Brian Knutson

I also saw Brian Knutson speak at Stanford recently.

Brian is interested in the neural basis of emotion and runs the Symbiotic Project on Affective Neuroscience. (Psychologists use the word “affect” to describe mood states and personality traits characterized both by high arousal and either positive or negative valence.)

Brian is also interested in the convergence of disciplines brought about by his research. I’m going to see if I can speak with him about design.

John Gabrieli

Last week, I attended a talk by John Gabrieli at Stanford’s Symbolic Systems Forum.

John is the director of the Gabrieli Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory. He discussed some of his work using Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to study the regulation of thoughts, emotions and memories in the human brain.

Cool stuff. Obviously though, emotion and memory are related to human experience, but I’m not yet sure how they fit together with experience and design.

About Brad Lauster’s (e²)

The first time I ever heard someone use the term Experience Design was in 2000. It was a powerful, no duh moment for me. Of course Designers should be thinking about and solving problems in even more holistic ways than those enabled by current User-Centered Design methods!

Soon after I was introduced to the idea, I was talking to Kim Ladin when Experience Design came up. Kim told me the whole thing was silly because you can’t design an experience. My naive mind was thrown for a loop!

The first question I had was whether or not Kim was right. A little exploration uncovered some writing by Liz Sanders of Sonic Rim. Her two-part article Beyond User-Centered Design [part 1, part 2] quickly confirmed, for me, that Kim was right. Experiencing is in people, not in what we design.

The second question I had was: how could the Design community, a group of people who seemed to be more concerned with being right than anyone, have named the future of their practice with such a misnomer? To this day, Designers continue to use Experience Design to refer to the next logical area of focus for their profession. Frankly, the idea of designing an experience is just too problematic for me to get behind. To their credit, some of the leaders in the Design community are aware of the problem and are beginning to address it. Indeed, the subtitle for the DUX 2003 conference was Designing for User Experiences (my emphasis). The point being that the minor addition of the word for, creates a major change in the meaning of the subtitle.

Even though we can’t design experiences (yet), I do believe experience is a topic upon which the Design community must focus. Unfortunately, the discussions we’ve had about experience have been (and I say this with a heavy heart) embarrassing. They are littered with challenges relevant only to particular domains of work and are marginalized by concerns relevant only to particular disciplines of practice.

That’s where this blog, (e²), comes in. I have a feeling that a lot of these problems are the result of a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of human experience and how it is that we experience experiences.

So, these are things I’m starting to think about. I intend (e²) to be a place where I can collect notes on the things I’m reading, thoughts on the ideas I’m developing, and pointers to the things I don’t quite understand.

If you were a reader of my old blog, brad lauster (dot com), welcome back! I’m happy you’re still listening. I think you can expect (e²) to be different in a couple ways: 1. The posts to (e²) will be a lot less developed than the posts to my previous blog. 2. There will be no posts about my life.

In the grand scheme of things, posts to (e²) will be developed into a series a essays that I’ll publish on the next version of brad lauster (dot com).

…and now, on with the show!