New Mental Models

This morning my youngest daughter picked up an mp3 player, stuck it front of her face like a camera, clicked the button, and said, "Click!"

It really struck me how true this post on Film UI Bloopers really is.

You might think that people coming from the future would have an easier time using our current systems, given their supposedly superior knowledge. Not true. Like our travelers from the past, they'd lack the conceptual model needed to make sense of the display options. For example, someone who's never seen a command line or typed a command would have a much harder time using DOS than someone who grew up in the DOS era.

When you're taking a pretend picture it's highly likely that you hold up an imaginary box in front of your face and press a button on the top right hand side. You don't throw a cloth over your head, pull off a lense cap, and quite literally fire off a flash.

Another notable thing about this is that my child has no concept of separate devices. The mp3 player is the phone, it is the camera, all in one package. If we used GPS that much, they would incorporate that into their play time. I think the only time that my daughters have seen a real map was when we were driving back from California once and I picked up some Arkansas maps from the welcome-to-Arkansas Visitors Center. Because they were super into Dora, and I figured that having some maps would be good/fun for them.

My girls will have it a little better than some, because I delight in the retro - I have an 8-track player, and a record player. They'll be able to see the separate devices and actually experience some of this older technology. Heck, I was teaching a youth Sunday School class and none of the kids in the class had ever used a radio with a dial tuner - it's always been digital for them.

Yeah, in 100 years, the world will be an entirely different place when it comes to technology.