You the User
You the User

a little writing, a little code, a little design

What am I doing here

, UXBristol
, workshop on 16 July 2012

First in a series of short notebooks related to the workshop ’Remind me what are we making here?’ that I am running with Nic Price at UXBristol.

What am I doing here

In whatever we do, all of us (yes I mean all of the current 7 billion incumbents of this planet) directly or indirectly are working on or at something that impacts or influences other people’s lives. Everything connects. Everything matters. However tenuous or minuscule.

At the heart of all of this impact and influence and connection is the combination of all of our experiences to that point. All of them. Everything. Again, however small, however infinitesimal.

There is nothing earth-shatteringly new here. No expose. It’s all very obvious to anyone who cares to give it a second’s thought.


The skill is to unpack these experiences. Make them count. Listen to them. And the greater skill is to know how to unpack these experiences and to know how to use them to your advantage and to the benefit of your work.

I often wonder whether some periods of experience, foundational experiences and cornerstones, may well be recurring and may show themselves repeatedly in dreams and daydreams for good reason. At particular times old and past selves reach through time to guide and remind present selves. How should we ’listen’ to these experiences and thread their stories and wisdom back into our lives and work?

The dribble of these related experiences is constant.


It is to our advantage to encourage the dribble.

Often the relevance of past experiences may seem utterly devoid of meaning, but this is where we come from and what makes us different. And where we come from, what has happened to us, what we have done, what we are doing is the foundation of our approach to our work, our design work. Every nuance, every interaction, every corner, every word, every display, every page.


From Bruce Mau’s Incomplete Manifesto for Growth

’Remember. Growth is only possible as a product of history. Without memory, innovation is merely novelty. History gives growth a direction. But a memory is never perfect. Every memory is a degraded or composite image of a previous moment or event. That’s what makes us aware of its quality as a past and not a present. It means that every memory is new, a partial construct different from its source, and, as such, a potential for growth itself.’


’Allow events to change you. You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live it. The prerequisites for growth: the openness to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them’

’Growth is an exploration of unlit recesses that may or may not yield to our research. As long as you stick to good you’ll never have real growth.’


Many experiences may shock and be unrepeatable. They will live in the corners. In penumbras. We are not discussing circles. You must listen though. Growth and understanding comes through effort and more than just the good stuff.

It’s all this process that’s the important bit. Not necessarily where you end up (you shouldn’t stop anyway).

Begin anywhere. Any point. Just pick a card.

Slow down. View things from a different angle. Walk in circles. Don’t be scared to question anything/everything you find.

Look at the spaces between things. Where things are rubbing against each other. The friction. The stress. The tension. What is happening there?

By trying to understand things and be able to define things you may have to misunderstand things. ’Fail faster’.

Establish the difference between copying and imitation. It’s only a small gap. But imitation and that gap are where interesting things may happen (in fact all gaps are). The interstitial spaces — what Dr. Seuss calls “the waiting place.”


No Comments Yet

There are no comments yet. You could be the first!

Leave a Comment