Organic Models 1: Packing Tape Cocoon

This is just some very clever and beautiful work I think. An enormous spider web made with 117,000 feet of packing tape installed at Odeon, a former stock exchange building in Vienna. It was created by Viennese/Croatian design collective numen / for use. Fast Company was there. Wish I could have been. It puts me in mind of Bob Cassilly and his City Museum.

I believe it was Craig Venter whom first said that, “If the 20th century was the century of physics, 21st century will be the century of biology.” The direct read is clear enough; the discipline of biology is where the interesting stuff is happening. What I think may be even more interesting is the implication that perhaps the epistemic models that inform physics are giving way to epistemic models informed by biology. Continue reading

Does User Experience Kill Positioning?

That was the question that popped up during a conversation about the Sang Han thread on the St. Louis Egotist. I was having the conversation with a certain creative director person who shall remain unnamed on account of I expect she wouldn’t want to be in the middle of something like this. We were discussing my post about the post about Sang and she said something like, “Since user experience seems to be so heavily informed by this idea of mental models, how does good UX design differentiate itself?”

Actually, she may have said nothing like that at all, but I heard something like that and since I’m not divulging my source, I suppose it doesn’t really matter. The question is an interesting one I think. So much of the inquiry that informs the UX design process is designed to get at what the user expects based upon their previous experience. The goal then is to give those users what they expect. Now I realize the UX community is not a monolith, so I’d imagine there are many different explications of the “goal of UX design” floating around out there. That said, I haven’t really heard any what you might call “mainstream UX people” saying things what would radically depart from my above formulation. Continue reading

Auld Sang Syne

I know this interactive creative director person. No really. I know a good many people what might fit that description actually. But this one person I’m thinking of is named Sang Han. None of the others I know are named that. I’ve never had the pleasure of working with him, but we’ve had some few interactions here and there, and I’ve seen a lot of his work. It’s really a lot beautiful stuff I think. Well, I mean, go look at it. He has that certain something, yes?

I recently wrote a post that discusses the way in which the specialists that meet at the intersection of creativity and technology are often carping about how others “don’t get it,” and how the different specialists mean different things when they say it. Yesterday, my friend Skye sent me a link to a post on the St. Louis Egotist featuring Sang’s work. In the comments, this “you don’t get it” theme presented itself. (To be honest, some of the commentary is merely inside baseball soap opera stuff which is not a lot germane to my post, but it’s there to read if you’re into that kind of stuff.) The point is that this kind of intellectual siloing is rather a lot a common thing and you don’t have to go looking very far to find it. Continue reading

Provocation 1: Public Lighting Design

I found this piece about “Flow – public lighting” at Industrial Design Served. Go check out the whole thing because it’s clever and interesting and beautiful. I’m especially interested that my user experience designer friends see it.

When I first saw it, I was first struck by its elegance and beauty. The whole green angle is clever as well. But right after that, I immediately wondered, “do these things put out enough light?” And that got me to wondering about the whole project. Did the green aims of the designer distract them from other more pragmatic concerns? Is there some visceral value to be derived from the aesthetic that makes up for its lack of usable light? Was significant illumination necessarily a part of the project requirements? Should it have been? Continue reading

They Just Don’t Get It

It’s just one of those things that people will say. You’ve probably heard it. I know I’ve heard it in various contexts. It usually goes something like this:

“He doesn’t get it. You can tell; he just doesn’t get it.”

It seems to me that there are basically two worldviews from which this kind of thing emanates. One is what Robert Pirsig would call the “classical” worldview. This view looks at how things work—what you might call underlying form—and the people that tend to hold it seem to have an intuitive understanding of systems, their workings, and their inputs and outputs. The other worldview is what Pirsig would call the “romantic” worldview. This view looks at experience—the esoteric—and the people that tend to hold it seem to have an intuitive understanding of people, relationships, and other organic structures. Continue reading