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

    Category Archives

    May 4, 2007

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

    Email This Entry

    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

    Email This Entry

    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.

    Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: ED Education | Events and Happenings | Theories of Experience

    October 10, 2006

    Design Lessons from IIT's Institute of Design

    Email This Entry

    Posted by Paula Thornton

    Newly minted IIT-ID graduate Denis Weil is profiled in Business Week's "Want a Master of Design with That?" Among Denis' lessons learned:

    Notable Quote: "The true value of design in business is being able to use real case studies to show how design adds value."

    A great focus group cross-check: "We have customers act instead of talk, because in focus groups, people can't project how they will act."

    ...And the pinnacle view across the kingdom: "The emerging discipline is not just how to design artifacts, but how to design the kiosk, the interface, the process."

    Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: ED Education