On the Horizon | Launching HXD

LAUNCHING HXD: A HUMAN-CENTERED TECH COMMUNITY

Fabric was always going to be about community. In the beginning, we were primarily concerned with the fraying social fabric. The more we learned about the problem, the more sure we were that something significant, transformative, paradigm shifting, needed to happen to build a future where people were more connected, trusting and collaborative.

Connecting people comes in at least two forms: bridging and bonding. Bridging is the work of connecting people who are unlikely to cross paths in everyday life. People from different cultures, geographies, races and religions. Bridging is essential for a vibrant and functional society. Bonding is the deepening of relationships where we are. Knowing your neighbors, helping a friend at a time of need, and organizing local activities are all part of bonding. 

Over the past 5 years, Fabric has been developing a deep understanding of what it will mean to both bridge and bond in a world too often divided by xenophobia, partisanship, nativism, and widening socio-economic gaps. Most of our challenges are man-made. Social media has propelled social anxiety and depression and so we see loneliness abound. Digital echo chambers have been built, designed to tell us what we want to hear, not what we need to hear. Worse, it often amplify’s false information. In a way, we are living a reality that cannot be verified with facts; hardly a reality at all. 

Technology is making strides at a pace that regulation cannot manage, and we are doomed to overplay our hands. Desperate pleas from the makers and funders of Artificial Intelligence warn us all that we may be sowing the seeds of our own destruction. “Will humans have work?” many wonder. If not, should we simply pay humans to live so technology can evolve around us?

Humanity has reached an incomprehensibly large and convoluted crossroads.

Will humanity serve technology, or will technology serve humanity? Modern cities have been built around cars, will modern life be built around technologists’ latest aspirations?

The choices we face cannot ignore or reject the advance of technology. It is technology that has driven modern medicine, economic growth and prosperity for billions of people across the globe. It is technology that provides humanity its new frontier even as we have explored every corner of the earth. However, we must build a future that serves humanity and to do that, technology must be human centered in its design.

Human-centered technology values everyone as a contributor, a creator, and ultimately, as a social being. Humans are fundamentally social, meaning from our first moments in life we are dependent on others to grow and flourish. Humans need human warmth, ideas, networks and institutions to thrive. In some ways our need for Social Connection precedes our need for food and shelter. Without each other, there is no meaning or future. Something needs to be done!

That is why Fabric has set out to build the world’s biggest and best community and resources for experience makers to create a future where tech ignites in-person connection.

We believe John F. Kennedy was right in 1963 when he stated that “No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings.” 

That is why we are introducing the Human Experience Design Community (HXD). HXD is a community of experience makers, visionaries, designers, developers, and events professionals that believe in the potential for in-person connections to address pressing social challenges. By embracing a human-centered approach to technology, we will pave the way for a future where our digital advancements serve as a catalyst for fulfilling humanity’s greatest social needs and aspirations.

HXD Community members want their local communities to thrive and are seeking practical ways to apply their skills toward making a difference. The combination of geospatial web technology, digital and visual creative and development, and live events in physical spaces provides an unprecedented channel to spark in-person connection. 

The Geospatial Web (GSW) is a location-dependent, real-time layer of immersive, entertaining, useful, and socially interactive technology overlaid upon both our individual and collective daily realities. This digital layer in physical space needs building and that is what the HXD Community will set out to do: to create the future of this mixed-reality medium. 

Life today is fully tech-enabled. Friction is often despised, while efficiency is revered and pursued at all costs. But human interaction is all about friction. Human experiences require bumping into others, imperfect moments that provide a new perspective and profound insights. Mixed reality is one mechanism to nurture human connection, but it is not the only one. HXD will provide numerous avenues for dialogue, meetups, exploration and creation to bring to life a wide range of social experiences.

As we kick this community off, live events will be among the early ways we pursue both bridging and bonding. Think of your favorite sports team or musician, for instance. When you go to a game or a concert, you may not share much with the person sitting next to you, but you do share location, time and a passion for the entertainment you are both enjoying. This presents an opportunity at a global scale.

The people who make live events and experiences happen–big and small–build the physical infrastructure of profound social change. An equally ambitious infrastructure is required to connect people with each other in these vast arenas of shared experiences using all the digital and physical tools at hand. That is why this community of creatives and leaders will become the core group building the geospatial web and new approaches to bringing people together all over the world. Join us in creating a world where everyone belongs.

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