Thursday, April 11, 2013

What is the Future of Design? (Part 1)

I know by now that when the UX Speakeasy San Diego group gets together to discuss an issue, bizarre things will inevitably come up. We had a panel of three speakers last night (Phil Ohme from Intuit, Amber Lundy from Websense, Greg Zapar from Tenfold Social Training) and an enthusiastic audience who jumped right in to ask the tough questions and make some ... um, interesting... suggestions.
But first, I want to pass on an observation. There was a balanced mix of men and women at the event which is always a nice thing in a technical setting. At one point I was looking around and realized that in general, the men dressed super casually (lots of jeans and tshirts, rumpled collared shirts, and our trusty moderator was wearing his usual s**t kicker boots) and the women were dressed more, shall I say: stylishly? A few months ago I wrote a blog post in Global Tech Women about technical women and clothing in response to a New York Times Op Ed on the subject. Hence my alertness to this contextual issue. Everyone in the room last night was a designer of  one sort or another - what do you think their clothing choices mean? What messages were being transmitted?

Which brings us to one of the big themes I heard last night. As Phil Ohme put it, the future of design is going to be about "sharing our life bits" i.e. we share, and will be sharing more and more, what our body wants to say. Not just what we choose to say, or choose to do behaviorally. It's what we unconsciously say and do and it's going beyond the usual subliminal cues we may think of. It's not going to be just the people in the room with you who pick up on your current mood, or what pheromones you are exuding.

Whether you want to or not, you will be porting wearable computers. We are evolving at breakneck speed in the direction of global sharing of The Personal.

Think about it - we already share a ridiculous amount of information, either intentionally or otherwise. We use that GPS feature on our smartphones to check-in and alert our entire online community that we: had a cheese steak in Philly, landed at the airport in Sydney, went shopping at a mall in suburban Colorado. We use Google Wallet to buy things and at the same time share a lot more than that one purchase with Google. As Ben King (panel moderator, from Qualcomm) pointed out, both Google and our banking institutions know about our financial purchases because we do everything online, but they have completely different motives for obtaining and analyzing it.

If you decide to wear Google Glass, it will be like having Google Street View on your face (suggests Phil). Soon, will everything you see, hear, and perceive, become archived and searchable in the Cloud? Now that's a scary thought. Who owns, has rights to, can use, that information? Privacy is going to be an even huger design issue than it is now, according to Amber Lundy. People will want to turn it OFF - to pull the plug. Will products and systems be designed to allow this? Easily?

On the other hand, here is a really cool, more positive design direction suggested by Amber. As micro niche networks continue to increase in popularity - a big conversation topic in itself last night - how about creating the ability to package a .tar file of your social world and ship it to someone? Let's say you want to share with your lonely friend in Argentina a slice of your life. So you pull together a variety of information, images, data, conversations, and video into a living digital collage. Without needing a Master's degree in anything to do so. And off it goes to your friend. Customize it slightly differently and send it to your mom. Design that I say!

Chew on these ideas for a while.

There were many other mind bending topics and I'll share more of them next time.

1 comment:

  1. I *heart* s**t kicker boots - your trusty moderator