Awareness amplification is an important purpose of computing as well as a design principle of permacomputing. In general, it refers to technologies that make the world (including the local environment) more observable to people, but it also includes making computers more aware and sensitive of their surroundings.

Observation can be either active or passive. The user may specifically focus on a specific part of the world or have a background awareness of what is going on in general. This is a major difference from intelligence amplification that emphasizes an active and narrow focus on specific objects of information.

When amplifying the user's background awareness, it is crucial to not steal their attention. Many user interface designs fail this; a common mistake is to use intrusive notifications for events that are unrelated to the user's current focus of attention. ?Soundscapes and landscape-like ?visualizations could offer a non-intrusive alternative.

The more complex a technology is, the more important it is that it dedicates a portion of this complexity to explain itself. Simple tools such as hammers or bicycles are pretty much self-explanatory due to their simple and easily observable designs, but computers need to amplify their own observability in order to be observable at all.

Examples of awareness amplification within core computing:

  • A non-intrusive visualization of everything the computer knows about its environment (energy sources, network traffic, data from any additional sensors the computer is connected to)
  • A computer that adjusts its operation to what it knows about its environment.
  • A ?user interface that makes the computer's inner workings and material-energetic conditions easily observable to the user.

More applicative ideas:

  • A ?sensor system that increases the observability of the ecosystem the computer and its users belong to, including the cultivated and constructed parts thereof. This may help people notice changes and details that beyond the reach of normal human senses.
  • ?Simulations of ecosystems, economic systems and other "subsystems of the world" can be used in planning as well as in gaining deeper insight to how these systems work.
  • Many intelligence amplification applications may also amplify awareness: automatic information retrieval, mind-mapping and note-taking systems, co-operative telecommunications environments, etc.