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The Struggle for Existence.
Hannah Tempest @palindromic_han
The phone is an ecosystem that can
support a host of tiny specialists, 

each competing for the resource 

of our attention
The specialist beaks
of Darwin’s finches
GROUND
FINCH
WARBLER
FINCH
Specialist beaks
Cosmic luck didn’t
give the Ground Finch
exactly the kind of
beak it needs.
Digital Disruptors find new spaces,
with no competition, where they
can prosper rather than compete in
an already crowded m...
Natural selection
and so evolution
has a set of rules, 

it is a complex
mechanism
but one which 

when recognised
can be ...
The tree

of life
The strong, well
built and well
maintained
survive
The strong, well
built and well
maintained
survive
Only 1% of 

life is still in
existence today.
The other 99%
are extinct.
Extinction is the rule
not the exception.
Extinction is the rule
not the exception.
Over 50%
of all apps ever
made have been
deleted by Apple
Most apps are extinct because
another has taken it’s place and is
consuming it’s resources.
Most apps are extinct because
another has taken it’s place and is
consuming it’s resources.
This constant flux of
species into new spaces
and the replacement of the
animals in those spaces
The Mechanics of Evolution
“If some of these many species
become modified and improved,
others will have to be improved in
a corresponding degree, 

o...
“If some of these many species
become modified and improved,
others will have to be improved in
a corresponding degree, 

o...
A species will not
maintain an infinite
number of variations
Struggle for existence leading to the
preservation of profitable deviations

of structure or instinct.
Charles Darwin
A strong app will release
many variations.

Variations that benefit
should be preserved.
Those that have a negative
effect s...
“Without deviation from

the norm progress

is not possible.”
Frank Zappa
Barriers to
creating your
engine of
evolution
Variation and deviation
minimised to avoid risk
Barriers to
creating your
engine of
evolution
Variation and deviation
minimised to avoid risk
Holding on to non-profitable
deviations
Barriers to
creating your
engine of...
Variation and deviation
minimised to avoid risk
Holding on to non-profitable
deviations
Random variation without
direction ...
Minimising variation and
deviation to avoid risk
Holding on to 

non-profitable deviations
Random variation without
direction or structure
A complex machine in a 

perfect state
HUMAN
EYE
An evolutionary
impossibility?
STARFISH EYE SPOT
STARFISH
The starfish’s
eye is the
perfect MVP
Uses the least resources possible and the simplest
components it can.
MIMIMUM
Has eno...
STARFISH
EYE SPOT
HUMAN
EYE
STARFISH
EYE SPOT
HUMAN
EYE
Complexity for complexities sake
does not make a product 

more successful.
Nature is not wasteful
HUMAN CAT WHALE BAT
Nature is not wasteful
HUMAN CAT WHALE BAT
A technology of amazing
possibility released to the
world for free in the hope of
creating collective good.
GPS
What can we re-use
to fit an entirely
different context?
Ask our team:
STAR
NOSED
MOLE
Throw resources at
the right feature
STAR NOSED MOLE
BRAINPOWER
What could
we live
without?
Beauty and Delight
“Your scientists
were so preoccupied
with whether or not
they could, they
didn’t stop to think
if they should.”
Dr Ian Mal...
Delight over
performance
PEAHEN
PEACOCK
Selection by positive
feedback undermines
natural selection
The Fisherian
Runaway
Selection by positive
feedback undermines
natural selection
The Fisherian
Runaway
Desire
feedback
loop
Desire
feedback
loop
Our initial delight over a
curated online experience
has runaway from us
Our initial delight over a
curated online experience
has runaway from us
The problem only comes when through striving for
delight we compromise our fitness and leave
ourselves vulnerable to being ...
Practical and
delightful
Elegant, sleek, fast, powerful and beautiful.

But every adaptation is a practical feature for
op...
To conclude
It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed
with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the
bushes,...
It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed
with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the
bushes,...
Words by
Thank you
Hannah Tempest

@palindromic_han
Pictures by
Emily Trotter

@emilytrotter
The Struggle for Existence | Hannah Tempest (Interact London 2018)
The Struggle for Existence | Hannah Tempest (Interact London 2018)
The Struggle for Existence | Hannah Tempest (Interact London 2018)
The Struggle for Existence | Hannah Tempest (Interact London 2018)
The Struggle for Existence | Hannah Tempest (Interact London 2018)
The Struggle for Existence | Hannah Tempest (Interact London 2018)
The Struggle for Existence | Hannah Tempest (Interact London 2018)
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The Struggle for Existence | Hannah Tempest (Interact London 2018)

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How might an idea’s lifecycle survive its environment where ideas compete “red in tooth and claw” for survival.

We will look at how nature and the adaptation of organisms can show us how digital landscapes are shaped by their technological environment.

Are there universal truths in biological systems that can help us in creating digital products that evolve with the ever changing digital economy.

We will explore where UX, design and technology can come together to create safe environments to allow fragile products to evolve and thrive in the wild.

Published in: Design
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The Struggle for Existence | Hannah Tempest (Interact London 2018)

  1. 1. The Struggle for Existence. Hannah Tempest @palindromic_han
  2. 2. The phone is an ecosystem that can support a host of tiny specialists, 
 each competing for the resource 
 of our attention
  3. 3. The specialist beaks of Darwin’s finches
  4. 4. GROUND FINCH WARBLER FINCH Specialist beaks
  5. 5. Cosmic luck didn’t give the Ground Finch exactly the kind of beak it needs.
  6. 6. Digital Disruptors find new spaces, with no competition, where they can prosper rather than compete in an already crowded marketplace.
  7. 7. Natural selection and so evolution has a set of rules, 
 it is a complex mechanism but one which 
 when recognised can be consciously harnessed
  8. 8. The tree
 of life
  9. 9. The strong, well built and well maintained survive
  10. 10. The strong, well built and well maintained survive
  11. 11. Only 1% of 
 life is still in existence today. The other 99% are extinct.
  12. 12. Extinction is the rule not the exception.
  13. 13. Extinction is the rule not the exception.
  14. 14. Over 50% of all apps ever made have been deleted by Apple
  15. 15. Most apps are extinct because another has taken it’s place and is consuming it’s resources.
  16. 16. Most apps are extinct because another has taken it’s place and is consuming it’s resources.
  17. 17. This constant flux of species into new spaces and the replacement of the animals in those spaces
  18. 18. The Mechanics of Evolution
  19. 19. “If some of these many species become modified and improved, others will have to be improved in a corresponding degree, 
 or they will be exterminated.” We expect to see 5 million apps in the Apple Store by 2020 The most successful apps are updated on average every 10 days Charles Darwin
  20. 20. “If some of these many species become modified and improved, others will have to be improved in a corresponding degree, 
 or they will be exterminated.” We expect to see 5 million apps in the Apple Store by 2020 The most successful apps are updated on average every 10 days Charles Darwin
  21. 21. A species will not maintain an infinite number of variations
  22. 22. Struggle for existence leading to the preservation of profitable deviations
 of structure or instinct. Charles Darwin
  23. 23. A strong app will release many variations.
 Variations that benefit should be preserved. Those that have a negative effect should be pruned.
  24. 24. “Without deviation from
 the norm progress
 is not possible.” Frank Zappa
  25. 25. Barriers to creating your engine of evolution
  26. 26. Variation and deviation minimised to avoid risk Barriers to creating your engine of evolution
  27. 27. Variation and deviation minimised to avoid risk Holding on to non-profitable deviations Barriers to creating your engine of evolution
  28. 28. Variation and deviation minimised to avoid risk Holding on to non-profitable deviations Random variation without direction or structure Barriers to creating your engine of evolution
  29. 29. Minimising variation and deviation to avoid risk
  30. 30. Holding on to 
 non-profitable deviations
  31. 31. Random variation without direction or structure
  32. 32. A complex machine in a 
 perfect state
  33. 33. HUMAN EYE An evolutionary impossibility?
  34. 34. STARFISH EYE SPOT STARFISH
  35. 35. The starfish’s eye is the perfect MVP Uses the least resources possible and the simplest components it can. MIMIMUM Has enough features to consume molluscs and position it’s limbs effectively. Enough sensory power to outsmart it’s competitors and comparators. VIABLE Has a defined set of components that could be improved individually in future iterations. PRODUCT
  36. 36. STARFISH EYE SPOT HUMAN EYE
  37. 37. STARFISH EYE SPOT HUMAN EYE
  38. 38. Complexity for complexities sake does not make a product 
 more successful.
  39. 39. Nature is not wasteful HUMAN CAT WHALE BAT
  40. 40. Nature is not wasteful HUMAN CAT WHALE BAT
  41. 41. A technology of amazing possibility released to the world for free in the hope of creating collective good. GPS
  42. 42. What can we re-use to fit an entirely different context? Ask our team:
  43. 43. STAR NOSED MOLE
  44. 44. Throw resources at the right feature STAR NOSED MOLE BRAINPOWER
  45. 45. What could we live without?
  46. 46. Beauty and Delight
  47. 47. “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” Dr Ian Malcolm,Jurassic Park.
  48. 48. Delight over performance PEAHEN PEACOCK
  49. 49. Selection by positive feedback undermines natural selection The Fisherian Runaway
  50. 50. Selection by positive feedback undermines natural selection The Fisherian Runaway
  51. 51. Desire feedback loop
  52. 52. Desire feedback loop
  53. 53. Our initial delight over a curated online experience has runaway from us
  54. 54. Our initial delight over a curated online experience has runaway from us
  55. 55. The problem only comes when through striving for delight we compromise our fitness and leave ourselves vulnerable to being left behind
  56. 56. Practical and delightful Elegant, sleek, fast, powerful and beautiful.
 But every adaptation is a practical feature for operating at the very peak of it’s environment.
  57. 57. To conclude
  58. 58. It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent upon each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. Charles Darwin
  59. 59. It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent upon each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. Charles Darwin
  60. 60. Words by Thank you Hannah Tempest
 @palindromic_han Pictures by Emily Trotter
 @emilytrotter

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