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By donning Google Glass, you, the Google Glass user, are volunteering to be a foot soldier in Google’s asshole army. (In fact you’re paying for the privilege.) You are saying that anyone who comes into your line of sight must agree to be possibly filmed, photographed, or otherwise data-mined, not just for your own convenience but to further Google’s quest for total world domination. Wearing Google Glass automatically means that all social interaction you have must be not just on yours, but Google’s terms.

If You Wear Google’s New Glasses You Are An Asshole

Brilliant. And for once, it’s not a cat on the internet.

Ever wondered how to test a prototype website for desktop and mobile in the same session? What gear do you need, is it expensive and can you take it on the road? 

During my time with Boomworks I worked on an inexpensive, easy solution to mobile testing. Here’s a little blog post I wrote about the experience - Internet, we have a BoomSled

(via Good Fucking Design Advice Store — Family Friendly Poster)

Well, it’s scary to see this visualised isn’t it!

I couldn’t agree more with all the suggestions made in this article. 

Speed and agility are the most important attributes any design team can have, even beating out creativity and innovation. This is because a fast–moving process that iterates frequently gets to take advantage of the natural evolution of the design, whereas a slow moving process needs to discover innovation out of the gate, which is much more difficult.

Agree or disagree? Read the full article here:

User-friendliness is a result, not a tactic. Intuitiveness is a quality, not an approach. Neither term is tangible enough as a design objective to inspire a great product. No matter how strong your jaw, you can’t sink your teeth into vapor and expect it to taste like Apple. You’ll only hurt yourself trying.

Want To Create A Great Product? First, Forget “User Friendliness” | Co.Design: business innovation design

A reminder for design criteria to be specific, actionable and measurable. 

Fantastic example of design thinking applied to a social issue. The students decided that they needed to change public perception of homelessness, as they themselves discovered that homeless people have many skills that could be put to use in a peer-to-peer community learning model. As an offshoot, the platform used to do this has generated interest in the business community, leading the way to a sustainable source of income to fund non-profit use.  

Most humans have two contradictory impulses: we love and need one another, yet we crave privacy and autonomy. To harness the energy that fuels both these drives, we need to move beyond the New Groupthink and embrace a more nuanced approach to creativity and learning. Our offices should encourage casual, cafe-style interactions, but allow people to disappear into personalized, private spaces when they want to be alone. Our schools should teach children to work with others, but also to work on their own for sustained periods of time.

I couldn’t agree more. I love my team work, generating ideas together and formulating plans is one thing, but then having the quiet space to actually do the rest of the work is also important. Everybody has their own sense of balance, but I find that too much alone time and not enough team work is equally damaging (I love to bounce ideas around and test their validity with others, what better way to avoid going to the proverbial ‘rabbit hole’ before realising it was never going to work?). 


There is an interesting discussion on Quora going on, which was enriched by this simple but great visualization of the difference between the Product, the User Interface, the User Experience etc.:

And for a less graphical interpretation and fans of Venn diagrams:

The Museum of Obsolete Objects is a lovely gem. I’m glad to see someone documenting not just the objects themselves, but also the intended interactions (and random hacks) they inspired. 

Hearing about the flawed ‘Sea Monkey’ phenomenon in urban planning - a belief that you can just add water, crystals, presto! = instant community, from @allinthemind podcast about high density living. 

Some helpful tips on how to get good results from participatory paper prototyping.

Investigative Rehearsal as a Service Design tool

Yesterday I had a revelation. One of those, ‘aha, now I get it!’ moments. It was Day 2 of the Service Design Thinking workshop with Marc Stickdorn, and right after lunch he eased us into theatre games…without us even realising what was happening. 


Seriously, mention the words ‘now we are going to role play all afternoon’ to a group, and unless they are a talented bunch of extroverts who love improvisation, I’m betting that people would start to feel shy. And a little bit worried. 

Secondly, I must also confess that I’ve read about theatre games as a tool for social change and design research, but I just never imagined myself doing it. I’ve been a little dismissive in thinking, “oh, that’s just for those actors, who are comfortable with it as a method…me, I’ll use some other tools in my projects”. 

But having had a chance to try it out, I’ve got say I’m thoroughly impressed. Let me explain a little about how we worked and why it was so powerful, and I’ll try to frame my description with a bit of information about the techniques I’ve learned from Marc (and also @adamstjohn and @markusedgar who were kind enough to skype in to the class this morning to share some of their knowledge of investigative rehearsal). 

Why borrow methods from theatre for service design?

As @adamstjohn explained this morning, theatre provides a toolset for modelling any human interaction. It’s the only one he knows that can deal with different levels and layers of emotion. It’s also a quick and affordable way to iterate, test and prototype services. 

The Setup

It’s critical to create a safe space for all participants. We talked about a few ways to achieve this:

  • Closed door, closed curtain - lock out the world and prying outsiders.
  • Shut down all media - say no to twitter, phones, any recording devices.
  • Warm up exercise - aim to get people laughing and failing straight away, so that whatever comes next, cant be that bad. As an example, I was instructed to stand in the middle of two people. One person was repeatedly shouting questions about colour into my left ear, the other person was shouting mathematical questions into my right. Neither would stop asking the same question until I answered them correctly. Then they would pick another and go. As you can imagine, it was really overwhelming, we’re just not designed to multitask like that, so you’re forced to switch focus from one person to the other, and laugh at yourself failing miserably. The other challenge was to mirror any physical actions that the facilitator did. It was really hard and ridiculously funny. 

Another tip from @adamstjohn and @markusedgar that I really respect:

  • Take your clients and their problems very seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously. That’s why the props, like the squeaky rubber chicken, are important. And, also, judging from this amusing clip, karaoke at the at the end of a presentation (finally, someone at a conference speaking my language :) ) Note** the rubber chicken also acts as a great prop during rehearsals…so flexible!

Ok, so the scene is set, everyone’s relaxed and enjoying themselves, but what does this have to do with service design? 

Being a real novice at this, I can only explain how the method has fitted into our process within the confines of this workshop. 

You may remember from yesterday’s post that I talked about personas. From there, we developed a customer journey map, which charts a user experience through different stages of a service. 

From this draft, we then did a deep dive into one small touchpoint, or interaction, along the journey, by storyboarding it. 

We worked as a team to develop the story, then @bencrothers put his amazing sketching skills to work. 

We now had our scene and were ready for rehearsal!

The rules of investigative rehearsal

  • Set the room up the way you want it. 
  • Each group needs a director, who will guide the others through the scene. 
  • Each group has a designated note taker, who can document observations and insights.
  • Engage rubber chicken as key prop! 
  • The broader group must count in the scene with a, “3,2,1, GO!”
  • The first take runs its natural course, with no interruptions from the broader group. This is so everyone understands how the scene is currently working. 
  • Next - repeat the scene from the beginning, but now with the opportunity for disruptions from the broader group. At anytime, an observer can yell, “stop!”, explain what they want to change about the scene and then jump in and demonstrate it. 
  • Which leads me to the key rule: don’t talk, do it!
  • The other technique that I just love, is called, ‘subtext’. Basically, at any time an observer can enter the scene, place their hand on the shoulder of an actor, and speak the subtext, that is, what the actor is really thinking but not saying. There can be layers of subtext, as people form in chains, going deeper into the hidden thoughts and motivations behind the first layer of action. It’s hard to explain without seeing it, but I found it to be quite powerful as it takes us to a place that feels raw, unfiltered and honest. When operating at that level, you can quickly see where the heart of the problem is, and immediately start acting out how you might address it. Here’s a photo from @subsystem that illustrates the setup:

This all sounds great, but are corporate clients really going to dig it? 

This is a question I had for Adam and Markus, and they provided some great answers.

Firstly, spend as much time as a need setting up that safe space, to really ease people into the experience. In an environment where employees are constantly measured on success, show them that it’s more than fine to fail in this safe space.

Secondly, involve them in rearranging the furniture in the room to their liking - this gives everyone ownership of the space.

Thirdly, try a few techniques that encourage an incremental level of honesty (it’s critical that everyone has some level of protection from potential negative consequences of truth telling, especially if the boss is in the room). Forming small groups to talk about some of the things that are wrong in the workplace, then having the opportunity to pick which ideas to share to share with the broader group, provides a filter, so people only share the things they comfortable sharing. The other technique mentioned is the ‘one-word story’ where as a group, each participant adds one word in succession eg. I might say ‘the’ and the next person say’s ‘worst’ and then next, ‘day’…etc. till it becomes meaningful. Apparently, this can lead to incredibly honest results too, without any one person feeling too exposed. 

To finish…

I could probably talk about this for much longer (see what a convert I am!), but I think I’ll cut it here for now. If you have any stories to share about theatre and design research, I’d love to hear them too. Oh, and don’t forget to check out Adam and Markus’ website - Work Play Experience and learn from the professionals!  

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