IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - Winter 2013 - 21

of knowledge around this and other theories that engineers could draw on to inform design. Although multiple theories of wellbeing describe autonomy as critical,
technologists frequently privilege automation which
can leave users frustrated and helpless (as Don Norman
thoroughly illustrates in The Design of Future Things
[9]). when designers and developers draw on a sophisticated understanding of wellbeing, benefits to the user
experience must surely follow.
In other areas, virtual environments have been shown
to have a significant impact on "helping behaviors" [see
the Stanford study of altruism for example [10]] or to "promote an awareness of attention during cognitive training"
[11]. Our own work with the Young and well Cooperative
research Centre looks at supporting wellbeing in young
people via the Internet. The list of examples in the category of "dedicated" positive computing is already long.
But the impact of the tools in this category is limited to
those in the population willing to seek them out and use
them. The greatest potential will be reached when our
day-to-day technological experience is guided by consideration for our human flourishing-when even companies like Microsoft, Facebook, and Apple are evaluating
how their products affect psychological wellbeing as part
of the iterative design cycle. we are inspired by a vision
of the future in which computing professionals contribute
to a rigorous and dynamic interdisciplinary effort towards
digital experience that is deeply human-centered.

Author Information
rafael A. Calvo is Visiting Professor at the University of Cambridge, Cambridge, U.K., and Associate
Professor at the School of Electrical and Information

OPINION

Engineering, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia.
Email: rafael.Acalvo@Sydney.edu.au.
Dorian Peters is with the Faculty of Education and
Social work, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia.
Email: Dorian.Peters@sydney.edu.au.

References

[1] E. Diener and M.E.P. Seligman, "Beyond money," Psychological
Science in the Public Interest, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 1-31, 2004.
[2] K. Michael, "Big data: New opportunities and new challenges,"
Computer, vol. 46, no. 6, pp. 22-24, Jun. 2013.
[3] T. Sander, "Positive computing," in Positive Psychology as Social
Change, r. Biswas-Diener, Ed. New York, NY: Springer, 2011,
pp. 309-326.
[4] r.A. Calvo and D. Peters, Positive Computing. Cambridge, MA:
M.I.T. Press, 2014, to be published.
[5] r.M. ryan and E.L. Deci, "On happiness and human potentials: A
review of research on hedonic and eudaimonic well-being," Ann. Rev.
Psychology, vol. 52, pp. 141-166, 2001.
[6] D. Kahneman and A. Tversky, "Experienced utility and objectivehappiness: A moment-based approach," Psychology Economic Decisions, vol. 1, pp. 187-208, 2003.
[7] I. Li, J. Forlizzi, and A. Dey, "Know thyself: Monitoring and
reflecting on facets of one's life," in Proc. 28th ACM Int. Conf.
Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 2010,
pp. 4489-4492.
[8] S.M. Schueller and A.C. Parks, "Disseminating self-help: Positive psychology exercises in an online trial," J. Medical Internet Res.,
vol. 14, no. 3, p. e63, 2012.
[9] D.A. Norman, The Design of Future Things. Basic, 2009.
[10] r.S. rosenberg, S.L. Baughman, and J.N. Bailenson, "Virtual
superheroes: Using superpowers in virtual reality to encourage prosocialbehavior," PloS one, vol. 8, no. 1, 2013.
[11] S. Johnstone, "Computer gaming and ADHD: Potential positive influences on behavior," IEEE Technology & Society Magazine,
vol. 32, no. 1, pp. 20, 22, Spring 2013.

(continued from page 18)

why has this not been done already? The answer
lies in the way cities do business. If you want to build
something, you hire and engineer and architect. If you
want to secure an area, you hire a security expert. If
you want to remodel a downtown area, you hire urban
designers. If you need new street lights, you call the
utility. who would champion such a ubiquitous system? It has to begin with mayors and city managers,
county executives, governors, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Once a model has been
established it becomes far easier for others to follow.
Let us all hope that we figure out how to save
money by avoiding so many wireless platforms and
IEEE TECHNOLOGY AND SOCIETY MAGAZINE

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wINTEr 2013

develop a common operating methodology that takes
us far into the future - before it's too late. This is not
about Big Brother, it is about the reality of urban
populations developing a means to monitor and control their environment, reduce chaos in the event of a
disaster, and do so with a day to day system that provides an informed and enlivened community.

Author Information
ron Harwood is Principal Creative Director at Illuminating Concepts, 30733 west 10 Mile road, Farmington
Hills, MI 48336; ronh@illuminatingconcepts.com; www.
illuminatingconcepts.com.
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