Tag Archives: progress

an ant in the office


i get a special happy tinge of joy whenever i bump across an insect in the office

we’re such a sophisticated and culturally-advanced species

we’ve designed and developed vast systems of buildings and cities and architectural accommodations for shelter and meeting purposes that keep us safe and antiseptically removed from the potentially harmful elements of the natural world

and yet —despite all of our supposedly superior intellect and our advanced, clever separation from nature — these little pesky living reminders somehow find their way back in and our exclusivity suddenly enjoys unwelcome visitors

a spider in the bedroom at night

a sugar ant in the elevator at work

itty bitty fruit flies in the break room — biting gnats around the office plants

these little intruders bring a smile

i’m momentarily reminded of our rather precarious situation within the fuller world context — our little bubble of humanity resides within the greater realm of nature { of the natural world and universe }

some might decide to step on the ant, to remove this harmless pest from our civilized microcosmic self-designed humanSpace

but i secretly celebrate

i quietly feel like i belong — i am still part of the natural world — i am like the ant, too — i subscribe to the cause, to this hidden reality that really contains us all whether we care to admit it or not

i celebrate with a smile and breathe a little easier for the rest of the afternoon

a new direction for mobile design


for the most part when we think about design for our mobile devices we have an image like the one above in mind — its a bit of a personal relationship we’ve developed with our smartphones, and the interactions are considered ‘micro-interactions,’ quick, task-based little spurts of use to check a little buzz or beep that went off in our pocket — we’ve got a little friend on us at all times now, and that little friend brings us the magic of real-time updates of information and some simulated sense of ‘being social’ through experiences like Twitter, Facebook and the like

a lot of the graphics you’ll find pertaining to using smartphones in particular show the one-to-one — person to machine — sort of relationship — and the person engaged with looking down at the little magic screen in the palm of their hands is either smiling and content, as if staring into a good friend’s or lover’s face directly or somewhat serious if the visual story being told is more about critical business communications


we get the picture though — we all know the experience, the interaction, that’s going on between the facial expression, the position of the hands and fingers and the general body language and position of the neck and gaze

its a rather solitary experience, though, right?

even with the advent and common, everyday use of the supposed social web, the interaction is really between you and the data being displayed on a tiny shiny screen


in her book Alone Together — Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, MIT Psychologist Sherry Turkle takes a deep look at the worlds of sociable robotics and social media in their current state and the general effect these technological advances are having at a societal level — and as amazing as our inventions may be, the overall experience we end up having as human beings engaged with our technologies is unfortunately one largely steeped in isolation, loneliness and a sort of transactional behavior between people as mediated through the interactions we’re afforded to interact through

of course, we can also still participate and interact with each other in the moment, face to face, the old fashioned way, right? the analog means are always there for us to fall back upon, thank goodness — being in the same place at the same time can actually foster a certain vibrant energy and more efficient and active way to communicate, collaborate and get things done — but we can’t always meet face to face, in the current moment in today’s fast-paced society, unless, of course, we make the time and travel happen — at the end of the day, the feeling our device-driven world often leaves us with is a strange jumbled aftertaste of miscommunication, misunderstanding and an awkward, near-real-time, off-kilter distance between the actual people interacting through the devicery invented to facilitate better communication that can happen ‘anytime, anywhere’ according to the hypertechnophilic marketingSpeak we swim through on a daily basis

i would love to take the expertise i’ve built up over the last 20 sum odd years to try and steer the course in an entirely different direction

if our smartphones and other mobile paraphernalia are instruments of communication, might we then compare our iPhones and Androids to something more akin to a musical instrument? like a banjo, for instance?


or maybe the comparison we try to draw is to something more like an orchestral instrument like the french horn


whatever the metaphor might be — i would like to change how our interactions through these technologies feel and hopefully even change the actual way we use them

i’d like to take ’em and shake up the paradigm in a big way, ya know? and why not? i’m a fucking rather accomplished experience design architect and designer after all — i want to change the story of these technologies before we become more isolated and distant from each other

if we think of our smartphones and mobile devices more along the lines of music-making machines, as tools for thinking and collaborating together in real-time and space, we just be able to retell the story a bit and design for more orchestral synergistic ways to use these truly phenomenal technologies


i don’t know what the actual experience or interface for these new interactive paradigms might be quite yet, but shouldn’t our devices and our interactions through them feel more like this beautiful photograph of this string trio as opposed to this business dude getting some off-sync email back in the city office?


i actually think we need to start designing ways to allow our experiences through mobile and other new or evolving technologies actually better work in a together-like fashion, right? so instead of all the clutter and drowning information over-saturation of email and other truly horrendous collaborative cloud environments that only offer up a sandbox of confusion and uncoordinated, often disjointed collaborative team efforts — our new experiences should feel a lot more like what happens within the context of a real team — agility, muscle memory, easy means to pass the ball back and forth

or maybe better yet — maybe, just maybe — we might be able to think even bigger than that and design for interactions as graceful and wonderful-feeling as the coordinated, collaborative music-making of an orchestral ensemble


i know its entirely possible — we just need to aim for that level of collaborative platform design — i don’t know that there’ll even be a Microsoft or Apple to take on this high task, as i’m sure its an enormous effort, but a truly wonderful one at that — i know that i would personally like my interactions and collaborations with all the people i work with to feel that powerful, fun and harmonious — and this is what i’ll be dreaming up through a storyFirst, iterative, human-centered process in my ample free time

i think this is gonna be a fun project to take on — i think its one of many projects that we need to design for in the world, one of many, too, that i personally want to dream up, brainstorm, workshop and design for — i can’t wait to share the progress as my efforts bear even little grapes and cumquats along the way as i’m sure its going to be an interesting journey

won’t you come and join me? 


this is not a book


just a simple thought to share — does the name of Barnes and Nobles’ newish reading device ‘the nook’ in a near-literal sense imply the phrase ‘not a book’


i know, i know … its probably more of a metaphor for a little reading nook, right? something you might set up for a kid at home, a little shelf for her / his books and a cozy Spongebob chair or something … i get it, but when i think of the physical space of a Barnes and Noble Bookstore i guess i don’t think of anything all that inviting and small … the very brand they’ve established over the last 10 years while destroying the bookselling industry vertical feels a little more along the lines of a slightly more intimate version of Costco, its more of a warehouse of books, and mostly the bestsellers at that

and now we have this ‘nook’ — this mini-digital anti-book of sorts, or maybe better yet, this little anti-Barnes and Noble device living and breathing in the very heart of more and more of these warehouse cemeteries for what the book used to be

you can still come in and get your Grisham, your Oprah’s Cookbook, your Chelsea Lately product or the Shades of Grey book, the Hunger Games … go ahead, go get ’em

but you’ll get a better deal if you buy ’em online — i don’t quite understand what that is, but i even recently decided to buy ‘Claes Oldenburg: The Sixties’ from bn.com because it was more than $20 cheaper than what i found on the shelves of an independent bookstore in the physical world — i don’t know how or why they do that, this offering up of the goods at almost a third off when shopping online

is it re-training incentive? maybe Barnes and Nobles wants me to buy more and more of my readerly consumptables via online distribution and delivery mechanisms? is it cheaper, really cheaper, for them to sell us thy daily goods online? i’m just wondering outloud here … hmmmmm

i should really try out ‘the nook experience’ — as an experience designer i should really enter that vast new central ‘Apple Store inside a store’ thing they’ve got goin’ on and really give Barnes and Nobles little nooks a whirl, right? see what its like to read a book on a tablet device that’s specifically made for readers — i’m sure i will someday, someday soon perhaps — i’m sure i’ll bring my Fuji point and shoot and document the entire experience, including any human to human interactions that ensue whenever a camera gets involved — but for now, i’m still wrestling with this incredible strange nook invasion — i mean, its right there in the middle of the store! — and to top it all off, the room our little nook nooks seem to take up in most Barnes and Nobles replaced actual bookish inventory and more often than not any music section { i guess this would more likely be called the CD and DVD department? } — so now, with Borders Bookstores gone, the big, monster bookstore that took the world by storm over the last decade or 2, totally crushing independent bookstores and subsuming what were once more independently-run university and college bookstores, now the megastore of books and all things intellectual { ha ha } gives us these toys, these digital relaxation toys for adults, well, mostly for teens and young twentysomethings — and they expand their toy department to at least twice the previous size, er, ehm, i mean, i guess i should say their chiildren’s section — the paradigm is basically flipped now, what we have is a gift shop with some books in the periphery, oh, and a coffeeshop with no plugs to potentially keep your nooks nicely charged while you order from the nookstore in the clouds