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Designing for Emerging Technologies by Jonathan Follett

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Chapter 12. Design for Life

JUHAN SONIN

Bloodletting to Bloodless

Technological and societal trends are converging and pushing design to the forefront of health.

Health, as an experience and idea, is undergoing an epic shift. For millennia, humans have treated health as the rare spike that requires intervention. At a very basic level, when it comes to health, we humans experience our physical condition today much as our more furry ancestors did. We roam around. We eat mostly green stuff with the occasional indulgence in a tasty snack of fresh-killed meat. We drink water—well, some of us “hydrate”—and have sex and procreate. We stick with our tribe and try to steer clear of hostile marauders. And as long as we’re feeling OK, we think we’re OK.

Generally, that’s true.

Then, health happens, usually when we least want or expect it. We stumble on the trail or travel far from home and come back with dysentery. One of these health events prompts a visit, so you go to a tribal elder who sets bones, or you seek out the town doc to ease your intestinal disturbance, or, after catching your son flying off the living room couch, you get an MRI to reveal a bicep tendon rupture.

What we call health is made up of these episodic issues and interventions. Even periodic exams are events that we bathe and dress up for. In fact, we are most conscious of our health during these moments. For the average person—one without chronic pain or illness—health is conceived of and managed as an exception.

Few would deny ...

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