TOTAL EXPERIENCE explores designing for experience: its theory, its practice, and how designing for experiences affects us socially and in our personal lives.


  • Bob Jacobson
  • Paula Thornton
  • BOB JACOBSON is fascinated by the experience of experience. A planner and technologist, Bob has a Ph.D. in Urban Planning & Design from UCLA. He's been a policy researcher, technology CEO, science writer, and consultant. As a Fulbright Scholar, he studied cellular telephony's impacts on transborder communities in the Nordic Arctic Circle. Bob edited Information Design (MIT Press 2000) and is now writing a book on the theory and practice of creating edifying, transformative experiences.
    ( Archive | Contact Bob )
    CORANTE PAULA THORNTON says, "Understanding human behavior (economics), optimizing interactions (design) and facilitating conversations (markets), are the means to achieve strategic differentiation. This is the focus of our discipline. It is not a 'nice to have'‚ and is not, like documentation once was, an afterthought. It is the means by which to start a strategic discussion and the means by which to drive a tactical initiative. All design should be evidence-based."
    ( Archive | Contact Paula ) >

    (Courtesy of Mark Vanderbeeken, Experientia SpA, Torino)

    Experience Design Websites
    Core 77 Website & Forum
    Business Week|Innovate
    InfoD: Understsanding by Design
    The Wayfinding Place
    Wayfinding Focus
    Design Addict
    L-ARCH (Landscape Architecture Mailing List)
    DUX 2007 Conference
    Digital Thread
    Enmeshed, Digital Arts & New Media
    Ludology (Game Playing Theory)
    Captology, Persuasive Computing
    Space and Culture
    Raskin Center for Humane Interfaces
    timet (acoustical design)
    Steve Portigal, Ethnographer
    Jane McGonigal's Avant Game
    Ted Wells' living : simple
    PingMag (Japan)

    Experience Design Blogs
    Adam Greenfield's Speedbird
    Experience Designer Network (Brian Alger)
    SmartSpace: Annotated Environments (Scott Smith)
    Don Norman
    Doors of Perception (John Thackara)
    Karl Long's Experience Curve
    Work•Play•Experience (Adam Lawrence)
    The David Report (David Carlson)
    Design & Emotion (Marco van Hout)
    Museum 2.0 (Nina Simon)
    B J Fogg
    Lorenzo Brusci (acoustics)
    Cool Town Studios
    Steve Portigal
    Debbie Millman
    MIT Culture Convergence Consortium
    Luke Wroblewski, Functioning Form|Interface Design
    Adam Richardson
    Putting People First (Paul Vanderbeeken/Experientia
    Laws of Simplicity (John Maeda)
    Challis Hodge's UX Blog
    Anne Galloways's Purse Lips Square Jaw
    Bruno Giussani's Lunch over IP
    Jane McGonigal's Avant-Game The Future of Work

    Experience Design Podcasts
    Ted Wells' living : simple Podcast
    Design Matters Podcast, Debbie Millman
    Icon-o-Cast Podcast, Lunar Design

    Experience Design Firms and ED-Oriented Manufacturers
    Barry Howard Limited
    Hilary Cottam
    LRA Worldwide, Inc.
    BRC Imagination Arts
    Stone Mantel
    Experientia s.r.l
    Herman Miller
    Cooper Interactive Design
    Doblin Group
    Fit Associates
    Strategic Horizons LLC (Joe Pine & Jim Gilmore)
    Cheskin Fresh Perspectives

    Education and Advocacy
    Centre for Design Research, Northumbria University (UK)
    Center for Design Research, Stanford University
    International Institute of Information Design (IIID)
    Design Management Institute
    Interaction Institute IVREA
    Design Research Institute (UK)
    UC Berkeley Center for Environmental Design Research
    History of Consciousness, UCSC
    Design News Magazine
    Society for Environmental Graphic Design (SEGD)
    Design Museum London
    Center for Sustainable Design
    Horizon Zero, Digital Arts+Culture in Canada
    Design Council UK
    First Monday

    Total Experience on Technorati
    Technorati Profile

    Get Camino!

    Total Experience

    Monthly Archives

    July 30, 2004

    GM Finally Climbs on the Virtual Reality Bandwagon

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    Posted by Bob Jacobson

    gm_nav_logo.gifIn “Virtual Design: As clay fades, GM shifts toward digital imagery,” Auto News, July 21, 2004, writer Dave Guilford reports that GM is finally getting on the virtual reality (VR) bandwagon. It may be big news in Detroit, but elsewhere, VR as the principal tool for vehicle design is fast approaching “the way things are done.” DaimlerChrysler, BMW, Toyota, Renault, Peugeot, and Fiat – all use VR in major ways to produce their new cars. In the U.S., leading independent truckmaker PACCAR is also experimenting with VR as a way of reducing design cycles and product time to market.

    Guilford credits GM’s getting off the dime to design chief Ed Wellburn, formerly head of GM’s brand character studio, now in his first year as GM North America VP for design and global design leader. GM subsidiaries Opel, GM Brasil, and GM Daewoo have all built or are building VR design studios. Wellburn offers a caution: “Design executives can evaluate concepts but not final executions. Evaluations of vehicles in VR is challenging and can only be done by those who spend a lot of time in that environment."

    Well really, no, it’s not that mysterious.

    ...continue reading.

    Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: ED Projects of Note

    July 29, 2004

    Impromptu Drive-In Theaters

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    Posted by Bob Jacobson

    Chris Thompson reports in the NYT ("Now Playing, a Digital Brigadoon,"July 29) on a wonderful, wonky return to the 50s: impromptu drive-in theaters, organized on the spot. Reports Thompson from Santa Cruz, CA:

    drive-in.jpg"For three years, cult-movie buffs have been organizing "guerrilla drive-ins" in a number of cities, rigging together a nest of digital projectors, DVD players, and radio transmitters or stereo speakers, spreading the word online, and assembling on parking lots or fields to watch obscure films beneath the stars.

    They project the image onto warehouses or bridge pillars, tune their car stereos to a designated FM frequency, and sit back and enjoy the show. The only thing they do not do is ask for permission."

    Talk about the design as the experience. I'll see if I can get the heroes of the piece, from SC, Florida, and Pennsylvania -- this thing is happening so fast and so big, it's scary! -- to comment. Stay tuned...or rather, don't miss the next installment....

    Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: ED Projects of Note

    Welcome to Total Experience

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    Posted by Bob Jacobson

    Welcome to Total Experience, where together we'll explore the cultural phenomenon of intentional, designed experience.

    Not all experience is designed. Serendipity plays a large part in broadening our understanding. But increasingly, the experiences that fill our days are crafted to create an impression, stimulate a thought, or provoke an action – often, all three simultaneously. Total Experience is about the intentional, systematic design of experience and its outcomes.

    The strategic mapping and propagation of “touchpoints” that the designer arranges for the “experiencer” – a word I use often in Total Experience – is a contemporary phenomenon worthy of everyone’s attention. Total Experience takes the normative point of view that experiences should be voluntary; but realistically, they often are not. What can the experiencer do to negate undesirable experiences or even to seek recourse? Perhaps you, the reader, can help us to arrive at useful answers.

    Experience design is holistic, interdisciplinary, and inherently interactive. Accordingly, Total Experience will wander the far shores of design practice – including, for example, product engineering, landscape architecture, sociology, environmental psychology, and memetics – as well as more familiar design modalities. Total Experience is not about web design (whose practitioners use "experience design" to mean webside behavior) except as part of a larger designed experience.

    Within its mission of examining the emerging practice of experience design, Total Experience has these purposes, to:

    1. Identify and comment upon outstanding – or oddly noteworthy – demonstrations of experience design

    2. Stay abreast of the relevant news and developments in our field

    3. Develop a theory of experience design and interdisciplinary practice

    4. Create a community of practitioners via this blog and associated media

    I’m the captain for our shakedown cruise, but in the future I’ll be recruiting co-authors to enrich Total Experience with diverse points of view and expertise. If you’re interested in participating, please send me an email. Be patient: my bandwidth is limited, but I will get back to you.

    Thanks for joining me here at Total Experience. Please let me know how I can make your stay here more valuable and enjoyable. May your participation in Total Experience be a good experience, always.

    Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Commentary

    Coming Attractions!

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    Posted by Bob Jacobson

    Here's a list of notable experience design projects (among others) on which I'll be reporting during the coming weeks. Please let me know the projects that you think are deserving of mention and commentary.

    • The Lincoln Presidential Library, BRC Imagination Arts

    • Las Vegas "Fashion Show" State-of-the-Art shopping mall, Rouse Co.

    • Sound Design for the film, Master and Commander

    • Linden Labs/Second Life Online Virtual Environment

    • "Occasio," A Redesigned Consumer Banking Environment, Washington Mutual, Inc.

    • Passenger Experience in Future Fused Wing Aircraft (flying wings), Boeing

    • The Rose Center/Hayden Planetarium, American Museum of Natural History

    • The Apple iPod User Experience

    • The Gensler Education Environment

    • Amplified Collaboration Environments, Electronic Visualization Laboratory, UI-C

    • Integrated Onboard Driver Information Systems, DaimlerChrysler PARC

    • VR Applications Center, Iowa State University

    • US Joint Forces Command Theater Simulation System

    Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: ED Projects of Note

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    Posted by Bob Jacobson


    "Overworked Mouse"
    (Source Unknown)

    Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Odds and Ends: Random Observations