Category Archives: human experience report

some definitions to consider

ocean

i look back lately — at my previous research and active design work at Dynamic Media Institute

i am re-opening my book — my design thesis book, that is — to once again take a look inside my veryOwn openContainer, and my intention to continue my investigative research into laughter, cyberSurrealism and the human experience swells and motivates me with a newfound retrospective clarity that i just frankly wasn’t ready to tackle back then

as i delve deeper into the investigation — an investigation that brings me to new areas of dangerous confrontation and heightened, intense self-awareness — i ready myself and my future audience of readers and participants with these 3 crucial definitions stolen from — or, uhm — cited from the Wikipdedia as core concepts for your consideration — important terms of reference regarding the underlying purpose and nature of my work

 

awareness
Awareness is the state or ability to perceive, to feel, or to be conscious of events, objects, or sensory patterns. In this level of consciousness, sense data can be confirmed by an observer without necessarily implying understanding. More broadly, it is the state or quality of being aware of something. In biological psychology, awareness is defined as a human’s or an animal’s perception andcognitive reaction to a condition or event.
Read more about Awareness on the Wikipedia

consciousness
Consciousness is the quality or state of awareness, or, of being aware of an external object or something within oneself.[1][2] It has been defined as: sentience,awarenesssubjectivity, the ability to experience or to feelwakefulness, having a sense of selfhood, and the executive control system of the mind.[3] Despite the difficulty in definition, many philosophers believe that there is a broadly shared underlying intuition about what consciousness is.[4] As Max Velmans and Susan Schneider wrote in The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness: “Anything that we are aware of at a given moment forms part of our consciousness, making conscious experience at once the most familiar and most mysterious aspect of our lives.”[5]
Read more about Consciousness on the Wikipedia

mindfulness
Mindfulness is “the intentional, accepting and non-judgmental focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment”,[1]which can be trained by meditational practices[1] derived from Buddhist anapanasati.[2]

The term “mindfulness” is derived from the Pali-term sati,[3] “mindfulness”, which is an essential element of Buddhist practice, including vipassanasatipaṭṭhāna and anapanasati.

Mindfulness practice is being employed in psychology to alleviate a variety of mental and physical conditions, including obsessive-compulsive disorderanxiety, and in the prevention of relapse in depression and drug addiction.[4] It has gained worldwide popularity as a distinctive method to handle emotions.
Read more about Mindfulness on the Wikipedia

 

All preceding definitions from this blogPost came from the infamous Wikipedia out there on the webz. Go check it out { as if you’ve never heard of it, right? } and don’t forget to occasionally donate a bit to keep the project funded and smoothly movin’ along — we all learn soOOoOoo much from our little Wikipedia that could now, don’t we?

 

wikipedia1

 

looking into Che

greenpeace-che-guevara-original-50060

i don’t know that much about Ernesto “Che” Guevara — no more than you can read up on Wikipedia with just a quick Googling of the nickname Che that most people know him and his iconic image by — but its really interesting to see how much he’s been creeping up in my subconscious lately, as you or anyone can witness in my last 2 — and now my last 3 blogPosts { if you’re including this one }

i believe in embracing my subconscious, in going with my gut — and its not just because i’m typically overweight or officially obese as some physicians might point out at a check-up

its interesting, too, that on many levels i’m very much attracted to learning more about people that are considered to be counterCultural

if you take a quick peek at his Wikipedia entry you’ll notice that he seemed to accomplish an awful lot during the course of his lifetime — and sometimes his involvement in political arenas were influenced by the direction of US government, at other times he acted and spoke on his own behalf and on the behalf of the people he loved

in many ways Guevara’s political ideologies were actually formulated by his direct participation in the sort of strange global manipulations our US Government involves itself with as a means to push and pull power — instead of working in more diplomatic and authentic ways as part of a diverse and healthy international community, one might say that The United States constantly strives for a sense of total global supremacy and alignment

i think of it as The MacDonaldization of The World

macdonalds-worldwide

lots of the companies i’ve worked for, too, seem to push toward The Concept of One

and its not about The Myth of The Melting Pot, unfortunately

its more of a total control thing

{ for the most part, its almost always a way to save money by reducing corporate costs through human downsizing, sometimes including an attempt to simplify an organization and maybe increase efficiencies — there’s a lot of corporate speak and ‘business logic’ behind all of this Oneness, i’ve practically heard it all and its a very predictable, unsurprising internal brand trend, believe me }

and its all pretty transparent to everyone at this point

we can just smell it now

anyone that can’t feel the current and increasing creepiness over the years — this push toward Total US World Domination — is probably:

  • totally delusional;
  • completely mesmerized and hypnotized;
  • doesn’t want to admit its happening and its been happening for quite some time now;
  • just doesn’t care or isn’t paying critical attention to our current events in the news;
  • is just a vampire, zombie or robot { ever wonder why our entertainment is currently so obsessed and oversaturated with allusions to the undead? its probably because we’re all feeling that way — like a nation of citizens that’s only allowed to wander the earth in search of sweet bargains at the mall — either that or it might be a bit of a subliminal suggestion for how to actually best behave as part of our society };

and this MacDonaldization of The World — or as some might say, this One World we’re pushing for — is definitely more about homogeneity over inclusion or mutual betterment for all The Peoples of the World — we’re trained for robotic agreement and quasi-involvement through mere complicity and laziness

the push of American Consumerism for our citizenship only allows The People to participate in government and major decision-making through a dream-like Freedom of Choice — that’s the new American Dream, that we are free to choose between this elected representative or that one, both of which, are in fact, basically the very same choice

they’re not that different actually

and the other Freedom of Choice we’re so graciously allowed is which corporate brand of products or services to purchase — unless, of course, you get more directly involved and somehow keep your moral standing along the way

i really like this Greenpeace poster depiction of a little boy portraying the marxist revolutionary Che that i put up as the standard intro-visual at the top of this post

there’s no way we look at this little boy as evil or marxist or dangerous, right? if you do, you’ve affiliated some sort of US public relations-driven fear of The Other with this remarkably innocent-looking image — if its not something you can make in the MacDonald’s production line, it must be different, evil and anti-American, right?

its not really that simple, though

and i hope we can all see that this dynamic has been vastly oversimplified for political reasons — there are personal motivations that go far beyond the desire to protect The People of a nation from the big, bad world of terrorism and evil

power and profit reside at the core of our current issues in the world

we need more inclusionary and respectful, collaborative means of working with the world and not against it any longer — and that world that i speak of not only includes the beautiful variety of people we live with in the world, with all of their interesting and eclectic perspectives and ways of seeing the world, but also includes the world itself — we need to literally work with the world to behave in better accordance with the limits we’ve been given, with the rules and regulations of a higher power that has nothing at all to do with God or what Republicans want, but all to do with the realities of our Mother Earth

yes, i said it

Mother Earth

{ you don’t hear that phrase all that much lately — and i’m not exactly sure why, but i have the sneaking suspicion it might have something to do with sovereignty of a Christian maleness established and promoted during The Age of the Enlightenment over the more supposedly Pagan femaleness of our pre-Christian beliefs and behaviors }

we need to start listening to Mother Earth and start working with her again

happy-pregnant-woman

our energy needs to move away from the power of man over natural destiny — this sort of destructive set of energies to control each other and conquer the natural world at all expense — and move toward the collaborative creative destiny and positive potential energies alive in all of us, in all of The Peoples of The World

i don’t think the answer resides in one ism over another

its more of an individual, ethical choice we all need to consciously make and then act upon on a daily basis

we can have no faith in our representatives and the dangling choices we’re given as a means to participate in how we’ll ultimately really change and govern the world

let’s just stop pretending

the experiment in all of these isms show us nothing but failure and pain and corruption so far

and there’s no longer any need to force it — it does us no good

let’s not put any more of our faith and energy into any of these shadowGames and pretenses

if you see me at the mall, just give me a smile and a nod — let’s just acknowledge we’re part of the same open and inclusionary humanness { no new isms, please } and that we’re all now individually fighting the good fight to do right by The People, not just of our nation, but for The Peoples of The World living in collaborative destiny with Mother Earth

design equity

apple-design-god-jony-ive-has-an-auction-at-sothebys--and-the-items-are-awesome

how much do you value Design?

as a designer — a human-centered storyFirst experience designer, to be more specific — i sometimes have to unfortunately question my value, or at least my perceived value to the people that hire me or collaborate with me on the project work i’m involved with

value is a relative thing

in a lot of ways value is as nebulous and conceptually faith-based as other terms like respect, trust, belief and other similar energy-guided principles that guide our daily decisions and interactions as we make from the head, heart and gut

most people simplify the concept of value to some sort of financial equivalancy

value becomes a purely monetarily-evaluated thing

but this is a perversion of what value really means, because value in actuality is a far less static force in the world, and one not really as directly associated with money as its been made to feel and as it is promoted to be by our larger societal systems

its all a vast oversimplification

but from a design standpoint in general — its actually an unfortunate and unnecessarily cluttered perversion of the term itself

wrap-bg

i can feel that my value as a designer
changes from collaboration to collaboration

from full-time engagement to full-time engagement there is really no standard equivalency that a corporation needs to adhere to from a purely monetary, compensatory standpoint in the hiring process — its all comparative and competitive market ballparking that also involves basic negotiation and ultimately the individual decisions of each party involved — which is fine, this is a free market system we deal with on a daily basis, but don’t forget to defend your value as an employee or independent professional and to actually also stand for and stand up for the other definition variation for the term in its plural values

all that said

your value as built up over the years and as you and your colleagues and collaborators perceive you’ve accumulated through experience, expertise and the daily work you do creates a certain brand equity

in my case i own my own Design Equity

at this point in my career i just simply know what i’m doing — but what i do as a designer might be valued more or less { not just in the monetary sense of value } depending on the company i keep

if i perceive that the company i keep during my day gig doesn’t appreciate my value and the level of contribution i bring to the team and to the company, i start to get a little confused

as much as i typically want to continue with the company i keep — as much as i want to continue to innovate and collaborate with the team i’m working with by bringing the power of my design knowledge, processes and know-how to the table each and every day, if it feels like i’m being kept by the company in some way — maybe kept from leveraging my full potential talent — or kept from contributing the most i can to the business strategies, initiatives and needs of the organization

i guess i just never quite understand that particular dynamic within a corporate business setting

why would a company want to compensate you a substantial amount — after quite rigorously interviewing you and assessing what you can contribute to their business — to just keep you locked up at a desk like an collectable or something and ask you to contribute to the typical mediocrity they suddenly reveal as their real business objectives once you’ve crossed over into the company after the interview process to just be another one of their employees? 

i would automate the timepunch workforce, let go of the half aSses that keep the company { and the country, for that matter } at that well-established level of mediocrity and hire more of the go-getters and game-changers to actually maybe get some real shit done

doesn’t that make a whole lot more sense?

i think if you analyze it from even that pure economic monetary value perspective, which most companies supposedly do, it definitely makes for just better business practice

if i feel like my company is merely keeping me, that’s when i consider taking my Design Equity elsewheremy LinkedIn Profile reflects this mentality, which is a bit more than a mentality, its my personal business and career methodology and i actually recommend more people think about and conduct their careers and their lives following this more aggressive set of personal business policies that place more accountability and responsibility on the corporations that choose to engage with us

in Massachusetts we’re all considered employees at will — basically meaning at any point the company you work for can decide to let you go without any real reason whatsoever

but that decision actually goes both ways

its a ultimately bisexual decision — or at least its a two-way street

and you as the employee at will can also decide to let the company go, too

but there is a little bit of a stigma that comes with the terrain, of course, if you do choose to live by the ethical standards and values i allude to so far — and this stigma i speak of is very much not in as kind to the individual as an employee as it is to the companies that hire them

i assume its because the financial power
typically resides with the company

they decide on our relative worth and value or devalue us

although those that defend their value and fight for their real value set up and enforce a dynamic where we can ultimately at least influence and fend for what we know our real Design Equity and general workforce worth is in the world — there’s simply still more power in the hands of the corporations, for recruitment and for just about every other facet of our current capitalist, consumer-based socio-economic systemic setup

making corporations a bit more accountable when they don’t properly empower you is just another way to move our culture away from our econoRuled world to a more humanistically-beneficial, and maybe even a far more truly democratic new roadmap for the future world 

Design is one of many very powerful ways to better participate at the larger level and maybe even help change our world for the better

and i choose to use my own Design Equity to actively work toward making the world a better place for actual peoplenot to simply promote new technologies to just drive better profit margins on somebody’s fucking Excel spreadsheet — and definitely not to contribute toward the mere survival of a legal entity that doesn’t in actuality even exist in the world as anything real and that doesn’t ultimately care in any way for actual people, including: their employees; their partners; their clients; and the people of the world

i Design to imagine and help create a better world

i leverage my Design Equity for people over corporations

i am not against corporations or anti-American, though — i just think corporations need to be more accountable for their actions and behavior and for what they promote — and corporations need to be babysat a bit more through actual government-driven policies and services that put The People at the core of what this nation and the world is all about

i hope you weren’t previously confused by who i am or what i stand for, but if so — i hope this blogPost clears things up for you

let me know if you have any questions, aight?

quote-democracy-cannot-consist-solely-of-elections-that-are-nearly-always-fictitious-and-managed-by-rich-che-guevara-234135

being a transitional

laEvolucion

one of the fun parts about being human is that we are always evolving

like it or not — the only thing we can truly count on actually staying the same is the fact that things always change — and we are a species that is very much under the influence of things — so, following that logic, to some degree, as our things change, we change, almost purely as a means to adapt to our things

this concept, in many ways, is in direct conflict with my very purpose as a human-centered designer — my job and daily activities are focused solely on driving and guiding the design process, mostly aimed at creating technology-based experiences, to hopefully result in interactive and dynamic software and interfaces that: intuitively make sense to users { or people as i prefer to call them }; that are usable and valuable and user-friendly { or ‘easy to use’ and understand with a minimal learning effort }; and that largely serve the actual human goals and business goals of the overall technohumanic experiences being delivered

we now live in a world population increasingly geared toward the digital natives

 

the other day my son Maceo was taking a bath and, with Maceo being extremely social and fun-loving but also a bit co-dependent, he invited me to come in to the bathroom to talk with him while he relaxed and washed { before settling in to read and eventually fall asleep in his bed on this typical school night }

Maceo is 10 years old

he’s definitely a digital native, meaning, he’s grown up in The Digital Age and for the most part has never been in a world without computing machines, as we used to call them — he understands computers and our mobile devices in a much different way than my wife or i do because he’s grown up with them as a simple and accepted set of objects within his natural living environment — and he’s grown up in an era when, for the most part, the information-based, interactive experiences delivered via the medium of our digital technologies already have a lot of the kinks worked out of ’em — due to Steve Jobs and the iUniverse he’s created through his prosumerization of our computers and devices, through Jobs’ efforts to make these relationships we have with our modernday technologies ‘just work,’ Maceo’s never really had to deal with the first 3 or 4 generations of the rather krudgy software and digital experiences we previously had with our devices in the first few decades on the new digital island

needless to say, he probably doesn’t have the same amount of frustration and associated psychological baggage that i have with these technologies that were invented to somehow serve humanity but also somehow typically don’t ‘just work’ the way we were promised they would in our non-native explorations of the digital island

with Maceo sprawled out, his body submerged under under the warm water of his bath, we discussed his daytime learning activities out at Spofford Pond School in Boxford — i asked him if today’s special { as they call all non-core classes at his school } was gym and he said, ‘No, today was Art’ — i asked him what special he’d have in school tomorrow and he said, Media’

‘Media? What’s Media?’ I asked him — i kind of knew what the term implied, of course, but wanted to know what the school system teaches him about media

i wanted to know what media now means
to a third grade student living in our modern Digital Age

he started laughing and said, ‘they teach us things that we all already know, like how to save a document,‘ and then he really started laughing pretty hard, which of course made me laugh

i could tell the whole idea of teaching media to the new breed of our digital natives seemed totally preposterous to him, almost like they were trying to teach him how to breathe or something so innately embedded in our humanness to feel like futile effort or even farce

we were laughing for quite some time

he went on, ‘its like, go to file and then move the mouse down and click on ‘Save”

he was like a little bathing stand-up comedian, delivering the ultimate punchline to the most hilarious joke i’ve heard in years, and i was both his receptive, laughing audience and an instant co-writer to these new jokes that almost seem to write themselves now

‘what are they gonna teach you next week, Maceo? how to log off of the computer?’ i quipped back — we were both laughing even harder than ever now, he returned the volley with, ‘i know, its like, here’s how we right-click on a mouse’ — he was kind of saying the entire little phrase with an intentionally slow delivery, mocking how remedial and silly this class must feel to him and his fellow student colleagues sitting through each special weekly session of Media at Spofford Pond

i haven’t laughed that hard in about half a year

as a digital native, Maceo just gets it

and, if the technology does live up to its original promise — this high-level promise from Steve Jobs and other pre-Apple visionaries that promised these technologies will ‘just work’ and that they’ll actually be helpful, useful and valuable for us all to use — if the experience isn’t living up to our expectations, well, quite frankly, Maceo’s ready to dive in under the hood and actually make the technology do what he needs it to do for him

i, on the other hand, get immediately hung up on my overall, continual disappointment with the promises that are never quite met from my standpoint as both a user of these technologies and a designer that’s constantly trying to devise ways to improve the human experience of our digital technologies

and i get frustrated rather easily, i might add

i actually want the technology to ‘just work’ the way we were promised it would

but it doesn’t

9 times out of 10, from my own personal lifelong experiences with computers, devices and technologies, these experiences fall extremely short of the expectation

maybe i’m more aware of these discrepancies between the promise and what we really experience from our technologies right now because i remember the promise, whereas Maceo doesn’t have the same context at all — and, unlike a lot of people that will spend a lot of time jerry-rigging these experiences like some sort of delusional Digital MacGyvers that just want so desperately for the technologies to be so cool as to ‘just work’ that they paperclip and chewing gum back together the actual, shitty and broken experience design in an attempt to sort of pretend perfection or merely band-aid a nearly-usable hackensteined-up app or something — unlike those folks that are drinking the digital koolaid with wireless ice, play-acting like everythingz all too cool for school an’ all, i like to tell it like it is and assess these experiences at some sort of reasonably realistic and honest scale

macgyver

 

if we can’t evaluate the current-day experiences we have with our technologies with at least a reasonable sense of honesty then we’ll never be able to: level set where we are; identify critical areas for potential improvement; and then iteratively work toward any real sense of improving our overall human experience

now, unlike my son Maceo, who is considered a digital native, i am what’s called a digital immigrant — i don’t particularly like this terminology, but this is what anyone can Google up in a few seconds as a definition of who i am and what it means to be in my demographic in relation to the introduction to our interactive technologies and my particular abilities and views about the technologies and experiences we all use and deal with on a daily basis

i think by including the term digital in the semantics, definition and language so nicely weaved around these digital demographics, we almost immediately begin to think of absolutely everything as needing to be associated with the term digital — which in itself is quite interesting, this power of language to sell a movement

but i would like to think of myself in an entirely different way and perhaps affiliate my personal demographic less around the technologies and more around the actual times we’re talking about — or, better yet, it might even be nice to entirely decouple the term for my demographic from both the technologies and the times

let’s agree on at least one thing up front, though

we live in The Age of Information

we might also consider this to be The Digital Age, too, but for the most part the way that most of humanity views the entire world today is through an almost frighteningly pure informational lens

back to self-identification, though

so, instead of considering myself to be a digital immigrant, i would prefer to be called a transitional person, or just a transtitional

the term hints just a little bit toward our eventual post-humanity, which, like it or not, we’re already embarking on the journey to — i hope that its not an entirely inevitable place we’re heading to, but its pretty much nearly guaranteed just through the economics quite purposely confounded with our innovations through information and inventions — we’ll most likely just keep driving ourselves deeper and deeper into the human-machine-integration that futurists like Ray Kurzweil foretold decades ago in books like The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology

i guess, then, i consider myself as transitioning from a mediated yet mostly analog time in the world we live in to one that is heavily dominated by: digital experiences; computing machines and devices; and datasets of information

where there is no transition necessary for Maceo — he was born with computers and smartphones in the household — i’ve needed to learn entirely new ways of doing just about everything i do in life just to fit in, and to perform and survive within our increasingly more and more digitalized culture

i think of the world we live in now
as our technohumanic ecoSystem

we live among the machines

and the machines outnumber us at this point, too, if you think about it

and, i guess one could even say even the culture we live in itself is still mostly transitional by its very nature, too — its not necessarily just a demographic set, but its also a way to categorize life in the modern age as we move to more and more digitally-mediated interactions and experiences

as much as the current trend shows us as a humanity moving closer and closer to merging with machines to evolve to a supposedly higher place, i would like to think the kind of design story we should be more focused on should center a lot more on developing a better sense of human and environmental awareness that really is totally unrelated to our technological inventions altogether

but how do we design for something like greater awareness?

this isn’t one of those ‘there’s an app for that’ results we’re looking for — there’s no real profitable product or service that i’m aiming for as a human experience designer, actually, which probably leaves me in a bit of a bind, right? i personally believe that we can invent a lot of amazing and innovative technologies that will help us survive or make our lives seem somewhat more comfortable or enjoyable, but at the end of the day i would like to do more than merely survive

i would like to see humanity start to grow again

and i don’t mean growing as in growing a user-base or expanding a knowledge set or some other similar information-based endeavor we get distracted by along the real path of where our human evolution should be headed — in this case, its not about the information

we need to start feeling the vibe of the universe again — we need to stop dissecting everything so much and mapping it all to some fictional, self-serving, data-related set of attributes that we as people invent to make sense of our chaotic universe to only feel somewhat in control of our little destinies — we need to start focusing in on our emotionality, our spirituality and our purpose

someone or something else designed these things for us, however, and we can only discover, shape and guide these interesting topic touch points in the story of our lives

we cannot truly control them

i don’t want to leave this planet to the next generation with my contributions merely being the design and delivery of a bunch of apps and experiences — i want to leave the future people of tomorrow with a sense that we helped change the direction of our destiny toward something more meaningful and real, and something far more valuable than the code for an information-based set of experiences, but maybe instead, the code for how to better behave and interact with each other in the world in which we live in together as we all move forward toward a more holistic, harmonious and humanistic civilization

some thoughts about leadership in a democracy

obama

we’ve been trained well, haven’t we?

i don’t know how many countless times i’m out at some family thang or a company function or just in some random conversation with folks, but we’re all these sort of armchair citizens, you gotta admit

and for the most part, no matter who’s in office, we unfairly get to simply sit at home behind the big blue screen in the living room and point at Congress or The President or The Government and blame all of the chaos and uncontrollable issues of our nation and the world on them

but this is a democracy, is it not?

some would argue the United States government is no longer a democracy

a loose definition for democracy would be a government by the people for the people of that democratic nation — so, my estimate is that we’re no longer a democracy, unfortunately

but who’s fault is that really?

we can’t point fingers there — at least, not unless we’re looking directly at ourselves and looking in a mirror

if we’re no longer a democracy,
what are we now in The United States?

we’re basically some sort of government led by pure economics — financial Darwinism — mostly pushed and pulled by numbers in somebody’s Microsoft Excel spreadsheet

corporations run their numbers that way — if its not profitable for the business then we need to cut it away and figure out a cheaper, more efficient and semi-legal way around whatever challenges are making this particular quarter unprofitable

after all, we don’t want to look bad in the eyes of The Board and our investors, right?

and then, corporations also ultimately push and pull our government around as well, mostly through lobbyists and their closer relationships to their affiliated counterparts on the other side of the fence in whichever house of government they might currently reside

its all about The Benjamins

eatingProfits

our founding fathers would be so proud of us and what we’ve become, although at this point i’m not so sure they were exactly doing all that much better with their own dichotomous talk about freedom and justice for the landowners — er, ehm — i mean for ALL, right?

anyhow

so, i think what the world needs now isn’t love, love, love, but something more in-line with some better systems

we need to redesign the system entirely

i’m talking system overhaul

we can no longer count on or even begin to place blame on our fearless leaders, because unfortunately, in the way our current Capitalist Consumer-Based Corporate-Led Purely Economic government rule works — or doesn’t work — is much-like the very catastrophic and dystopian results we read about in the amazing fictional speculation of Golding’s Lord of The Flies

and we all know how that turned out, right? remember? 

not so good

lordFlies

and i don’t know about you, but i personally want the world to get better

i see what we’re going through as a supposed civilization as something akin to world drug addiction or global alcoholism

we’ve been set up with:

  • a junky dependence on constant consumer purchases to try and attain some level of momentary happiness
  • utterly preposterous dependence on gas and oil and other natural resources that are vastly diminishing
  • a sedentary and compliant lifestyle where we’re encouraged to remain edutained, quiet and obedient — be a good follower and you’re a valuable American citizen
  • minimum life and survival training disguised as our government-run and tax-funded education systems that merely, for the most part, provide a quasi-babysitting service to keep the kids busy while you and i drive back and forth to work { spending money on gas and auto repairs to support the automotive and oil industries } to do invaluable, meaningless busywork that keeps us all sufficiently distracted from thinking about or acting upon the real, important issues
  • a strangely powerful economic system that thrives when we’re at our most destructive but suffers in a big, big way when we no longer got our war on

so thanks to the set up and a special thanks to people that just want to live a comfortable, happy life without being bothered by the mad illusion we’re all living, our world is riddled with rather immense challenges — and our nations start to represent some sense of archetypal versions of Ralph, Piggy, Sam, Eric and the other characters we recall from Lord of The Flies

we’re left on an island and its survival of the fittest for the most part, with no real true guidance, less and less regulations and rules, mostly providing a valuable set of services that ticket you, pull you over, check the shit in your trunk while some real criminal activity that is far more dangerous might be happening in just the town over

so how do we change all this?

i want a happy ending { not that kind silly }

i need a different way — one that has some sense of hope through collaborative, active participation for humanity

i don’t want our children and our childrens’ children to grow up and look back and read the stories about: who we were; how we wasted the time and energies and resources of this beautiful planet; how we lived completely irresponsibly as a supposed civilization; and how we left the world in an increasingly more desperate and dangerous place for the generations to follow us

that’s not the legacy i want us to leave behind

and i personally am going to do everything in my humble power to contribute in a positive and productive way to change the dysfunctions of our current systems while also imagining and facilitating the creation of new ways to guide the people of the world to a better tomorrow

i have no idea how i can do this

i guess i’ve never tried to do this before

but i can definitely say i’ve never been this hyper-aware of the scary realities of the world in which we live in and the general trends, forces and energies that got us to the state we’re currently experiencing in the world

we need to re-design all of this

there is SO much work to do

its at once overwhelming and exciting and impossible and hopeful and challenging and happy

i don’t even know where to begin

i guess we all need to begin with ourselves — and i’ve been working on myself and my own dysfunctions — i’ve been tackling my own misused and poorly guided internal energies to try and harness them, turn them around and use them for something good — and its difficult work, but its work that is SO worthwhile and important

instead of pointing a finger at someone else today and externalizing some major world issues or the personal issues you’re facing on a daily basis, i want you to take an honest look at yourself

do not accept the blame for the state of the world, but realize its people like you that are going to need to take some reasonable action to help turn it all around for the betterment of our society

don’t think of it as a burden

its heavy stuff, for sure

but think of it as more of a personal mission

we’ll meet more people like us along the way, people that want to make the world a better place, people really trying to make a difference by listening and learning and attempting to actually do something positive

stop listening to people that just gripe about everything — and stop listening to people that have no individual thought of their own anymore but just pontificate on the part of ignorant and self-righteous, unimportant radio personalities that can barely wipe their own asses forget about give us an accurate depiction of the world or some sense of how we can productively start to solve these tremendous and serious issues we’re facing as a people and a planet

and let’s think of the work we do
to better the world
as a gift

as a beautiful act of giving a gift to the peoples of tomorrow

leafRain

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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moving on { from Mobiquity }

mMobiquitySmall

so, its in a somewhat sad and self-reflective mood that i leave Mobiquity, the enterprise-class, start up mobile services agency i’ve worked for over the last year and a half out in Wellesley and Waltham

i truly love so much about Mobiquity

and my final decision to leave the organization, believe it or not, was not one made in great haste or with any sense of impulsivity or reactionary spirit on my part

this was a difficult decision, and i actually leave the firm for so many very excruciatingly painful reasons, many of which are purely personal and life-design related

as i leave, i would like to take a few moments to quickly bullet-list reflect on those positive aspects i can think about and keep with me in my heart and soul as i start a new chapter in my career

here are some Lessons Learned — nearly spiritual concepts and observations — i can bring with me and thank Mobiquity for as i move forward { and I am truly appreciative in every way for the opportunity to work at Mobiquity over the last 17 or so months of my life, its been truly wonderful in so many ways }:

  • hire, trust and empower truly amazing and talented people
  • think of your company { or your department } as a prototype and iteratively optimize the experience of the company using a truly human-centered design methodology
  • take the time to listen to each other, truly listen to each other
  • collaborate as often as possible, and do so with an eclectic human involvement in each project or process as often as possible — it is appsolutely VITAL to understand each and every business challenge involved in each engagement from as many unique perspectives { from the POV of Sales, Business, Design, Development and Delviery } as the organization can afford to invest into the flow of a project at every single step of the process
  • everything is far more complicated than it seems on paper, especially if what’s been put on paper is too vague at the beginning to promote any reasonable sense of business accountability on the part of each partner involved in the engagement
  • professionally drive and guide each process in both a thoughtful and respectful way as a true leader for each and every project / engagement / partnership / relationship
  • learn from both success and failure — its the only way to evolve and grow as an organization { and as professional, talented and honest individuals }, so do not be so utterly afraid of ‘The F Word’
  • transparency — much-like the terms innovation and collaboration — is overrated, under-delivered and over-promised { in other words, if you can’t truly be totally transparent as an organization, don’t even bring up the term, it only hurts everyone involved, including the company, at the end of the day }
  • do everything in the most human way possible — people really appreciate it when you take the time to just talk with them face-to-face or when you try to solve an unsmooth situation by doing everything within your truly human power to show you love what you do and you love and respect the people you’re currently collaborating with
  • live in the moment and appreciate the good and bad of: each and every moment; each and every challenge; each and every opportunity
  • everything is possible

i’ll admit, i’ve been learning some of these things along the way regardless of my shortish tenure with Mobiquity — but i’ve been driving to consciously communicate these fundamental discoveries and understandings of experience design and industry in general in a far more articulate and effective manner to help deepen my understanding of myself, my business and my approach

thanks again for these last 17 or so months at Mobiquity

while working with The Mob, i focused on personally promoting a professional sense of fun, collaborative energy while simultaneously bringing the work to a higher place — and as much as i felt like a complete failure to celebrate my departure from such an amazing collection of talented individuals over a glass of wine and some humorous toasts with the crew, i do feel that i, at the very least, accomplished and embodied those 2 concepts — collaborative fun-making and over the top, professional project results — while contributing at the highest level allowed by the organization

thank you Mobiquity

much continued hope, love, success and happiness

[: long live The Mob :]

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