Jiawei L.
Professor Kristian Kloeckl
Experience Design Studio 1
18 October 2023

My project is “Discovering the Unexpected”. There are many related concepts in the last four readings, and I’ll pick three of them and expand on them.

When I initially wrote about the topic of interest, I also wrote a brief note that traditional map navigation is goal or efficiency oriented, whereas I wanted to explore experience oriented maps. Traditional map navigation allows transportation options after setting a destination and by default recommends the fastest path to get there. It is true that most of the time people want to save time spent on the road, but there are exceptions. With the maturation of the footloose generation, many are becoming less drawn to a city by the traditional connections to a place but rather because they are attracted by the social energies they seek to belong to (Beekmans and Boer 267). This may be why “citywalk” is now becoming popular as a lifestyle for those who are also concerned about quality of life and want to spend some time walking around the city and having a good time. I suspect that the COVID has gone some way to making people realize that the real world, beyond the digital world they once indulged in, is also something to be cherished. In a similar vein, “iSEE Manhattan” is one example, the green line indicates the path of least surveillance between the chosen origin and destination (Greenfield and Shepard 15). In short, by shifting the focus to “process” rather than just “outcome” and prioritizing the experience over efficiency, the length of the journey doesn’t matter as much.

Since the focus is now not on the “destination” but on the “route” itself, attention must also be paid to what happens along the way. Traditional map navigation just tells you where to go now, and it seems that everyone is busy trying to get there. But the new maps don’t need to be so aggressive, they are more likely to ask you, “Are you tired after walking for so long? Look, there’s a bench near you, if you want to sit down and relax, that’s fine with me.” People everywhere are looking for a comfortable place to watch the world pass (Walljasper 2: 38). Sometimes it is so easy to overlook a fundamental human need, even if it is so simple. That’s why people feel touched when they receive concern from those around them. Not everyone is in a hurry at all times. The new map needs to be adept at discovering what experience-oriented people actually need. It may not always be something they explicitly realize, but it is something they may want. Here, we need to stop and think about what opportunities are out there.

But “experience” is hard to measure. What is a route with “good” experience? This can be as subjective as a smell map. It also seems to be an area where one can easily get caught in a dichotomy — do we need to listen to the experts or look at what everyone else is saying? I have often thought about similar questions in my previous work. When the decision was made two or three years ago to change the company’s in-house cultural T-shirts to be drawn and voted on by the company’s colleagues, I didn’t wear those T-shirts because they were created by non-professionals, as opposed to the earlier designers, who had created a program of continuity. But one detail sparked my thinking. When I saw my design colleague transferring the solution drawn by a colleague that had been selected that year into Adobe Illustrator format in order to give it to the supplier for production, I noticed that there were obvious problems with basic design techniques on that drawing (I don’t think professional designers do that), yet the drawing was delivered straight into production without modification. I began to wonder if it could have been done better. Through democratic participation and voting, let’s see what people want, but not just that, and a professional designer can build on that to help the idea morph into a more professional outcome. At the symposium “Architecture and Situated Technologies” organized in October 2006, an artist, architect and researcher Mark Shepard said, urban computing “tend to weaken fatally the privileged argument and position of architectural autonomy”, “on the other hand, it opens up a vastly expanded role for interpreters of these conditions, creators of frameworks…authors of ‘beautiful seams’” (Greenfield and Shepard 36). I think this may be a more advanced solution that goes beyond the binary plane. Bottom-up is “often resulting in mediocre forms and functions” (Beekmans and Boer 266). It is crucial to strategically assign tasks to those most capable (Beekmans and Boer 266). So, find a way to involve both users and experts, which has a chance to lead to a more fully considered path to a great experience.

I’m sure I’ll also generate new thoughts during the course of the project, and the experience of existing thoughts may become deeper.

Work Cited

Beekmans, Jeroen, and Joop de Boer. Pop-Up City: City-Making in a Fluid World. BIS Publishers, 2014.

Greenfield, Adam, and Mark Shepard. Urban Computing and Its Discontents. The Architectural League of New York, 2007.

Walljasper, Jay. The Great Neighborhood Book: A Do-it-yourself Guide to Placemaking. A Project for Public Spaces Book, New Society Publishers, 2007.