Amber Case on Modern UIs and the Importance of Calm Technology

Key Takeaways

  • We are all cyborgs now
  • There is a clear sequence for a technology to be accepted in society, and trying to leapfrog the steps results in failure
  • The value of calm technology to overcome the shock of so many devices competing for our attention in different ways
  • The importance of security and safety in the always connected technology world
  • The risks, downfalls and benefits of technology in human lives

About QCon

QCon is a practitioner-driven conference designed for technical team leads, architects, and project managers who influence software innovation in their teams. QCon takes place 7 times per year in London, New York, San Francisco, Sao Paolo, Beijing, Shanghai & Tokyo. QCon London is at its 11th Edition and will take place Mar 6-10, 2017. 100+ expert practitioner speakers, 1300+ attendees and 18 tracks will cover topics driving the evolution of software development today. Visit to get more details.

Announcing the Calm Technology Book Tour!

calm-technology-oreilly-amber-case Calm Technology: Designing for the Next Generation of Devices

How can you design technology that becomes a part of a user’s life and not a distraction from it? This practical book explores the concept of calm technology, a method for smoothly capturing a user’s attention only when necessary, while calmly remaining in the background most of the time. You’ll learn how to design products that work well, launch well, are easy to support, easy to use, and remain unobtrusive.

This year I’ll be touring around the world with my latest book, Calm Technology. I hope to see you soon!

Get the Book! Order from Amazon | Order from O’Reilly Books

19-23: DENT Conference, Sun Vally, Idaho

29: O’Reilly Strata Conference, San Jose, California

12: Innovation Day Conference, Istanbul, Turkey (Private Industry Conference)

15: Design Week Portland, Portland, Oregon

16: What is Media? Conference, University of Oregon White Stag Building, Portland, Oregon

20-24: IoT Fuse Conference, University of St. Thomas, St. Paul/Minneapolis, Minnesota

29: TBD: Craft Conf Budapest, Hungary (or) First Shannon Conference on the Future of the Information Age, New Jersey


12: MIT Media Lab Civic Media Lab, Cambridge, Massachusetts

24-27: UXLx: User Experience Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal (Workshop on Calm Technology)


1: IT Futures Conference, Toronto, Canada


8-11: Yes & Yes Yes, Palm Springs, California


21: FutureM, Boston, MA


4-5: Plenary speech at Why the World Needs Anthropologists (note, link is to last year’s conference), Tartu, Estonia

Upcoming events to be announced soon.

What I did in 2015

This year I spent most of the year writing the book Calm Technology.

Some highlights:

In February I spoke at the MCE2015 conference in Warsaw, Poland. In March, I put on the very first Web 1.0 Conference with I got to give a keynote talk with my mentor Douglas Rushkoff at an event at Hilton Head Island!

  • 21 Jan 2015: Keynote at AdExchanger’s Industry Preview Conference in NYC
  • 04 Feb 2015: Designing Calm Technology at MCE 2015 in Warsaw, Poland
  • 05 Mar 2015: Keynote Speech on Calm Technology: Location Data Summit, Denver, Colorado.
  • 19 Mar 2015: Designing Calm Technology at Institute for the Future (IFTF) Palo Alto, California.
  • 21 Mar 2015: Unconference talks. Calm Technology and Technology and Depression. Dent Conference, Sun Valley, Idaho.
  • 23 Apr 2015: Keynote on Calm Technology: Craft Conf, Budapest, Hungary.
  • 5 May 2015. Calm Tech Talk. Hand-Eye Supply, Portland, Oregon.
  • 15 May 2015. Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now. Co-keynote with Douglas Rushkoff. Hilton Head Island, SC.
  • 25 Jun 2015. Airbnb Design Team Talk. Ziba Design, Portland, Oregon.
  • 15 Jul 2015. Design Museum Story Hour. OnDeck Sports Bar Rooftop. Portland, Oregon.
  • 23 Jul 2015. Designing ‘Calm’ Technology: Tools and techniques. O’Reilly’s OSCON, Portland, Oregon.
  • 9 Sept 2015. Calm Technology: Inbound Conference Bold Talks, Boston, Massachusetts.
  • 11 Sept 2015. NPR TED Radio Hour: Are Our Devices Turning Us Into A New Kind Of Human?
  • 5 Oct 2015. Keynote: Calm Technology. Delight Conference. Portland, Oregon (video link).
  • 18 Oct 2015. The Radical Therapist #010 – We Are All Cyborgs Now w/ Amber Case.
  • 7 Oct 2015. Designing Calm Technology. yet Conf. Richland, WA.
  • 6 Nov 2015. Organizer and Speaker at Web 1.0 Conference. Vadio Portland, Oregon.

What next?

I’m planning to pull back next year and develop some new skills. It will be nice to have a complete book!