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Exploring eternal questions through interaction design


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A talk I gave at Geeky:

Find the notes at:

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Exploring eternal questions through interaction design

  1. Exploring eternalquestions throughinteraction design*Sjors Timmer*Read the notes here
  2. What are eternalquestions?Eternal questions are concerned with meaning. They arise frompeoples experiences with the world, and have no definitive answer.Famous questions are: what is the meaning of life? What is a goodlife? What makes a good person? What is beauty? What is love?Although they cannot be answered definitively, this doesnt mean thatthey cannot be productively discussed. Through the centuriescountless people have come up with answers. Some believed they
  3. “42”Douglas AdamsMany of us are familiar with Douglas Adams answer fromthe Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy: 42, the answer to life,the universe and everything.The Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy
  4. Inspired by the simple and colourful life of Tahiti, Paul Gauguinwondered: where did we come from, who are we, where are we going?And came up with a surprisingly colourful answer.
  5. In what turned out to be his final work, Dostoevsky created TheBrothers Karamazov a story about three brothers and a fatherwith very different ideas about what makes a good life.
  6. Inspired by a poem about friendship, Beethovenwondered: what would happiness sound like? Andpenned a piece of music that still makes the loudestdeath metal bands shiver in fear.
  7. Why would youexplore eternalquestions?You already do. Every decision shows something about your values.Exploring eternal questions allows you to examine your life in moredetail and from that make better-informed choices of what you shoulddo with your time.Also, its fun. Eternal questions are like maths problems where thesolution becomes harder the more time you spend on solving them.
  8. How might we exploreeternal questions?Although you might not be a mathematician, painter, musician orwriter, this doesnt mean you should miss out on the fun ofcontemplating meaning.If you have the skills of digital tool-making, you have the opportunityto start exploring meaning in ways that no one has done before. Andeven better, you can make the tools that form the basis for otherpeople to explore eternal questions in their own way.
  9. Fred E. Menz - Tool Making via
  10. “How might we?”Tim BrownThe easiest way to go from an eternal question to a project idea is byadding a little design thinking to the mix. Tim Brown of IDEOproposes to start design exploration by asking How might we?.Change by Design
  11. How might we help people explore what beauty is?
  12. How might we explore what makes a good life?
  13. If only Haddaway would have had OkCupid
  14. Long-term explorer
  15. How might we encourage long termthinking?As a designer I wondered how I could help people to think more long-term. In design-thinking terms: how might we encourage people tothink about the long term?
  16. Long-term explorer: an idea for an application that allows you toexplore your next 60 years in as much detail as youd like.
  17. Some negative feedback:Using this would mean you can clearly see your whole life unfolding as abig failureIf I would use it, death would be the only thing on my mindSome positive feedback:If it did financial calculations, I could plan buying a house, a car and amotorcycleThis could help me not to forget that I should do some fun things tooI could use it to see how my thoughts about the future have changed overtime
  18. How to get started?
  19. Pick a topic: beauty, art, good, happiness,fairness
  20. And put:How might we encourage people to explore… facilitate discussion about… think about… improve the understanding of…in front of it
  21. Thank you!Sjors Timmer@SjorsExperience Architect at Lab49 ,blogs at