Experience Design – Making Meaning

Back to Practivism II  and Nathan Shedroff.

You can find out about Nathan at the following web-site:  http://www.nathan.com/

His talk at Practivism  had many messages.  He emphasized Customer-centered Design Experience and also posed the following questions:

  • What does a more sustainable world look like?
  • What does a more meaningful world look like?
  • What does a post-consumer world look like?

He admonished us to not design things today that make tomorrow worse for our kids or our grandkids.
And even more strongly, Nathan suggests — don’t call it “green” – it obliterates others forms of sustainability – social, cultural, and economic.

From my perspective  sustainability nomenclature is the topic of strong debates amongst friends and colleagues.   How do we make sure language is accurate and accessible?  I am currently having a discussion with myself (and others) around what to call certain activities and topics.  The City of Vancouver has chosen to stick with “green” — wanting to re-define it as the broad stroke of sustainability including all four pillars.   And many cities and writers agree — Green Cities California, for one example.

When we do encounter people who object to the word sustainability because it is over-used, misunderstood, too many syllables and generally annoying — it is hard to think of another word that does the job.  I have been experimenting with zero carbon economy, low carbon economy, constrained carbon economy — but that approach seems to leave out a multitude of facets that exist within the concept of sustainability.  So no resolution that is perfect!

But back to Nathan.   He ripped through the importance of:

  • Sustainability Principles
  • Systems thinking
  • Multi-disciplinary Teamwork
  • Service to Users/Customers
  • Multi-stakeholder engagement

And he listed the following sustainability frameworks:

  • Natural Capitalism
  • Natural Step
  • Cradle to Cradle

And the following Sustainability Tools:

  • Life Cycle assessment
  • Total Beauty
  • SROI
  • Biomimicry
  • Sustainable Helix
  • Reduce
  • Reuse
  • Recycle
  • Restore

Suggesting that these are all useful components in our sustainability toolkits.  Nathan’s summary focussed on the importance of designing for experience and meaning.  I am looking forward to spending some time with Nathan in early 2010 when I am in California.  Will have more to report then.

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