My topic is heading toward delivering information into the tangible world through natural interface, interaction, balance, and narratives. I realize that is a loaded sentence but in time it will be clear. For this writing assignment I will be spawning off my last and looking into narratives.
When I saw Dan Pink in 2009, I recall what he called his six design senses and I think it still defines what it is to be a modern designer;
Design, a utility plus significance
Story, context enriched by emotion and facts
Symphony, form analyzing to synthesizing
Meaning, the post material priority
Play, laughter is the best medicine
Empathy, feeling with not for
But how do we carry that from and back to the physical world through a virtual port?
I stated a week ago that experience is no longer the end game, the new goal is engagement. But what does that mean. I have been reading a lot about the persona method, originally used to develop IT systems it has adapted to fit many other contexts. I honestly think it takes the back burner because it is near impossible to explain. A persona is a description of a fictitious person. Is it a person based on data or assumptions? And what are the benefits it offers design? I have read it puts focus onto the user, but I already practice user centered design.
First lets look at the designer, how do we engage a designer? With an engaging character! As readers we engage with characters, we have a complete description of a “human” that we relate to. This evokes empathy. Empathy leads us to create solutions based on the needs of the user. This is the benefit of persona descriptions, we gain understanding and empathy outside of our realities. It is the balance of data and knowledge that make the persona method a “defense against automated thinking” in design. These personas evoke empathy with users and prevent designers from projecting their own needs and desires. A persona is only successful when the reader can imagine the person, understand their needs and desires, and predict their actions. Engagement! This makes the persona a form of storytelling with a focus on evoking empathy for the purpose of identification.
Narratives are not new to design, we use and craft them daily. Lets go back a bit, what is ‘experience’? Experience to me is an incident that we as viewers try and gain understanding in, extract meaning from. So a narrative in a sense is organized meaning. Organization can be seen like a story, organized sequences using a linear or logical structure. We create narratives from story elements.
Understanding like most things is a matter of perception, it is an inter-subjective process of creation. A great example of this I read this morning: “The woman takes the knife. The man hits the woman. We infer a causal connection between the two elements of action, and we assume that the two actions will spur further action. The narrative becomes different if the story-elements are the same, but are presented in reverse order, as in this example: The man hits the woman. The woman takes the knife.”
Interesting yes, but how does this relate to my topic? In my previous post I wrote about hypertext fragmentation, how viewers are moving targets stumbling around a virtual sea of information. I talked about the one page site, how it solves displacement. But data is complex and a one page site is not always possible or the right choice. Wayfinding and mousing can be used to guide users in a preconceived path but there are always the rebels clicking away. This makes it difficult to secure a narrative with depth. We don’t usually deal with this problem in the physical tangible world, we don’t worry that a user will open a book to a random page, reality follows logic and linear sequences. Search engines for example often bring users to their search, not the beginning but the matched terms. This means a user could be starting anywhere and could be ‘turning the page’ randomly.
How we do enforce natural progression in a virtual situation? Skuomorphisums are one way, retaining elements from the physical world, mimicking physical linear interactions. In the physical world we have our senses: sight, smell, taste, touch, hearing; but what happens to those senses when we connect to the ‘cloud’? We can take our sight, hearing, and touch to these crafted environments. The touch screen interface has pushed us toward a convergence, we are more engaged and connected then ever. With the rise of multi-touch gestures and responsive feedback systems we can truly connect the virtual to the physical. But there are infinite discussions surrounding a sixth sense and I believe it to be consciousness.
What has the web done for mankind? Seems like an off topic question but I see that it has driven collective thinking. Consciousness is not individual; it is a intersubjective ‘thing’ we all share. When a group of individuals comes together, that collective represents consciousness. This gives rise to open source projects, trends, standards, change, everything. Consciousness is the number one factor in making decisions. But what is it? Simply put it is the balance of thinking and knowledge both obtained and inherited. Therefore it is no question why information is the new economy. A focus must be put on projecting digital information into the tangible world.
Well I am now 33 minutes in and its time to reflect!