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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    May 31, 2007

    Spirituality and Experience: A Prelude

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    Posted by Bob Jacobson

    Mandala2I began my research on the nature of experience in different traditions with the oldest tradition of all, spirituality.

    I haven't finished. I discovered a wealth of reflection on the spiritual experience, not only as an accumulation of millennia of spiritual experiences, but also an enormous corpus of commentary, theological and philosophical, relating to the spiritual experience. In fact, I'm overwhelmed by the quantity of human endeavor that's gone into understanding this profound variety of experience. It'll take me several more days to assimilate and incorporate it in an entry on this blog.

    What strikes me immediately, however, is how little of this thinking is reflected in contemporary discussions about experience, outside the spiritual community; in particular, in the field of design. It's as if designers have purposely sequestered spiritual experience (which many designers express in their more personal descriptions of the things they see and feel), thereby keeping design “pure” and undisturbed by untamable spirituality. This lack of interior fire weakens the practice of design. If design doesn't touch people in their spiritual core, in the soul of their being, it's simply an intellectual exercise or a pitch piece, even at its most artful.

    I'm going to ponder this and incorporate my thoughts on the matter in my discussion about spiritual experience. You might ponder it yourself and examine your own work as a designer. Does it have a spiritual dimension? In your practice of design? In the expression of the designs that you produce, whatever your medium?

    Single Saguaro And Stunning Sonora Desert Sunset-HorzFor the next several days, I will be moving myself from tourist-overrun Santa Monica to the quiet hotness of Tucson, on the edge of the Sonora Desert. It's a good place to think about things spiritual. Many of humankind's most dramatic spiritual experiences, the home of religions including but more diverse than the Abrahamic trio (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). The stark reality of the desert environment can infect one with a divine madness. The desert itself is a drama that, experienced, leaves strong and lasting impressions. It's been known to reshape the soul.

    (Images: Mandala, Princeton University Anthropology; Sonora Desert, Alan Bauer)

    Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Theories of Experience

    May 28, 2007

    Read Archinect and add it to your RSS feeds

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    Posted by Bob Jacobson

    ArchinectI can't say enough good things about Archinect, the online magazine of architecture, landscape architecture, and design.

    Founded and published by Paul Petrunia (in L.A.) and edited by John Jourdan (in Chicago), Archinect has incredible breadth and offers wonderful analysis of all things in the built environment. The current issue features an article on Cooper-Hewitt's exhibition honoring designers who serve “the other 90%,” the world's poor; and dozens of Features describing current works in progress. There are book reviews, job listings, and the whole nine yards.

    I try to read Archinect religiously, but it's a push: each issue is so jam-packed with information. So don't wait on me to synthesize and report. Read it yourself!

    Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Integrative + Interdisciplinary Design | Websites, Blogs, and Podcasts

    Don't touch that dial! “About Experience” is coming right up (this week)...

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    Posted by Bob Jacobson

    Images-3My weekend plan to describe Experience as that term has been used in different traditions -- spiritual, philosophical, scientific, and so forth -- was set back by a surprise assignment that requires me to temporarily relocate out of state.

    I'll be moving next week (to Arizona, for the month of June). I used this weekend to decide what I'll take with me and what I'll let go. As an itinerant scholar and consultant -- a peddler of ideas -- I like to pare down with each bend in the road.

    But I'm on the case. Please stay tuned: the promised blog entries will appear this week.

    (Image: Peter Horvath,

    Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Commentary | TE Blog

    May 24, 2007

    My goal for the weekend: describing Experience

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    Posted by Bob Jacobson

    CryssphThis long Memorial Day weekend, I've set myself the goal of describing Experience.

    During the last year, searching for a deeper understanding of Experience, I've intensively read, in articles, on blogs, and in exchanges of email, how designers of experience speak about experience. Almost universally, when experience designers -- whatever their medium, in the material or synthetic worlds -- speak of Experience, they do so in behavioral, almost clinical terms. Just as automotive engineers mostly concern themselves with cylinders and pistons, rather than the wonder of combustion and the production of power -- a marvelous alchemy -- experience designers typically conceive of Experience objectively. They usually begin designing with an idea of the outcomes that they seek already in mind -- some thought or action they hope to catalyze. To serve these purely instrumental goals, the designers needn't engage in subjective discourse with their audiences. They don't share their audiences' subjective gestalt. The designers just "get it"; then they design. They wax eloquent on the subjectivity of Experience, however, when describing their own experiences.

    Why are experience designers' conceptions of Experience -- the first as an instrumental goal to be enacted by others, the second as an inviolate personal asset -- so separate and even at odds? The reason lies in our field's tendency not to consider Experience as something that needs comprehension. Like the followers of a deity in worship, designers accept Experience's salience and form on faith. The result is an unintentional dichotomy in our practice: we design for others' experiences differently and less passionately than we seek out experiences for ourselves.

    My goal over the next five days is to characterize Experience as other than an instrumental endgame. Because there are many categories of experiences and different modalities for experiencing them, my description of Experience won't be as a monolithic phenomenon but rather as a mosaic of phenomena. As I write, I can think of four paradigmatic domains in which Experience is a central topic: philosophy, spirituality, cognitive science (including environmental psychology), and design (especially interaction design and the design of virtual worlds). There may be more. Each understands and applies Experience within a different framework of meanings, interpretations, and traditions. I don't expect to find easy correlations among these domains and their traditions, but I believe that at a high enough level of abstraction, the concept of Experience becomes transcendent and unifying. If this is true, then the lessons learned designing experiences in a domain of greater subjectivity (for example, philosophy or spirituality) will be applicable to the design of experiences in domains less obviously so.

    That's my goal. Check in over the weekend to see how close I come.

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

    May 23, 2007

    Design News goes ga-ga over Boeing's new 787 -- but what's left to “fill 'er up”?

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    Posted by Bob Jacobson

    Design News 787If you can't get enough juice about jet planes, then Design News special edition on Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner is right for you! Its a masterful collection of articles, interviews, photo albums, and videos -- enough to keep even the most rabid aerophile enthralled late into the night.

    When I was a kid, my Mom, then an executive secretary to Air Force generals, used to bring home photos and illustrations, paeans to flight -- F86s, F101s (the Scorpion!), the F-15, Redstone rockets, Nike missiles, the first satellites, and artist conceptions of Missions to Mars -- with which I papered my bedroom. I've been hooked on aviation ever since. The appearances of the Dreamliner and, eventually one hopes, Airbus' mega-liner, the A380, bring chills to my spine.

    But I have an abiding question made more acute by revelations that we've reached Peak Oil: that petroleum production is now all downhill from here. And that question is, where are we going to get fuel for all these big planes? Even assuming that their engines become super-efficient (which they aren't yet), these new benzine-guzzlers are only creating additional demand for which there is no supply.

    Davis-MonthanAnyone who's visited the airplane boneyard at the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, in Arizona, knows what I'm talking about: acre upon acre of old, rusting aircraft, acquired at the cost of many hundreds of billions of dollars, going nowhere and serving no purpose. Is this the future of aviation as we know it? I fear so. So even though I'm thrilled by the announcement of new and better-designed airplanes, there always lingers in the back of my mind a worry that we're all living in a fairy-tale world of cheap and plentiful oil, a world that ended decades ago. Now we're just mopping up what's left of our earth's petroleum heritage with these bigger and better metal birds.

    Maybe we'll learn to take solar-powered trains and get around in other sustainable vehicles, but how are our kids going to feel when they're grounded, literally, never to fly as we once did? Like the characters in Ursula LeGuin's novel, Always Coming Home, set 50,000 years in the future, I wonder if only a generation from now our generations will be known as “the people with their heads on backwards,” always living falsely in the past....

    (Images: Design News and Archaeography Photo Collective)

    Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Commentary | ED Projects of Note | Websites, Blogs, and Podcasts

    May 22, 2007

    Falling Short of an End: Target

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    Posted by Paula Thornton

    [Happy Birthday to me! Heck, what's the point of authoring a blog if you can't send yourself wishes?]

    I'm following up on Bob's post today with the unanswered question, "When does an experience end?" My answer: when you're done. The problem is some companies end an experience based on some parameter other than what the reasonable expectations might be for a customer (or other relationship). Let's consider a few common ones:

    • The end of 'scope' for a particular initiative
    • The end of budget for a particular project
    • The end of attention/patience of a manager responsible for implementing a service
    • etc...etc...etc.

    Target%20bullseye.gifSo I have a question for Target: what was the reason you stopped short of this particular scenario? Don't get me wrong. Target is one of our favorite companies for paying attention to design...just not particularly to interactions (hmmm, and now that I think about it...I have a cherished colleague that's a designer there...maybe I need to ask him this question). So this isn't about pointing a finger -- this is truly about, what are the reasons experience designs fall short?


    • My weeks of late have been beyond hectic (thus, not covering for Bob when he was gone -- I barely had time to talk to myself, let alone do blog posts).
    • I have an important wedding shower to go to later this week.
    • I learned that the bride-to-be is registered at Target.
    • Fabulous: quick access to the gift registry.
    • Easy access to her registry via her name.
    • I spin through her list and my attention is drawn to some items listed with "free shipping".
    • I find that I can order two of the items in the list and still be within my budget (that makes me look good).
    • The order can be shipped directly to the bride-to-be without me knowing her address or Target having to tell me what it is (tremendous).
    • I get a confirmation on the screen and a nice html email.
    • This is all great! But I am sorely disappointed...

    What happened? Target didn't finish the scenario. I wasn't just buying a gift. I was buying a gift for a shower. I still have to go to the shower. I will be going without the gifts. I will bring a card...but what can I put into the card? Target did not offer me (the template for which would be next to nothing to design and could be reused repeatedly) a simple printout that listed the pictures of the items, with their titles that I could include in my card to announce my soon-to-arrive gift! A simple solution would have sealed the deal on my otherwise 'exceeded' expectations. Instead, my expectations were exceeded all the way to the end...and one simple action turned my experience into a disappointment (I now have to take the time to create my own 'gift announcement' -- like I have time for that...).

    I don't offer this to 'complain' about my situation. I offer this as an example of just how minor the big things are. Somehow, real world examples are better at illustrating the points we're trying to make than us talking about them endlessly.

    So...for one rule of thumb, the experience ends when the scenario is over (satisfied) -- not at the end of the scope, the budget, or the patience of the manager.

    Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Odds and Ends: Random Observations

    What is experience? Comments from the readers

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    Posted by Bob Jacobson

    050437211SeanfliesIn April 2007 I posted five questions about the nature of experience. I asked TE's readers to offer their answers as Comments. The questions were:

    1. When does an experience begin and end?
    2. What are the dimensions of an experience?
    3. What role do setting, memories of prior experiences, and the larger environment play in creating the character of an experience?
    4. What metrics can be devised and applied, or have been already, to take the measure of an experience?
    5. Can an experience be shared? If so, in what way, and among whom and how many individuals? Is the experience they share the same?

    I was trying to bound the meaning of the term “experience,” a central concept in the new book I'm writing about designing for experience. The sample of readers who replied wasn't large enough to manage the challenge. However, the readers' Comments are, I believe, indicative of the thinking of many in the contemporary design community. (Do you agree or disagree? And why?)

    In a future entry -- perhaps as soon as tomorrow, certainly by week's end -- I'll describe my own understanding of experience, informed by relevant philosophy, science, art, and ... experience.

    I thank each of the Commenters who took the time to ponder my queries and come up with answers, wrestling with the greasiest of pigs.

    1. When does an experience begin and end?

    Adam Lawrence, Work • Play • Experience

    Shooting from the hip here, I would say that the kind of experience we are talking about starts when I first come into contact with something that I consciously or -- more importantly -- subconsciously link with your offering; or to which I later return, to link with it.


    Linked to two posts on his blog (Diagram 1 and Diagram 2).

    Kent Larsson

    It seems to me that we need to distinguish between planned and unplanned experiences, the difference being the up-front planning phase. A planned experience has three or four phases:

    1. The planning phase where information is gathered, expectations are formed, and the timing and logistics of the experience are set.

    2. The actual experience during which we react to met or unmet expecations, and timing and logistics are working or not working as planned.Feelings of highs and lows depending on the outcomes of the experience.

    3. Immediate post-experience evaluation: kind of a mental summary of the good and bad. Mental decisions are made for the future.

    4. Long-term post-experience: memories fades. Good memories last longer than bad. Past experience kicks in when faced with a repeat of the same experience affecting expectations.

    Experiences have a beginning, but no clear end.

    ...continue reading.

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

    May 21, 2007

    Cooper-Hewitt's National Design Awards for 2007: where's experience design?

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    Posted by Bob Jacobson

    Nda Logo 07Cooper-Hewitt, the National Museum of Design at the Smithsonian Institution, has announced the National Design Awards for 2007.

    Without taking away anything from the wonderful designs and their designers, whom Cooper-Hewitt has justly honored, it's still rather amazing that all of the awards are for discrete physical, environmental, or media artifacts. There is no category for design that incorporates all of these elements to create an holistic designed experience. This year's awards reify our conventional notions of design and ignore the emergence and importance of integrated design in the service of experience.

    The Design Mind Award for Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi comes closest. Brown and Venturi, practitioners and theoreticians of full-fledged experience design (in the guise of architecture) have labored long and hard to promote an holistic approach to design from the standpoint of “experiencers.” Cooper-Hewitt's appreciation of their advocacy is overdue but welcome at last.

    The National Design Awards, by the way, are sponsored by the retailer Target, one of the arch-proponents of customer experience design. Target's take on the importance of holistic design is worth reading.

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

    May 20, 2007

    Effective design of experience requires the application of constraints

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    Posted by Bob Jacobson

    Cacophony1I was at a street fair today and fairly overwhelmed by the cacophony: so many sights, sounds, and -- yes -- smells! I was immersed in the celebration. But if you asked me to poiint out one or a few things that really stood out for me, I would be hard pressed to respond.

    Maybe while my attention was focused on a particular object in a particular booth, or someone caught my eye and held it for more than a few seconds, I formed a memory. But most of what I experienced was in the moment, stream of consciousness: I was at a street fair, plain and simple.

    What differentiated this street fair from so many others I've attended? I couldn't tell you that. The street fair held no more significance than that it happened and I was there. After a nice afternoon, I left, not edified in any particular way.

    It occurred to me that a well designed experience, one that leaves its mark, that changes my way or thinking or acting, is one that has benefitted from applying constraints to its composition. Like the sculpting of the David by Michaelangelo described in Irving Stone's The Agony and the Ecstasy, designing a memorable experience is a process akin to removing the excess marble that occludes the living statuary presence within it.

    Effective design of experience is a process of applying constraints: paring away, focusing on the essentials. In management parlance, this is known at the Theory of Constraints.

    ConstraintsThe Theory of Constraints runs counter to the prevailing practice of experience design, which too often has to do with adding features, over-endowing the experiential environment, and creating spectacles that are themselves memorable at the expense of the meaning or sensations they're intended to convey. This is a consequence of designers not having theories to work from in the first place; therefore, they don't know what elements to constrain to produce the desired experience. In the absence of this knowledge, the safe thing is to pile it on. From cellphones to websites to trade-show exhibitions, the methods are loose, the designs employed are overblown, and the results are as cacophonous as my street fair: satisfying in the moment, but ultimately not worth remembering. And if that's so, what's the point of experiencing them in the first place, other than as sensory escapism? But the theories of experience do exist, even if too many designers aren't knowledgeable about them. It only remains to apply them and the constraints they require.

    (Images: “Cacophony,” Ebb & Flow: A Meditation, an excellent rumination on experiences;“Constraints,” National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center)

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

    May 15, 2007

    I've returned from Esalen

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    Posted by Bob Jacobson

    My time at Esalen was richly spent, with new and inspiring experiences. One was life-changing.

    (It's difficult to imagine how a “user experience” expert could have improved upon them.)

    I'll report in full next week....

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

    May 7, 2007

    Away for the week at Esalen

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    Posted by Bob Jacobson

    Esalen.jpgI'm away for the week at Esalen, in Big Sur, CA, the birthplace of the "human potential" and "transformation" movements: discovering the potential of the self in preparation to engender positive changes in the world. I'll be writing of my experiences on my return. And yes, I intend to use Esalen's fabled hot tubs as well as engage in meaningful conversations. Possibly both at the same time....

    In the meantime, check in to see what Paula's up to.

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

    May 4, 2007

    URGENT! OIL CRISIS! “World Without Oil,” alternate in-the-world reality game, launches

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    Posted by Bob Jacobson

    Wwo LogoI received the following email today from Jane McGonigal, the reigning Queen of In-the-World Game-Based Experiences, now Game Designer at the Institute for the Future. It describes “World Without Oil,” a new alternative-reality game that responds to a very real crisis in our world: Peak Oil, the eventual running out of petroleum in our lifetimes. Get ready for the crisis: follow Jane's instructions. You're in for an entertaining and educational, but excruciatingly real experience -- and one that unfortunately, in the future, will not be a game to play but the reality in which we live...

    I have some exciting news: Earlier this week, World Without Oil launched. It’s the first alternate reality game to address a real-world problem: U.S. oil dependency. The official motto: “Play it – before you live it.” And you can play right now!

    It takes literally less than 30 seconds to sign up as a game hero. I hope you’ll go sign up right now! Here’s the link.

    (Signing up just gives you a unique identity in the alternate reality. It means the game will know who you are if you come back and play. Unlike other ARGs, the game won’t start emailing you or burying things in your backyard.)

    Once you’re signed up, there’s lots of fun stuff to check out. The game launched on Monday, and already there are hundreds of player created documents to browse—-not to mention the official backstory created by the game’s puppet masters. The latest game updates include video footage of an underground car vandalism effort, instructions for how to throw fuel-free parties, and an eyebrow-raising transcript of the new Secretary of State’s address to the nation.

    But most importantly – please take 1 minute today to sign up to play and help make this experimental game project a success!

    More information about the project below; email me if you want to hear more.


    Jane McGonigal
    Resident Game Designer, Institute for the Future

    This press release explains the game:

    First Alternate Reality Game To Confront A Major Social Issue: A Worldwide Oil Shock

    All Web Users Invited to Witness the Oil Shock, Document Their Experiences, Apply Collective Imagination to Solve a Real World Problem

    “Play it – before you live it!”

    (San Francisco, CA)—Everyone knows that “someday” the world may face an oil shortage. What if that day was sooner than you thought? How would your life change? On Monday, April 30, ITVS Interactive and Independent Lens will launch WORLD WITHOUT OIL, a live interactive month-long alternate reality event to explore this very real possibility.

    Produced by the design team at Writerguy, WORLD WITHOUT OIL is the first alternate reality game to enlist the Internet’s vast collective intelligence and imagination to confront and attempt to solve a real-world problem: what happens when a great economy built entirely on cheap oil begins to run short? This grassroots experience looks at the impact on people's lives—work, social, family and personal—and explores what happens when our thirst for oil begins to exceed supply.

    “Alternate reality gaming is emerging as the way for the world to imagine and engineer a best-case-scenario future,” says WORLD WITHOUT OIL’s participation architect, noted futurist Jane McGonigal. “It’s been summed up this way: ‘If you want to change the future, play with it first.’”

    Beginning April 30, the nerve center for the realistic oil crisis is at, with links to citizen stories in blogs, videos, photos, audio and phone messages posted all over the Internet. At the grassroots website, people will learn the broad brushstrokes of the crisis, such as the current price of a gallon of gas or how widespread shortages are. Players will fill in the details, by creating Web documents that express their own perspectives from within the crisis.

    “The ‘alternate reality’ of WORLD WITHOUT OIL is not fantasy, it’s a very real possibility,” says Writerguy Creative Director Ken Eklund. “And the game challenge is one of imagination. No one person or small group can hope to figure out the complex rippling effects of an oil shock, but the collective imagination can. And understanding it is a serious, positive step toward preventing it.”

    People of any age or Web ability can participate in the game. Player communities are already forming to prepare for game launch, and pre-game play has started. Use these links:

    WORLD WITHOUT OIL is produced by the Writerguy team, presented by ITVS Interactive (Independent Television Service), and funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. An Independent Lens Web-exclusive presentation (PBS), WORLD WITHOUT OIL is an ELECTRIC SHADOWS project (ITVS).

    About the Game Creators

    The Writerguy team includes some of alternate reality gaming's most experienced “puppetmasters” in addition to a Web producer, designer and outreach manager. Ken Eklund, Writerguy and creative director, has been working as a game writer and designer for 20 years. He is credited on over two dozen games as well as many Internet-based educational projects. Jane McGonigal, participation architect, is currently the resident game designer at the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, CA. Previously she was a lead designer at 42 Entertainment, most notably for I Love Bees, an award-winning alternate reality game. In Fall 2006 MIT Technology Review named McGonigal one of the top 35 innovators changing the world through technology.

    Electric Shadows and Independent Lens Web-Exclusives

    Independent Lens presents interactive features throughout the series website and is proud to be a portal to Electric Shadows projects which feature the unflinching visions of independent media makers via the Web. These award-winning Web-originals invite visitors to interact through non-linear storytelling and social issue games created by independent media makers. Presented by Independent Lens and ITVS Interactive and funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Electric Shadows sites explore the arts, culture and society through innovative forms including nonlinear storytelling and interactive gameplay and meet the ITVS mission of giving voice to underserved communities. Since its inception in 2002, the initiative has funded six online projects. Electric Shadows projects have garnered a People’s Choice Webby Award, two SXSW Web Awards, highlighted as one of’s “50 Coolest Websites”, Yahoo! Picks, Cool Site of the Day and numerous other accolades. Explore the projects and learn more about Electric Shadows.

    Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: ED Education | ED Projects of Note | Events and Happenings | Websites, Blogs, and Podcasts

    May 2, 2007

    3rd Information Design Intl. Conference & 39th Intl. Visual Literacy Annual Conference, Curitiba, Brazil, Oct 8-13, 2007

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    Posted by Bob Jacobson

    Brazil Info Design ConfThe Third Information Design International Conference -- also known as the 2nd infoDesign Brasil conference -- will take place in Curitiba, Brazil, near Rio, October 8-10, 2007.

    It's followed immediately by ivla 2007, the 39th International Visual Literacy Annual Conference, also in Curitiba, October 10-13, 2007. The conferences are separate, but collaborative arrangements have been made for those who attend both.

    Their calls for papers have gone out. The Information Design Conference's call has been extended to Monday, May 14 (details here). ivla's window closed on April 30.

    These will be this year's two major, relevant Latin American conferences, taking place in South America's (and possibly the Hemisphere's) most dynamic social and cultural milieu. Their respective themes are:

    3rd Information Design International Conference

    • Education: aspects and issues regarding the role of information design in education. Studies about information design programmes in higher education, educational material, methods and approaches for teaching and learning within an information design perspective
    • History and theory: historical and/or theoretical approaches and contributions to information design. Researches on early information design and designers, proposals of taxonomies, frameworks and models
    • Technology and society: aspects and issues of information design concerning the use of technology by individuals and/or its effects on society. Researches on topics such as human-computer interaction, hypermedia design, broadcasting design
    • Information systems and communication: the effectiveness of information systems in communicating messages. Investigations on instructional design, wayfinding information, sign systems, graphic symbols, and forms design

    ivla 2007

    • Education, Teaching, and Learning
    • Societal and Community Issues
    • Cultural Influences, Impacts, and Considerations
    • Historic Uses and Approaches
    • Research, Theories, and Definitions
    • Transformative Functions
    • Future Trends and Directions
    • Communication and Artistic Expression
    • Ethical, Social, and Philosophical Concerns

    Unlike designing for experience, which is a discipline still in formation, information design and the study of visual literacy have been around awhile. Their literatures and practices are solid. For practitioners and employers of practitioners, these two conferences offer a rare opportunity to acquire broad state-of-the-art knowledge. BTW, I'll be speaking at the Information Design Conference and attending ivla. And listening to bossa nova whenever I can.

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    MySpace's “Cool New People” -- aren't

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    Posted by Bob Jacobson

    Myspace "Cool New People"Over at MySpace, the welcome page now features supposedly attractive new subscribers: “Cool New People.” The feed changes frequently, but I perceive a pattern...

    Today's Cool New People include Drea, a male-female hipster pair; Jay, a goateed dude with his young family; and Senator Chris Dodd.

    Chris Dodd? “Cool”? Maybe when he was first elected, many, many decades ago. But then, are US politicians John McCain, Dennis Kucinich, Mitt Romney, or Hilary Clinton, who also are Cool New People, any cooler?

    MySpace's struggle with its identity crisis couldn't be more obvious. It's trying to be everything to everyone, socially commendable but in practice, unfocused and bland -- like mainline network television.

    It's not surprising: cool MySpace is owned by decidedly uncool Rupert Murdoch, the ultra-conservative, multi-billionaire septuagenerian, whose largest asset is his global TV network featuring local versions of Fox News, Fox Sports, and FX. It's the newest business model for MySpace.

    I like MySpace's greater focus on its customers. It's become responsive. But who does it see as its customers, ultimately: the advertisers that MySpace is encouraging to take over its virtual community, or the legions of members who are starting to notice that they're being set up for targeted advertising and leaving for smaller, less congested, less commercial, and better-focused social networks?

    (An excellent analysis of Murdoch's News Corp.'s online strategy, ambitions, and ups and downs can be found on the current Forbes Online.)

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