5: Wile E. Coyote — Super Genius.

On 20 September 2010 by Derek J. Kinsman

Wile E. Coyote — Super Genius. Lead Image

Or why I think the job titles in our industry are mostly irrelevant and all kinds of stupid.

Continuing on the industry ranting. I feel the need to weigh in on job titles as I hate when someone asks me what I do. Am I a web designer? Graphic Designer? Interactive Designer? User Experience Designer? Experience Designer? Front End Developer? Programmer? I’ll stop there, I’m sure there’s more. Devigner (Developer + Designer) was floating around Twitter for a week or two. Glad that stopped. I don’t even have the will power right now to make a Dungeons & Dragons joke.

Anyway, in the last few weeks there have been a bunch of blog posts about UX and UXD. The big one came from Ryan Carson on the Think Vitamin site (a post that I full on agree with, mostly). The next one I read was A Semantic Exploration Interaction + Experience Design by Ariel Waldman which I highly recommend ready. The always excellent Geoff Manaugh who writes the BLDGBLOG site continued the idea of cybernetics with his post Space Replaced By Machines which doesn’t have anything to do with web industry job titles, just an interesting article to read after Ariel’s post. After that were two posts from Information Architects titled Can Experience Be Designed. Part I. Part II. I’m sure there are a million more articles discussing the topics at hand, these are just a few that I really like and would read multiple times.

*I’m also secretly hoping that Ariel, Geoff and Oliver write a book about it. Or maybe a book each. I would buy one (unless it’s an iPad app, or sold in the iBookstore). Maybe it could be part of the A Book Apart series. A nice chapbook would rock.

I’m just gonna say it upfront. User Experience Design is single handedly the worst fucking term ever. I think it was originally created to make fun of someone in a Dilbert strip but Scott Adams probably felt this term was just a bit to hard hitting and passed it over to The Department of Terms That Will Be Super Trendy and You Can Charge Twenty Percent More Than People Who Do Real Work Department. Ariel, Ryan and Oliver share the same feelings I have.

Firstly, you can’t design the experience 100%. I don’t give a flying fuck what Steve Jobs thinks. You. Can’t. Design. The. Entire. Experience. Don’t make me capslock that shit. At best you can shape and direct an intended experience. From there what needs to happen is redefining the semantics of what an interactive designer (or interaction designer) does. Basically what we do is Human Computer Interaction. We just need to adjust the term so that it makes sense for 2010 and going forward not 1983 when the term was first (ish) coined. Perhaps something like Human Digital Technology Interaction. Hm, that doesn’t roll off the tongue so well. Human Cybernetics Interaction? Maybe. Moving on, the idea is that we as the designers of digital interfaces are designing a certain work flow or interaction method that should also be causing a pleasant experience. You the designer should be thinking about the experience that your interface will create. It’s really that simple. I don’t know how any designer could assume differently. Or say differently. If you’re a communication designer and you need to hire a middle man to do the communication part where does that leave you? I guess you’d be a decorator. Sorry. Hope that doesn’t offend you. But come on, if you’re not the one doing the communication, or experience than you’re probably just being paid because you know how to use the Creative Suite.

I think the whole issue comes down to what you call yourself. Or maybe there’s several issues happening all at the same time that are loosely related. Maybe I just have an issue with the current terminology. Well, okay I do. I hate calling someone a User. That has all kinds of negative connotations (really the only other people you call users are drug users). Apple’s use of just human interface strips 50% of the interaction out of the equation making it magic and revolutionary. When it’s not. We just aren’t privvy to the technology part. It’s only magical if you don’t understand what’s happening. UX/UXD is just daft. The lead designer should be the main point for experience. Sure bring people into the project to handle experience and other people to handle aesthetics. But in theory they should all be interchangeable in the team. If you are an interactive designer you should be capable of dealing with the overall experience.

I don’t know what to call myself. I know it’s not anything listed above. I use the term Interactive Designer. But have to explain what I do. Which is annoying. I like the idea of Creative Coder or Maker. Or Tinkerer or Hacker. I was thinking about using Ariel’s title of Digital Anthropologist. That expresses pretty clearly what I do. Although a bit to academic sounding. I’m also liking Human Cybernetics Interaction Design. It still conforms to the HCI/d acronym that’s standard use for that profession. It could also possibly fold in Human Factors as well. Actually that expresses nicely what I do. Cybernetic Interaction Design could also work, but I think that like Human Interface you’ve removed 50% of the equation. Maybe not quite 50% in this case, but like Geoff points out, the general perception of Cybernetics is the doom and gloom version you see in Star Trek, Ghost in the Shell, etc.

I’ll stick with Interactive Designer for now. But I’ll punch you in the throat (through the internet if I have to) if you call me a user experience designer.

*Dear Warner, please don’t sue me for the use of your IP for the title of this post. I have nothing but the utmost love and respect for this character. Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies have always been and always will be my favourite cartoon. I just like that Wile E. Coyote had a fancy awesome business title. And thought it related to the post. If you must let loose the hounds, just ask me to change the title. Also, if you sue me, I don’t have any money. And it’s Canadian so it’ll be what? A few bucks after the exchange rate?

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5: Wile E. Coyote — Super Genius.

Written by Derek J. Kinsman

Published on 20 September 2010


Filed under Housekeeping, , , .


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2 Comments

  1. cthulhugamete
    Posted July 30, 2012 at 5:54 am | Permalink

    “Firstly, you can’t design the experience 100%. I don’t give a flying fuck what Steve Jobs thinks. You. Can’t. Design. The. Entire. Experience.”

    Well said. Furthermore, that assumption is the gateway drug for bad art

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