Richard Anderson, Jon Kolko
Our previous issue of interactions issued a loud challenge to practitioners: Richard Seymour’s cover story asked readers to consider that the problems you choose to solve are as important as how you solve them; he and others demanded that you focus your creative energy on issues that resonate in a large and prominent manner; and several of our authors pushed you to look at things differentlyfrom sales cycles to randomness, from architecture to design, and cultures, both others and your own.
This issue, our fourth, takes a quieter approach. Each of the articles is subtle this time aroundand solid, and focused. These articles don’t make demands but instead insist that the call to arms is personal. The work we do on a daily basis must make incremental steps toward value and positive cultural and social change. Perhaps you can think of this as a quiet issue, one that underscores a sense of Big Stick Diplomacy for undertaking creative efforts in corporations and consultancies alike.
We focus this issue on three major themes, each softly contributing to a larger, more resonant point about change. The first theme, the change in dynamic between producers and consumers, considers how technology is changing the nature of the “game” of business, dramatically shifting the power struggle between those who make or market things and those who buy things (and even what those “things” are). Conor Brady introduces us to methods used at Organic. Michael Graber describes the shift toward including playful interactions in marketing experiencesless utility, but more resonance.
The second theme suggests we step back to reconsider a few thingshow we conduct and what we expect from user research, how we think of emerging cultures and what we think helpful visualizations really arein order to look at things differently, as compelled by the authors of issue three.
The final theme of this issue addresses how we can enable more positive experiences through our creative efforts. David Bishop posits a theory of conservation of complexity, while others offer new ways to approach the development of products and digital artifacts.
In our cover story, Eli Blevis introduces us to David Roedl and James Pierce, who look at how we can change energy use through our creative and productive efforts. Their feature poses a softly spoken challenge to all practitioners of products, services and systems: “Sometimes using less energy requires only small changes in behavior. At other times, it requires more radical shifts in lifestyles and values. When designing for sustainability in everyday life, we need to find ways to design products that both create needed behavioral and intellectual change and are easily adapted into daily routines. Finding ways to meet both of these criteria is among the most fundamental challenges for sustainable interaction design.”
The modern-day designer is caught in a difficult space, pulled by the siren songs of marketing and profitability and yet firmly rooted in responsibility to the earth and to society. Technology has enabled great things on both fronts, and this speaks to the quiet themes introduced in this magazine. We hope you can find the right balance between marketing, technology, and sustainability. And just as we hope you answer Richard Seymour’s loud challenge, we hope you will respond with equal enthusiasm to the quieter, and potentially more difficult, challenge found in this issue.
Richard Anderson and Jon Kolko
©2008 ACM 1072-5220/08/0700 $5.00
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