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

    December 31, 2004

    December 28, 2004

    A holiday slowdown.

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    Posted by Bob Jacobson

    Season's greetings to everyone! The TE Team wishes you the very best in 2005.

    You may have noticed a slowdown in our postings. That's because we're taking a break from the hectic pace of late 2004 which affected each of us -- and so is much of the experience design world.

    We're continuing to scan the frontiers and will be posting again with greater regularity as the new year approaches and finally arrives. In fact, our articles are going to be even better: more hands-on, more first-person by significant EDs, and more critical commentary.

    Thanks for your loyalty to our conversation and please continue to tune in. Set your RSS readers for BUZZ!

    Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: TE Blog

    December 13, 2004

    Revenge of the Mummy: "The World's First Psychological Thrill Ride"

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    Posted by Bob Jacobson

    mummybody.jpgDesign News features a nice article describing the new Universal Studios theme park experience, "Revenge of the Mummy":

    From the earliest planning meetings for the Revenge of the Mummy ride, Universal Studios was striving to create a "category buster." But there are limits on the absolute velocity, acceleration, and forces, as well as the number of axes of motion, one can safely subject the human body to. So the designers began to think about taking a completely different approach to creating an unprecedented ride experience: They began thinking about developing a dark ride that would blend elements of Hollywood special effects, animatronics, and advanced ride technology.

    The result: The "world's first psychological thrill ride," inspired by Universal Studios' hugely successful Mummy movies. Traveling back in time 4,000 years, it plunges unwitting riders into a harrowing journey through ancient Egypt and a confrontation with an animatronic version of the mummy Imhotep, notorious Keeper of the Dead. Along the way, guests are catapulted into darkness—first shooting 45 ft uphill in 1.5 sec then plunging down below ground level. In all, they will experience seven, near-0G moments, and whiz through several high-speed, 80-degree turns. "The goal of the ride was to make it as fun and thrilling as possible while still maintaining the target family demographic," says Mike Hightower, senior VP and the lead engineer on the project.

    The article offers a thorough romp, well illustrated, through the mechanics and electronics that went into the ride, as well as describing how the experience of the ride evolved from concept to actual implementation. "Mummy" is a reminder that no matter how good digital technology gets, analog -- here expressed as real objects that move, including the audience -- remains essential to conveying intense experience.

    Having read the reviews, I wonder about the wisdom and overall ROI of developing for 10 years a thrill ride that lasts for only four minutes. Hardly time to get your hair standing on end. But the reviews also reveal an affection for this ride. Here's the link to the Official Revenge of the Mummy Website. That's show biz circa 2004.

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

    December 10, 2004

    Rethinking the Computer as a Human Experience: "The GUI Is NOT Where the Growth Is," John Latta reports on Bill Buxton

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    Posted by Bob Jacobson

    It's amazing that for all the stylistic changes, computers still retain the functional identity of 1970s technology. PCs merely shrink the package. Besides cosmetic changes to the shell and some easing of the user-computer interface burden, still computers are a challenge and their power most always underutilized. What would change that?

    Here are some ideas from the excellent Fourth Wave report on wearable computers, by John Latta, with a long discussion of a presentation by industrial designer Bill Buxton. (The full report features other designers in addition to Buxton, and actual projects.)

    john.latta.jpgWEARABLE COMPUTERS 2004
    by John Latta

    2004 8th IEEE International Symposium on Wearable Computers (ISWC)
    November 1-2, 2004, Arlington, VA

    This conference was held back-to-back with the International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality - ISMAR 04. This has ong been at the leading edge of where many feel computing will go - creating new environments that one can wear, see and otherwise experience. Much of this dates back to the early efforts in VR in the late 1980‚s and early 1990‚s. Those days have passed but the lure and potential of the technology has not. This conference, in spite of being small, about 200, has an international scope. It is equally divided between North America, Asia and Europe.

    Certainly the notion of wearable computers is not new but, having watched this technology evolve over the last 15 years, there is a sense of gradual maturity. The displays are smaller, computers are being shown that are the size of a belt buckle and many of the attendees wear a HMD throughout the conference. Certainly the interest of the military in wearable computers is a powerful forcing function, at least in the US. But what strikes us is the depth of what is considered a wearable computer and how these are being applied. We are at the beginning of a shift from computing as we know it today and wearable computers is just one component of that shift.


    Bill Baxton, well known industrial designer, yanked the audience around mentally with his notions of the user interface in the era of ubiquitous computing. His keynote address was thought provoking. It reinforced a theme heard many times before ˆ the epicenter of personal computing is shifting from the PC.

    Bill was at Xerox PARC and other research organizations. He is now on his own at Buxton Design.

    Bill's keynote talk was, "Whereable Computing." He made the following key points:

    • We are about to change the role of IO, in the human context, with computing. In the past the output, including the GUI, dominated while future user inputs will actually exceed the output from the computer. [Continued]

    ...continue reading.

    Comments (4) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Experience Design & Technology

    December 8, 2004

    December 3, 2004