Category Archives: Design

Designers develop hybrid systems

Reading Verbeek’s What Things Do, I’m reminded of Latour’s handy term “hybrid”, an entity that is neither purely subjective nor purely objective, but a fusion of both. In Latour’s eye, the distinction between nature and society, or subject and object, … Continue reading

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Philosophy fails

This morning I was forced to use the redesigned Freshbooks. They’d totally revamped the user interface. It was very slick and visual. And it was six times harder to use. This is a depressingly typical experience in these times. I’m … Continue reading

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Let’s stop engineering philosophies

My pet theory is that philosophies have been developed in an engineerly mode of making, with emphasis on the thought system, and to be evaluated primarily epistemically: “is it true?” The Pragmatists improved on this by asking, “does it work”? … Continue reading

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Design brief

A design brief is a compact design problem definition, carefully designed to inspire designers to produce effective solutions to a real-world problem. I’ve been thinking about and collecting briefs for years, and I have noticed that the very best briefs … Continue reading

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10,000 foot view

The spew below might be a plan for a talk. Lately I’ve been reflecting on what strikes me as the most difficult and interesting challenge I’ve faced adjusting to service design after decades of practicing other flavors of human-centered design … Continue reading

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I posted something (plus a bunch of comments) on Facebook that belongs here: I propose an amendment to Useful, Usable and Desirable: RELIABLE. Who’s in? Reliability is knowing that when you go to use a thing that it will work … Continue reading

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Less toxic ideology, more human-centered design

Yesterday, I opened a can of Johnny Letter on Fast Company, for running what I saw as an uninformed and blatantly bigoted opinion piece, “Design needs more feminism, less toxic masculinity”. Rather than complain about the bigotry, though, I chose … Continue reading

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Making conversational space

A post I put on Facebook just now: This morning I was reading a pdf book (using the Notability app on my iPad) about the relationships people have with the things in their lives. As always, I was writing all … Continue reading

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Maturing

Reading Appendix A of Rorty’s Achieving Our Country, “Campaigns and Movements” I came upon this bit: “Most of us, when young, hope for purity of heart. The easiest way to assure oneself of this purity is to will one thing—but … Continue reading

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Speed it up, dumb it down

I told my friend to write her resume to idiots in a hurry: Speed it up and dumb it down. Seems like a generally decent life-principle, so.

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Eroding to wisdom

The best quotes are the misattributed ones — overused maxims that become smoother as they tumble from paraphrase to paraphrase until they are worn smooth like river stones. Whenever I track one of these retroactively adopted orphans back to their … Continue reading

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Usefulness, Usability and Desirability of philosophies

Tim Morton explains Speculative realism: Speculative realism is the umbrella term for a movement that comprises such scholars as Graham Harman, Jane Ben- nett, Quentin Meillassoux, Patricia Clough, Iain Hamilton Grant, Levi Bryant, Ian Bogost, Steven Shaviro, Reza Negarestani, Ray … Continue reading

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An autobibliobiography

Well, I tried to write about my books and how I want to prune my library, and ended up writing a history of my interests. I know there are loose ends, but I am tired of writing, so blat, here … Continue reading

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Hyperobjective spew

I’ve gotten sucked into Tim Morton’s Hyperobjects. I was reading Kaufmann’s book on Hegel, but after sampling few pages of this book on the recommendation of a friend Morton’s book felt “next”. A few random notes: This territory, settled first … Continue reading

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Drawing on every side of the brain

In high school, all my art teachers taught us to draw and paint the shapes our eyes “really” saw. We were discouraged from drawing the things we believed we were depicting — eyes, noses, vases, cow skulls, gourds, drapes — … Continue reading

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Why you should be mad about Lean Startup

Lean Startup externalizes usability costs to users. To combat this practice, if I find a usability issue I call tech support and have them walk me through the interaction. These calls cost a company a significant amount of money and … Continue reading

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Tool users vs service users

I am not one of those people who sees service design as the grand catch-all for multi-touchpoint multi-/omni-channel experiences. I feel the same way about “service” as I did in the early aughts about the term “user”. These words imply … Continue reading

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Obtrusive conveniences

A design trend that disturbs me intensely: obtrusive conveniences. What makes these conveniences obtrusive is that they make it incredibly inconvenient to refuse what they offer and you end up fighting for control over what you are attempting to do. … Continue reading

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Gadget-porn addiction

Apple used to innovate by asking “Wouldn’t it be great if people could ____?” This was what made them uniquely great. Now Apple does what every other banal tech company does and asks “Wouldn’t it be great if we could … Continue reading

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Why I get emotional about design

When I use a product, I feel the milieu that produced it. Products are crystallized philosophies. In a designed object I feel people — the people who produced it and sometimes a precise person for whom an object is intended. This … Continue reading

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