Emoware: What does “emotional software” feel like?

Originally titled What does “emotional software” look like?
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28 percentThose of you who know me as a software engineer have no doubt heard me talk repeatedly about how if you look at computer science as a social science, it’s clear that there are a lot of consequences to the lack of diversity in the discipline.  One of them is that a lot of the design space just isn’t getting explored.

Most software today is designed and developed by teams and companies (or open-source projects) where the power is with white guys whose cognitive style is analytical and reductionist.  A lot of developers would agree with the Microsoft Technical Fellow my former Ad Astra colleagues once worked with trying to design an asset-based thinking workshop: “I’d much rather not talk about emotion”.   Functional, sparse, flat designs with limited configurability in the style of 37 Signals are great for people who like that kind of interaction.  A lot of us don’t, and our needs are badly underserved.

So when Cindy Gallop left a comment in my thread Guys talking to guys who talk about guys

My startup http://www.ifwerantheworld.com – a simple web-meets-world platform designed to turn good intentions into action, one microaction at a time – is what I describe as ‘emotional software’: the synthesis of technology and psychology.

My startup team is 4 women, 3 men. My head of user experience, my designer and my programmer are all female.

Emotions?  Psychology?  Moving people to action?  Sounds like social sciences to me.  I was intrigued.

So I checked it out, and talked with Cindy and superhero Giovanna Mingarelli, then had a total mind meld with design goddess Oonie Chase via Skype, talking about Seductive interfaces, agile software terminology and so much more.  Now I’m even more intrigued — and very impressed.   If She Ran The World … on Tales from The Net has more.

So what does “emotional software” feel like?

What other software (apps or web sites) do you think of as “emotional software” and why?


PS: thanks to Kyra Gaunt (aka @kyraocity, author of The Audacity of Humanity) for the term “Emo-ware”, and to oonie for burgling it and dropping the hyphen. fistbump. Read on for more …

May 2018: minor updates, fixing some grammatical errors.