Experience Redux

I think it was Neil Postman who wrote that he didn’t know exactly what content was once carried in the smoke signals of Native Americans, but he could safely guess that they didn’t contain philosophical argument.

Twitter is our modern day equivalent.

Now and then I go through the service design tidbits from Twitter in my RSS reader, but it’s a bit of a mixed bag. 140 characters to express an idea? All sorts of incoherent things cross my radar. Every time I see the formulation “interaction/service design” as an equivalency my heart breaks just a little.

Which is nothing compared to the debates about the nature of experience that occasionally arise on Twitter.

This weekend someone responded second hand to my argument on incidental experience by suggesting that sometimes, perhaps often, a designer’s job is to create experiences that are unobtrusive, un-special.

Which is true, except that those aren’t experiences.

It reminded me of what they say in journalism. Just because it happened doesn’t make it news. Experiences are the same way for almost exactly the same reason. Just because it happened doesn’t make it an experience.

That last sentence was only fifty-five characters. Being able to make a pithy argument has merits I suppose.




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