introducing uxcSi

The comic is concerned with the ugly in one of its manifestations: ‘If it [ what is ugly ] is concealed, it must be uncovered in the light in the comic way of looking at things; if it is noticed only a little or scarcely at all, it must be brought forward and made obvious, so that it lies clear and open to the light of day … In this way caricature comes about.’

Sigmund Freud quoting Kuno Fischer from Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious

Kuno Fischer once said that ‘A joke is a playful judgment’. But, as we all know by now, not all jokes are truly funny.

As a means to reflect on some of the interesting decisions made as part of the supposed user-centered design process — I will examine the qualitative evidence, the trail of certain key stories in user experience design, as filtered through the medium of humor, parody and caricature, as a means to tell interesting stories from my perspective. Although I plan to implement a lot of playful judgment along the way, I have a slight variation on how to define the word joke.

In the case where the term joke refers to actually telling a joke — I see it more like this:

A joke is a philosophical attempt to share a certain ugly or horrific truth. Delivery of a joke normally happens in a one-to-many manner — either through publication in a humorous book of jokes or in a typical stand-up comedy venue whereby a professional comedian delivers this philosophical ugly truism to a live, present audience. We tell jokes almost everyday in a more casual way, sometimes on a one-to-one method of delivery. Successful jokes do not always necessarily result in laughter from the listener or receiver of the message, although it is oftentimes the intent of the joke teller to inspire mirth, smiles or genuine laughter from their given audience. Jokes result in laughter when the truth being exposed hits a universal tone with the audience, even if the vibe of the joke is truly more horrific than light. The term Black Humor as coined by the Surrealist André Breton exposes the subconscious underpinnings to this extremely dark side of our human nature.

So, all that said, in the spirit of playful judgment and seasoned self-reflection — I am establishing a semi-fictional organization called uxcSI as a means to explore case studies in user-centered design processes everywhere to unveil some of the truths behind some of the less successful UX initiatives and see why things really went wrong.


The model, of course, follows that established by the ubiquitous telepresence of shows like CSI: Miami, House, NCIS, Law and Order, Grey’s Anatomy and other extremely formulaic trauma dramas that now make us all into experts of forensic science and criminal investigation. I mix in the more medically oriented soap operas of the evening here to emphasize the lack of imagination and reliance of templatized and mass produced television jism for mass moneyshot distribution into the open eyes of America. We the people sit and watch these shows like some new religion. Call it obsession. We want to know the truth. There are mysteries to solve, cases to open and re-open and hopefully eventually close. We are all seeking justice or closure of some sort. Hollywood seems to know this. They tap on our desires like little apps in the night. And all we seem to need is a three-letter acronym and some predictable, comforting pattern of how to crack the case within the course of an hour.

But, if you hadn’t noticed yet, as each case is closed another always opens. Its a neverending investigation. And such is the life of a person like me that sees his profession in user experience design through the eyes of Horatio Cane. Yes, part of my job as a Senior UX Innovation Architect and Investigative Research Consultant is very much about bad acting, sunglasses and cheesy parlays of hypothetical answer chasing fun. I am very much like David Caruso, bad actor extraordinaire. Just add 150 pounds and some serious Italian inflection, thinking hairline and a New England accent that wont quit it and there ya go.

So, the domain is purchased, the logo is set { at least in its first iteration }, a website is on the way. Everything happens for a reason. We all have a special purpose. And we all have stories that involve playful judgment, do we not? I think its time to share these stories. After all, sharing is caring, right?

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