP-UP BANNER – new Instagram/Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn notification. BUZZ – another text. And that’s just in the span of five minutes!


Technology users—both professionals and consumers—are getting buzzed, beeped, vibrated, and flashed to a point of attention numbness. Cutting through the noise with important, relevant, timely information can be challenging. In short, technology must adapt to our lifestyles, constraints, and desires. A technology that is not intuitive, easy to use, and highly relevant often ends up on a shelf or at the bottom of a forgotten drawer.

Keep calm — Change is coming

Thankfully, AI techniques are starting to protect users from attention-grabbing, abusive analytics capabilities. The solution seems to be found in a term coined by Mark D. Weiser and John Seely-Brown more than 20 years ago: calm technology. Calm technology, according to Weiser and Seely-Brown, is “that which informs but doesn’t demand our focus or attention” — a set of principles aimed at alleviating the increasing level of disturbance brought about by increased demands on our attention:

  • Technology should require the smallest amount of our attention.
  • Technology should inform and calm, giving users what they need to solve their problem, and nothing more.
  • Technology should make use of the periphery to inform without overwhelming, while giving the proper level of control if needed.

Adaptation at work

This has weighty implications not just for the interaction of people and machines, but for getting the right stuff done. Calm technology essentially adapts to the needs of users, instead of the other way around, which enables people to interact with the most relevant data without having to understand the technology or wrestle with extraneous information. This is especially important given our prediction that by 2022, every personalized interaction between users and applications or devices will be adaptive.

Next week we’ll talk about how calm technology combines with context-aware computing to increase the relevancy of information to assist users in real-time. We’ll also share a few ideas for what data and analytics leaders can be doing now to ensure their organizations will be ready to capitalize on the coming adaptation revolution.

For more information on entomo, or to learn more about augmented analytics, read our latest report.

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