why so deep?

strategic design

cultural invention

experience design

meaningful experiences

design thinking

business design

design for business

service design

world design centers, california, london, tokyo, silicon alley, etc.

design research

human centered design

humanizing technology

changing people’s behaviour

changing the way people see the world

analysis paralysis

what ever happened to the simple pleasures, passion and beauty that good old fashioned design brings?

swine flu and design

swineflu

On my way home, NPR was interviewing a psychologist about people’s fear of the unknown, in this case, Swine Flu. Basically, the Doctor was saying that people are afraid of Swine Flu because no one can connect the dots around who might get it or not, hence it seems, random. He went on to say that even though statistically, more people die from driving cars and crossing busy streets, people and the press don’t seem to obsess over this. Why? His theory was that driving cars and crossing busy streets puts the user in control, hence it feels like a normal experience, nothing noteworthy to speak of.

caraccident

So your chances of dieing are greater on the streets but since people aren’t in control of Swine Flu, it becomes a larger issue in their minds. So is it fair to say that people start to act irrationally when it comes to things unknown even though statistics prove there are larger issues at hand?  Why don’t people wear bright orange safety vests when crossing the streets?

swineflu1

So how does this connect to design? In design research, consumers are asked to comment on something really new. Ask a bunch of people about something they aren’t sure about, have no prior knowledge of and something they haven’t experienced before, basically, the unknown, how do you think they’ll respond? What is the psychology of the response? Will they be able to provide a rational answer? Will they try to tap into what they know but can’t since they are being asked to comment on the unknown and answer irrationally? People don’t want to sound stupid, yeah? So will they hide their fear of the unknown and pull a response out of their ass, hence sounding stupid?  Dooohh!

Good researchers will say that how the respondents are recruited and how research itself is conducted should prevent those irrational answers.  But does that weird psychology take over anyhow?

the Jenga Economy

The economy has been a like game, one where people have built up an interwoven, towering system, full of money, profit and excess. It starts with a small Tower, filled with resources. Each player takes turns, removing resources without regard to the overall system. They reinvest what they have taken, to make that tower bigger with the goal to create the biggest empire possible. Sounds fun yeah? The Tower is growing, people are making money, everyone is happy. The only thing the players see is that growing Tower of wealth, and even though its right in front of their faces, its foundation is becoming weaker and weaker. They have selfishly used all the resources without regard to the overall system. Something about the game won’t let them stop, many could walk away rich but the game entices them to keep going. In the end, it all comes crashing down. Everything was dependent on each other…and everyone is out. Remind you of Jenga? Let’s hope there wont be a Jenga Environment that comes crashing down on us as well. So what to do? Fortunately, there’s hope with President Obama in office. People on the top floor of that Tower, all now hangin’ with everyone, at the bottom. So time to band together and rebuild, collectively as one. From Barack’s inauguration, “Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.” Thanks to Dan Clements for the conversation that led to the jenga analogy.

WTF: this stinks!

Upon first sight, one might look at this say, “WTF?!” that’s what I said. Then you learn about what this does, and find out it’s a USB odor eater, then you add, NS! (No Shit). Note that Digiscent made this way done back in 2000 so this was on the leading edge of stupid USB devices, but realize that Digiscent never got this into production, for better or worse. Go to CES, or just look in the monthly Skymall and you’ll find all kinds of weird USB devices, we have beer coolers and mini fans, so is the idea of the DigiScent really that stupid? Yes it was, well the design certainly was.

Here’s how a little marketing and design might change your thinking. Check out this little device I found in a catalog. (note, the design is still pretty bad, but the new form factor may give some life to this idea) It’s a small USB device that works pretty much like one of those heated glade room fresheners. Ok, its still a little stupid especially if you’re not into weird smelling room fresheners. But this one states, “small and portable, great for any small spaces, smoky hotel rooms, offices, and cubicles. Each ScentStick lasts about 4-5 days and can be easily refilled…”. Here’s the ScentStick, it looks small, like a normal USB stick and very portable. Considering that I just back from a really smelly “non smoking” room in a hotel, hmmmm maybe.

They also describe their scents as being subtle; they claim the scent has the effect of a candle and not your standard, overpowering household sprays. And finally, they make a green claim in that there’s minimal waste. You keep the main USB Stick and recycle the refills that are aluminum CO2 like cartridges. Compared to the Digiscent, the ScentStick almost makes scents. (had to say it!) And this is mostly because of the small, portable form factor. So change your mind about a USB odor eater yet? Maybe, maybe not, but you gotta admit that this iteration does make this product a lot more palatable.

And since were on stupid USB products, lets add to the list, how about: A USB “cooling” pad to keep those hot laptops cool and prevent your thighs from burning up. Wanna look good for the meeting, get a USB nose hair trimmer combined with Apple’s mirror widget, then you can clean up your clippings with a USB vacuum, to get all the stuff out of your keyboard. Btw, the ScentStick is fake, but the DigiScent thing was real, at least in prototype form.