Defining the Digital Life

At the MacWorld Expo in San Francisco in January 2001, Steve Jobs introduced the term “digital lifestyle” and  described a history of personal computing that involved three stages:

Stage 1 (1980’s) — Personal Productivity, such as word processing, spreadsheets and desktop publishing.

Stage 2 (1990’s) — the Internet and sharing, finding and browsing information.

Stage 3 (2001 and beyond) — Described as a new era — “a new digital lifestyle” — in which the Mac can fill the role of the “digital hub.” With digital content available on the Internet, CDs and DVDs, and with a growing number of digital cameras, video cameras and cell phone cameras to capture content — all will work together

In January 2006 at the International Consumer electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates described these devices, including XBOX 360 and other mobile devices, as working together seamlessly. He said, “In the years ahead, further exciting innovations will unify the software, hardware and services in people’s lives, offering them even richer, more engaging and deeply connected experiences.”

For years we have been hearing about convergence of television and personal computers. More devices are a part of the convergence: Telephones, text messaging, instant messaging, television, camera phones, web cams, digital video cameras, computers, notebooks and widgets. Widgets are software applications that act like devices and can function on the web, on a television or on a cell phone.

In 2007 Apple, Inc. introduced the iPhone which has convergence technology in a small handheld device. The iPhone can show video, take pictures, send e-mail, send text messages, browse the Internet, play music and audiobooks and play full-length feature films. It has built in widgets that serve as clocks, timers, weather reports, stock reports, and more. Apple also introduced multi-touch technology, which uses specific gestures that can improve the user experience.

In 2008, design and consistency and “seamless” coordination of software, hardware and the user experience are coming to the forefront. Designers are talking about designing devices that totally respect the content that the user is seeking, producing or communicating while the device itself “stays out of the way.” Apple has put design and content as priorities since the original Macintosh was invented. The rules were set in a book known as the Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines (latest edition 1993 with an earlier edition available in 1987). As the information age matures and individuals want simple design with complex functions, the products with the successful user interface rule the world.