Category Archives: ux

a little discussion about Behavior Modes

Photo provided courtesy of C. Nancy Niu

Once again — I’m fortunate enough to in life to engage with The Boston Area UX, Design and Tech Community by giving talks on topics I am deeply passionate about within the realms of creativity, collaboration, experience and story.

Akshat Pradhan invited me out to UX Boston last week to present Behavior Modes for UX, an important sub-topic to my larger concept of designing with a storyFirst human-centered design approach. And I got to give the presentation as part of an evening of talks called Ideating Mobile, Prototyping w/ Sketch, and Behavior Modes! that included a talk on The Mobile Ecosystem Matrix from The Meme Design’s Carlos Cardenas and a super helpful prototyping walk-through by Aquent Gymnasium’s Jeremy Osborn.

So, here’s a quick, high-level fly by
on what I’m calling Behavior Modes:


Behavior Modes for UX


In a nutshell — as a now near-20-year-spanning, lifelong experience designer in New England, I feel that UX teams embedded in various firms in the area nicely use all the amazing industry-standard tools and tricks, but we sometimes seem to just go through the motions of assembling the toolkit while missing the core point and actual tactical unique benefits of why we’re using some of these tools to begin with, ya know?

My case in point for this particular talk — personas

Companies develop personas. Sometimes they outsource persona development and invest a lot of big money to conduct painstaking research to craft a fantastic batch of 10 or so personas per user type within a company’s anticipated target audience. And this is all wonderful. It shows that firms are really starting to step up and take research and user-centered methodologies seriously because hopefully they understand that serving people is what we need to be all about.

But …

In 2015 most teams seem to almost treat personas as some sort of Fine Art object we put on the wall. We see faces and little blocks of stats and commentary pinned to the wall like strange dossier-like posters to remind us that there’re people on the other side. Its a bit reminiscent of the hunter’s lodge tucked so politely away in a wooded Vermont hillside cabin, nicely decorated with the dead, static remains from that huge invoice —from all that research — like a pristine, captured set of kills strangely stuffed and mounted to the wall like a museum-like reminder of the people that we once knew and talked to and taxidermically preserved. We got ’em. Check! Task done!

IMGP0305 - Copy.JPG_thumb

But I’m not sure that this is how Alan Cooper intended teams to leverage personas in our daily work. And I’m certain they’re not supposed to simply be flowers on the wall. We’re, at the very least, always supposed to keep the faces, names and motivations of our personas in mind as we design — and I’ve noticed at least a dozen occasions over the last 17 or so years where someone does the whole ‘Do you really think that’s the way TechSavvy Simone would want to create a new user profile on ProductX?

That’s not enough though, right? Just a dozen times in nearly 20 years? C’mon!

I mean, besides UX professionals digging into putting together a list of potential user types and maybe referencing one of the personas as a way to advocate for a semi-fictional real person in a design review meeting, not once have I seen anyone fully embrace the entire potential and value of tuning into your personas.

This is why I am talking about putting our personas into a situational context to bring them to life.

As creatives, I feel that its quite sad how flat and dead our design processes can feel. It seems that you get the gig, set up at a desk, start attending the meetings and doing the work ‘n all — but we all tend to hang up the power of our imagination somewhere else entirely. And this is a shame. After all, these powers and skills are forces we were actually hired by a company to use in our daily design work. But somewhere along the line we all tune out of The Imagination Channel and tune into whatever readymade, prescribed policies and processes make the most sense to use at work because we’re used to them.

I want us to tune back into The Imagination Channel.

Personas are the best way for us as designers to get out of our own heads and into the minds, hearts and emotions of our human users. Its literally a way for us to channel the users in that fuzzy kind of New Age way and wonder from somebody else’s perspective. But I think there’s a reason why our personas remain on the wall in their frozen taxidermied state as these cutely named posters on the wall. Personas need context to come back to life. We need to not only understand the statistics we’ve researched around real people that use our products, but in order to best design for real people we also need to understand:

  • when they’re using the experience(s) we’re designing;
  • how often they use it;
  • why they’re using it in a certain temporal context;
  • how often they might get interrupted mid-task;
  • when and how they might re-engage and continue an interrupted experience with your product or service;
  • where they’re using it;
  • what version of a holistic experience design our users are engaging with ( mobile, desktop, tablet, wearable, kiosk );
  • who else is around when they’re using it;
  • how people use it within different levels of criticality ( if that even pertains to the experience );
  • etcetera, so on and so forth

This is what Behavior Modes are all about.

Behavior Modes are bits and pieces of modular context to map to your personas to better dream up and understand an actual person’s story within a temporal situation as they might experience what you’ve design for them.

I think of Behavior Modes as different than a formal use case scenario, although I imagine you could leverage the contextual factors that come together to make up your behavior modes to develop interesting, near-real-life use cases to consider for your design processes and reviews.

I’m working on formalizing my thoughts around Behavior Modes and my storyFirst Approach to Human-Centered Design and will post more to my blog here as my concepts come together.

Stay tuned!

what happens without design


our current challenges around government, corporations and the economy are due to a lack of conscious experience design effort

more and more i feel that we need to realize that its all up to us

we need to more actively participate and to quite literally guide the re-design of our readymade, given systems — most of which, at this point, no longer effectively serve our human needs as a society, especially those needs of people living below the most upper of upper classes in this nation and the world

but how do we meaningfully participate? 

and would it be more effective to participate within the given systems or somehow work on designing a more renegade, extra-governmental set of new systems to positively create faster momentum and greater impact for the vast majority of people?

for me its the whole
design or be designed
decision we all need to make

or, i guess, we can all simply continue with our armchair quarterbacking methodology of just sitting back and complaining about the horrific results coming out of the current dynamics { which were, of course, historically guided to where they are today }


UX, we have a problem { or a few }



there’s the cute little UX eskimo — so innocent and cute, standing in his little Inuit happiness at the tip of the iceberg

the iceberg represents the UX process and our deliverables in this rather well-known and beautifully illustrated depiction of all those things that user experience actually is — and the eskimo is your happy tour guide to the iceberg, our little Virgil just waiting to show us around the wonderful processes and deliverables in our vector-drawn Divine Comedy of UX

go download the poster from PAZ — its something nice to print out and hang on your fridge

now psychoanalyze the poster for a few minutes here with me, because unfortunately i think that the informative nature of the this design piece is equally balanced by an unintended, expressive reflection that a many user-centered design professionals can relate to on myriad levels

here’s my high-level interpretation:

we stand alone at the top of a mountain of ice that’s floating in dangerous, deadly-cold waters

we know what we’re talking about, we can see The Big Picture from the vantage point we’re standing at, and this is a fantastic place to be in 2014 — we can feel like leaders in our profession, we hold a unique vision, a perspective that includes the intersection of design, people, technology, business and this mysterious force called experience, the thing that rules them all, right?

but i wonder as i examine this poster,
where are the other little eskimos?

where are the good people on the business side? where are the cSuite and product and project managers? where are the developers? and where are all the other amazing professionals that we constantly engage with and collaborate with on a daily basis to create an optimal, immersive and delightful experience?

we don’t do it alone

even if it oftentimes feels that way, and even if the setup just happens to put us in this solo spot

we can’t do it alone

but there we are — little eskimos that somehow need to keep the feeling of UX warm and friendly and cute, even amidst the most bitter, freezing elements of this strange wintry environment

but this is the myth — and its actually both the myth and the actual reality of the business on SO many occasions because most businesses still do not understand what we do in UX beyond the buzz of we need some UX to make this better

they’re still expecting a person to wave the magic wizardly wand to sprinkle that glittery UX dust on the original missed opportunities from Phase 1 not quite realizing that its not a person or the people of UX you need to invest in — its both the people and the processes they bring to the business table that need your trust, your empowerment and your investment

i’ve worked in the realm of interaction and UX now for 2 decades and i am flabbergasted at how many times the process falls to shit because the UX Team is not given the power and trust to contribute both at a reasonable pace and at a necessary level of leaderly quality in our daily collaborations

when i bring my automobile to the shop to get it fixed, per esempio, i might have a conversation with the mechanic to understand her/his diagnostic analysis of the situation and to understand the cost and consequences of my repairs, but my own sense of subjectivity never really enters the equation because i have a relationship with the expert professionals that are helping me get back on the road in a safe and reasonable manner

in almost the same scenario in the world of experience design, however, the expertise of the professional is almost always questioned, challenged and compromised — defend the quality and integrity of the design as best as you must, there is rarely the occasion that UX is given even a good enough sense of respect and trust to simply move forward with the plans as envisioned by the designer — there is always something to challenge the design rationale, the feasibility of the development work, the cost and scope of the design recommendations { such a wimpy-ass word, too, if you ask me, these recommendations }, even the usability, research and other current, established methodological practices all seem to get some sense of snarl-lipped scrutiny from the business forces surrounding UX

the odds are still against us

and the challenge and territory of experience design as a professional practice are still a much larger iceberg we’re touring, my friends and colleagues — the challenge for UX in 2014 and moving forward is formidable — formidable but possible — but it entails SO much more than what is so cutely included in this poster toy depiction of User Centred Design { intentional misspelling, i assume? — not that i’m opposed to any concrete poetics inspired by e.e. cummings and others, of course } — and the challenges are far more about: developing our soft skills; improving our abilities to command the other languages we need to speak with the entire milleau of vast and diverse collaborative teams; and optimizing the way we navigate and guide { or a stronger word, the one i prefer, would be lead } the over-politicized, internal { and external } corporate ecosystems that our processes and personas need to function within

we still have a lot to keep working on

we need to flip the diagrammatics, these visuals that both paint the expressive picture of our work while also simultaneously informing ourselves and others about what our industry is all about

firstly, we should always move up, not down, into the process — we need a different metaphor, one where we wouldn’t end up under water in the frigid Arctic Ocean as a consequence of flipping the paradigm — but first and foremost, progress is almost universally expressed through upward movement, unlike what we see with our friendly UX eskimo and iceberg { a very intriguing Freudian Slip, though, to keep in mind when you start to look at the poster by what the industry must feel like to the poster artist }

and secondly, we need more people, eskimos and others, as the leaders and guides to the process

UX is not a solo endeavor — it should not even remotely ever be considered the efforts and fruits for the hands of an individual contributor

and there’s obviously so much more beyond this poster to be worked on, but how we visualize who we are and what we do matters so much — we still have a perception challenge for UX — we need to keep working on it together

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

..:: teaching IxD ::..


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




why i am a user experience designer


i recenlty submitted a proposal to speak out at the 2012 User Experience Conference put on by The UPA Boston every year — an amazing, action-packed event goin’ down in the Boston area at an undisclosed location on May 7, 2012

i thought i’d design me up the very first slide of the Keynote slidedeck i’d put together, knowing full-well, of course, that i might not make it on the official speaking roster ( i’ve tried it before and didn’t quite make it in yet ), but i get excited about this potential opportunities, ya know? and i’m a designer, so this is how i start to get warmed up and prepared for this sorta thing

well, i recently joined Mobiquity out in Wellesley — we’re a start-up that just ‘went profitable’ within the first year ( yes, i’m bragging ;] ), and we focus on designing, building, deploying and managing enterprise-class mobile and ubiquitous experiences for some pretty well-known clients ‘out there’ and i get the incredibly rewarding challenge of bringing everything i know and love about advocating for the user to the table on a daily basis and just making it all happen through user-centered design methodology, sprinkling a little bit of fun in the mix all along the project lifecycle … keeping the collaboration light and playful can really help you get through the tough conversations you might to eventually brave, but luckily the team at Mobiquity totally rawks and for the most part we put on our ‘can do’ masks and push the big manilla envelope with fresh functional design and interactivity

its been an amazing bunch of months

and my role at Mobiquity — totally hilarious right now, i’m pretty much filled with ridiculous glee to suddenly analyze the FLA ( four-letter acronym ) for my official title at Mobiquity, its just too funny

i am a Senior User Experience Architect

or if we bring it down i could totally introduce myself as lou suSi, SUXA for Mobiquity

okay, its not that funny in blog format — here’s hoping the UPA Boston signs me up for a more visual-vocal, pecha-kucha-style, rapid-fire, humor-filled live presentation out at The 2012 UX Conference this year

text loususisux to 617UPA3773 to vote me off the island immediately

i can’t wait to see what happens :]

information architecture, interaction design, user experience design … a talk about engagement from Jesse James Garrett

i just bumped across this talk from Jesse James Garrett and i think i just love everything about it … he breaks it all open … not just humming along for the sake of that ‘feel good’ vibe people might have wanted at the end of the 10 year IA Summit … Garrett really rips in to bring us all to the next level … check it out

10th Annual IA Summit Closing Plenary – Jesse James Garrett from Chris Pallé on Vimeo.

Extending experience design { eed }

DSCF0242just like any other realm of design, you do not necessarily need to start thinking of the Total eXperience Design right from day 1

let’s say you start off designing a campaign or concept from a pure print standpoint at first … you have brochureware, business cards, flyers, posters, books, periodicals or any microSet of these items from the realm of paper and physically printed work … you can easily take your high resolution and vector-drawn artwork and interpolate that into the realm of onScreen eXperience ( oSX or whatever else you might personally call it … most might say uX for user eXperience, but i think i prefer the implied ‘operating System‘ in this oSX tla* … there is also an nearReference to ‘ossification‘ in the oS part of the tla which definitely holds some resonance to end deliverables like wireframes and other IA documents that set up the backbone for later rounds of ‘skinning‘ or visual design treatment ) … that works out nicely, right?

and then from high resolution to low resolution ( for onScreen ) to no resolution ( for mobile or text-based interpretation of the original print to web to text ), that’s another easy degradation … and we all know it could work in the reverse as well ( but would be a LOT more efficient having vector and high rez brand elements from the first ), there just may need to be some sort of reCreation to make the no to low to high rez translation possible

these are still playing in the realm of what i would consider relatively flat media … sure, there can be an element of time and space in both onScreen and onDevice eXperience design, but there is an almost near-predictablity whenever the backend relies on database technology ( as opposed to a less predictable system of people or performers )

here is another way to extend the experience design

let’s say you hand out training materials and businessCards ( other paperWare as well ) and after a period of rehearsal and behaviorSetting event-based sessions your salesForce or performance militia is then allowed to carry out some sort of activity ‘out there’ in both the real world and online … these performers ( salesFolk, whatever ) can then use tools such as databases and preScripted materials ( corporate or not ) to act on the behalf of an organization to work toward achieving a goal … a truly dynamic system … one that is a lot more improvisational and a LOT less predictable than one that uses a pre-programmed mathematical set of algorithms to perform a task ( a Javascript randomizer, perhaps, serves up 1 of 20 different animated gifs … or maybe there is a semantic web microApplication or adServer that grabs the historical online trends of a user and serves up some content or graphic that proves to be more relevant to the user as they navigate a system … if you’re a heterosexual woman, maybe the dynamic system serves up the image of a strapping, young poolboy w/ the tagline … ‘Hey Baby, time for some fun’ … and then maybe if you’re a tree in the autumntime, maybe a block of text gets served up instead to describe the benefits of dropping acorns to not only propagate the species but also to help a squirrel family survive through the upcoming brutal winter squalls approaching )

as an example … the totally random, packeted and human-chaotic approach Al Qaeda implemented might best explain the difficulty, perhaps, in properly tracking and putting a stop to the young pilot students in Florida prior to the 911 attacks … i personally believe, with the advent of satellite spy systems and other superCool stealth tracking the US government utilizes, that there is no way they could NOT have known, to some degree, that there was at least going to be some sort of mass hijacking in the skies above and about NYC … maybe the pure evil inside of a system of human beings cannot be tracked or measured by any device or team of watchers … or maybe all data was available to certain departments or individuals tracking the behavior patterns of these suspicious foreign agents but there was a failure to go beyond the numeric, patternistic analysis and interpret the criss-cross addition and multiplication of all the components to fully realize the truth and intention behind the efforts of the student internationals suddenly interested in ‘learning to fly’ … but the human element here, in this particular system design, that human element was either the excuse behind non-prevention or acted as an insanely powerful subterfuge to the antiSystem ( i guess system and antiSystem can be purely a matter of perspectavity … from the US standpoint, of course, we were protecting the system of Democracy { or Capitalistic Consumerism from the purely financiofactual societal analysis filter } and the antiSystem would be the terrorists, no matter from where or whence, from the era of the great Lewinsky and onward into the future forever and evermore )

the ultimate dynamic systems need to not only involve humans as the end-user | viewer | participant, but should also exploit the power of human performance within the system to help steer the processes from within the system

could robots effectively be programmed to sell Oracle products?

let’s say you could completely emulate a human voice, the inflection and accent of a salesperson or performer ( i keep saying performer as my real interest, my intentions are not meant for real market-effective purposes at all but perhaps, indeed, for the forces that influence the opposite inflexion when so deserved ) … could all of the circumstances behind a human conversation between client and representative be accounted for to anticipate every thread and potential for exception or bargaining? i don’t think so …

my theory is that life is a dynamic system … and that people, being the users of the system, need an equivalent human component within the system to create the ultimate dynamic set of status and interactivity …

if we started with a performance piece, a play perhaps … how could that experience be extended? maybe the brochureWare, the artifacts that will survive the live experience, these items could be designed to help brand the event and serve as a means to resuscitate the memory of the original live performance ( its key elements, narrative and nuances ) in the mind of the concertGoer or theatreGoer … maybe there are more intential ‘takeaways’ distributed to the audience ( Walter Sickert and The Army of Broken Toys typically distribute little ‘toy’ noisemakers for cued audience participation at critical shock and emphasis points in their theatricalmusical event-based concerts and shows … Crank Sturgeon quite frequently uses olfactory sensation to create a bit of spacial memory discordance that heightens my own post-event discourse and reflections of his noise performance, sound art and danceworks { he might throw freshly raked leaves about the space or burn fabric inside a toaster oven, each producing a unique and memorable nasal-based brand for his performative episodic installations } ) … or perhaps the performance itself purposely begins to extend beyond the stageSpace … maybe there are faux-protestations being carried out in a semi-unoffcial manner to heighten the senses of the audience as they encounter the rage and discontent of this pre-performative ‘appetizer’ tasting of what the intended subject matter could include … more and more literary experiences ( or at least fictional and written experiences ) are being augmented with peripheral online experiences that might express the opinions of just one character from the book using MySpace, Facebook or other pretended social web experiences to deepen the mythological aura and fictionSpace surrounding the ‘real work’ … Sasha Baron Cohen’s ‘Brüno’ movie had several promotional website extensions that helped heighten not only the hype but also the riduculous personality and parody that is obviously at the core of what Cohen does …

not every design needs this sort of extension

but in thinking about Total eXperience Design potential for a campaign, activity or product it can be very helpful to consider the static, temporal, algorithmic and ultimately human ( chaotic or concordance-reactive ) elements to include for the most effective txd … to consider, perhaps, not only the user expereince as seen from the side of the target audience but also from the vantagepoint of the targeting user participant in the system

*tla = three-letter acronym

introducing Total eXperience Design { aka TXD }

TXD y'alL, created with love by the cSi

what’s the big idea

as part of my studies in communication design and dynamic media at The Dynamic Media institute at MassArt in Boston i spent the best part of the first year in the program exploring and rediscovering a lot of subject matter i am particularly passionate about … the second semester included a continuation of The DMI’s ‘Design Seminar’ … and in this course my classmates and i got to use mindmapping, automatic writing and other techniques to delve into the realms we might consider as the focus for our eventual thesis work in design

the program is utterly amazing … and i highly recommend anyone that is truly interested in current trends in technology, communication, expressive arts and creativity and the future of humanity come to the program and at least audit a course … i’m sure that if you stop in you will witness something that you may not find anywhere else in the world … an international and interdisciplinary union of personality and expertise all brought together for the sole purpose of contributing to the future … contributing to the future of design thought and media experience

of course, this hubPage is not an advertisement for the program … i am just excited about the coursework and it is only through my own participation that i bumped across this theory … the theory that serves as the primary focus of this hubPage | blog | what have you

and that focus, my friends, is the concept of Total eXperience Design

so, for now … more digression and background on my studies … only a slight delay ( be patient ), i promise

back to Design Seminar 2 … as part of the coursework w/ DS2 the entire class participated in a community blog to explore areas of interest and help each of us discover our passions in this space … w/ each new blogPost, students were then expected to make comments on each other’s writings … and the funny thing that came out of that particular part of the exercise, at least for me, was each comment i posted, each attempt i made to give my own perspective to someone else’s perspective … each comment seemed to help both parties involved … commenting helped me deepen and clarify my own thoughts as well as offer up some valuable thought and consideration for my classmate … a truly valuable and unique exercise in community, thinking and sharing

the results of my second semester … well, i developed a preliminary thesis proposal … or i almost developed a preliminary thesis proposal … i think that my final ( or nearFinal ) presentation just put a LOT of ideas ‘out there’ … i was concerned about the loss of texture as we move from media in realSpace into increasingly more virtual expressive spaces …

i also seemed very curious about the areas between each artform or each realm of design communication ( some might call these channels ) and i called this betweenSpace

translation, as somewhat related to the loss of texture through virtualization, but more importantly, literal translation and the gigantic and ofttimes humorous, disservice word-to-word machine-like translation can do for language, this was also important to me and my thesis … you cannot truly translate a poem, right? something gets lost … either the rhythm, the nonsense, some of the meaning, i mean … there are good translations of a poem on the page, i’m sure … but no matter what it seems we lose something along the way ( and that might be poetic texture ) … i would advocate for interpretation over translation any day a the week …watching the TED Talk by Evelyn Glennie ‘How to listen to music with your whole body’ incredibly demonstrates, at one point, the important human difference between translation and interpretation … i hope to promote interpretation and to ridicule mere, robotic translation through some of my work

and i also knew that i was interested in doing unusual things with technology … that i wanted to create experiences that would make people question things or wonder if the experience they just had could even have been real

in some of my last slides … the last points of my final presentation summarized the key points in my areas of interest … and in the mix was the term ‘cyberSurreal’ … the professor leading the class ( and the program ) Jan Kubasiewicz asked if the term cyberSurreal was my own invention, and frankly, i am not sure where it came from ( i had, in fact, just invented this term as i frequently mash words together w/ a little camelCasing due to my exposure and practice with code ), but as soon as he began to ask everything seemed to make sense

i think i needed to give myself permission … it took me a year to unwind from the kind of corporate containership my professional existence shackled to me for years … i have had to live as a man in pieces for more than a decade … someone that needed to, for survival in an office ( of all places ) setting, someone that needed to sequester huge chunks of important stuff away because the establishment, the cSuite, whatever you want to call it, finds the real me ( the entire bag of thought ) a little too scary for the workplace … i don’t know, it could be my own doing really … i could be assuming that the whole package is ‘too much’ for the workplace … but i don’t think i imposed these silos upon myself … this siloing …

so it took me a year to admit to myself i was interested in cyberSurrealism … the extension of the original movement of Surrealism and all of its predecessing and postdecessing movements back and forth, into and out of the virutal and actual systems we all must live with, in, around … with at least part of cyberSurrealism i want to explore life as a living prototype … a sort of found prototype … as a performer ( and as a world citizen that needs to live in this world we were given … this hand-me-down world ) i will become a sort of usability practitioner of the world and its many systems as a found, living prototype … and from here on in it is my job to test the system and find ways to improve it

a more grand way of saying this is … through the international movement of cyberSurrealism i will act as a usability practitioner to test the world as a found, living prototype and then find areas of potential improvement and suggest ways to change the world … i hope to suggest unusual ways of solving huge problems by looking at things from a slightly different angle ( as influenced by our ‘Murray’ project in Design Studio 2 with Joseph Quackenbush,see the New Yorker article ‘Million Dollar Murray’ by Malcolm ‘Tipping Point’ Gladwell ) or by using the betweenSpace as a place of leverage … and, from a more Surreal standpoint and one that may be more literary or poetic, i am seeking poetic justice in the world through my research, prototyping and exploration of these concepts … i hope to live my life as much like a poem personified as Billy Barnum does … to seek those moments of poetry that cannot be merely translated or explained but can only be appreciated through living, through witnessing, through direct experience of that poetic moment

and that lead us to Total eXperience Design

i have many theories brewing about this topic of Total eXperience Design … i heard an excellent recent talk about multi-channel marketing campaigns, which seems to potentially be one flavor of what i am proposing to the world … but TXD is a bit different, especially when looked at through the lens of cyberSurrealism

based on Wagner’s concepts of gesamtkunstwerk or ‘The Total Artwork’Total eXperience Design would take a user-centered set of considerations ( maybe even a UCD approach, but it might depend on the piece ) to design everything … the entire experience … to take all sense into consideration … to take the temporal nature of the particular piece into consideration … to think about the impression the piece leaves w/ the listener | viewer | participant … the TXD aftertaste, if you will … and to think about the artifacts or take-aways that both the user and the world will have following the existence of the TXD piece in question or on display

how many times … how many times have i been to a performance, seen incredible work, live sound and theatricality … event-based experience … and then, in the end, the piece unintentionally ( without TXD consideration ) lives on only in the mind ( and conversation ) of the audience … in other words, adequate and important documentation and deliverables were never considered … the focus is so much on getting up on stage, using this or that technology, wearing this or that article of clothing, and yet there is no video or audio capture of the event to help the people of the future ( or even of the present ) understand or see the vision you created

if this were intentionally part of the plan, cool … not a big deal to document a rock show, perhaps … and that is fine … we can’t have a screenCapture of every single moment in lifenow, can we?

but we should at least, as artists and designers, consider the afterlife of a project or event … is there an item we would want to give the viewer | participant to help them better understand the intended meaning of the piece? to understand it after the show, after the opening? or to maybe read a year from now and in deeper yet delayed reflection suddenly understand the work in a different light?

or maybe it is what it is and that’s that … that would be fine as well … just be considerate … consider the audience, the participant, the viewer, the user, the audience … and think about what you would want them to say, how you want them to talk about your work, how you hope they understand and speak about the content from a variety of levels

but we can think about TXD as gesamtkunstwerk augmented by the latest art and technology movements

TXD = g+DM ( gesamtkunstwerk + dynamic media )

these are my preliminary ideas about Total eXperience Design

{ original post on the official TXD HubPage }