Category Archives: process

in honor and remembrance

Martin Luther King Jr

Scrum Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

cuckooNest_scrum

a note about Science

science

Science builds toward a knowledge-based belief system to understand the universe and our human experience through research, experimentation, observation, skepticism and constant challenge of the beliefs and understandings it builds.

Just to note: Science is not as mired in ‘truth’ or ‘reality’ as many believe it to be.

And I feel — through my own psuedo-scientific experimentation, observation and online conversations about the nature of science as a system and a methodology — that its closer affiliation to ‘belief’ ( as opposed to ‘truth’ or ‘reality’ ) is what sometimes heats up certain dialogs ( wink, wink ).

a self-reflective note { to myself }

enjoyCapitalism

my mind constantly explores personal concepts and beliefs in an automatic way that i sometimes can’t control { i don’t dare try to control these streams of subConscia — strange inner enigmas unravel, drift, separate and then come back together again all on their own at times, which i find extremely invaluable } — little conflicts between my interior and the world we live in, all of the veritable psychodynamics that seem to invisibly sizzle in a constant ebb and flow between the conscious and the subconscious, poetically heal themselves or sometimes split into smaller branching tributaries that continue on like a roaring rivertide

sometimes the deepest underbelly thread of  my thoughts stream up into my surface consciousness on a short jaunt to the Men’s Room at the office or while strolling over into the kitchen

today was a typical day

i was thinking about Capitalism again

yup, you got it — the ‘C’ word ;]

one of the many ‘isms‘ i seem to put out there in a metaphysical ring to wrestle out the strengths and weaknesses of these philosophies around culture and governance, civilization and society

i thought something along the lines of:

even though our Democracy-based societal backdrop here in The United States overwhelmingly bows down in a subservient, unholy way to the financial Darwinism of our Capitalistic, { originally } unintentional reliance on a pure economic hierarchical sense of sovereign oligarchy — i expect people to actually act a LOT better than that

you know? i’d never really clearly articulated it like that before i guess

i felt a little happier about it — about these kind of horrifically unfair societal inequalities, injustices and broken promises that seem to just continually fall under attack from certain ‘rogue’ forces out there

i think just clearing up my expectations about the system and people and behavior i could separate myself and my own beliefs and feelings about the unfortunate purely-Capitalistic sway of our governing, rotten ‘rules of play’ to at least subtly stumble upon the realization that maybe i’ve been practicing a better way to be as a human being and as a citizen of this country { and hopefully the world }

this conceptual distancing and the solidification around my personal expectations for myself, my family and my friends and colleagues sharpens my focus a bit and helps me understand that i might just be alright after all

flaginShadow

a little game

info_art

my art can sometimes feel a little ‘all over the place’

i don’t like to limit myself too, too much when it comes to my vehicles of expressive delivery — that combined with my natural tendency toward a scattered but exciting sense of ADHD plus my rather lengthy and continually-expanding collection of influences and inspirations makes for a rather eclectic body of work that i sometimes try to organize into threads or streams of my work

in my design thesis from Dynamic Media Institute, ‘confounded: future fetish design performance for human advocacy,’ i purposely chose the term ‘streams‘ for a few reasons:

  1. i feel like my subconscious is a far more present and powerful force in my creatively expressive, personal work;
  2. i enjoy following my subconscious — my streams of subconscious — to archeologically mine for the deeper, personally-symbolic inner significance that i’ve accumulated like a patina over the course of my life;
  3. i know that i naturally tend to bury certain emotions, memories and stories in the strange style that a chipmunk saves away little morsels for the long winter ahead — these might be feelings that are far too shocking and powerful for me to handle in any conscious manner in the current moments i am living in, and i am almost certain, for the most part, that a significant amount of people partake in this similar activity as a mere means of surviving the ‘day to day‘ dysfunction and chaos we all encounter along our life’s journeys;
  4. i also tend to hide away from time to time, sometimes for large spans of time, greatly depending upon my mood and certain life events — i can nicely attribute this behavior, to sort of tuck myself away inside my shell, to being born under the sign of Cancer — the symbol for Cancer, of course, is the crab — and after spending many an afternoon tide pooling with my wife and son, flipping rocks along the shallow shoreline out at Lynch Park in Beverly among other beautiful Atlantic coastline seaside retreats, i’ve developed an observational understanding of not only the ‘tough, outer exterior’ of the crab and the notion of ‘crabbiness’ that might be somewhat symbolically mapped to the drastic shift in moodswings i experience on a fairly regular cycle, but i also now better ‘get‘ how these little pinchy critters live — tucking themselves away, a bit under the sand or between the rocks as the tide ebbs and flows — its an interesting lifestyle to study and reflect upon, especially knowing that there are definitely some similarities between my own behavior and that of these amazing little moody crustacea;
  5. i guess i’ve veered away from exploring why the term ‘streams‘ so nicely captures the nature of my work and certain categories of recurring episodes in my work — this last enumerated bullet point, to get back to the concept of these streams of subconscia, pertains to the rather interesting evolution within certain streams of my work — as i tend to, at times, act more like a chess player than an artist, as i move and follow both the journey of certain objects and installations from literally geopolitical ‘place to place’ as well as the state of its existence into the next, and sometimes even beyond itself out into the metaphorical afterlife of the piece or its sub-componenture

today’s update on the information kiosk i purchased from Border’s Bookstores prior to the closing of the bookseller chain brings us just a few yards away from where it previously resided over the last 6 to 9 months or so — i don’t think this will be its final destination, by any means, however, i can see an interesting new stage in the piece’s evolution coming together in my mind’s eye

i original purchased the kiosk to build out a prototype for my Laugh Observation Library back at DMI @ MassArt — the LOL included a bookcase collection of 100 bottles containing a variety laughter samples per bottle along with this oddly orange information booth housing a laughScan Station to actually activate each sample for further faux-scientific research into humor and the human phenomena behind laughter

the original and only installation of the Laugh Observation Library appeared in The Pooka Lounge in Bakalar Gallery at MassArt as part of forensicEvidence — the name of my final showcase of work in the 2011 MassArt Thesis Show from my DMI @ MassArt experience

in retrospect the statement that my micro-installment made perfectly fit the bill regarding my discoveries around both MassArt and gallery exhibition in general — and this particular piece, although not exactly aesthetically matching the clinically sterile environment of a traditional scientific laboratory setting, especially that of a forensic investigation crime lab, really seemed to appropriately comment on my personal feelings regarding what Brian O’Doherty describes as the ‘white cube‘ controlled context of the gallery space associated with High Art

in fact, this installation and my personal aesthetic not only provided a silent and polite, subtle sociological commentary on both Art and Science as rather haughty professions, but the rather organic, make-shift style of my work also appropriately mocked the institutionalized aspects of high formality associated with not only Art and Science, but even with Design itself for encouraging a somewhat exclusive attitude within its highest of the high socio-professional, pseudo-political circles

the pieces i presented in forensicEvidence were the dead remains from my work at MassArt — the physical evidence of my work, but also of the pretend criminal activity i either partook in or witnessed while researching and working on my art at MassArt — now, of course, art-making is not exactly a criminal activity, although sometimes it can feel like such an endeavor when living and working outside of the inner protected sanctum of academia and its related artedness, but in some ways i felt like i definitely witnessed what i came to call ‘Crimes Against Creativity‘ — i won’t elaborate too, too much here on these crimes i witnessed, but i definitely felt a bit disappointed in some of the people and vibes i encountered while working toward my graduate degree at MassArt and unfortunately these were events, policies and behaviors that i will not soon forget and nor would i ever expect an institution of higher learning to simply grin and bear without pursuing some follow-up activity to properly set the record straight and rectify unacceptable, malicious and ignorant behavior

… anyhow …

following forensicEvidence — the kiosk remained in the back of my truck, nicely sheltered from the elements, but definitely getting in the way of any sane semblance of life

a month or so after i took the information booth out of my truck and left it at the head of my driveway — although a bit silly-looking in its now more ‘natural’ surroundings in this highly wooded area of Boxford, i actually loved seeing this ugly, orange desk-like fixture from a typically highly-corporate retail environment now planted in the midst of trees and lush, green ferns and other fertile elements of the great outdoors — and i was extremely happy not to have followed my original bad instinct to just leave the kiosk in a nearby cemetery { after, of course, taking some choice photodocumentation of this potentially-strange, satiric gravestone tribute to The Information Age — which would’ve certainly been bound to be an entirely illegal but hilarious act of vandalism or refuse disposal in the eyes of the court, i’m sure }

but now, many months later, after surviving an Autumn, Winter and Springtime out in the driveway, i decided to drag the information kiosk up the steps into our backyard and set it out just at the edge of our deck

here i hope to festively decorate the kiosk with some simple crushed stone around its base — maybe arranging some beautiful potted plants on the tabletop and around its stable and heavy periphery — perhaps this Summer and into the Fall, this will be our funerary preparations for the kiosk before finally allowing myself to emotionally let go of a piece that never quite got beyond the prototypic stage — this might be a truly wonderful way to commemorate the short lifespan of this mysterious object that i’ve carried around with me from place to place, an object that has come to symbolize the weight of the personal information we carry around with us in life

its time for me to prepare

these are the last few months i will live with this bizarre physical manifestation of my memories, feelings and unnecessarily burdensome set of heavy experiences i still find myself hanging onto

i will be certain to document these last arrangements i make with the kiosk — i hope to focus on growing something positive and beautiful on, around and through the information booth — to evolve some of the confounded emotions and energies that remain into / toward a blossoming garden of new vegetal information for further maturation and growth and positive seed for the future

some reflections on the challenge of experience design

a huge part of ux has nothing to actually do with design and processes — ux is about establishing culture and curating the experience of ucd

the theatre of Work, ReVisited

theatreofwork_preview

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! ;]

 

logo_storyfirst

 

why do we need to ask appropriate questions?

real-people-main-110207

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?

monkey_01-09ed43f265a3620d7145ced7c6179b7b38122a98-s6-c30

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

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