Designing for the liminal

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A discussion and set of recommendations for designing in a time of liminality and the key role that information architecture (IA) plays. First presented at EuroIA in Brussels Sept 2014 #EuroIA then at the UX SA Conference in Cape Town Oct 2014 #UXSA14

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  • First presented at EuroIA in Brussels Sept ‘14 and then the UX SA Conference in Cape Town Oct ‘14
  • Daman Albarn – Mali Music “Sunset Coming On”
  • Soutpeel (salt dick)
  • Three act play structure – the 2nd and middle act – is where the drama unfolds. Contemporary example: The Wrestler
  • In medias res - Amphitheatre at Delphi
  • The Truman Show – fictional realities place one in between worlds
  • Global citizenry vs. nationhood
  • Immigrants in liminal spaces
  • Placemaking – an attempt to resolve liminality in cities
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liminality
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liminality
  • More recently, usage of the term has broadened to describe political and cultural change as well as rituals.

    During liminal periods of all kinds, social hierarchies may be reversed or temporarily dissolved, continuity of tradition may become uncertain, and future outcomes once taken for granted may be thrown into doubt.

    The dissolution of order during liminality creates a fluid, malleable situation that enables new institutions and customs to become established.
  • A metaphorical “death”, as the initiate is forced to leave something behind by breaking with previous practices and routines.

    First, the rite “must follow a strictly prescribed sequence, where everybody knows what to do and how”. Second, everything must be done “under the authority of a master of ceremonies”. The destructive nature of this rite allows for considerable changes to be made to the identity of the initiate. This middle stage (when the transition takes place) “implies an actual passing through the threshold that marks the boundary between two phases, and the term ‘liminality’ was introduced in order to characterize this passage.”

    During this stage, the initiate is re-incorporated into society with a new identity, as a “new” being.


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liminality
  • Characteristics



    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liminality


  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liminality
  • Moment – Bar Mitzvah
  • Moment – a death

  • Jungians have often seen the individuation process of self-realisation as taking place within a liminal space
  • Initiation ceremonies
  • Graduation
  • Pilgrimage to Mecca – rich and poor walk side by side suspending day-to-day social norms
  • Businesses as groups; Facebook’s IPO as a liminal moment
  • And the intersection of businesses and ecosystems can create liminal spaces
  • Rites & rituals become process, tools and techniques
  • The designer guides the process as facilitator
  • In ethnographic research the researcher is said to exist in a liminal space
  • Paradox. You can’t see what you can’t see.
  • Paradox. You can’t see what you can’t see.
  • How does this apply to IA?

    Although not the thrust of this presentation Terence Fenn and myself have been exploring the intersection of design thinking, IA and socially embedded design problems for the past 6 years.
  • These three papers we’ve written are a great starting point if you’re interested to read more.
  • Momentary liminality

    1995 Rugby World Cup (Mandela and Pienaar)
  • Period liminality

    SA Truth and Reconciliation Commission (Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu)

  • Artists as liminal outsiders (Picasso)
  • Epoch liminality – the incorporation and reproduction of liminality into structures

    Post modernism
  • Epoch liminality – the incorporation and reproduction of liminality into structures

    Tim Berners-Lee
  • *Digital first doesn’t mean drive to web or literally, digital first (in my language). I mean rather a kind of critical mass or wave of digital pervading the real. i.e. where does the line between physical things, digital, informational and device / channel and conceptual model begin and end?
  • The information age – Ghost in the shell
  • So while digital now warrants standing shoulder to shoulder with IT, sales or marketing as a further organisational silo, its pervasiveness cries out not to be siloed at all.
  • It’s pervasiveness would suggest something more like a matrix structure, integrated across silos.
  • Besides which, it doesn’t feel like an organisational function anyway. It’s a more fundamental shift: a layer running horizontally through the hierarchy, slicing across silos, and out the other side into society.
  • Bricks & mortar stores run off IT systems and staff interface with customers face-to-face and with their systems
    2.
    We tried to control security to the point that operationally it just slowed everything down (anti-virus software) and cost too much. In the end, companies are opting to put the responsibility into the hands of users (much like Oxford Circus)
    We tried to block social networks in the office then mobile phones arrived and we use them their instead
    We initially viewed negative comments about our businesses on the social web as something to erase or fight and now we use these channels as places to service customers
    3. The banking case study (from branch, to online, back to branch, to multi-channel integration)
  • Is there something more to this than operational efficiency and keeping up with the pervasiveness of digital?

    It’s about more than building UX teams, conducting qualitative research and user testing. It also involves C-level support, deciding on the structure of UX team integration, training and education, communication, operationalising these activities, developing success stories, outsourcing strategies, team growth strategies. Further though, it’s about the organisation embracing and living the principles that underlie UX

    These principles are design principles and in particular human-centered principles

    Designing end-to-end customer journeys, re-writing processes and rolling out UX (and related) projects that hang off these journeys is a cosmetic integration of digital (and design) and will become outdated to customers as quickly as previous models
  • Enough with customer research masquerading as customer centricity
    Enough with customer journeys masquerading as design
    Enough with the models of replication to increase profit margin
  • How can we take our knowledge of working with information to co-produce value with organisations by exposing and generating knowledge?
  • Designing for the liminal

    1. 1. D E S I G N I N G F O R T H E L I M I N A L
    2. 2. B E T W I X T A N D B E T W E E N
    3. 3. L I M I N A L I N A N T H R O P I T Y O L O G Y
    4. 4. …the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of rituals, when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the ritual is complete.
    5. 5. During a ritual's liminal stage, participants "stand at the threshold” between their previous way of structuring their identity, time, or community, and a new way, which the ritual establishes.
    6. 6. Arnold van Gennep: Rites de Passage. 1909 Victor Turner: Betwixt and Between: The Liminal Period in Rites of Passage. 1967
    7. 7. Preliminal rites …or rites of separation Liminal rites …or transition rites Arnold van Gennep: Rites de Passage. 1909 Postliminal rites …or rites of incorporation
    8. 8. Ambiguity and disorientation Dissolution of identity & new perspectives Through (social) withdrawal comes scrutinity • Of central values and axioms within which culture occurs • The normal limits to thought, self-understanding, and behavior are undone. The structure of society is temporarily suspended Turner: Betwixt and Between: The Liminal Period in Rites of Passage. 1967
    9. 9. INDIVIDUAL GROUP SOCIETY MOMENTARY PERIOD EPOCH (LIFETIME)
    10. 10. L I M I N A L F O R T H E I N D I V I I T Y D U A L
    11. 11. L I M I N A L G R O U P S I T Y F O R
    12. 12. D E S I G N T H I N K I N G A S L I M I N A L P R O C E S S
    13. 13. PRE-LIMINAL LIMINAL POST-LIMINAL
    14. 14. PRE-LIMINAL LIMINAL POST-LIMINAL DE-CONSTRUCTION SYNTHESIS RE-CONSTRUCTION
    15. 15. An experience of ambiguity and disorientation Multi-disciplinary teams working as equals Suspended norms Acquiring new perspectives Questioning central values, beliefs and axioms
    16. 16. THE INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE OF MEANING MAKING http://www.springer.com/computer/hci/book/978-3-319-06491-8 NAVIGATING INDETERMINACY THROUGH THE APPLICATION OF USER JOURNEYS http://www.fennhobbs.com/papers/navigating_indeterminacy_%20through_the_application_of_user_journeys.pdf THE INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE OF TRANSDISCIPLINARY DESIGN PRACTICE: RETHINKING NATHAN SHEDROFF’S CONTINUUM OF UNDERSTANDING http://www.fennhobbs.com/papers/the_information_architecture_of_transdisciplinary_design_practice.pdf
    17. 17. L I M I N A L S O C I E T I T Y I N Y
    18. 18. Most easily seen in diverse, heterogeneous societies.
    19. 19. L I M I N A L E P O C H I T Y A S
    20. 20. D I G I T A L F I R S T *
    21. 21. Why now? Where businesses, organisations, governments…now stand is at the epoch level of liminality. Not momentary or period. We are in the midst's of the information age and yet many enterprises still operate with industrial structures and mind-sets. Even businesses that have no tangible product to sell (like banks) have industrial age operating models.
    22. 22. Where digital first emerged within IT and then extended into marketing, it is now settling into the space of business. And you don’t need to be ecommerce enabled to do business online. The growing expectation, from both staff and customers, is that business is online and digital in all respects.
    23. 23. In most enterprises, almost everything sits on a digital backbone Information will flow via digital channels whether we like it or not Is the challenge to put anything –first or to join the dots?
    24. 24. Is the transformation businesses require just the operational integration of digital channels or something more? A digital mind-set implies the institutionalisation of UX which has far reaching consequences. What are they? When we talk about UX are we not actually talking about design? How human-centered are the transformation activities of companies in reality?
    25. 25. L I M I N A L I T Y A N D I A
    26. 26. Is there another way to look at the shift required to both keep up and embrace the opportunities of digital?
    27. 27. Is there another way to look at the shift required to both keep up and embrace the opportunities of digital? Should we not be exploring with organisations what it means to transform into the information age at a more fundamental level? …to find flow in this epoche-level liminality?
    28. 28. Enough already with the management consultants and process re-engineering!
    29. 29. http://sdlogic.net/
    30. 30. The eight fundamental principles of service-dominant logic
    31. 31. FP1: The application of specialised skills and knowledge is the fundamental unit of exchange FP2: Indirect exchange masks the fundamental unit of exchange FP3: Goods are distribution mechanisms for service provision FP4: Knowledge is the fundamental force of competitive advantage FP5: All economies are service economies FP6: The customer is always a co-producer FP7: The enterprise can only make value propositions FP8: A service–centered view is customer-oriented and relational
    32. 32. What requires interrogation is the knowledge embedded in the organisation, its products and and how it continues to morph through the co-production of value with users and a shifting marketplace and world.
    33. 33. How do we interrogate knowledge at the institutional level?
    34. 34. I A
    35. 35. INFORMA-TION DATA KNOWLEDGE WISDOM Nathan Shedroff’s ‘Continuum of understanding’
    36. 36. INFORMA-TION DATA KNOWLEDGE WISDOM Nathan Shedroff’s ‘Continuum of understanding’
    37. 37. INFORMA-TION DATA KNOWLEDGE WISDOM Nathan Shedroff’s ‘Continuum of understanding’
    38. 38. Implications for how we think of IA 1. A channel-agnostic view is required 2. Internal and externally facing domains need to be (conceptually) integrated 3. Organisation, marketplace and interlocking systems are the space of investigation 4. Develop value-propositions based on acquired knowledge
    39. 39. 1. DESIGNER 2. MANAGEMENT CONSULTANT 3. ANTHROPOLOGIST 4. PRODUCT MANAGER
    40. 40. W R A P U P
    41. 41. Liminal space is a creative space IA can be used to make sense of it Information can be used to reconstruct out of liminality IA generates new knowledge Hybrid roles could transform the value on offer from IA
    42. 42. Liminal space is a creative space IA can be used to make sense of it Information can be used to reconstruct out of liminality IA generates new knowledge Hybrid roles could transform the value on offer from IA
    43. 43. Liminal space is a creative space IA can be used to make sense of it Information can be used to reconstruct out of liminality IA generates new knowledge Hybrid roles could transform the value on offer from IA
    44. 44. Liminal space is a creative space IA can be used to make sense of it Information can be used to reconstruct out of liminality IA generates new knowledge Hybrid roles could transform the value on offer from IA
    45. 45. Liminal space is a creative space IA can be used to make sense of it Information can be used to reconstruct out of liminality IA generates new knowledge Hybrid roles could transform the value on offer from IA
    46. 46. T H A N K Y O U J A S O N H O B B S

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