From hunch to research direction to design concept

The hand

The most common issue service design students face is project paralysis in the face of infinite possibilities and the synthesis of a mass of research material. Services are often complex and the interconnectedness of problems can soon appear too difficult to tackle. Taking the leap to tentatively develop an idea, and letting go of the need for it to be the best idea possible is often a real challenge, especially when the concept remains an abstract and complex.

I wrote a post over on Medium titled Getting From Here to There about moving from a hunch to research direction to concept. It looks at what the service design equivalent is of an architect’s rough sketches of a large project as opposed to the detail of a single touchpoint. It started as a mail to my service design students, but I thought others might find it useful in teaching, learning or practice too.

I’d love to hear your feedback in the margin comments on Medium.

IFTTT vs ifttt

You may have noticed some very short posts recently. Today actually. Except they are from a while ago. I have a recipe on If This Then That that posts the description field of my Pinboard bookmarks tagged with “blog” to Playpen. I used it to link blog more frequently, but got out of the habit of it because I couldn’t remember the format. Obviously I wasn’t doing it frequently enough.

Today I wanted to write the post about the Millennials using this method, so I checked the recipe. Apparently the IFTTT recipes are case sensitive and it was looking for the tag “blog”, not “Blog”. When I changed the recipe, it found several bookmarks of blogs that I had tagged, not surprisingly, “Blog” and auto-posted them. I initially deleted the posts again, but since they’ll show up in the RSS feed and are interesting links anyway, I have restored them. They are quite old discoveries though.

In retrospect, using the tag “blog” as a trigger was pretty dumb. I’ve changed it to something else now. Maybe it will increase the frequency of my link posts—a format that Twitter has largely killed off.

The Cheapest Generation

The Cheapest Generation is an interesting piece over at The Atlantic about “why millennials (Gen Yers) aren’t buying cars or houses, and what that means for the economy.”

In short, the emotional appeal of owning a car or house that their parents had is no longer so strong. They prefer, instead, to have access to connectivity—everything from smartphones to car and bike sharing services.

Whilst some economists will panic because of the decline in selling big, physical things, the article points out that in places like Germany (where I live) home ownership has long been low and the German economy is the healthiest in Europe. People rent here for many years. To live in the same rented place for 30 years is not uncommon. This has a useful side-effect, which is to prevent the housing market from overheating so much that nobody can afford anything without heavily overextending on credit (c.f. Sydney) and we all know where that ended up.

I see a lot of the kind of “closed suburbs” in Germany that the article also mentions. Many people cycle here and, as a result, many services are nearby, which means families need either only one car or no car at all.

Services, not products. Access, not ownership. It’s the key to decoupling resource usage from economic growth.