Category Archives: business

space, the final frontier

office-cubicles-mdnits the big rage now, right? these open office floor plans

i first heard of the open office when i worked back at Monster — at the time the management talked about their new plans for an open office in these starry-eyed, future perfect ways, describing the Europeanness of this kind of office set up as a way to promote better team collaboration and a new, more innovative spirit for the group and the company

Maria Konnikova’s recent article-post ‘The Open-Office Trap‘ in The New Yorker dives into the symbolic intentions of an open office and then brings some critical research to the table to talk about the real trends and workplace effects affiliated with the open office layout

i’m not going to go into my thoughts on open offices here — i could probably rant, ya know? — just check out The New Yorker article for more of the data that’s been collected along with the critical analysis around productivity, distraction, health, privacy, happiness and so on … its all rather interesting and not all that surprising to me considering my role as a living human guinea pig for the last decade or so — at this point i kind of know what works best for me and my working style do to exposure to so many different work environment setups, which is super helpful for me as i assess what kinds of personal workspace tactics i need to take to keep myself happy, productive, healthy and somewhat sane in the modern workplace

what i’d like to talk about is what might really be an ideal work setup

i want to do a little experiment here on the webz with you, okay?

let’s take a little journey together where i walk you through what i can see as being THE optimal work space set up to truly leverage what actual the actual people doing the work might need to be creative, productive and collaborative throughout the day while simultaneously providing for the changing time-based needs of the organization and its individual employees that contribute to the culture and success of the company

so — here’s what i see and feel would be the most amazing architectural set up that would promote happy human success for everyone involved in making a business phenomenally successful

if we close our eyes and imagine for a bit together { go ahead, close your eyes …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

okay … and NOW you can open your eyes!

 

see?

… now wouldn’t that be SO much better?

if you’d like to learn more about these work space design ideas and more that pertains to happy daily human collaboration for a professional business setting, drop me a line, aight? let’s talk about it more

you won’t be disappointed

and, ultimately, the investment your company puts into the set up for collaborative and emotional success for the people that do the work will be just one more tool to leverage when fixing the future toward a better tomorrowland

thank you

the theatre of Work, ReVisited

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back in 2009 when i still conducted critical design research for Dynamic Media Institute in Boston i decided to start up a presentation series aimed specifically at helping my greener friends coming into the industry with some of the basic challenges they might encounter along the journey of their profesional lives

i’ve encountered more than my fair share of interesting twists and turns in my rather adventurous career as an accomplished experience design professional — and some of the joys and tribulations of navigating the glorious terrain can benefit by simply continuously building a better and better understanding and awareness of the environments in which we need to perform

in delving into the digital archives of my mind i recently rediscovered a few slides appropriately titled the theatre of Work — survival tips for newcomers to the workForce

the theatre of Work

the phrase by itself starts to imply some of my subconscious views and feelings regarding: the social dynamics; the essential personal behaviors we need to exude while performing; and general feel of the landscape set up by the workaday world as a means of reaching toward success for ourselves and for the companies we work for

i am an experience designer and a performance artist

i never studied the theatre, which is an important key differentiator i need to continually remind myself of along the way

its also vitally important to have an unrelenting sense of self-awareness and continuous introspective reflection for the kind of trek we’re all on within ANY industry

just this hybrid mash-up between designer and artist can have extremely important internally conflicting motivations embedded within the very nature of each role

but anyhow, i digress { i just heard someone on blogging across the way stand up and scream, ‘DigreSsioN!’ ala that famous set of passages from A Catcher in the Rye ;] }

after living a little longer and experiencing a few more years of this life of work we all live and breathe, i believe i have even deeper, more profound wisdom to share than i originally intended by designing up a few slides for a future-such talk to be about workerly advice

i am therefore re-opening this thread of thought — copy-pasting the open Keynote file and the PSD folder from my portable harddrive back onto my current active MacBook Pro device to really start digging into what new significance i can bring to the table to help people navigate the choppy waters and hopefully not make all of the same foolish mistakes i’ve made along the way

i know my triathlon could’ve gone a LOT smoother so far had i just had proper mentorship or perhaps better personal self-awareness and more thoughtful empathy to guide me

but i’m an impatient clown, for the most part

i always want the impossible and i design to reach for the bluest of the bluest skies

i would be more of a fool, however, if i continue to noodle and clown without ever learning and growing for the journeys i’ve made — and i feel that if i share some of my story in a thoughtful and meaningful way it might actually make up for my own silly idiocies and hopefully make for a better overall experience for colleagues, friends, acquaintances and frenemies that even care to listen at this point

i need to focus on my storyFirst presentation out at Massachusetts College of Art for the next few weeks, but i also hope to put some time into this theatre of Work concept, too, as it is near and dear to my heart — i want to help people and give them better perspective and hopefully facilitate better and better experiences in the world through my designwork and my design leadership

but, until then — shove off, bitchez! ;]

 

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why do we need to ask appropriate questions?

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as professional experience designers its of the utmost importance to me that we drive every decision we make in an informed and somewhat sensical manner as a means to create and optimize what we design for real people

i don’t call people users or participants or customers — i try to avoid terms like personas or user types as much as possible, although words like these help us all understand that leveraging the powerful tool of a properly developed or estimated persona can help us generalize the psychographic and demographic populations of people that make up our target audiences for businesses

i prefer to refer to people as people

to call people people just simplifies some of the interesting dynamics that might get in the way as part of the process and helps to build a better empathic relationship with the people we’re designing for at the end of the day

calling people people turns what can be a very uppity and exclusionary sense of them vs us into the more elegant and gracious one-word phrase us

the process becomes more inclusive and friendly when we realize our users are people, too — just like us — so let’s not refer to the people we design for as them because its simply not a nice thing to do and it creates a competitive dynamic that oftentimes misses the goal to meet the real needs of real people and to hopefully create an authentic experience for people that is helpful, humble, beautiful and meaningful

walking along with the people we’re designing something for is probably the best way to understand and design for those particular real people — its as close as we’re going to get to actually being them — or being with them — and truly understanding what they need — and its how we can get to understand what’s working or not working for the real people we’re designing for with our design work from the most appropriate perspective to properly guide the design process

standing-together-CS

also, i don’t consider the way i do what i do as an experience designer to be user-centered

i prefer people-centered

or better yet, human-centered

previous versions of Design with a Big D didn’t always successfully meet the needs of people due to the fact that the focus was somewhere else entirely

when we lose sight of who we’re designing for and drive our processes and decisions by something other than servicing the needs of real people, we’re unfortunately positioned to miss the mark and create an experience that just doesn’t feel right

for example

another way we can focus the design work we do might unintentionally focus on a more systems-centered methodology — and much of the time, since the material elements { or immaterial elements to be more precise, maybe even representative or mapped elements could better define what we’re talking about here } we’re given to design something with is deeply based in data and information, if we don’t properly focus on consciously guiding toward a human-centered experience we will almost definitely end up with a more systems- or information-centered set of processes and experiential outcomes that improperly focuses on what we’re designing for { a dataset, or one particular interpretation of a dataset } instead of who we’re designing for { once again, the actual people }

if we’re hoping the results of our design processes bring people into our world to engage with our company’s business offerings we need to focus in the appropriate direction and we need to invite and guide the people we would like to collaborate with in an evolving business relationship in a way that’s really actually about the people, not the systems or the information that make up the pieces of the experience

if, at a certain point, the working results our design processes aren’t quite working as anticipated, we need to be very critical about the integrity of processes we’re involved in and we need to ask some big questions to hopefully help better guide the design work moving forward — and what a lot of people sometimes lose clear sight of when looking at the metrics and when listening to the qualitative feedback and suggestions is very definition of the word feedback and what it ultimately implies

measure

i’m sure the tendency to externalize a perceived set of negative results from any collection of usability might tightly tether to genuine internal psychological insecurities regarding the feeling of failure — especially for deeply passionate and empathic creatives that constantly need to balance an oftentimes conflicting capability to emotionally tune into the needs of people with the exact opposite simultaneous ability to then emotionally pull away from the iterative design work we’re engaged with on a daily basis

suddenly — when faced with suggestions that the design just isn’t optimally working — the illogical but somewhat understandable reaction might cause the wrong kind of emotional distance from a design team

an emotional, dynamic shift might actually increase the distance we feel with our users — with the very people we’re ultimately designing for

we might be too emotionally involved with the design work to even understand the more competitive attitude we’re suddenly feeling in relation to our users

the team might start refer to our people as them

and now the design process goes from collaborative to competitive — and those competitive feelings, as subtle as they may seem, can really start building to the wrong kind of energy for a truly collaborative and effective set of design processes

amidst our frustrations with qualitatively negative reactions to the work, we might ask ourselves questions like

why aren’t they getting it?

how come they’re not seeing the link?

oh jeez, why did they do that?

i’d like to suggest that whenever we start to use terminology that implies any sense of an exclusionary attitude toward our collaborations with our users, that we need to stop and think a little deeper about the wrongful inversion of what’s psychologically going on with the team

instead of asking about them in reference to a set of people that are suddenly emotionally put on the outside of our competitive process dynamics — we need to start asking about we again — we need to pull them into the better-feeling, inclusive we feeling of the project work

does that even make any sense?

i don’t know — its been a long blogPost, i know, right?

but i’m trying to tie all of this back into the stupid title i came up with for this post

instead of asking the they questions — start asking the we questions again, aight?
if you’re tending toward exclusionary, competitive processes — reach out to set up more appropriate inclusive, collaborative team dynamics with the people you’re designing for

if you can feel that things are starting to feel off with your process
— and even with the results of your design work

turn that shit inside out, ya know?

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you might feel a little more humble all of a sudden — it might not feel all that fantastic even, but its a far braver and far more appropriate way to turn it all around

when we bring ourselves as designers to this inside out place and ask more questions about what we did or didn’t do, then we’ve rediscovered the proper attitude to get back to our work following a far better inclusive, collaborative mentality to guide the design work we need to do

alone together

sherry-turkle-phd

Sherry Turkle has been researching and studying: technology; our relationships with technology; and our relationships with each other through technology — as an expert singularly focused on the fascinating psychology of technology, she’s been on the case for decades now — along the way she’s published her findings in the books:

needless to say, i’m one of her biggest fans

without her critical, observation-based body of psychological research at MIT in the psychology of Sciences, Technology and our Devices i do not think we’d have such a cohesive and thoughtful collective of intellectual material that really reports from the front-lines of these matters with such an objective sense of discovering the nuanced facts of the matter

i recently had the pleasure of coming out to the Boston Athenaeum to a promotional lecture for her most recent book Alone Together — and more than the talk itself, more than the questions and answers, i found the micro-conversation i had with Turkle to be the most intriguing part of the event

i eagerly waited in line with my friend’s book in hand for the author to sign — i wasn’t sure if i had the courage to bring it up, but i had an important question based upon some of the feelings and thoughts i personally experienced in the middle of reading Alone Together just months prior to this event — this seemed to be my only chance to find out if the author herself might have the same notions regarding the research she conducts as i was having regarding rather dark discoveries about the current state of humanity and our relationships with and through technologies

i finally got to the front of the line in this rather illustrious neo-classical, intellectual and academic library setting

Turkle asked who to make the signature out to and started to quickly ink in her John Hancock on the title page of the open book — and while she scribbled away the instant sentimentality of this anonymously scribed autograph, i started to ask my question — i described the personal horror i felt midway through the reading of Alone Together, these frightening discoveries and extremely deep philosophical questions that arose in me due to the very material of her critical research in the book that she wrote and was now in the middle of signing

here’s the gist of what i asked { in summary, as best as i can recall it at this point }:

i wanted to ask you about some thoughts that came to my mind in reading about sociable robotics — i found it fascinating, the kind of deep and real emotional relationships you described developing between people and machines — there was a section of the book, you visited these isolated, lonely elderly people in their retirement and care facilities and, after deciding that it might be difficult, if not impossible, for the elderly to enjoy the companionship and company of a real pet, such as a dog or a cat or some other small animal, you introduced the simulation of a pet into their living environment, this robotic seal

i think you reported that after introducing the seal to the elderly person and leaving it with them in their home, that it only took about a week for them to develop a real relationship with their new pet — although shy at first when talking with you in the company of the robotic seal, within the course of an hour you observed affectionate behavior and genuine interaction between the new owner and the seal

the owner conversed with the seal in the same way one might with a real pet and all of the ways in which they interacted with the robotic seal indicated that this simulation of being accompanied almost seemed good enough to introduce love, companionship and a reduced sense of loneliness with these elderly people living out the end of their lives

this, of course, brought up a ton of questions — some ethical, some psychological and some philosophical

the main question that came up for me might have something to do with the psychological nature of attachment, i’m not sure

but basically, i wondered — if it seems that easy for someone to form a genuine, human, loving relationship with a robotic seal, what does that say about our real relationships to each other as human beings? do we simply project and imagine love onto each other? are we, as the title of your book suggests { if only in very Freudian Slipped-like ways }, truly Alone Together?

Turkle finished signing the book and looked up at me, almost as if she were disgusted by my presence now, and replied:

No, no, no — that’s not what the book is about at all

and the conversation was over — she might as well have said, ‘NEXT!’ at that point because the book in front of her closed, she handed it back and we were simply done with these dark discoveries and intriguing philosophical questions i felt might at least be implied by Turkle’s oeuvre of critical research, perhaps even the more important and deeper meaning behind the surface of the kind of psychological self-analysis we’re all conducting now through the things we use to think with that are now the things we also feel with

i just put in an order for one of those robotic seals, should be coming in the mail any day now

i might just have a more empathic conversation with it than i did with Sherry Turkle

i heard it only takes less than a week to really get properly bonded with my new pet

seal

Reflections on the Federal Government Shutdown

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First off — this guy’s name is Boehner { kinda says it all, no? }

Between Anthony Weiner, John Boehner and some of our preceding leaderly name choices alone { Dick and Bush come to mind, ejaculatory pun definitely intended } — as American people we need to pick people to lead our nation and represent its citizens with names that don’t sound like they’d make my 10-year-old son start cracking up laughing. Its kind of embarrassing at this point. I mean, I guess if we really, really like the person and their name is something like Ben Dover or Michael Hunt, some sort of new policy for a name-change before entering an electoral race would really help. This shit’s making history and it’ll be on the interwebz for a while, right? Might as well at least attempt to clean up the comedy prior to these unwieldy predicaments our government gets us into, its the very least we can do.

Besides maybe seeing the writing on the wall when we put Weiners and Boehners in office, let’s recap what I think happened today with the United States of America’s Federal Government, because frankly, I’m not entirely sure I completely understand it.

According to the Washington Post’s aptly named ‘Wonkblog‘:

A government shutdown starting Tuesday, Oct. 1, is now upon us. The House and Senate couldn’t agree on a bill to fund the government, and time has run out.

To me, that sounds like somebody didn’t do their job.

It actually sounds like a team of people didn’t do their job, right?

Kind of amazing, if you ask me { and I know you didn’t, but, uhm, you’ve read this far, haven’t you? }

How the HELL does something like this even happen? I honestly just don’t get it at all.

Why do I pay taxes here? I seem to remember this dire need to revolt way, way back when due to the agreed upon citizen-driven demand, ‘No taxation without representation!’ and I thought that that was one of the reasons why the Minutemen fought off the British to free our colonial entrapment from the Mothership. Who’s been representing us? Don’t our taxes pay Boehner’s salary? Don’t they pay the salary of all these other supposed representatives that are apparently asleep at the wheel? What the fuck is going on here?

Now, let’s take a few minutes though to see this interesting news item from my perspective, as an actual living, breathing and working { well, uhm, we’ll save that for another blogPost, right? } citizen of these United States to see how the threat of the government shutting down effects me.

I heard about the Federal Government shutdown a month or so back and I sense that there’s this hard-headed, closed-minded resistance to what people have been calling ‘Obamacare’. So the shutdown is somehow tangled into the litigation and proceeds surrounding funding the government and somehow getting a universal health coverage act in place to maybe do something humane and far overdue in one of the most hypocritical nations out there when it comes to respecting the well-being of the people of the world. As far as I can tell, we’re not paving the way in a number of areas, and healthcare is the most ass-backwards monolithic system of bureaucratic waste going. Its not about health, its not about care. Its about making a buck, which unfortunately has been confounded with the notion of our ‘American Way’.

But, besides all that …

Personally, I felt no difference today.

The government supposedly shut down or is on the way to shutting down. So, they’ll do nothing for us until its back up and running. Well, nothing but take away billions upon billions of dollars from the taxpaying citizens of the USA without providing anything of value in return whatsoever.

Business as usual.

Its just like it was yesterday, right? Money comes out of my pocket in exchange for these vague, invisible and non-metrically-tracked and unaccountable non-services.

I went to the doctor this morning, first thing, for a blood test and no big changes there.

I put out the recycling and the trash and the magic town services du jour rid my household of our trash and refuse in the same exact manner as last week.

I stopped in at Bagel World to pick up a baker’s dozen and there was a rather friendly police officer standing in line, chatting it up as usual with a general contractor, getting ready for a bagel sandwich and coffee on the house while all sorts a crime and payoffs were probably goin’ down here and there about town.

Same ole same ole, huh.

I got home and the interwebz were still all up and runnin’. Television still seemed to work. Birds were still chirping. I could still tweet and lifestream with no unusual interruptions.

I even called unemployment to put in my claim { just opening a new claim during this ‘transition,’ if you know what I mean } and I went through all the voice-message roboPrompts to almost get shit done — but then I encountered a technical error and the phone autoSystem totally hung up on me.

Could this technical difficulty I encountered be due to the Federal Government shutdown?

I really fucking doubt it. Anyone that’s ever used these horrific systems would’ve probably expected to get the boot and need to run down to the Salem Unemployment Insurance offices tomorrow, which I don’t mind doing. If I find out this was a shutdown thing, I’ll let ya know, aight? But I highly doubt it was.

I went out to lunch with my wife. Picked up my son at a normal time from Spofford Pond Schools in Boxford — which is a public school that could’ve potentially been effected by the news of the day as one might assume, but … huh … strange, everything at the school seemed happy and cool. Teachers taught, kids learned or they didn’t and then everyone went home just as they normally do.

I feel no difference between yesterday and today.

Federal Government shutdown?

Big deal, right?

Who gives a shit?

I see no difference and these people in DC really appear to do absolutely nothing at all for me or most of the American people anyhow.

Which leads me to an interesting question, I guess.

Should there be some sort of consequence to the big-ass government shutdown?

I mean, these people seemed to purposely overlook, ignore and take no action regarding something that seems like it might be rather important to the United States. Maybe even more important than conducting constant global wars on terrorism in the name of democracy and freedom. Not sure, but it seems taking care of something like funding the government should’ve been higher on the radar for those folks twerking us around in Washington DC.

I mean, I don’t know …

If I were President Barrack Hussein Obama at this point, I would seriously consider this as a sort of passive-aggressive act of self-resignation on the part of those US Representatives that apparently do nothing for the peoples of this great nation anyways.

Why bother with any of these closed-minded, sedentary leeches at all anymore?

We should get rid of ’em.

I would.

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I no longer want to pay their salaries — especially if they’re not positively contributing to our country by representing what the people feel makes sense for our nation and its citizens. And especially if they’re sitting their asleep behind Boehner and the DC Clowns of 2013.

This event — letting the date slip at such an important time simply because Congress can’t agree on how to fund our government — feels, to me, like a silly little tantrum. These people are spoiled, plain and simple. And Congress letting it get to this point is just a childish, self-centered act of irresponsibility that offends me.

They should all be fired and then they should all need to go on ‘Political Shutdown Celebrity Apprentice’ to compete for their favorite charities, which is apparently themselves. And then, we the people of the United States should fire Donald Trump and cancel his stupid show and take all of the money we save by not paying their luxurious and unappreciated salaries, by not paying for their healthcare benefits { which I’m sure are well above the standard policies we’re all muddling through, spending a part-time job’s worth of personal time trying to get any of this shit taken care of as promised by the very notion of health insurance }, and by not paying for their pensions and retirement benefits { these monies they essentially steal from us by acting like imbeciles and assholes in front of the entire world } — we should take those monies we save by eliminating the irresponsible Congressionals that let it all get to this point and put it back where it really belongs:

  • Put the money back into education to strengthen and empower our children
  • Put it back into our cities and towns and the services they provide to us more directly at a more local level
  • Put it back into any and all programs that foster collaborative creativity and innovation over destruction and negativity
  • Put the money into investigating and righting civil injustices and hatred right here at home in the US instead of flushing it into a vacuum of neverending war overseas
  • Put it back into things that directly help the people, into the things that might actually make a difference and point us to a more positive and healthy American tomorrow

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..:: teaching IxD ::..

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this Spring semester at Massachusetts College of Art and Design — which is, like, almost over, sadly enough — i got the distinct pleasure of taking the materials, sequencing and my approach to teaching Interaction Design { by night for MassArt’s Continuing Education Department } and filtering the entire course down into an independent study with Aliyah Domash

i didn’t realize it until we met up to work on the fine details of how Interaction Design might work at this independent study scale — but, that whole ‘small world’ kind of aspect of the design community in Boston was working its crazy magic from the onset, and strangely enough, i already met Aliyah and got to see her work from a semester or 2 back by sitting as a guest critic in one of the final presentations of Alison Kotin’s Foundations of Graphic Design course — anyhow, flashback to that class and i got to see a lot of hand-drawn, amazing depictions of an artichoke, all in black and white, cropped and composed and mounted very professionally and pinned to the wall — it was a fantastic and dynamic final critique that i’m sure involved a smörgåsbord of hummus and cookies and water and other potluck snackage as a part of this wonderful celebratory discussion of all the fine work and progress each student made over the course of the semester

so, as you can probably tell, i have a certain obsession with foodly comestibles AND a little bit of an issue with portion control, right? ;]

but, back to our regularly scheduled topic — meeting Aliyah in Alison’s design class

anyhow, that night and these sorts of conversations with students and faculty and different nuance of design potentialities always makes me happy and excited about the kind of design community we have at MassArt and in the Greater Boston Area in general — and what? with AIGA Boston, BostonCHI, Boston Cyberarts, Dorkbots, IxDA, Pecha Kucha Night Boston, Refresh Boston, Upgrade Boston, UXPA and the myriad university-driven lectures, hackathons and networking opportunities steeped in designery, you almost can find it difficult to keep up with just the community, forget about the most current trends, buzz and general discourse that accompanies the fine world of design in the general locality

who would’ve known that a year out i’d be working to teach and mentor Aliyah at MassArt in this wonderful independent study setup, right? small world, crazy small, in fact — and then, its just utterly phenomenal to see how quickly a student like Aliyah comes in on day one, starts up with the first 3 more analytic exercises in experience design deconstruction and all — and then through reading, dissection, personal and professional reflection and our near-weekly conversational sessions at MassArt and the project work that puts the focus on active exploration of interaction and user-centered design as a theory and a practice and an empathic journey to guiding this bizarre, almost otherwoldly force we call Design in a way that keeps real, live people at the center of our approach and goals as design professionals — well, its just amazing to see Aliyah’s progress over the semester and to see the full spectral journey of her final project work for final critique and completion of the course

its been a really wonderful semester — really interesting to see how i’ve had to flex and bend the materials and approach, only slightly in all actuality, to keep the design of the course itself ultimately very interactive, human and fun

i’m really looking forward to the final critique, although i know we’ll miss meeting up on a semi-regular basis with the good excuse of putting some credits on the roster while hopefully also digging into what design can really mean for all of us as both professionals and people exploring the world through the filter of human-centered experience design

 

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words

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my wife Carol told me about this article she read or a radio interview she heard or something where the main topic up for discussion dealt with ways to guide your career — one of these fucking ‘paths to improvement’ kinda things, ya know?

aight

so

i guess the main person talking or writing about how to guide your own career toward better success mentioned owning certain words to help you channel / filter / control your behaviors and hopefully build a bit of a purposeful brand story for yourself — forgive me, i don’t know the real terminology from the article or interview, just the main concepts i took away from our conversation over the dinner table and all, ya know?

huh, i just said ‘ya know?’ to finish off 2 main paragraphs in this blogPost

not cool

but back to the main topic here, aight?

so, not sure if you’ve read some of the previous posts here about a little riff i got goin’ on called storyFirst, but its right here if you wanna go back — like you even have the time for that kinda schtuff right now and all, right? but the idea, the basic gist of it all is that you use the power of personal storytelling to drive whatever it is you might wanna change up in life, which seems, like, directly in-line with this article / interview Carol and i were discussing, right?

thank gawd i didn’t say ‘ya know?’ — ya know?

anywayz

so, i thought i’d take a few minutes to just jot down what i think my words are, the ones i’ve gravitated towards in both a purposeful and more subconscious manner over the years — what i’d love to see, if any of you can participate by chiming back through any of the myriad mechanisms or channels of communication afforded to us at this advanced age of ‘staying connected’ — i’d love it if anyone had feedback to say, like,

‘woah, lou, really? that was the vibe you were going for? well, you almost had it, but there was that fucking time you totally flipped out in the office about that email from Steve or something, i can’t even remember at this point, right? and that kind of behavior is not only totally uncool and all, and unprofessional, but it definitely goes against the idea of < put the word from my short-list in here >, which i thought was more along the lines of what you were tryin’ ta be all about — dude, what happened there?

get what i’m sayin’?

so, with that minimal contextual information and backStory in mind — here’s my list, my career list of words { or whatever you wanna call it }, and more importantly to me, my storyFirst vocabulary for some sort of self-guidance as: a colleague in the workplace; a friend in life; an acquaintance or friendly random strangerly cohort on the streets of San Francisco; an advocate for better human-centered design processes, methodologies and design results; a practicing Design professional and leader; a semi-professional wrestler sans mohawk, body piercings and backtatt skin graffitti artwork and speedo; an unprofessional japanese filmmaker; a storyteller of dark humor and adventure in a modernday world gone mad; a sometimes practicing open mike music or near-comedic performer; a laugh research practitioner and performance artist; a lover, a father, a husband and lifelong friend { only a very selected few can judge me there, at least from the special first-person perspective vantagepoint i’m personally looking for in my feedback communications }; etcetera and so on forever and ever ad infinitum farsi, amen

and thus, with no further ado, here is

my list of storyFirst personal life guidance and career-like words

fun

collaborative
highly collaborative in that kind of face-to-face sort of way that i think is absolutely vital to keeping things fun, light and efficient in the right kind of way { for the kind of energy i want to create, encourage, foster and be associated with every step of the way }

not innovative, although that’s almost the word i wanna hold onto — its just SO cliché at this point, right? and NOT every client, project, interaction or process is going to require or ultimately lead to a truly new and innovative approach or end solution — not even interpersonal, more everyday interaction needs constant innovation in the true sense of the word — i think the words that are related in some semi-sweet and semiotic fashion are more like:

nimble { really trying hard on this one lately, its a difficult one sometimes, especially when trying to improve team dynamics, etcetera nd so on }

big picture &/or blue sky — yes, its true, as a human-centered designer, after some ridiculous 15+ years of trying a million different ways of approaching a design challenge { if its even truly a design challenge at all after our initial investigations into the problemSpace / challenge context / all that }, i can say with full confidence that i always, always, always encourage and want to show off my ability to think big — in fact, to think bigger — when it comes to the way i research, actively design, think through, refine and execute my processes as a Design professional — if i don’t push for the biggest and the best right up front, the projects fucked

its that simple

its my job, as the Designer, to put the big vision { so i guess visionary could take the place of innovative, hmmmm } out there on the table { BAM! } and then to listen to like a dozen people typically sitting in 3 different office geolocations ask me big, doubtful questions — the sort of getting to NO approach of breaking the vision of what i’ve done to help funnel down the scope, the timeline and keep everything super slick and reasonable from a develper’s perspective — and THEN its my job, if i’m asked ‘Why?’ or ‘How?’ to ask, ‘Why not? Why can’t we just develop what I designed?’

ridiculous — yes, that’s what i said, ridiculous — i embrace it, all the way — i’m a goofy bastid and wherever i can fit in a laugh along the way, some subtle, twisted humor to cut through the heavy fog in the room at some of the dull ass conversations we all get to deal with in an office environment, i think ridiculousness { not the show, just the activity, the verb ridiculize, if that can even happen } is a tool i use, like laughter as an action in itself { even without the permission system of humor, joke or play to precede the guffaw, titter or ha ha } to break the monotony and move forward in a hopefully refreshed and lighter manner

along with that one, i guess, words like humorous, satiric, farcical — any word that’s associated with literally ‘making fun’ out of a situation, not to literally ‘make fun’ of it in a mean-spirited way, but merely to help us all survive and play together nicer — to ‘make it into fun’ i suppose — is a phraseology that i foster, support and want to be affiliated with — so, back to that top word, again, i guess, right?

hands-on and tactical but also high-level

well, let’s not get fucking crazy now, right? that’s starting to sound like typical corporate bullshitnot part of my personal storyFirst vocabulary list for this week at all

piece

uxWTF experience design challenge #1 — CVS receipt reDesign { please }

okay, okay, okay — for those of you that might personally know me in some way from the UX and Design Community, and by know me i mean really know me, you’ve probably heard me rant on about the real reasons why i am a user-centered designer

most people outside of the profession simply assume that all designers have this wonderful and delicate appreciation for elegant design in the world and that their passion and motivations lie somewhere within the logic of thereby wanting to design and bring to life newer designs as inspired by Bauhaus, clean and minimalist typography or by some self-delusional thinking that our contributions as designers in modernday society will somehow make for a greener, more peaceable and liveable planet

sorry if this sounds like a loaded way to re-introduce myself here for you — i don’t mean to sound hostile or pessimistic or negative in any way, believe me — i’m actually quite a lighthearted and humorous person in person, if you know what i mean — but i want you to understand MY reasons for being a designer, which i don’t think are too atypical, but they’re definitely not reasons most designers typically discuss in such a public forum

i design because i am constantly frustrated

yep, there ya go — i said it out loud { or as loud as you can get in blogPost format } — i’m frustrated, constantly frustrated: with the way the world is; with the horrendous design of just about everything we encounter in life; with the ridiculously backwards and twisted way everything seems to be better designed for The System, for information and data, for Machine-to-Machine Communication and Interaction { or M2M if you wanna get all TLA on that shit }, but not nearly even remotely designed for human consumption, use or participation

so, here we go — no real fantastic segue, fade or transition here to help move into this next concept, you now know my personal and professional motivations as a user-centered design professional and performance artist — they’re actually quite political reasons to do what i do, but let’s not get into that now, aight?

right now i want to talk about an idea that came to me recently while taking care of business in a public office restroom { this is where i get my most brilliant ideas, as funny as it sounds, in the handicap stall while sitting on the porcelain throne } — thinking about these frustrating experiences i keep bumping into out there in the world, i tried to figure out a way i could actually make discussions like these more consumable, more relatable and — most importantly — more actionable

i mean, how could i inspire other people to work with me in some collaborative capacity to actually redesign these horrifically poor and annoying experiences even if there might be no actual paying project on the books, even if there is no real financial reason to tackle these vital worldly challenges, even if the ONLY potential motivation to change these experiences is simply embedded in the very human need to show off what real, innovative design thinking can do to improve and better optimize our universal human experience and to hopefully become ubiquitously famous through these public, humorously expressed issues and processes to show people how to actually change the world

i mean, i’m talkin’ Steve Jobs level shit here — just without all the asshole politics and multimillionaire nerdy swagger of ‘The Genius’ bullshit we’re all led to believe about iPod Man

and it all starts with this concept

logo_uxWTF

let’s take a look, in blog serial format, at a list of these frustrating experiences through user-centered investigation and photodocumentation and see if we can’t put our heads together and fix this shit

its not that difficult people

its really not

and i’m here to help ya

let’s start with this one, this little uxWTF? design challenge:

the CVS receipt reDesign

now, to be completely fair here, this is NOT solely a CVS-related UX offense we’re talking about, right? we’ve all experienced this at NUMEROUS retail consumer establishments — it just so happens, though, that i’ve been picking up my meds a lot lately { thank gawd, right? who knows what this post’d be about without ’em ;] } and this similarly strange feat of cash register magic recurs like fucking clockwork with each and every transaction at the CVS Pharmacy and even at the front counter { not sure on the Photo Lab area, though, let me know if you can verify this same phenomena happening there, too }

let’s take a looksy

here’s what the CVS Pharmacy Technician handed me at the register before wishing me to, ‘Have a nice day’ …

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look familiar? this receipt — and i kid you not — this receipt is almost as tall as i am

that’s ridiculous

its just fucking ridiculous

what a waste of the life of a sapling

and you know what? i never ever use the coupons on these neverending receipts — never

i bet someone takes advantage of the remarkable savings provided by Consumer Value Stores, but i personally think the benefits or value i get from these veritable partystreamers of savings do not in any way outweigh the environmental cost or just the frigging paperwaste nuisance of these amazing little lengthy souvenirs i collect from each trip to the national chain convenience store

i used to actually save these receipts and scotchtape them together to write on the eventually handmade collaged side of my frankenpaper sans ink — but c’mon, seriously? seriously?

so, uhm, i don’t know — i recently downloaded and started using the CVS smartphone app on my android mobile device, and i actually think the app would be a far more appropriate delivery mechanism for these additional CVS membership savings — could be nicer, right?

a LOT nicer

i mean, we know they’re tracking our every purchase via the app or our CVS loyalty card much-like any supermarket, department store or other corporate chain of transactional wonderment, and i think it would be the very least they could do for us — let’s get smart, now, aight? — THIS might actually be one of the best potential implementations for those semi-bizarre and overused / misused QR codes { QR = quick response, in case you weren’t already in the know } — i mean, it might be superCool and magically fantastic if the entire CVS members rewards savings systems { and that of other similarly national chain-like corporate establishments } all somehow leveraged the app or the card, right? but at the very least, bring out the QR codes, print ’em right on the receipt, and then it might be, i don’t know, 6 inches long at the most { mostly now depending on just how many items you purchased from the store, not how much psychosocial data-driven stalker suggestions they can spit back at you } — i mean, we don’t need to memorialize last Tuesday’s purchases from the pharmacy for any real reasons as average American citizens now, do we? in fact, the printed proof is in some ways an actual privacy liability that could potentially break patient confidentiality { but maybe not, i’d need to actually read my receipt to see what’s listed for my recent pharmacy purchase }

on another note — and this is something i am just DYING to see happen in the very-near future — i would also love to see these apps and other store membership systems that track our every micropurchase behavior actually provide our data for US to usethe government sees my data, stores and financial institutions see my data, Hell, even offshore agencies working for credit card and other similarly skanky organizations most likely have more access to my personal transactional behavioral information than i do as the user of these systems, as the actual supposed member of these systems { whatever that means to me at this point, right? }

show me the data!

i think its about time to better empower the people through the access and flow of our data

and its also about time that we start turning the tables a bit and actually get paid for sharing our data with these organizations — why do we so willingly sign up for these services that basically steal our information and use it for the big consumer feedback loop for devious subliminal purchase suggestions from The Man { in a rather loose and corporatey collective sense of definition } — i mean, i know i know, we willingly sign up for these services and give it all away for free, like the utter dopes we all are — but c’mon, let’s get it back, let’s take back what’s rightfully ours and what should be ONLY ours unless we make a little jing in the deal — and i’m not talking about this beautiful, easy ‘giving back’ gesture we receive upon receipt, this paper streaming printed register tape of coupon savings, i’m talkin’ about actually gettin’ paid

pay up bitches!

you want this? you want this data?

pay me

the decision

CruelShoesFirst

i’m re-reading Luke Wroblewski’s A Book Apart instant UX classic Mobile First while traveling to New York City on an Amtrak train and simultaneously reading Cruel Shoes by Steve Martin — i sort of take a break from one by reading a bit from the other — i’ll admit, its an early ride in to The City and i’m kind of nodding off from time to time, wiping the drool out of the left corner of my mouth from time to time, but its an interesting little ping pong combination of intellectual consumption to start the mind to wonder

i think a lot about mobile experiences

i design for mobile, ubiquitous and cross-domain experiences at Mobiquity, which is like the best job i’ve had so far as a design professional and as someone who is personally interested in influencing the way we think, design and ultimately use our technological advancements and innovations

i mean, for the first time in more than a decade i actually get to DESIGN with a capital D

there’s no time for the typical politics and the dreadful corporate trumpings that come with the terrain of egomaniacal VP opinions and Jobsian self-proclaimed geniusness on the part of this marketing guru or that cSuite idea killer — we’re simply trusted to do our job and amazing shit gets done because of this sort of setup in the workplace

but this isn’t an endorsement for the firm i currently work for { well, i guess its a micro-endorsement of sorts, right? we’re growing, let me know if you’re interested in joining The Mob, aight? }

back to the topic, back to the wondering

i sometimes think that all of this anywhere, anytime connectedness afforded us as modern people has more negatives than pluses — i hate to say it, but i’m not the kind of person that simply drinks the kool-aid and just loves every device, every software, every social web experience, all technology — i hope you don’t mind

having this sort of critical pessimism for our progress via technological innovation, as much as it might seem to conflict with the very core of being an experience designer for mobile technologies, actually helps me scrutinize every aspect of the experiences i design on a day-to-day basis

makes a lot of sense, right?

i don’t ever simply agree with the latest interaction paradigm and stick it into my design work just because its at the bleeding edge — or, if its something that works for the Facebook app, i don’t necessarily think its some experiential interaction we should simply copy-paste and plop over into an entirely different experience

although cookie cutter approaches can sometimes save a client money and cut corners off of the edge of time, i don’t bake like that at all

hope you don’t mind, but i think we should really craft these experiences in very thoughtful and deliberate ways — and we should review and assess each design in an iterative fashion and see how that design work or doesn’t work and adjust it along the way using real human decision-making processes as informed by smart interpretation of the findings we gather from usability, data collection from embedded metric reporting mechanisms, qualitative observation and interviewing, all that amazing stuff that makes us more like cartoonish forensic scientists and crime scene investigators with pockets full of pixels as opposed to little DaVinci’s with a big paint-by-number outlook on how to cobble together the Mona Lisa 2.0

ya know?

so, back to Wroblewski and Martin, now, perhaps?

depending on your outlook, your mood and the people you socially experience along the journey of your day, you might view the new push to mobilize just about damned near everything as either extremely negative or extremely positive — if we translate that to the theatrical equivalents of asking something like:

do our mobile devices result in a future social story of our technohumanic tragedy or comedy?

well, i tend to think of it all from Steve Martin’s perspective

what wonderful opportunity to gather new material for farce and spoof and stand-up hilarity

but then, like the stand-up comedian, we should perhaps learn to see how the audience immediately receives the jokes we live while we’re talkin’ on the phone, texting or accessing the web in highly public situations, right? and then, uhm, we can hopefully all learn to adjust the act a little bit, in a more intentional and consciously aware sort of way

humor that’s been carefully honed, crafted and developed is almost always bound to be far funnier and enjoyable than the potentially risky and tragic alternative of improvised and unthoughtful mayhem

at least that’s my humble opinion as a semi-professional humorist and lifelong late-blooming technologist

xDx and some notes on posterous

logo_xDx

hey hi ho there UX fanz and frenemiez — how goes it? what’s the latest?

well, as someone that believes in moving in and out of my own personal subconscious ADHD-laden internal thoughtSpaces, i firstly and most importantly want to quickly blog on this coolish idea i just came up with that i think will really be exciting to explore, and that’s that thar xDx thing you see in the logoPlay up above

the idea is pretty straightforward and goes something a little like this

so, i’m not entirely sure why or anything, but for whatever unbeknownst reason and such, when it comes to corporate work in general most of us are kept tied up in our little silos an’ such, right? the big division that i perceive over the years is any instance where art and science come up — there’s always been this schism, this division between where we keep our ‘creative’ people and where the more ‘logical’ folks set up shop

i don’t know, can’t understand the reason why, but — its just my own observation that whether its design and dev, or art and science, or engineering and interior design, companies far and wide keep these internal groups locked up in different pens

anyhow, in a recent thang that my good friend and colleague Robert Fiztgibbon and I set up and ran through AIGA Boston, a cool event called UX Roundtable — we brought together a nice cross-section of Boston-area design professionals to discuss Luke Wroblewski’s Mobile First methodology and why it might or might not work as universally as one might need as a modernday designer working with real clients in a professional scenario — we invited folks through AIGA Boston, but also extended the invitation to any and everyone at the company Rob and I work for, Mobiquity, as they graciously sponsored the event and let us meet in a Mob Conference Room and all — anyhow, we had some folks from our development and sales departments in attendance and i have to say, their presence and participation added an entirely new depth and color to the conversational mix and, as designers often solving everything from the very narrow vantage of what we, as designers, do, i felt the cross-disciplinary exchange in the room really helped fill out some parts of the picture that typically get left blank during discourse around design, business and process improvement

and — i would like to encourage, foster and arrange for MORE of these cross-disciplinary conversational exchanges — in the Boston-area and beyond

and that’s where i hope xDx can begin to organize that larger conversation

there’s that

and now, just a side note kinda

i’m moving my posterous acount, piece by piece, over to this WordPress blog under my dot com website

unfortunately, it seems posterous is going away — Twitter bought them a while back and some major change felt a bit inevitable — whenever we see this sort of purchase happen online, you can’t help but wonder something like, ‘aight, what’s that mean then?’ — on some realistic scale of things to come we all know it won’t all just stay the same — but i’ve loved using posterous up until recently, i think i specifically loved the simplicity and elegance of the presentation of my blogposts, and although i’m not sure if that’s something to credit to the posterous experience alone, that’s a HUGE thing for me — the fact that there’s been no advertisements on posterous ever seems somewhat amazing and Surreal to me, but besides that, i’ve almost solely posted to posterous for my personal bloggings over the last few years, with the exception of some experiments with tumblr and posting to half dozen other WordPress sites ‘n all

i do have to say this about posterous though — i just can’t understand for the life of me why posterous never seemed to implement an auto-save feature for those in the middle of writing a blogpost, ya know? there have been 2 times when i’ve lost a TON of amazing writing due to this lack of foresight and understanding for the general writing public — and those 2 times were like the fish that got away kinda moments for me, just really nicely evolved writing that i felt would be valuable and honest and real all POOF! gone in a bit of an instant thanks to the schmucks at posterous

so this is goodbye and thank you and good riddance

adieu

posterous2