Microsoft Imagination

Professor Richard Harper spent yesterday afternoon with Master of Design and Master of Ethnography students.

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Richard focused on learning to discover how other people think and how they see the world. How do you do that? You create metaphors for the space you are thinking within.  Whilst talking about the act of gossiping, Richard suggested we think of communication as a ‘human act’.

So when someone gossips they are performing, often with the receiver ‘doing listening’. Expressing, achieving, listening, looking and ignoring and all acts of communication!

We had an interesting discussion about how designers differ from scientists. Designers have a weird habit of only wanting to show other designers our portfolios. We don’t want to show scientists! They wouldn’t understand the process! We only show them the finished outcome…

Richards advice: Be aware of this. Use all the tools you have got. Trust people. Show them the roughness. All of this presents an opportunity for deepening and reasoning. Oh, and don’t get weary of the way other people tell their story or communicate.

View the world through a lens. In Scandanavia, people only communicate with an average of 4 people. This is extraordinary as they have such rich communication networks. The reality is that friendships are hard work! When answering machines were invented people imagined their friends had always been trying to get them…all of a sudden this was recorded this and we don’t get any messages!

“Be compassionate and show that you are human.

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Richard also gave a lecture Changing Humans in the evening to a large audience made up of scientists, engineers and designers. It was fascinating and focused on How the designers of computer systems have altered their vision of the human user.

He began by telling us the present is full of shadows. But how do we know what shadow to follow? The key tool is language; metaphors, similes, synonyms, contrasts and imaginings. We need to develop tools to enable us to SEE in different ways. The skill is knowing which way, when, why and what that will gain you.

So people love to chat, love to give and love to share. Using SMS, video, links we love to make our friends laugh! We all have fantastic imaginations and this is proved by the way people tie themselves together in new webs of networks.

“People want to play…and why not!”

View my sketch from Richards talk.