An interface is technology that connects participants (human or machine). Conversation is a series of exchanges through which we understand each other, and that builds an evolving relationship (living together). Since we need conversation in order to collaborate on intentions and actions, the quality and history of those exchanges matter (a lot). For example, we may manage to build trust and (if we do) we may live well together.
Through a deeper understanding of what conversation is and how it works, we can start from the human side (rather than the tech side) and we can design for better conversations. We want this understanding to improve whatever we design, from regulating our lives to meeting global challenges, whether through better tech or better organizations (or both). Since the process of design is itself a conversation, understanding more about conversation, as well as its critical role in design, can improve design itself.
Paul Pangaro’s career spans research, consulting, startups, and education. He relocated to Detroit in 2015 to become Chair of the MFA Interaction Design at the
College for Creative Studies. He has taught systems and cybernetics for design at School for Visual Arts, New York, and at Stanford University in Terry Winograd’s Human-Computer Interface program. His most recent startup is General Cybernetics, Inc., dedicated to new ways of reading and writing in digital media. He has worked with and within startups in New York and Silicon Valley, in product and technology roles. Paul was hired by Nicholas Negroponte onto the research staff of the MIT Architecture Machine Group, which morphed into the MIT Media Lab. With Gordon Pask as his advisor, he was awarded a Ph.D. in cybernetics from Brunel University in the UK.