Monday, September 6, 2010

We Control The Vertical...

I found this from Seth Godin's blog. Design With Intent is a simple enough concept - design things in such a way that it steers people towards using them in the way that you want them to be used, or that otherwise influences the users in certain ways.

While the cards might be great for designers, for everyone else, I suspect that they're a one-way ticket to paranoia. It's really easy to remember something that you came across that you didn't think much of before - that now seems like a sinister means of manipulating you. We live in a world where an increasing number of people are quick to make an assumption that others are acting in bad faith. (I spent an hour the other day in a conversation with a man who was convinced that the financial crisis was the result of deliberate attempts to loot the wealth of homeowners and buyers and deliberately cripple the economy that collapsed before the thieves could make a clean getaway.) As if Planned Obsolescence wasn't bad enough, the idea that (to pull an example from the cards): "Some Nokia phones allegedly sense when a 3rd-party battery is used and switch into a high-power mode so it runs out more quickly,*" will really get you wondering just what manufacturers are up to. Whether or not this is better than Panasonic's Lumix cameras, which, according to page 91, won't functional at all with 3rd party batteries is left up to the reader.

* I've found a couple of references to this, and it seems to trace back to Bruce Schneier's Beyond Fear.


august said...

I would be interested in your thoughts on Seth Godin in general. I blow hot and cold. On the one hand, I do think he understands something about how to reach people, which means understanding both culture and technology. On the other hand, his little just-so-stories get old quickly, and I think even by blog standards the guy seems to contradict himself a lot.

What he does that I find most useful (and this is why I still read him) is give language to things -- "tribes" for instance -- that are commonplace, but that I had always found a bit hard to explain.

Aaron said...

I completely agree with the idea that Mr. Godin has a talent for assigning words to difficult to explain concepts, and that often makes him appear really wise.

On the other hand, sometimes he'll spout some pithy bullshit that's really nice sounding, but doesn't work in the reality that most of us have to deal with, and that makes him appear really vapid.

Keifus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Keifus said...

(Toned down and family friendly!)

Seth Godin gets my BS detector spinning like mad. I don't read him regularly, but when I've seen him quoted as making sense, it's been usually on the ground of common wisdom and cheap advice. People I actually respect give him props though, so what do I know?

And I wanted to add that bad-faith assumptions are not always illogical. Take your average tv commercial. It's a steady barrage of telling us what we want, even when we don't. People sell you stuff (including financial plans) so *they* can get rich. Which doesn't mean some theories aren't totally nuts.