Emotional about design

I’m always skeptical about articles with no attributed author. Emotional about design is one such article. I imagine the entire thing was written by some grunt at NNG, or perhaps by Don himself.

None-the-less, the article discusses the premise of Don Norman’s book, Emotional Design in a nice little package. I suppose I’ll review it when I get around to reading it. Right now, I’m more into Husserl and Heidegger.

Erik Davis on Experience Design

Erik Davis’ Experience Design And the Design of Experience is the single best piece I’ve read on the subject.

Not only does he offer a sublime definition of experience:

“…let’s just think of human experience as the phenomenal unfolding of awareness in real time”

…but he also touches on some powerful, related topics such as recreational drug use, spirituality and also scary shit like the manipulation of desire for the purpose of advertising.

Additionally, much of what he writes suggests an increasing need for Design Ethicists—a topic in which I’m surprised to find myself very interested.

Nathan Shedroff: the v-2 interview

From back in 2002, Adam Greenfield interviews Nathan Shedroff [part 1, part 2].

I had high hopes that this interview would address the problem that there exists no general theory of or approach to Experience Design. Shedroff gets close to discussing it a couple times during the interview, but Greenfield keeps pulling him away with his Information Architecture obsession. Arrgh!

The extent of what Shedroff says about an approach to Experience Design is (imagine a lot of hand waving here), “You just consider the experience.” Utterly unsatisfying.

Even if they had discussed it directly, I suspect it wouldn’t have been very meaningful, simply because both Greenfield and Shedroff seemed much more concerned with other topics during the interview.

Notes on Kant and Locke

Some notes on Kant and Locke from the book, Understanding Emerson : “The American Scholar” and His Struggle for Self-Reliance. I think these are all from page 8.

John Lock introduced the idea of the mind as tabula rasa, a blank tablet, and held that consciousness is shaped largely by external experience.

Immanuel Kant:

  • Critique of Pure Reason (1781)
  • Observed that metaphysicians (Locke) were unable to show how external objects shape human perception
  • “if the material world appears knowable, it is because the human mind makes it so”
  • The categories of understanding that are intuitive to us all determine the way we perceive what we call reality

…and a bonus quote from James Freeman Clarke: “until Coleridge showed me from Kant that though knowledge begins with experience, it does not come from experience

Nature of Experience Model

I created this last year, before I read anything about linguistics, cognition or human experience. That’s my way of saying this is probably very wrong, but it’s at least a good tool for thinking about the relationship between the three.

(click for a larger image)


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!

Interaction Design tools

…or lack thereof.

Today, on the Interaction Designers discuss list, CD Evans mentioned the lack of tools for Interaction Designers.

I suppose I’m an exception, because I come from a programming background, but I agree with his assertion about lack of tools.

For example, we Interaction Designers don’t have anything like what this Industrial Designer has. (That’s a car she’s prototyping, by the way.)

I don’t know if any of you mentor students, but one thing I always discuss with those interested in software is how much leverage I get from my programming background. The interesting thing is, I find the prototyping skills that come from my programming knowledge are far less valuable than the related language skills. Being able to talk about and empathize with the development team concerning programming issues gives me so much more credibility in their eyes.

I don’t think Interaction Designers should need programming skills, but until our tools get better, I guess were stuck with it as a work-around.

Symposium On Foundations Of Interaction Design

Interaction Ivrea is hosting the “you know you wish you were there” event of the year, their Symposium On Foundations Of Interaction Design.

They also have a live video feed (Windows Media player required).

Mark Vanderbeeken, from the Institute, also tells me that they’re exploring the idea of making the videos available online, or possibly releasing a DVD, after the symposium. I’ll keep you updated as I get more information.

Preparing for HITS

Humans | Interaction | Technology | Strategy

That’s the focus of HITS 2003, a conference hosted by IIT that I’ll be attending later this week.

I have really high hopes for this one because back in 2001, John Grimes of IIT, blew my mind at the Intel Human Centered Product Innovation 2 conference.

John isn’t speaking at HITS, but if any of the other IIT faculty are half as good as he, it ought to be something special.

For those of you interested in getting together in Chicago, I’ll be in town from Wednesday through Sunday. I’m also planning a dinner on Friday evening and you’re invited. Please post a comment or send me an email if you’d like to join us. See you soon!