We talk with Alan Cooper about skateboarding, fatherhood, design, ethics, and the responsibility that comes with getting our seat at the table.
United States


00:00:08does Josh Tyson UX magazine recently I had a really nice conversation with Alan Cooper that's right Alan Cooper father visual basic Alan Cooper co founder along with his wife issue of Cooper %HESITATION Alan Cooper inventor personas Helen Cooper father of two sons who so I skateboard spend the
00:00:32early part of this interview talking about skateboarding and surprisingly house a boarding was a lot like design plenty of parallels it's a really nice conversation a lot of fun talking to him so let's stop just listening to me there we go my older son Scott who is here
00:00:58now with his baby my first grandchild he %HESITATION when he got out of college he did a step for a while working for %HESITATION he worked for slap magazine for awhile and then he worked for designing skateboards wheels for awhile and and %HESITATION he's just he just left
00:01:21the job in you know he moved to Copenhagen and %HESITATION he was working for %HESITATION at his freelancing for a sort of the European slap magazine called **** slap **** slap yeah Doug Gould and a that he %HESITATION now he's a dad and he's you know kind of
00:01:45prior to shift and get get out of that yeah but %HESITATION that he was working for a group called art rebels and %HESITATION in art rebels and **** slap have a kind of a friendly relationship and it sort of European our alternative art you know heavily influenced by
00:02:08skate culture stuff like that %HESITATION but my other son Marty the younger one he's twenty eight he's a %HESITATION he is a an animator and %HESITATION he's he does he's he's he worked he worked for white worked on on %HESITATION some big movies you know you work for
00:02:32blue sky in real life accident and worked on some big feature length Hollywood movies with you know big stars and stuff in as a storyboard artist and %HESITATION but he found it very unsatisfying work and %HESITATION so after he finished the last movie you kind of just started
00:02:53noodling around on his own and he created is sort of invented a new way of animating and %HESITATION he goes by the name hombre mix de is on bring expertise yet that and %HESITATION so if you Google to go out to like Instagram or you to go to
00:03:17check out hombre underscored makes these and %HESITATION his he does is very very simple very very low tech animations %HESITATION where he actually holds the transparencies with his hand and he takes pictures of him with his smart phone in the other hand using the real world as the
00:03:39backdrop Australia it's about as low tech as you can possibly get those characters are very lovable and interestingly does the strip short little animations well his body started bugging him to make a a real and so I finally put a bunch of his animations together into like a
00:03:59two minute real this is a year and a half ago and %HESITATION so Marty did it he posted on you tube in his buddy Porter and read it and went to the front page reddit and stayed there for twelve hours and Marty got four million hits in twenty
00:04:15four hours and how the rest is history he's out he's now his now famous and %HESITATION so now he travels around the world making commercials for like seven up and and %HESITATION the Cartoon Network and **** like that %HESITATION well that's the great thing about skateboarding that I
00:04:36mean when I was in high school and skateboarding was hard to convince my mom of this but %HESITATION there's just so much of a lot of creativity because a lot of freedom and yeah the great thing about it too is that you can do it with friends obviously
00:04:51but it's also it's just kind of you against yourself with you learning about your own limits and then had a kind of smashed through perceived barriers so it doesn't surprise me when I see so much good work coming from people in skateboarding you know yeah it makes total
00:05:08sense to me yes because of the night when I do it my generation it was surfing sure Hey I was never a server but but %HESITATION it was you know the the older generation who it was that thing of you know stand by the river fishing is it
00:05:25just because you're standing by the river fishing doesn't mean you're not intensely creative or are working hard it's cool you mention slap magazine to that that was one of the magazines that I wrote for for many years so your your son Mike probably knows mark lightly is the
00:05:39only editor there now I believe he's a product honored apple thank you worked for Nike for awhile now is an apple so yeah well M. yeah it turns out that %HESITATION that really really good good friends of ours are %HESITATION %HESITATION were there really good buddies with Peter
00:06:00widely mark's dad moon and they are good friends have a son who's also skater who's a year or two older than Scott who %HESITATION who is a contemporary of Marx and %HESITATION so there's a lot of connections because we were down in Silicon Valley and and so they
00:06:21all they all knew each other yeah it's amazing most of my kids both of my kids you know got got interested in video and the skating on and %HESITATION and that was kind of in many ways he how they got into you know one of them is in
00:06:42the movie business as the other ones in the magazine business because they they they have there in high school they created this old skate film company called green eggs and %HESITATION you know one of their bodies is going on in this is now a a fairly successful and
00:07:00prominent a skate videographer and %HESITATION Kyle Camarillo now when you look at like spike Jones I mean he got his start making skate videos outside the cabin the award winning director so yeah and a I don't my kids are the ones you said this guy spike Jones you
00:07:19go check them out and %HESITATION and I've become a fan we should talk a little bit about what's going on in design if we may but I guess the the big news for you recently was %HESITATION merger with catalyst yes and how how does that how was that
00:07:41changed daily operations for Cooper well %HESITATION it you know I just I just wrote an essay about this in that the great you know that it's about a lot of %HESITATION design firms have been swallowed up by big companies lately and there are a lot of of of
00:08:07hundreds out there who are have been announcing the death of the independent agency but %HESITATION the thing is is that when you when you acquire an independent agency you know longer own an independent agency now you own independent agency and the the great value of an independent agency
00:08:38isn't necessarily the quality of their design work although it certainly the quality of their design work must be very high in order for them to succeed as an independent agency but what they really bring to the table that's of great value is there outsider perspective they can see
00:08:57what's going on inside organizations better in some ways than people inside can see and a and that they are they have the the they also you know the outside consultant their paycheck is signed by the consulting company and not by the client company so they are in a
00:09:23unique position where they can speak truth to power to the %HESITATION to the imp otherwise important people inside the quiet and %HESITATION and they can say well I know you think that way and I know you've been doing that way but according to our research that's the wrong
00:09:40way and if you're inside an organization where everything inside the cultures saying this is the way you have to do it it's really hard from within that organization to say no let's do it a different way and it's it's so there's there's enormous value to be outside and
00:10:04that's kind of poetic that worked with were coming off a conversation about skateboarding because we think about in a sense think about a city everyone lives in the city uses it one way things but one way and then a pack of ten skateboarders come thundering down the street
00:10:18and they're showing you a completely different way to think of your surroundings and and you know the the requires that kind of outsider mentality that ability to separate yourself a little bit the agencies that have that power they're kind of like those yet those certainly street skateboarders Simmons
00:10:34it's so true yeah because they can say look what you've got here you've got something here that you're not even seeing we're gonna have to see it but then once once they become once they're in the belly of the beast for too long then obviously they don't get
00:10:47to see the outside anymore yeah the my brother in law used to say that we we we concreted our world and the skateboarder showed us how to use it yep and %HESITATION in then we so we knob to so sad it is it is enough mobs via %HESITATION
00:11:11so what's and so the thing is is that is what I am saying this is me in you know in marketing mode and self promotion motives I'm saying that what Cooper the company has done is we believe so much in in the value of being the the independent
00:11:34agency that we're %HESITATION that we've got out we bought another company so that we can be bigger and better at doing it at being the independent %HESITATION but a remarkable thing has happened which is by Cooper merging with catalyst we have brought an outside organization in to Cooper
00:12:11and so we're battling with all that same stuff it we're also getting the benefits for for I mean you know there's that there's that time when you bring the outsiders in and you get the benefit of their different way of looking at things it takes a while for
00:12:31everybody to get on to the same cultural %HESITATION %HESITATION %HESITATION run late you know and %HESITATION we're very much in the honeymoon right now it is so great everybody is stoked everybody's excited and everybody is looking at the work they do everyday with fresh eyes it it's so
00:12:58energizing the %HESITATION I mean just when when the the New York guys just as a kind of a thanks these what they did was they put together a package and they mailed it to the Cooper office and it had a bunch of New York bagels and and spot
00:13:25a bunch of classic New York food that you can only get a New York City and then they also had some really nice %HESITATION cut up biographical information about all the individuals in the New York company to introduce themselves to us and %HESITATION it was it was so
00:13:48generous and so thoughtful and so well produced and so deftly done that everybody is saying let's just go look at it in a way that well you can think of this what it's for we should have figured this out we should have done this and and we've got
00:14:09a we've got a respond in kind we have to send them something from San Francisco to show them how great we are end that introduces us to them end of it everybody is upping their personal game it's like we couldn't have asked for a better illustration of the
00:14:29value to have an outside organization coming in and saying of course you're great but there's always another way to look at things and you everybody always benefits by looking at him from a different point of view ended Cooper have a New York office his lawyer is this is
00:14:49this kind of also giving you a presence on the opposite coast this is our first presence on the opposite because we wanted to New York office for years and %HESITATION and and we've never really I mean it's expensive to started New York office and and not having outside
00:15:13investors money we just didn't see that as really viable and we were doing just fine here without it and %HESITATION and so this that year merging with with catalyst gave it gave it to us give us the New York office all wrapped up with a bow around it
00:15:32and it was part of the appeal %HESITATION so it's been it's been a great experience and it continues to be a great experience where we're still %HESITATION %HESITATION what's the word integrating work in the post merger integration phase where you know we're we're getting I mean there's a
00:15:57lot of back office work that has to be done but we're sending a separate systems to New York and New York is sending New Yorkers to San Francisco and we're working on projects together and we're learning how they do things and they're learning how we do things and
00:16:15and they have different approaches to the client relationships and project management we have different approaches to to %HESITATION design methodologies and everybody's learning and when people are learning it just gets more exciting and there's more energy and %HESITATION and so it's a it's a really it's a really
00:16:38good time one sounds like there's a serious undercurrent of just genuine thoughtfulness that probably gives everything a lot more energy if the E. S. thoughtful Mrs I mean I mean thoughtful this is a is a really good word to describe how we are and it's a really good
00:16:59word to describe how catalyst is but it's just so easy to fall into your own day to day rhythms and %HESITATION in your thoughtfulness starts to take on a sort of a well we were thoughtful back then so so we're a hell of a lot more thought today
00:17:25than we were a month ago and %HESITATION and that's just a really good thing so it's very exciting and and I think it's %HESITATION it's good for our clients is going to be good for our organization and it's great for us to be positioned as a counter example
00:17:41to all those people are saying about well all decide is going in the house though because it's not no one if ever there were an industry where you know stale behavior can cost you I think this is probably it so it's good that you're like fresh blood yeah
00:17:57that's a really good point really good point now I don't for instance want this to be construed as a criticism of in house design because I don't for a minute see it that way the well what I you know twenty three twenty three and a half years ago
00:18:25when my wife and I started what was the very first interaction design only company there were industrial design firms that had some interaction design and there were some visual design firms that we're doing some interaction design but we were the only company that that's all we did we
00:18:44were the first then that %HESITATION we are in order to highlight the value of what we were doing is different from anything else I was the guy who stood up and said we're not going to do programming we're not gonna do usability testing we're not gonna do prototype
00:19:15you know what I want to do is pure unadulterated decide I want to go out I wanna observe users I wanna do analysis and I want to do design and the design we did was on white boards of paper and we communicated it verbally %HESITATION it was really
00:19:35really important to me to cut a bunch of proven stuff out of my world so that I could prove some new stuff and now what's interesting is is so many you know decades later interaction design user experience designs this huge field I mean I mean it's not only
00:20:03is it on not unknown but it's it's it's known as as the place to be for young creative people and %HESITATION and so I want to be all inclusive now and the the one thing that I know we need is is we need design and we need outside
00:20:22design and we need inside design and we need prototyping decided we need greenfield conceptual design and we need people to do strategic decided we need people to to do design at the pixel level we need at all and we did lots of lots of it we still don't
00:20:42have enough of it so you don't the the I used to use the analogy of growing tomatoes when you when you grow a tomato what you do is you take the tiny little tomato seed and put it in a little tiny bit of dirt and you put it
00:21:05in you on your windowsill and he put it there because it's out of the rain and it's out of the wind and is protected from the too hot sun because it needs to have this protected little environment in order to germinate and sprout and grow until it's a
00:21:24few inches tall at that point you have to get the tomato plant out into the garden need to transplant it out there where it can be watered by the rain and blown by the wind and exposed to the powerful son so that it can grow and get the
00:21:41nutrients it needs and if you keep it on the windowsill it'll slowly stopped growing in turn yellow you say there's a time to protect it to nurture and there's a time to stop protecting it in order to nurture just except that the tomatoes gonna go skateboarding without a
00:22:02helmet yeah that's right that is exactly right and %HESITATION and so it's it's %HESITATION one of the things that happens inside of corporate culture and I've said this for years is is is when you as a start up when you create a company you're creating two things you're
00:22:24creating a product and you're creating a culture and you could maybe go on to another product but that culture is the thing that is kind of permanent it's interesting too because when you think about experience design a lot of the the process element of the process pieces of
00:22:42it are all if you're paying attention what you're doing and and being intelligent about it they're easy to replicate but they're definitely it's possible to replicate a favorable result but when it comes to culture that that is such a hard thing to nail the %HESITATION seems like that
00:23:00you know if you if you can get the culture right then everything else kind of has a better much better chance of falling into place and you're going to you know be able to keep producing great work yes and so many entrepreneurs don't get that and in so
00:23:16many of us there are a lot of entrepreneurs and say %HESITATION %HESITATION they say we'll worry about culture later and you can't and then there's the other people say how we're all about culture you know we've got the ping pong table in the the foosball table and we've
00:23:36got to the cafeteria and all that stuff in the eat out at the the bring your dog Friday kind of thing mmhm that's not what culture is and that is that how you build it and so one of the lessons I learned from the permaculture people is they
00:23:56say if you want an oak tree you don't go out and plant an oak tree because the oak trees gonna fight and struggle if you want an oak tree you don't even have to plan plant what you do is you put up a little fence that keeps the
00:24:16deer and the and the and the gophers away and you make sure that the soil chemistry is conducive to growing up trees and then in that there's no predators in there who are who were going to eat the baby oak seedlings and then what happens is an oak
00:24:40tree will spring up by itself in that space because what will happen is a squirrel come with an acorn and hide it there or a blue Jay will fly in and drop an acorn because they're constantly doing that with the acorns and so there's there acorns are stuck
00:24:59everywhere they an oak tree will grow at a place where it's conducive to growing oak trees mom and what is the exact same thing with cultures you is if you try to create a culture with foosball tables and free lunches you you don't know what you get no
00:25:21I think a lot of people see through that to the you know because it's like well yeah of course they're they're they're feeding freelancer because they don't want you to leave right to stay there and work right and you can see so many job descriptions just like tripping
00:25:33over themselves trying to list all the cool **** that they're offering but yeah you're right you're actually right that's not culture that's frosting what what happens is you create a culture by by demonstrating to your people that you have their back that you don't jerked him around and
00:25:56that you'll stand behind them in a conflict and you'll support them and when they come to you and say you know I really need you know new computer are a better chair something to do my work you don't go well can you do it for cheaper instead you
00:26:11say okay you know what happens is is that's how you build a culture you build a culture from your values the culture emerges from the exercise of your values that's like a tomato in like the little oak ceiling you got an archer yes exactly and so so it's
00:26:36it's %HESITATION the thing about about Cooper in catalyst is we have very very similar values so we have very very similar cultures but we have very very different behaviors and I think that's the thing that's non obvious you know and so the organizations are coming together kind of
00:27:06seamlessly %HESITATION even though we we do things very differently that's about the best you can hope for their yeah I guess you wonder about like a you know adaptive path wonderful team of people there brilliant minds and then they %HESITATION by all accounts like capitol one was a
00:27:29good fit for them like they spend some time figuring out like like how it's gonna work but those are two like the the goals of both of them to these are quite a bit different so you kinda do you you're forced to wonder like what's gonna happen when
00:27:42they're when they've been baked in there for a year or two years like how's that going to affect both parties and that's exactly the question end and we see this all the time is that is that %HESITATION people for example they come to Cooper you and if they
00:28:05come together and they do this really intense %HESITATION training where they learn how to value it is this user centered design and they learn these techniques in the language and they're in the middle you were there other people who have who also value the techniques of the language
00:28:26and the and the customer centricity and then they get all empowered and enthusiastic and then they go back to their to their day jobs and and they walk it all very excited and and then they they find that well they have to go to the staff meeting on
00:28:45Monday morning and and they look at him and say well you know how is this going to fit into the schedule and can you demonstrate the our allies in and %HESITATION and in it they proceed to succumb to that death by a thousand paper cuts you know it
00:29:04the end of the year they they no longer have that enthusiasm they no longer have that empowering vision of how to do things %HESITATION in in support of their their user community and %HESITATION I mean either of those is entropy never sleeps in including in in corporate culture
00:29:28or maybe even particularly in corporate culture sure this is something I've been thinking about to %HESITATION as I've been thinking about you set that it was something I heard I was an author on Charlie Rose I think he'd written a book kind of looking at different business partnerships
00:29:48like successful business partnerships across industries and unfortunately I don't remember the name of the book or the author but he you know he's making the point that these really successful partnerships are kind of like a marriage and and when they really gel properly like a mate amazing things
00:30:02can happen so I I'm curious sings you started Cooper with your wife with sue do you think that you know having that bringing that foundation into the venture gave you %HESITATION advantages that would have just not even been possible if you've been going out on your own or
00:30:18even maybe with you know with a business partner instead of someone who's like your partner in life as well that would absolutely that's true I mean it whatever you do I think you know the the Zen wisdom of al Kooper is at all swords cut in two directions
00:30:37you know so one of the great strengths of Cooper is that it's a %HESITATION it's a mom and pop operation and one of the great weaknesses of Cooper is that the mom and pop operation %HESITATION in ensued I work really hard to to not be mom and pop
00:31:00except in in stealing that value equation you know and the then we suffer from that but it also means that our work is of superb quality and our employees are our %HESITATION the feel like we're that we're not gonna sell them down the river like so many companies
00:31:27they say you know I'm doing fine up until the layoffs come you know yeah and %HESITATION well it's easy to create a family like atmosphere when you have a husband and wife a mom and pop it's literally I do not recommend it I do not I I you
00:31:45you have to be you have to be special and so to %HESITATION to start a business with your spouse and and most people can't do it and %HESITATION I mean if you care if it works for you then I highly recommend it but it's it's it's like it's
00:32:09exactly like a design problem you can't look at the software's behavior and say that's a good design you have to look at the users goals and in the light of the user's goals you could evaluate whether it's a good design or not he you can eat it is
00:32:29there's there's really no such thing as good design in vitro good or bad decide in vitro yeah well none of it exists in a vacuum right so there is no silver bullet approached anything it will end its the %HESITATION it's the notion that and I think we talked
00:32:46a little bit about Alexandria and design the idea that the design is album solving for a context is given to you by others minutes not something you can think about your own so so I mean design that you do to make yourself happy is art which is a
00:33:10wonderful thing I I love art and I'm a big supporter of art but art is not design design is problem solving for others and and they're they're very they have very very different goals and and I I mean if you if you you know if you eavesdrop on
00:33:26on it artist and you eavesdrop on a designer it to an outsider the work looks the same but it's not yes it is to like as a obviously experiences nine is grown radically in in prominence when you have them you know that acquisitions we've been talking about kind
00:33:48of signaling that business leaders are on board now yet I'm also noticing that people consumers customers users themselves seem to me more keenly aware of that they're being designed for in a in a way is does that make it's the does that pose design challenges when when users
00:34:07become more aware of kinda like the considered it considerations that go into designing experiences for them or to make it easier but I think it makes it easier I mean that the challenges of never come from the outside the challenges of always come from the inside it's it's
00:34:25it's the industrial way of looking at things is why should I spend money for that will make me money and what happens is is I mean I fought the battle you know telling people all through the nineteen nineties and the eighties too for that matter telling people you
00:34:41need design and you know they would look at me and say what do I mean designed for you know the programmers are doing a fine job and %HESITATION and even in the nineties when it was very very clear to those people who were beginning to use software in
00:35:02the wider world though with the bass market was developing it was just very clear but if you were buried in your industrial processes of creating you know back office software it was still really hard to see you know talk about loss of perspective but when all of a
00:35:21sudden %HESITATION media became digitize when everybody's photographs were digital and everybody's movies were digital and everybody's news delivery service and telephony and and %HESITATION you know their photography and all the music with all the kids digital are it created the situation that allowed %HESITATION consumer electronics and all
00:35:51of a sudden it just became obvious there because there were people who were not trained technology users and they just couldn't use the old stuff and it all those jokes about read your manual and and I to support were all came about them but then of course it
00:36:10was the invention of the of the smartphone that put all this computer technology people's pockets and everybody immediately have the perfect demonstration of how easy software could be you know they could they could push a button on their iPhone and it just kind of gave them what they
00:36:34want and and then they would sit down at their desktop computer and they would go into this twisty little maze of passengers all alike and they go I I didn't know how good it can be but now I know how good it can be so don't give me
00:36:55this crap anymore and so that's the best argument for any designer inside any corporation is to say if we give them the same old crap they're just gonna go to our competitors and %HESITATION and somewhere along the way to I mean you came up with the idea of
00:37:11personas that that seems like a tool for kind of doing just that I mean now now maybe they're do you see the the value of percent is diminishing at all is P. as more and more people now just kind of get that they need to incorporate experiences on
00:37:26and what they're doing or they still a powerful tool for kind of especially like communicating nuance design decisions rather they are immensely powerful tool for for %HESITATION wrangling all the stuff that you learned in the field and using it effectively in design design just because design has been
00:37:45more widely accepted doesn't mean that it's gotten any easier I think in many ways it's got a lot harder lot more sophisticated and you you need you need very sharp tools so this is just one of those tools we invented a whole bunch of other ones and and
00:38:03you need the ball %HESITATION maybe not all at once is maybe not on every project %HESITATION but it's like when you go into the office you know you turn on the lights and you know I thought I could imagine some projects where you turn out the lights but
00:38:24in general you don't even think about that if you walk in the lights are off to the office you go this is gonna be a problem and into me personas are I called the bright light under which we do surgery that they're not they don't make stuff happen
00:38:44by themselves but why would you work without a bright light you know they're they're just incredibly powerful incredibly useful %HESITATION but there are there are so many other a design tools we develop personas is the one that the people note because they're they're the one that so sound
00:39:07bite a bull sure and %HESITATION I I happen to think that the probably our most powerful design tool that that that was invented Cooper is the notion of pair decide and %HESITATION but that hasn't gotten anywhere near as much traction in the wider world of design simply because
00:39:31there's still this notion in people's heads that the economics of industrial industrialization applied namely why should I pay twice for what I can get once and the answer to that is that's bogus that when you put two heads on the design project you get an order of magnitude
00:39:53better quality at a much higher rate of speed yeah I mean that's kind of the internal struggle to with within this industry is is explaining the the need to invest up front because you're dressed people to invest in something that that you know has value but that struggle
00:40:10always exists seems to to try and really get people to understand that he put the money up front you make money at the other end or the very least save money I mean you you're happiest yeah and I mean in Ellis and that is not new and it's
00:40:29not rocket science it's it's just it's like people there's there's a sort of a meme is emerge well this is software we can do it for cheap and %HESITATION in there will soon the you can just copy someone else's design and all yeah you know work for them
00:40:46too yeah but that's like saying I could copy the behavior of the way somebody else works in their marriage and it will work in my marriage not understanding that that that ship is is you can extrapolate that way I mean there might be there might be some wisdom
00:41:02to be gained by observing somebody else in their marriage but translating it little literally ain't gonna work nope that's your own journey so so so gesture one of the bit about some kind of half baked ideas I have yeah I am on me this is this is where
00:41:24my thinking is going at I I you know you you know your your thoughts simmering bubble for sometimes for a really long time before all the said you go oh I see the pattern and and you know maybe I'm slow and maybe other people have seen this pattern
00:41:47before me but what I realize is is for so long I've been trying to sell this motion that user experience design is focuses on the junction between your company and the people who use your products and services therefore it's of strategic value to your company okay well and
00:42:15it's so I've been using that observation as a lever you know with by salesman had on to sell my services to client companies well all of a sudden I realized that kind of flips the other way around is when enough people in business agree with me and internalize
00:42:42design and apply designed to what they're doing you all of a sudden I have a second %HESITATION you arrive at and a second level effect which is which is your no longer fighting for your place at the table but all of a sudden you have a really good
00:43:05place at the table and now your responsibilities have grown to ones of having a kind of a moral dimension an ethical dimension is is if I'm going to be having this much effect on the behavior of the entire organization I am also directing their ethical stance and the
00:43:33ethical direction they take and so you can start to see this in stuff like %HESITATION like there's been this recent brew ha ha the net about this company called people P. E. E. P. L. E. where they want to do a yelp for individuals where you can unilaterally
00:43:56rate people accidents like internet concentrate right there yeah exactly end but it also means that you can anonymously assassinate people okay well you can tell that this is coming from a designer wear organization okay but there's there's their deep ethical questions raised by that design and the designers
00:44:28can't just sit there and say I'm going to give this application released you know empowering behavior because you have to say to yourself is this really behavior that we want to empower because you're no longer on the sidelines giving advice you're now in the beating heart of the
00:44:54beast directing where it goes and the nature of business is the nature of corporations is their sociopaths corporations have no morality they there optimization machines and they're optimized to make money and if they see if if a corporation makes money by killing babies it will optimize the killing
00:45:20of babies yeah real science yes so so you don't look at Google which was it was famously begun with the don't be evil motto they just reorganized into alphabet and something that hasn't been pointed out very widely is that alphabet the the umbrella organization for Google no longer
00:45:47has don't be evil in their motto okay so so where were who holds them the ethical steering wheel of an organization I say it used to be that it was in the hands of the inventors the people who conceived of the product these days so much of what's
00:46:16being built is not so much new conceptualization as much as it is new manifestations and it's the it's the designers who holds the the ethics of an organization in their professional hands yeah because like products and services now are more and more under the umbrella of design experience
00:46:43and so so you're yeah so it's a now designers which is interesting because for a long time you know the designer grapes that you hear it again and again or is like no one's listening understand what I'm trying to do here so now we're to a point where
00:46:57maybe that's that's coming to for designers yes they they have their seat at the table now are they or are they ready to to take to take charge a little bit and %HESITATION yeah yes so this is this is the new challenge is is designers half do you
00:47:19know that this is my revelation and and and %HESITATION you know what I I go back and I look at the first presentations I ever did in the very early nineties about interaction decide and they were all like a long series of rhetorical questions you know how do
00:47:44we solve this problem I think this is an important thing that we need to pay attention to their users out there who are being frustrated how can we address this problem it wasn't like I was standing up as an expert saying here's how to solve these problems I
00:47:59was standing up as a as a student saying I want to solve these problems I want to think about the way I want to understand them and %HESITATION but I find myself back in that same position where I don't have a lot of answers at this point but
00:48:17I I see that this is the new important question that's bubbling to the top which is how does a designer wrap their head around the ethical dimensions of a design problem yeah how do they wield this new power responsibly and I really so one of the guys I
00:48:39follow on Twitter I like is a guy named Lou mare hack and he is a very %HESITATION outspoken critic of what he calls Butler where which is young software entrepreneurs web entrepreneurs who are building %HESITATION software for privileged white people to do with their moms used to do
00:49:06for them whom you know finding parking places and getting their dry cleaning done and all this stuff like that and and and and hack is a great name for anybody in the software business I have to say yes he looked at his spell HA Q. U. E. who
00:49:27is sort of fancy hack is he's asking the question is this what we should be doing yeah and and that's a really good question and it deserves all these young kids coming out of school with stars their eyes you want to go to Silicon Valley and be an
00:49:44entrepreneur and enjoying the start up an end the end they they they're attracted by the siren song of new some new company that say yes we've got you know %HESITATION you know we've got designer kibbles for your dog delivered by UPS in all tables that's yet our football
00:50:04team and you have to ask yourself is this something I should be involved yes I could be as a young person I could join this organization and I could make the delivery of cables superior do I want to do that is that the right thing to do because
00:50:29it's the same way a company bakes of culture while they're baking their first product I think a design professional basics their own professional ethics as they bake their career at their first job this seems to be some confusion to between %HESITATION like people assume that if if an
00:50:52aperture whatever can make your life more convenient that it somehow made your life better yet and I think those things are Inc are very distinct in their their there's definitely ways you can leverage technology and experiences on to it to genuinely improve people's lives and there's ways that
00:51:08you can just free up more time for them to waste doing something that they don't need to be doing right in and it you know we had an earlier discussion about alternative agriculture and one of the things that you learn when you study permaculture is what's good is
00:51:31not necessarily convenient or easy and what's convenient or easy is not necessarily good and in so so the the the the kind of %HESITATION the the this notion that well with computer technology the web technology I could make it really easy to to to arbitrage buy a used
00:51:56couch night for people who need a place to sleep %HESITATION is not necessarily %HESITATION something that's going to make the world a better place yeah it's you want to you want to be asking the bigger questions so there's %HESITATION there's a bunch of really interesting %HESITATION you know
00:52:26data points in here %HESITATION one of my favorite is is %HESITATION is this story that data meadows who's the inventor of of us systems thinking %HESITATION talks about a %HESITATION it's a housing development somewhere in Europe I think it's in the Netherlands where what they did was they
00:52:56they they built a couple of %HESITATION of development so I think their apartment buildings %HESITATION they did and they did two buildings are two phases and all the apartments were absolutely identical in every single respect and at the end of the first year they went in and looked
00:53:13at it and they found that the one of the one half of the development used a third less energy then the other half of the development and they couldn't figure out because everything about these buildings was identical all their facilities were identical all their features all their square
00:53:37footage everything was the same and it really threw up so they went back in and they started looking really harder to find with the difference in what they discovered was that there was indeed a tiny little difference and it was the placement of the electrical meter it turned
00:53:56out that in one half of the developer the electrical meter was placed in the basement and the other half the electoral meter was placed in the foyer of each apartment and so it meant that that half the people never saw the meter spinning and the other half of
00:54:15the people saw it every time they walked in and out of the building and the people who could see the meter spending used a third less electricity yeah here similar things about %HESITATION the effectiveness of those signs %HESITATION that meter your speed and then flash at you if
00:54:31you're going over the speed limit that that's the those signs are way more effective for deterring speeding than even like notices saying that there's %HESITATION you know there are planes with radars clocking you're speaking to be mailed a ticket like the real deterrent is that sort of %HESITATION
00:54:49in your face reminder yeah well and they've also done experiments with %HESITATION people were that would put up there like that some of these experiments started out you know in the in the %HESITATION in the %HESITATION %HESITATION a faculty lounge universities where they had a an honor system
00:55:17for buying coffee every time you you bought a couple caught every time he poured a Cup of coffee you're supposed to toss a quarter in a jar need to to to buy do coffee and the what they discovered is that is that there were a whole bunch of
00:55:32people drinking coffee were tossing a quarter it so they put up a sign saying you know you put your quarter in this means you you got to do it yeah yeah yeah and did make a difference and then somebody put a picture up of a pair of eyes
00:55:48looking and also the payment went way up yeah and it's it you know it's it's one of those things where you know rationalist would say well that's crazy that could never happen but in fact the people from birth are trained to recognize faces and they respond to them
00:56:10and and had a big effect so these are all design decisions yeah I mean we're strange kind of weird creatures and yeah I think the only way you really realize how to design for kind of the weirdness that the latent weirdness is by getting in the field and
00:56:29it's %HESITATION doing your research it has %HESITATION it could have I out sized effect on what's going on in the world and if you are designing things without looking at the ethical dimension %HESITATION you you can you can get lost I mean you you end up becoming the
00:57:05%HESITATION you know I'm a drone at a minyan a %HESITATION a imperial storm trooper you know I mean imperial storm trooper you know goes home to his wife at the end of the day it's a Saudi at a tough day of pressing the populace yeah in it you
00:57:28know at a certain point there's there's a point of leverage where you can wear you can wear your work can have an effect to improve everyone's quality of life and it's not at the storm trooper level but it's at the design of the systems that support the stormtrooper
00:57:52my thanks again Alan Cooper thanks for your time those wonderful chat %HESITATION lots of food for thought and how about that now the designers now now that we have our seat at the table it's time to realize that we have the steering wheel we're driving the ethics of
00:58:07our organizations so we ask for this power and now we got it when it comes with a lot of responsibility %HESITATION Allen also made reference to another conversation he and I had that one focuses on food and agriculture Allen when I was talking to him was on his
00:58:23farm in Petaluma if you'd like to hear that to head over to Nash dot is %HESITATION it's **** cast episode thirty one thanks

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