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
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.
| Contact Bob
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."
| Contact Paula
CALENDAR OF EXPERIENCE DESIGN EVENTS
(Courtesy of Mark Vanderbeeken
, Experientia SpA, Torino)
Experience Design Websites
Core 77 Website & Forum
InfoD: Understsanding by Design
The Wayfinding Place
L-ARCH (Landscape Architecture Mailing List)
DUX 2007 Conference
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
Experience Design Blogs
Adam Greenfield's Speedbird
Experience Designer Network (Brian Alger)
SmartSpace: Annotated Environments (Scott Smith)
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
MIT Culture Convergence Consortium
Luke Wroblewski, Functioning Form|Interface Design
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
LRA Worldwide, Inc.
BRC Imagination Arts
Cooper Interactive Design
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
Total Experience on Technorati
May 26, 2006
Wayne E. Heath, the Man Who Reinvented Urban Signage, Dies
Wayne Heath, the man who brought new life to urban signage in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and other metropolitan Western cities, died at the age of 87. Today's LA Times offers a thoughtful tribute obituary, including this by Times staff writer Claire Noland:
By 1952, Heath, who bought out Gorsich and renamed the business Heath and Co., was building a client list that would endure for decades. Verne Winchell, founder of the original Winchell's doughnut shop in Temple City, and Harold Butler, a restaurant entrepreneur who opened the first Denny's, enjoyed the brand recognition Heath's distinctive signs brought them.
Then there was Nick Shammas and Felix the Cat. In 1958, Shammas moved his dealership and its cat logo from downtown to Figueroa and Jefferson Boulevard. Heath and Co. incorporated neon and plastic for what would become a kitschy Los Angeles landmark.
“Nobody had ever put that big a sign on top of a roof,” Lloyd said. “It was so big and unique you couldn't help but see it.”
posted by Bob Jacobson |
May 17, 2006
Mitch Ratcliffe, in an astute article published on his blog, Rational Rants, “Surveillance society: Growing daily?” characterizes America as a “surveillance society.” It's scary and the worst part is, this is no nightmare: it's becoming our daily reality. What price is exacted from Americans in terms of their sense of autonomy, purpose, independence, and entitled rights remains to be seen. Polls expressing majority support for the NSA's telephone surveillance of average Americans are alarming. Ratcliffe cites an article by CNET's Declan McCullagh, Congress may make ISPs snoop on you, revealing a bill in Congress to further extend and legalize the police state. It would require ISPs to turn over their Internet logs to the Feds, thus extending surveillance beyond “mere” telephone calls to the global Internet itself. By the time the civil libertarians and political historians sort this out, the psychic and civic damage may well have been done, here and abroad. We will certainly not be the people we once were.
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May 14, 2006
Da Vinci Code Composer Hans Zimmer interviewed on NPR
NPR's Liane Hansen interviews the brilliant cinema composer, Hans Zimmer, this morning. Zimmer's current achievement is the score for The Da Vinci Code, directed by Ron Howard, debuting this week. (Caution: The Da Vinci Code's website's overdone Flash programming will capture your computer, so use it only when you have the time.) The Da Vinci Code features the most tightly integrated son-et-lux milieu since the Oscar-winning Master & Commander soundtrack (Richard King, supervising sound editor) which relied on exceptional presence and period-music authenticity. Zimmer takes a different approach -- avoiding sounding “churchy” -- by getting “inside” the characters of the story and transforming into music their personal development in the face of crises. Zimmer reminds us that, with the addition of serious scoring, intelligent cinema offers more than pictures and action: “Experiencing the deep intellectual activity of a person can be very exciting,” (Zimmer's own website is exciting to hear as well as see, too.)
posted by Bob Jacobson |
May 10, 2006
A Coming Boom in Business Services Design?
“Designing Companies,” an article in today's Forbes.com, by Tom Van Riper, reminds us that there's more to “industrial” design than creating cool products. Van Riper searches customer-experience design for that all-important ROI needed to get executives' attention -- and their business. Unfortunately, as he discovers, there are few metrics because services are such fluid “objects” in the first place.
American companies have shown they can build better mousetraps, but can they create shorter waiting lines and fairer insurance premiums?
For all the kudos and profits garnered by consumer product companies like Apple Computer and Procter & Gamble for innovative gadgets like the iPod and the Swiffer, it's the service industry that now drives nearly 80% of the U.S. economy. And most players in that space--from banks to retailers to insurers--are just beginning to recognize their need to offer their customers the type of innovation that industrial designers have long brought to consumer products.
That specialized breed calling themselves business design consultants think service companies represent the next wave of their work, adapting to service industries the principles that product makers have used to differentiate themselves in the fight for retail shelf space.
I don't think Van Riper makes a great case for customer-experience design, which is too bad given the relative paucity of articles on the topic in leading journals like FORBES. Read it for the brief case studies that constitute the second half of the article.
Despite its alluring title, “Designing Companies” identifies none of the companies actually designing companies, only their giant corporate clients. My guess is that you, the readers of this blog, are them. Care to identify yourselves?
posted by Bob Jacobson |
Theme Parks Buoy Disney's Second-Quarter Earnings
The New York Times today reports that “Disney, based in Burbank, Calif., is benefiting from increased attendance at the parks and resorts unit, where sales jumped 7 percent, to $2.25 billion. ... At the parks and resorts unit, which includes Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California, profit rose 17 percent, to $214 million from $183 million. Sales hit $2.25 billion, from $2.1 billion a year ago.” TV earnings (ABC and ESPN) also were up. Movie earnings were dramatically down and consumer products slightly off.
It'll be interesting to see how the rising price of transportation, exacerbated by skyrocketing prices for gasoline and jet fuel, affects the earnings picture for destination entertainment (theme parks) vis-a-vis locally based entertainment (TV and movies).
posted by Bob Jacobson |
May 9, 2006
Americans struggle to make sense of a largely unknown, sometimes hostile world -- but unfortunately, they know just as little about one another. A 2006 Geographic Literacy Study conducted by National Geographic-Roper Public Affairs revealed staggering ignorance about America's geography among 18 to 24 year olds: half of the 510 individuals sampled couldn't find New York State on a map. What goes on in that unknown region no doubt is an equal mystery for them.
Geo-moronics are not limited to America's youngsters: compared with their overseas counterparts, American adults travel infrequently, except to a relatively few over-visited destinations. Maybe it's time America had a miniature park where Boomers, X and Y Gens, and children can learn something about their nation, their fellow Americans -- and themselves. What's a miniature park?
Tricia Vita explains in the April 2006 issue of Funworld, the IAAPA magazine. Miniature parks in Europe -- models of nations, complete with their regions and their historical landmarks -- are highly popular attractions for locals and visitors alike: informative as they are lucrative. Madurodam, in The Hague, is the most famous miniature park, but the International Association of Miniature Parks has 17 other members including parks in Turkey, Israel, the Canary Islands, and Canada. In all, there are 45 miniature parks around the world. But there's not even one in the 50 United States.
In the Funworld article, American Russell Bekins, who helped to design the new Italia in Miniatura, tells Vita, “Europe looks to its great cities and their architecture as the maximum expression of their culture. The United States still looks to its wide open spaces,” he says. “Perhaps a miniature park of our national parks would fly.”
Better than that! America in Miniature (user ID and password, “eagle”) is a real-life project led by Edward van de Meer, a former immigrant from Holland where he was a fan of Madurodam. His goal is to create a 10-acre miniature park in Las Vegas...of the United States. I was fortunate to recently speak with van de Meer, who in three years has assembled a powerhouse team able to realize his vision of America in Miniature as a national attraction.
Like a good businessman, van de Meer can justify his enterprise on the basis of its financial viability. Indeed, his strategy and planning are vastly more sophisticated than many of the startups I've counseled. All he needs to make his dream come true is an enlightened investor. He'll find one.
What impresses me most about van de Meer's concept is his determination to create a mirror -- not just with the miniatures, but with the crowds of visitors themselves -- in which Americans can see their full diversity. Diversity, after all, is the most notable feature of American life for those who've lived overseas, where societies tend to be less diverse. The American “mosaic” is one of the positive aspects of American culture -- American patriotism in its most benign, humane form. Guests from overseas, who typically take in only one or two American cities in a lifetime, can share in that admiration.
A 10-acre park may seem a small endeavor in physical terms, but evaluated as a designed experience (with a sophisticated appreciation for haptic learning), van de Meer's vision is anything but small. Steve Wynn, are you listening?
(This posting is dedicated to my former neighbor Lou, who passed away today from a recurring brain tumor. Lou, a truly gentle man, always dreamed of becoming a Rotary Club Ambassador in charge of creating miniature Americas around the country, to spread understanding and love. Rest in peace, dear Lou.)
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May 5, 2006
Inspired by Mark Vanderbeeken's great work over at Putting people first and my coauthor Paula Thornton's ever entertaining accounts of life in the experience design business, written here on TE, I hoped today to write about tangible evidence of ED as an edifying practice in everyday life. Instead, I spent nearly the entire day (other than tending to my clients' needs) prowling the Web, looking for the epicenter of experience design. I couldn't find it. Experience designers are scattered here and there, projects are happening -- a good one is the Organic City urban-storytelling website, a Webby Awards contender put together by the students at Cal State East Bay -- but to tell the truth, we're not at the center of anyone's consciousness except our own. More deserving of online (and offline) conversation are trendy items like keyword search engines, TIVO-defeating technology (“see ALL the ads!”), peace in Darfur (at last), and Brad and Angelina. One out of four that really merits attention: now, that's something!
My ennui caused me to think long and hard about the truly marginalized: what does it mean to be ignored? The Japanese are formally correct about this: ignoring someone, even in an elevator, is just not right. (But actually, if you're someone big in Japan, you can ignore lessers.) The author Frank Norris' tells the tale in The Octopus of a murdered farmer's wife and daughter, thrown off their farm by California railroad barons and left to fend for themselves in pre-earthquake San Francisco. Looking into plush restaurants where wealthy urbanites dine unaware of the hungry faces at the window, they can only imagine the taste of fresh food:
And upon those streets that, as the hours advanced, grew more and more deserted, more and more silent, more and more oppressive with the sense of the bitter hardness of life towards those who have no means of living, Minna Hooven spent the first night of her struggle to keep her head above the ebb-tide of the city's sea, into which she had been plunged.
In our own time, until they marched by the millions this week, immigrants from Mexico enjoyed a similar invisibility. What is it like to be so ignored?
Truth to tell, it's pretty much what most of us feel. Marginalized. Biologist Desmond Morris, in THE HUMAN ZOO, describes how animals form hierarchies based on desirable traits. Each individual in his or her place, each content. Human beings, unfortunately, are now so numerous, our hierarchies fail us. There's not enough room at the top. Modern corporations, government bureaucracies, and educational institutions driven by the fetish of hyper-efficiency have reduced even further opportunities for individuals to shine. Not that it doesn't happen -- but it happens less and less frequently in proportion to the numbers of people who aspire to be great in whatever it is they do. Yet we are driven to succeed.
Religionists admonish us not to put our stock in that which we possess, fame and fortune -- but in truth, even in organized religion there are flatter hierarchies with fewer leaders at the top per adherents below. Once there was a movie about a parish priest who rose to become the Pope. Of course, per Church doctrine, there can be only one Pope, but at least in that naive time, there were many contenders. Now there are few. The deal is done.
In art, the sciences, service industries, education, agriculture, health, human services -- name the domain and you can count its dignitaries on one hand. So what does the experience of marginalization mean for us, and for the species? Can the overwhelming number of addictions, depressions, wild acting out, oppression, and war, not just in the US but globally, be an outcome of the vast majority of human beings' experience of marginalization?
Books have been written about this, but as the numbers of celebrated books declines and fewer books per writers are read, books that can gain enough public awareness to catalyze change become rarer, too. Even individuals who inveigh against marginalization and for the potential and dignity latent in every human experience -- they too are fewer, harder to hear among the background noise in which most expressions are submerged. Who designs for human potential anymore?
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