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

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    October 31, 2004

    Halloween: Day of Extreme Experience

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    Posted by Bob Jacobson

    background1.jpgHalloween, or Samhain (so’-wen) as the Celts called it, is the ultimate Day of Experience in North America. Other holidays come complete with an iconic lexicon that is mostly virtual: holiness, patriotism, love of family, and so forth. The expression of these sensibilities occurs in TV and filmic images, magazines, conversation, and sermons.

    With the possible exceptions of Thanksgiving, where the preparation and consumption of food takes center stage, the Mexican Dio de Los Muertes (Day of the Dead), and reenactments of historical moments – for example, the Boston Tea Party – no day so heartily celebrates the inducement of awe, fear, and jocularity by outside stimuli as does Halloween.

    Despite the United States’ reputation as a churchy nation, in fact Halloween easily trumps most Christian and other holidays as a reason for consumers to part with their dollars buying decorations, costumes, and candy. Only on Christmas, the evolution of the Roman Saturnalia, with its gift-giving ritual – essential to retaining bonds of love and fealty – do Americans spend more…and then it’s not about the occasion so much as the give and take.

    Samhain_fire4.jpgHalloween is different. The whole build-up to and craziness of Halloween is about having experiencing the day and evening in their various aspects: union of the dimensional worlds, day of dread, precursor of winter, harvest celebration, and most recent, children’s holiday. Without the instilling of the feelings that accompany these experiences, there might as well not be a Halloween.

    The fact that Halloween and its revelers have outlasted 1,500 years of criticism and oppression (including burning at the stake) from Christianity and other monotheistic religions – and that Wicca and Nordic mythos, forms of neo-paganism, are on the rise – expresses humanity’s deeply felt need for at least one official day each year of extreme experience.

    A quick tour of the Web reveals a Halloween websites up the kazoo, including those that are raw, frightening, informative, amusing, entertaining, and incomprehensible. Ghost-watching sites abound. In the physical world, the kids are out in costume. Pumpkins, the New World’s contribution to the affair (in the Old World, Jack O’ Lanterns to scare away evil spirits were carved from turnips), are prolific. Entire street corners are filled with pumpkin lots, today trying frantically to dispose of their fare. Homes sport decorations from modest black cats and paper skeletons to elaborate lawn sets of moving figures complete with the acoustics necessary to provide a heart attack with each Baby Ruth candy bar.

    pkiFearFest2.jpgIn the commercial world, aside from the ridiculous sales and other activities contrived to have a Halloween tie-in, a lot of effort goes into both retail and entertainment venues taking part in the day’s glory. I’m especially enamored of the haunted houses that civic groups and hustlers construct, using their imagination (usually remembrances of similar venues in the past) to thrill and chill and generate revenues. This is the weekend of a spate of horror movies that would have less meaning in any other setting, but this weekend add to the sense of heightened awareness of “Other Worlds,” meaning ghostlier abodes. Of course, the big theme parks get into the mood though their offerings are surprisingly underfinanced and tame, even lame, perhaps because for them, dispensing experience is just another day’s work. An exception is Paramount's FearFest, which took some serious imagination and multimedia trickery to pull off.

    top_image.jpgSome extreme Christian sects attempt to sweep back this tide of emotion. Hell House, the subject of a widely-shown indie documentary, is a particularly gruesome effort to link sin – as defined by the evangelicals who run this bizarre institution – with horror in the Beyond. But as soon as religious cant is given this embodiment, it ceases to be holy in the stark Christian sense and becomes rather pagan. Like the Halloween occasion it mocks, Hell House becomes a – well, a house of Hell within which its young actors are free to play the roles of murderers, apostates, whores, suicides, and other sinners with as much enthusiasm as they can muster, more than they or their audiences put out for the Sunday sermon. Halloween is the one day each year that they get to have a full, physical experience, inside and out. More power to them.

    headstone-left1.gifFor myself, tonight I might stroll down to the Union Cemetery, hidden and unnoticed, in my suburban home of Redwood City, California, and silently commiserate with the souls of the soldiers who died 140 years ago, some nobly, some without purpose – whose bones for some unknown reason ended up in the Bay Area. Or perhaps I’ll walk among the graves, old and new, in the Portuguese Cemetery in Pescadero, on the coast. What more acute reminder of the sanctity of life than the experience of death, or as close as we can come to it and still remain on This Side? Tomorrow comes soon enough.

    Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Commentary

    October 23, 2004

    Interactive Environments: FeedTank and David Rokeby

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    Posted by Bob Jacobson

    fbg_photo.jpgI'm happy about the work done by the digital artists collaborative, FeedTank, working in Brooklyn, recently noted in the ever fun-filled journal of design, Core77. (Core77 is one of my mainstays in staying informed. Co-author Steve Portigal posts there often.)

    FeedTank combines digital technology with a creative spark to develop interactive, responsive environments, like Dance Floor Moves (in which the dance floor does) and Full Body Games, based on haptic interaction. The combinations are completely multisensorial and tres cool.

    vnspots.jpegFeedTank's success is a fit occasion to honor the man who started it all: award-winning Canadian artist David Rokeby and his ingenious Very Nervous System installations begun in 1986 and culminating in the early 90s. David pioneered interactive environments, using technology at least three generations earlier than what's available today. Here's a great review of David's work in the beautifully presented Candian blog, Horizon-0, Digital Art + Culture in Canada, "Adventures in Middlespace" by Erkki Huhtamo. He's still at it, by the way. Visit David Rokeby's website for past and coming attractions.

    Images: FeedTank and David Rokeby

    Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: The Practice of Experience Design

    October 22, 2004

    Saffo talks in Palo Alto

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    Posted by Steve Portigal

    The dynamic and compelling Paul Saffo is presenting The Case of the Blind Venetians as part of the PARC Forum Series on Innovation in Palo Alto on October 28.

    It is fashionable, but premature to write off the future of the US info tech sector. The dot.bomb collapse and offshoring are quite real, but hints of the path forward are hidden in the history of Silicon Valley and the tech sector. And the secret is this: innovation advances from failure to failure, not from success to success. The time has come to understand and embrace this hidden source of the US' technological dynamism, lest we end up like Venice in it's last century, trapped by old habits and sinking beneath the sea that once sustained it's economic and innovation miracle.

    Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Events and Happenings

    October 21, 2004

    Give the Gift of Experience

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    Posted by Steve Portigal

    i-logo.gifLast week in Toronto I made a quick trip to the Shoppers Drug Mart to pick up some of those great chocolate bars I can't get at home in California, and I noticed a point-of-purchase display (right near the checkout, as if to suggest impulse buying) for Life Experiences - gift cards with a range of experience gifts (a weekend getaway, a romantic dinner) priced at $199 or $299. Their site lists the complete set of offerings, including several spa packages, a resort weekend, a Jaguar rental, a home cleaning, a sky diving experience and more.

    Click to enlarge

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    It's a perfect business for a large metropolitan area like Toronto (the GTAA as it's known now) since the end-customer and the bundled-providers need to be local to each other. I wonder how it can scale?

    Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: ED Projects of Note

    October 20, 2004

    Christopher Ireland: "Organizing Principles"

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    Posted by Bob Jacobson

    cireland.jpgAs you can guess, I'm reading back-ordered blog articles on things related to experience design. I found another good one, from the Cheskin weblog for May 2004: Cheskin CEO Christopher Ireland's "Organizing Principles of Design Research." Christopher lays down the fundamental principles that guide personal behavioral, cultural, and marketing research at Cheskin. Well worth a review, in case in the excitement of breaking new design ground, you've forgotten about the research that precedes any great solution.

    Image: Cheskin

    Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: The Practice of Experience Design

    Kim Goodwin: "Ten Ways to Kill Design"

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    Posted by Bob Jacobson

    kim.gifCooper Interactive's VP of Design and GM Kim Goodwin offers keen insights into what it takes to bring design into an organization and make it work, in "Ten Ways to Kill Design," featured in the most recent Cooper Newsletter. The same rules apply as in winning any internal corporate campaign, but because design is fragile until it's well-rooted, the stakes are higher.

    This goes twice for experience design, which is only now gaining executive awareness and approval.

    Image: Cooper Interactive

    Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: The Practice of Experience Design

    Urban Planning Military Style

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    Posted by Bob Jacobson

    3d_f.jpgWhy do the names of military simulations always sound like Steven Segal movie titles?

    Wired Online today reports on "Urban Resolve," a military simulation intended to deal with the new/old reality of urban warfare. "The old crusade days when you go into a city with catapults and rubble everything are over," said Joint Forces Command's Jim Blank, modeling and simulation division chief for the project. "We know now that you can take down a city by isolating different nodes in the city.... This lets us look at each one of the nodes and decide how best to go after the adversary....

    planviewdisplay_f.jpg"If you take down a sewer plant, you're going to cause a great deal of discomfort to the city's inhabitants," said Blank. "A lot of these things have gone on in previous conflicts but the result has been collateral damage that's not acceptable." It's not clear from the interview whether Blank approves or disapproves of disabling vital sanitation services. It's not his job to decide, only tto highlight the possibility. Do virtual dysentery and cholera come with the package?

    "Urban Resolve" reportedly cost $195,000 to develop. For a videogame that deals with a million virtual entities, that's really something. That comes down to less than two cents per entity. You can't beat that on Everquest.

    However, the quoted price doesn't include the cost of years of previously developed software (lots of AI) and two massive Linux clusters in Hawaii and Ohio that support the simulation, or the time that referees and developers spend tweaking.

    Urban Resolve is an odd mix of strategy and tactical street combat. Already its creators are talking about law enforcement agencies using it for crowd control. But what about the bigger picture? What's to prevent Urban Resolve from being used to test 24/7 universal surveillance of a city -- even a friendly city? Even one here at home? Ah hah, maybe that's what all the cameras on streetlight stanchions are all about!

    Now we need software from the military that portrays what to do when a military base closes down, leaving unemployment and toxic wastes behind. That also would be a valuable game to play. I couldn't find it online, but it must be somewhere in the $500B defense budget.

    Images: USC Institute for Information Science via Wired

    Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: ED Projects of Note

    The Colombian Exposition's 112th Anniversary

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    Posted by Bob Jacobson

    From Garrison Keilor's daily, wonderful, always inspiring The Writer's Almanac, for October 20, 2004:

    3crowbr.jpg"It was on this day in 1892 that the city of Chicago officially dedicated the World's Columbian Exposition, celebrating the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus sailing to America. Though it was formally dedicated on this day in 1892, the planning ran behind schedule, so the fair wasn't actually held until the following summer.

    "It was the most successful world's fair ever held in the United States. In its half-year of existence, it drew 27 million visitors, or about half the American population at the time. The novelist Hamlin Garland wrote to his parents, 'Sell the cookstove if necessary and come. You must see the Fair!'

    "The area designated for the fair covered almost 700 acres along the shore of Lake Michigan, and a giant 'white city' was built in the style of classical architecture. The buildings were also strung with electric lights and lit up at night, the first time electric lights were used on such a large scale in America. In fact in was at the Chicago World's Fair that most Americans first saw electricity in use. The children's book writer L. Frank Baum was one of the visitors to the fair, and used the White City as the model for his Emerald City in The Wizard of Oz (1900).

    "Among the many things first introduced to Americans at the fair were postcards, the zipper, the ice cream cone, Cracker Jack, Quaker Oats, Shredded Wheat, belly dancing, spray paint, the Pledge of Allegiance, and of course the Ferris Wheel. The Ferris Wheel was 264 feet high, carried 2000 passengers at a time, turning on a 45-foot axle—the largest single piece of steel ever forged."

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

    Frontier Town's Demise: Who Needs a Past?

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    Posted by Bob Jacobson

    frontier.span.jpgFrontier Town, in Essex County, New York -- an attempt from the 50s to recreate the Old West in the Old East -- has closed down ("Western Theme Park Turns Into a Ghost Town," New York Times, Oct. 16. Frontier Town was typical of recreational attractions scattered across America, re-creations of imagined Golden Ages in the nation's past: Williamsburg, Plymouth Rock, Tombstone, Frontier Town, Disney's Frontierland, etc. Said Keith Delafrange, the last owner of Frontier Town, who still lives nearby, "I'm 59 years old and to have played cowboys and Indians for a living isn't the worst thing in the world."

    da_1_b.JPGFrontier Town relied more on the personal enthusiasm and performances of its cowboys and Indians, dance hall madams and saloon keepers, and the Indians attacking the railway, than it did on SFX. In fact, the horses, wagons, and guns were real, although the guns were loaded with blanks.

    Of course, America had no Golden Age -- even in the times of the Native Americans, intertribal warfare, draught and starvation, and disease created tension -- but it's necessary in this land of constant immigrants to have a National Mythos that brings everyone together. In the past, we used the past as a launching pad for our dreams about the future. But the American long view is increasingly misty these days, unclear to most, terrifying to many. And without a future, who needs a past, even one so enthusiastically re-enacted?

    Credits: Poster on eBay, Photograph from NY TIMES

    Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Events and Happenings

    October 16, 2004

    "User Experience: Why Do So Many Organizations Believe They Own It?" -- Review

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    Posted by Bob Jacobson

    baychilogo.giflogoScreen.gifFinally, a chance to get down to a commentary on last Tuesday’s BayCHI-UXnet "User Experience” event at Stanford!

    The evening was a coming together of 10 experience design associations, each with a claim to the phrase, “user experience,” and an audience of 300+ comprising designers, professors, and a lot of interested parties. A mixer held in the auditorium lobby preceded the main event, between long tables loaded with promotional material and association hawkers.

    Rightly, there was great excitement in the air: this was an historic gathering. Represented were:

    • Information Architecture (AifIA)
    • Interaction Design (IxDG)
    • Graphic Design (AIGA)
    • Computer Graphics (SIGGRAPH)
    • Human Factors (BACHFES)
    • Technical Communications (STC)
    • Human Interaction (BayCHI)
    • Usability (UPA)
    • Industrial Design (IDSA)
    • Everybody (Uxnet)

    (For links to these groups and to the organizers' and speakers' websites, link to the event's BayCHI calendar listing.)

    The evening began with an interview of design icon Don Norman conducted by event co-organizer Richard Anderson. The interview traveled the length and breadth of design practice. LukeW’s Functioning Form has a nice highlight view of Don’s comments. (Thanks to Steve Portigal for noting this link.)

    Don remarked that while still at UCSD, he insisted that the word “user” be removed from the phrase, “user experience,” as an inappropriate qualifier. How interesting then, that for the rest of Tuesday night, every speaker (but me) insisted on using the term, user experience. Old habits are hard to break.

    Event co-organizer Rashmi Sinha kept the panelists’ recitations succinct – a good idea since, as later questions from the audience revealed, most of the speakers were more prepared to speak about their organizations than about experience design – an artifact of the evening’s design.

    Halfway through the 10, John Zapolski of AIGA Experience Design (who keeps a great website pointing to other experience designers' mentions in the news) broke the intensity by having the audience stand and share mini-backrubs. By then the parable of the blind men and the elephant irresistibly came to mind. It’s not that the speakers weren’t unaware of the challenge facing each of them: to deal with the design of experience – an holistic, analogic, syncretic phenomenon – within the narrow domains of their respective professional disciplines. The issue is that professional designations are separating designers whose main chances to correspond and collaborate occur when a customer calls them together. Even then, there is usually no über-experience designer coordinating the various practitioners. During the Q&A, Don Norman confirmed that the most common job title occupying the role of über-experience designer is “project manager.” “The person who gets the job done” is another.

    Each of the speakers was sincere and interesting, especially in comparison. The Powerpoint slides they presented mostly weren’t exactly paragons of information design, but since when has Powerpoint been seen as a real information design too? (It's more like an Etch-A-Sketch.) As the editor of a book named INFORMATION DESIGN (MIT Press 1999) that, regrettably, didn’t feature much of it, I’m highly sympathetic. We often design better for other than we do for ourselves. It would have been interesting, however, to see how each discipline visualized the practice of experience design, rather than only writing about their organizational activities.

    During the Q&A I asked the panelists to describe in one line the “experience” that they are concerned with designing. As I commented earlier on this blog, Mark Rolson of IDSA and frog design gave the most eloquent response – but generally among those who answered, their replies were inchoate. That is, we all know that we’re working with experience, but we’re not exactly sure what it is.

    In part, this was because, as Don pointed out, a lot disciplines were missing. Architects, design engineers, environmental designers (I really missed my favorite design organization, SEGD, the Society for Environmental Graphic Design, environmental psychologists, urban designers, landscape architects, and holistic experience designers like Bob Rogers of BRC Imagination Arts – all of these, and others, have a lot to say about experience, user or otherwise. And the “otherwise” is notable: most experiences are not designed for users, they’re designed into products, services, and environments that are less often consciously used than experienced.

    None of this should be taken as critical of the event. It was pretty darn neat, to be sitting in an audience comprising designing peers and others greatly interested in the design enterprise. Don’s comments were good to hear and the speakers all had something interesting to say. I was tempted to run up to the mike at the meeting’s conclusion and ask, “When’s the next get-together? Sooner than next year!” But I didn’t. And so the evening concluded on an ambiguous note. There’s a lot of diversity in the field of experience design, and that’s a good sign: the meta-discipline is growing. But is it also fracturing? There was a time when a Raymond Loewy or a Saul Bass or the Eaves handled all aspects of a designed experience and made it memorable, indeed. That no longer seems to be the case. It’s a good question whether this is rampant professionalism divvying up the work or simply the need for more precise expertise at every step of the way.

    One consequence of bringing together all of the design groups was that experience design could appear as a kaleidoscope, twirling wildly, or a mosaic, cementing every one in his or her place. It remains to be seen whether synergy or separation is the result, and the ultimate outcome for experience design as a unified practice.

    Comments (5) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Commentary

    October 13, 2004

    "User Experience: Why Do So Many Organizations Believe They Own It?" -- Part II

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    Posted by Bob Jacobson

    baychilogo.giflogoScreen.gifLast night's meeting was tremendous. Large turnout (200+), lots of exchange, and much to think about.

    Best quote of the night, from Mark Rolston, SF-IDSA and Frog Design, describing how industrial designers plan for the product experience: "We aim for a singularity, a point, where the product, the user, and the designer all come together." I'll publish a fuller report later today.

    This was an important undertaking. Kudos to organizers Richard Anderson and Rashmi Sinha, keynote interviewee Don Norman who set the tone, and sponsors BayCHI and the fledgling UXnet.

    Once a year is too long to wait for us all to get together. I'm volunteering right now to help with the next one.

    Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Events and Happenings

    October 12, 2004

    Online Test: "How much do you know about design engineering?"

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    Posted by Bob Jacobson

    designnews.jpgIn the interest of ecumenism -- all of us in the same boat -- Design News, the online magazine for mechanical and design engineers, offers you an interactive, graphical online test: "How Much Do You Know About Design Engineering?" It's scary: in my own case, despite a knowledge of civil engineering and an abiding interest in packaging -- not that much!

    Take the test and see if you measure up to our design engineering colleagues! Of course, if you ARE a design engineer, we'll find another test for you....

    The website on which the game happens, How Machines Work, is a hoot. Lots of orthographic and 3D illustrations of naked machinery at play.

    Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Integrative + Interdisciplinary Design

    Worst-Case Scenarios or Best-Case Scenarios?

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    Posted by Steve Portigal

    2002-06-03-mlife.jpgAdam Greenfield has a nice piece in Vodafone's receiver magazine (a pretty fascinating and well-written journal, not an on-message pro-corporate puff-piece but a daringly successful attempt to support thought leadership). Greenfield points out the ludicrousness of the idealized scenarios that are created as part of designing experiences/systems/software/etc. - all based around idealized and normal interactions while completely ignoring the transgressive and innovative ways that people actually use things.

    I'm completely guilty of this myself, the last few scenarios I've worked on dealt with taking calls on a mobile phone while commuting into work, getting an instant message at a desk, configuring a database, etc. I can make the case that those were what the problems required, but Greenfield is interested in innovation - in how products can be used in ways beyond what basic functionality they are replacing from other tools. He points to some of the more interesting mobile services introduced lately, maybe you've read about the service that will play traffic or other background noises over your conversation in order to validate an excuse or lie. And Greenfield makes the strong point that these types of things represent what people actually do and thus are crucial to be considered.

    It's actually advertisers who stretch the envelope...if you think about those ads for Polaroid a couple of years back (during a last-ditch attempt to gain relevancy in a digital imaging world), or the launch of mLife, depicting scenarios in which husbands were receiving images from their wives (going from memory here, I think there was a Poloroid ad that implied it was a nude picture in the briefcase, while mLife made us THINK it was a nude picture but it was actually a photo of food or something)...all funny, surprising, and struggling to break the frame a bit.

    Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Theories of Experience

    October 11, 2004

    TUESDAY: Bay Area "User Experience" Gathering, Tuesday, Oct 12, Stanford U.

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    Posted by Bob Jacobson

    This looks to be a can't-miss-it event -- the first of its type to my
    knowledge -- bringing together the entire Bay Area UX (user experience)
    community in one place. I hope I'll see you there! -- Bob

    (Click on the link below for the full information on the event.)


    Don Norman and a panel of representatives of UX organizations (Rashmi Sinha & Richard Anderson, moderators/organizers). Tuesday, October 12, Stanford's Kresge Auditorium. 6:30-7:45 pm–Socializing, 7:45-9:45 pm–Program.

    Years ago, Don Norman coined the term, "user experience," which has since become a prominent label for a multidisciplinary field. But what did Don intend the term to mean? What is "user experience," really? Why do so many professional societies believe they own it? Why do so many organizations in a business believe they own it? Don Norman tackles these and related questions in a conversation with Richard Anderson.

    A panel discussion with representatives from multiple UX organizations (UPA, SIGCHI, AIfIA, IxDG, SIGGRAPH, STC, AIGA Experience Design, HFES, IDSA, and UXnet) will follow. The panel, moderated by Rashmi Sinha, will explore the goals and interests of each organization, and how they come together to form the mosaic that is UX.

    Special Networking Hour

    An opportunity for User Experience professionals to network and learn about participating UX organizations (AIfIA, UPA, BACHFES, IDSA, SF & Silicon Valley SIGGRAPH, BayCHI, IxDG, and STC), complete with food and drinks. Each organization will have an information table and representatives at hand to answer questions.

    Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Events and Happenings

    October 9, 2004

    Gate 3 WorkClub redefines the meaning of the "workplace"

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    Posted by Bob Jacobson

    Gate3logo.gifWhen the Gate 3 WorkClub opened its doors this week in Emeryville, CA, it dramatically redefined my notion of a "workplace," combining modernitywith the expert community character of a guild hall. Work may be work, but for WorkClub proprietor Neil Goldberg, an award-winning industrial designer who once worked for Herman Miller and led the influential Praxis Design, work can be a medium for personal growth and expression. Work that occurs in a designed environment can itself be a desirable experience.

    Earlier this year I partnered with Neil, Gate 3 director Amy Catalano, Drs. Charlie Grantham and Jim Ware from The Future of Work Foundation, and Garrett Choi, now VP Engineering at BeHere, Inc. At the time, Neil was coming to grips with the reality that when he shut down his design firm, he became the owner of a large, empty building. Within a few weeks, however, led by Neil, we managed to come up with the rough outlines of what would become the Best Place in the World to Work.

    Gate-3-1.jpgWhat makes WorkClub such a likely success? Design. Design of space. Design of functions. Design of process. Every aspect of the Gate 3 experience has been intentionally crafted to enhance the quality of worktime spent at Gate 3.

    For example, as a "WorkClub," Gate 3 has Members (rather than renters) who can adjust their use of the facilities to suit their working style and requirements. The building is divided vertically and laterally to create varied functional and physical properties for each "region" within the Gate 3 building. For example, on the second floor where most work takes place, baffles, telephone booths, and various wall design make for a quieter ambience, the further one walks from front to back. Silence is the property at the end. Lighting, too, is handled with aplomb.

    Gate3-3.jpgGate 3 has three environmental layers that correspond with each other and which serve to satisfy WorkClub members' multiple requirements.

    The Infrastructure. Building, lighting, acoustics, furniture. It helps
    that Herman Miller is Neil's former employer and a sponsor of Gate 3.

    IT Services, the "Virtual Office." Telecommunications, technology,
    networks, wireless, computer and video applications.

    Human Milieu. A constant stream of facilitated activities: workshops,
    lectures, presentations, brainstorms, guest speakers, the Cafe. A Gate 3
    facilitator arranges and manages these interactions.

    Gate3-2.jpgIt's the interaction of these three experiential strata that makes Gate 3 such an intriguing experiment in redesigning the workplace and the experience of work, perhaps the most significant advance since the invention of the assembly line. The challenge now is for Neil and Amy to spread the word and attract the necessary critical mass that will determine Gate 3's viability. If WorkClub Emeryville succeeds, expect to see others elsewhere, put together quickly and with a clear vision of an unbounded, global work environment that serves the people who labor within.

    I'm meeting with Gate 3 innovator Neil Goldberg later this month for a full report. Send your questions for Neil and his team to me now.

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    October 4, 2004

    It's Nature's Way

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    Posted by Steve Portigal

    JAWSLast week's earthquake in Parkfield, CA "the earthquake capital of the world" was a celebratory event for the scientists who had been waiting for a data-rich event to occur. At Mount St. Helens, scientists are joined by sightseers eager to catch a glimpse of whatever-comes-out-next. For those folks, at least, the webcam doesn't quite cut it. And near Wood's Hole, MA, Gretel the great white shark has been circling in a lagoon for a week or more, attracting the usual marine biologists, but also a regular stream of onlookers and tourist boats. There's a palpable thrill to having the direct experience of these events, to proximity and first-hand visual observation. The role of technology (via the media), at least for today, seems to be the telling of stories, perhaps increasing awareness and drawing more direct-experiencers to these events.

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    October 1, 2004

    WAVE REPORT on Display Interfaces Symposium 2004.

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    Posted by Bob Jacobson

    In the current edition (#0438, Oct 1, 2004) of the WAVE Report, Publisher-Editor John Latta offers a thorough report on and discussion of the Video Electronics Standards Association's Display Interfaces Symposium 2004 held in the Bay Area last week. I've reprinted John's observations in full (click on the "Continue reading" link just below.) I highly recommend visiting the WAVE Report website when this issue is published online, to garner Latta insights on other techno-societal issues.

    John, BTW, has been publishing the WAVE Report since the early 1990s, in one form or another. It's one of those cognate newsletters that helps us to bound experience design, but doesn't get into it per se. Think of the WAVE Report as a technological lighthouse topped with the flapping arms of a large societal semaphore.

    ...continue reading.

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    A small discovery with a large meaning.

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    Posted by Bob Jacobson

    10sign.jpgToday I drove north from Redwood City on the picturesque Highway 280, the parallel route to San Francisco. It was the usual scene: the rolling hills of dense chapparal, pine, and oak; the long San Andreas Lakes; the thousand-foot-tall fog "waves" that descend from the west down the coastal hills and into the darkening valley that implies the San Andreas fault beneath. A small but profound discovery lay in wait.

    Traffic was heavy and had slowed from the usual (illegal) 75 MPH. As my car's velocity descended to 45 MPH, I sensed within me elation, the pleasure of movement, and a lightness of being. My car floated. I later noticed that as traffic cleared and I exceeded 50 MPH, driving became a challenge again. My anxiety increased. My concentration on the road ratcheted. I noticed that other drivers were taking dangerous, speed-exacerbated chances. Driving was no longer fun.

    How interesting it would be to lower traffic speeds, to see if it made driving more pleasurable -- less demanding and safer -- for everyone. In our pursuit of raw speed, we have given up conviviality on our highways. In fact, for the sake of speed, we are giving it up everywhere. Our quality of life is at risk.

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