Pluralistic: How lock-in hurts design (24 Jan 2024)

Today’s links How lock-in hurts design: Felonizing the desire path. Hey look at this: Delights to delectate. This day in history: 2004, 2014, 2019, 2024 Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming/recent appearances, current writing projects, current reading How lock-in hurts design (permalink) If you’ve ever read about design, you’ve probably encountered the idea of “paving the desire path.” A “desire path” is an erosion path created by people departing from the official walkway and taking their own route. The story goes that smart campus planners don’t fight the desire paths laid down by students; they pave them, formalizing the route that their constituents have voted for with their feet. Desire paths aren’t always great (Wikipedia notes that “desire paths sometimes cut through sensitive habitats and exclusion zones, threatening wildlife and park security”), but in the context of design, a desire path is a way that users communicate with designers, creating a feedback loop between those two groups. The designers make a product, the users use it in ways that surprise the designer, and the designer integrates all that into a new revision of the product. This method is widely heralded as a means of “co-innovating” between users and companies. Designers who practice the method are lauded for their humility, their willingness to learn from their users. Tech history is strewn with examples of successful paved desire-paths. Take John Deere. While today the company is notorious for its war on its customers (via its opposition to right to repair), Deere was once a…Pluralistic: How lock-in hurts design (24 Jan 2024)

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