Episode 108

Improving Humanity with Pamela Pavliscak

October 27, 2015

We often focus on improving user experience — making it easier for people to use the sites and products we create. But when do we get to focus on a bigger picture? Are we making true improvements to people's lives? Are they happier because they use our work? Pamela Pavliscak has been deeply researching this question. What does it take to improve humanity? How are different generations being affected differently? What will life look like for our children?

Transcript

Thanks to Jenn Schlick for transcribing this episode.

Jen

This is The Web Ahead, a weekly conversation about changing technologies and the future of the web. I am your host, Jen Simmons, and this is episode 108. I first want to say thank you so much to today's sponsors, the View Source Conference from Mozilla and Mediatemple. We'll talk more about them later in the show.

So, hello! My guest today is Pamela Pavliscak. Hi Pamela.

Pamela
Hey Jen!
Jen
We are in Munich, Germany together.
Pamela
Unbelievable. [Laughs]
Jen
We just spoke at the Push Conference. The last two days, there was a conference about design, and especially about design and technology and some kind of cool interactive technology stuff. We're both very jet lagged. [Laughs]
Pamela
Extremely jet lagged. It's been a full day and now we're doing this.
Jen
And now we're doing this. This is going to be a great show, I know it is. But it's funny, I have the short term memory of an ant. [Both laugh] I think it's going to be hilarious, actually. I don't know yet exactly what we're going to talk about. Which is why I didn't announce the topic at the beginning of the show like I usually do.
Pamela
We're just going to let it happen.
Jen
We're going to let it happen. We're going to talk about the stuff you know about, because you know about some really smart stuff. You run a company called Change Sciences, a research and strategy firm. [Pause] Correct? [Both laugh]
Pamela
That's correct! [Laughs] Wait, that's not my company?
Jen
Making sure I didn't confuse you already with someone else. You gave a great talk about research. Research around happiness and research around who's using technology.
Pamela
Yeah. I've been kind of obsessed with our conflicted relationship with technology. I keep hearing these stories about how it's making us miserable. We have short term memory loss, for instance. [Both laugh] Although there are other factors in that, of course. We're hunched over. We aren't relating to each other. All of these negative things around technology. But I feel like, in technology, we're optimists. We're trying to make the world better and maybe we're failing at it. That got me interested in that idea of happiness and trying to find out about it. I thought, certainly, if researchers can spend a lot of time and effort figuring out all of the ways it's making us miserable, we must be able to identify what's making us happy. See if we can use that as a goal to design toward.
Jen
I'm assuming that you're doing real, sociological research. You're not just doing ad hoc surveys.
Pamela
It's a combination.
Jen
Explain to people what I mean by "real sociological research". I think a lot of times, especially these days, lots of people talk about the need to do research. A lot of people talk about the need to do user research and user studies. Which I believe in. They're all great. Or people will do polls online where they ask a question on Twitter. I do this a lot. Ask a question on Twitter and see who opts in. But that's not really good science. It doesn't give you accurate data. So I wanted you to talk a little bit about that. What kind of studies are you doing and how might we believe your studies more than me and my friends sitting around at brunch, throwing out our experiences, and making decisions based on that?
Pamela

Absolutely. The thing with happiness, too, we all know we're all experts on our own happiness, right? That makes it tough to do. I'm all for informal, small research. Research to validate what you're doing or find out where there's problems. I do a lot of that kind of work.

For this project, it was my own pet project. I applied everything we were doing. Combing bigger data, like social listening data, with ethnographic methods. Observations and interviews and recording all of that data and tagging all of that data. Online diaries and having people capture their moments with technology, categorizing their emotions in various ways and following up with people about that experience. A little branch of that Jen and I were talking about at lunch today was that a lot of participants in this study were teens and tweens. That set me off on another tangent and I started researching those folks too. [Laughs] We might talk about kids and technology later, too.

I feel like any research that anyone does is biased in various ways. Big data is biased, right? If you're looking at posts from Twitter and using the Twitter API to pull tweets and organize them and tag them and visualize them, it's still just posts from Twitter. There's s signal bias with that kind of data. If you're doing interviews, there's a million different ways you can bias the interviews. To have multiple sources is really important. To combine quantitative with qualitative is really important. Especially for something like this. The fact is, most people can easily think about what makes them miserable about technology. Maybe that's why we hear so much about it and there's so much research about it. It's really hard for people to think about the positive moments. When we did the interviews, a lot of people said to me, "It's just a means to an end. It doesn't make me happy in and of itself." They had a really hard time thinking about capturing a moment where technology was in the mix and was making you feel a certain way that was positive. We ended up learning a lot of really interesting stuff with that approach.

Jen
What did you learn? What were your conclusions? Is technology making us miserable or is it making us happy?
Pamela

It's done, you guys. That's it. It's over. Give up! [Laughs]

There were a lot of surprising things. The first thing we did was a bigger online study. We combined an analytics approach with survey questions. We had about 10,000 people go through about 200 sites and measured a lot of different things. We measured ease-of-use related things. We measured conversion related things like, "What will they do next?" or "What did they do?" Looked at how they behaved on the site. We also asked them about how they felt after they had left the site. We found that feeling happy tracked to all of these positive outcomes that everyone wants. People felt comfortable recommending it to a friend. They felt like they might return. They spent more time exploring and felt that was positive, not negative, like they were hunting around. That was the first phase.

Jen
So you see a correlation between happiness defined as satisfaction with good design?
Pamela

Yeah. And it's not exactly satisfaction. I don't mean to nitpick about that. But I feel like satisfaction is more rational. "Were you satisfied with this experience?" Like, "Ehh, yeah, it was satisfactory." But how do you feel after this experience? Do you feel happy? We used faces. It's a little more visceral. In a way, it was kind of obvious. Of course, if you're feeling good about yourself and your life after you leave a site, of course it's going to lead to more positive outcomes. But it got me interested. We saw a lot of weird stuff, too. People got happy with sites that weren't the sites that maybe designers would choose. [Laughs]

The example I always use is Expedia and Hipmunk. People felt happier after leaving Expedia than Hipmunk. Even though that's such an interesting, well-designed, beautiful site. I thought, "Why?" That's what led me to do more research.

Jen
Even recently I saw someone stand on stage and show Hipmunk off as an example of the best design you could ever have.
Pamela

And they're doing really interesting stuff. This was a year and a half ago. Since then, Hipmunk's changed its site a bit. Once I did the next phase of research, I started to understand more of it. In the next phase, I really dove in and we did a diary study with thousands and thousands of diary entries. We had everyone tagging them. Which is a lot of work. But extremely interesting stuff.

The emotions gravitated around three main categories: smart, creative, and connected. Everything around smart had to do with, "Do I feel like I can do this myself? Am I in control? Can I master this, even if it's hard?" I think that's where I realized, "Oh, the reason Hipmunk wasn't making people happy is because it was a little too far off from the familiar site." Since we did this research a year and a half ago, Hipmunk's changed a little bit, at least their search, to make it a little more like Expedia, Kayak, Travelocity, and those kinds of things. The results look different still. I'd be curious to see. I'd like to run that study again.

Jen
Do you think people feel like if they go to Expedia and they master booking a flight, then they've accomplished something? They feel like, "I'm smart. Look at me, I accomplished this." Whereas Hipmunk was a little more upbeat and less of a challenge and also a little weird so they didn't feel as proud of themselves?
Pamela

I think that's part of it. "Smart" is associated with those emotions. Pride, feeling competent, comfortable, relaxed. Sometimes feeling challenged was associated with it. We did a couple of different approaches to the diary study. In one, we gave people a pick list of emotions from the latest emotional research. Those were the ones that gravitated around "smart." I think that's what's going on there, in a way. Familiar is good. It makes people feel confident and like they have autonomy.

It's okay to have a twist, though. I think Hipmunk is a really good example. They changed their initial page to feel a little more familiar and once you get into the results, then they have interesting things, like sorting by agony. Maybe that will give people a little more confidence going into it.

Jen

What have you learned from this research that would be good for designers and other product folks to take away? What do you do as a designer if you get a result that's like, the ugly, weird one is better? [Pamela laughs] The question becomes, is it better that people felt more happy? That may or may not be the business goal. The theme of the conference this week was, "If you have a project, one of the things you need to do is define, what does success look like for you?" Not metrics or whether or not this A/B test works. That's important, too, but that's like, down the road. Way back in the beginning, you should have a clue about why does your project exist and what is success going to look like in the big picture? Happiness is not necessarily everyone's idea of success. You might have something very different that you're going after.

If, in this situation, you did want to reach the level of... I keep wanting to say satisfaction. What does a designer do if it turns out that we thought Hipmunk is better?

Pamela

It's interesting because the other thing we learned is that happiness is not simple. It's not just about autonomy. It's about feeling connected. Feeling like a better you. You're challenged. You're growing. One thing we saw was that the things that we thought were delightful details — those little extra animations or a cute mascot or an error message — people totally missed those. Especially if they didn't have relevance in their life. It didn't make them feel smart or connected or challenged. If they did feel those, they tended to notice those details more often.

I'm digressing from your question, which is, what do you do with that? We're measuring a lot of stuff about our sites. We're measuring clicks and conversions. We're trying with persuasive design to get people to do something again and again. We're vying for attention. It's an attention economy at this point. I wonder, what if we stepped back and said, "What if we thought about the big picture goal of the whole person and how it fits into their life?" Wouldn't the success be stronger? I think one thing we can do is start measuring these things. Instead of just measuring how many people converted, or tracking time on site. What if we started measuring, "How did they feel when they left the site?" Or what group of emotions are centered around our site? Is our site one of those sites that's all about connection and gratefulness and hope and compassion? Or is it more geared towards smart, proud, relaxed, brave? That would give us some guidance in which direction to take it into.

Jen
Or even a site where success means a person feels more fear or grief or relief over getting help with a problem that's really scaring them.
Pamela
We saw a lot of moments in the diary study like that. It seems like happiness is intimately connected to all of the hard stuff, the scary stuff. Getting through the death of a loved one. Something helping them cope with that moment or getting through bullying with teens. Technology, an app, or a website can have a larger impact on that person's life.
Jen
You were talking about happiness. I think sometimes the word happiness — especially if you see it in a headline — I'm almost repulsed by it. It's like, "Buy more greeting cards and fun birthday presents and come have this experience!" I've realized that sometimes the people who are pushing happiness are actually asking other humans to suppress their real emotions and have a patina of an amazing happy. You're happy! Aren't you happy? Are you having fun? Is this fun? Are you happy?" What I've learned through my own yoga practice and meditation and part of the Buddhist practice is there is a world of psychology now that is studying happiness. You see these books. You go through the airport and you see a book — or you see four of them — all about happiness. In the positive psychology research, a lot of it is new, western science, but a lot of it is ancient wisdom from non-western cultures. If you listen to it, that really says, the whole point is to feel all of your feelings for real. Not suppress the bad feelings and pretend that you're happy. Not to chase happiness, but to actually have the experience you're having fully. Breathing more deeply can help with this. Through that you will find real happiness. True happiness. True contentment.
Pamela

I think that's been a big movement in positive psychology. I think we can learn from that. Psychology itself has moved away from a disease model — just fixing the problems. I guess the analogy for us would be usability testing. Of course, if somebody is sick, or if a site is about to launch, you need to find the problems and help solve those particular problems. But we're not thinking as much about the other side of the picture. The wellness part of it that is positive psychology. In and of itself, it's split, too. I think people used to think happiness was happy, fun, joy. The hedonic model. Now it's moving towards this eudemonic model. It's the same components.

It was so interesting to see that come out in the research. If you look at Martin Sullivan's model or Caroline Rife's model, it includes things like engagement or meaning or relationships or things around that. Some of those same ideas came out. What I think was a little different, that I was surprised about, in the diary studies, so many emotions around creativity. People feeling creative using technology in various ways. That ties into a lot of really interesting emotions, like connection, but also feeling brave, proud, inspired, or hopeful. I think that's something to really think about when we're designing. How we can tap into that natural feeling that people have. They want to be creative. I was surprised at the creative moments. "I was browsing on YouTube and I get into a flow and I feel like I'm really discovering new things. It feels very creative to me." Or photos. Things that you wouldn't expect. Of course I saw a lot of things like Flipagram or making Snapchats and drawing on them and stuff that you would expect to see. But I saw other things that were more exploration and discovery that fell into that category.

Jen

That's true. Thinking about software designer brain, if you make a photo app where you give people tools for adding filters or editing or cropping, that's going to be creative. That's people making things. If you have a website where people are browsing, that's the lean back experience. That's the experience where you're not being creative. That's the consumption experience. We do have this dichotomy where this is what it means to be a creative and this is what it means to be a consumer.

But the way you just described it, it makes sense to say, I'm interested in something — I don't know. There are mountains on the wall behind you in the hotel art. I'm interested in hiking. Doing something like consuming a lot of photos around hiking or learning about mountain ranges or learning about where I might want to travel to next.

Pamela

Right. I had one interview like that. It was one of those interviews where we laughed and cried and really bonded. He had recently lost somebody and he said, "I have made a vow that I'm going to change my life and not put off things that I want to do. One thing I want to do is swim with the dolphins. I want to learn everything about swimming with the dolphins. Watching videos, learning people's stories, talking to people on social media. Everything you could possibly learn." I said, "Aren't you worried that once you find all of that out, the real experience might pale by comparison? Or you might want to say, 'I don't even need to do it'?" "Oh, no, absolutely not. It's going to enrich that experience and layer it."

That coincides with the research about memory. How we shape our memories and we are remembering something different each time. It's layered. Memory is like a pearl. We continue to work on it over time. All of these worries that we have about technology, that we're not in the moment, or we're remembering things in this skewed way because we're taking a picture and putting a crappy filter on it. [Laughs] It might be a purely negative view of it. There may be some positives in it. By being able to control that.

Jen
Hiking is an example. I feel like, I spent this weekend at home, with my iPad in front of me an awful lot. Watched some TV, this and that and the other. My world was screens. I did not rent a car and drive out of the city, up to some amazing park and go hiking. Bad, bad me! Yet another weekend screwed up. Yet another example of using too much technology. It's interesting. It's almost like we have this one way of interpreting our lives.
Pamela
We definitely have this guilt narrative. I always saw addiction is the new busy. [Laughs] We're all so used to saying, "How are you?" "Busy. I'm so busy." If you ask people, "How do you feel about technology?" "I'm addicted." It is a legitimate thing. There are clinics and therapists and people who have crossed that chasm into addiction. It's in the handbook that psychologists use as a legitimate behavioral addiction. But I think for most of us, it's not that level. It's a story that we're telling ourselves about technology. It's a narrative that we're spinning. We're addicted and we need to detox. The idea of a detox in general is not a bad idea. It can make you more mindful of your practices, but it's not a solution to technology. We can't go back. We can't get rid of it. Nobody wants to. There are good reasons to keep it around. It's helping us in a lot of ways.
Jen
It is that guilt story. I will leave town and put my phone in a safe and go hiking and the week is over and it's time to get back on the bus and I get the phone out of the safe and then I have this idea of... I don't know what the next step is. Is the next step that I've decided that my phone is evil and I should get rid of it? No. I have it, clearly, so I put it back in my pocket and I feel bad about it because I have it again.
Pamela
I came to realize this as a parent. Because it's so conflicted now. Everyone feels guilty. Not only about their own use, but about their kids use. In the case of my kids, they make me feel guilty about my technology use. There's all of this guilt. There are certainly negative. I'm not saying it's all happy, smily fun. But I think we can think more about the positives and we can work to design more towards that. I think that's a real trend we're seeing in design, in general. We're good at frictionless design. We're good at making things easy to use. We are understanding behaviors and I think that might be going in the wrong direction, actually. [Laughs] A lot of behavioral design where we're trying to persuade people and get their attention might be feeding into that addiction. Maybe we can start to think more about, "How is this technology going to fit into their life? Is it a good idea to get people so into this kind of negative mode?"
Jen

Right. We're going to talk about kids and different generations. First I'm going to jump in with our first sponsor today.

And I should say, actually. I didn't say this last week, Pamela. I did this weird thing this summer. I applied for a job. Then this other weird thing happened and they gave me a job. [Both laugh]

Pamela
Oh no! [Laughs]
Jen
No, it's awesome! It's totally awesome. I haven't really told the listeners about it at all. I feel like it's almost a conflict of interest. I don't know why. I wasn't trying to keep it a secret. I was just waiting.
Pamela
You should tell them though. The word is out. At least in Germany, the word is out. [Laughs]
Jen
I now work for Mozilla. I am a full-time employee of Mozilla. Which is not why they're sponsoring. That's a different business agreement and the sponsorship goes towards the expenses of the show, which is a separate business, blah blah. I really, truly believe that View Source is completely awesome. I would be there if I wasn't already speaking at three other conferences that week. Literally.
Pamela
You don't even want to know Jen's schedule.
Jen
I'm speaking in San Francisco that same week. San Francisco on Monday. New York on Wednesday. Boston on Saturday. It's the most popular conference week of the whole year.
Pamela
That means she's still available for Sunday. [Both laugh]
Jen
Oh yeah, I am off on Sunday. [Laughs] But I now work for Mozilla as a developer evangelist. I've been calling myself a designer advocate, which is interesting. There's a debate. Is it evangelist?
Pamela
What's the difference between the two, do you think?
Jen
I guess with an evangelist, you think of someone who's trying to sell you stuff. With an advocate, you think of someone running around, helping you out and doing stuff with you.
Pamela
Yeah. I feel like the evangelist is trying to get me to do something. Whereas the advocate is helping me to accomplish something.
Jen
But it was called... technical evangelism and now it's called developer relations. But I'm not a relation. That's not a good job title. [Pamela laughs] But developer relations is the team. It's right, though, it's not about the technology, it's about the people. But I'm the one who's showing up like the opposite of a nerd, who's like, "What if it's not just about developers? What if it's about designers? And what if it's about product owners? And what if it's about content strategists? Executives? They're important too." [Laughs]
Pamela
It's all so complicated! [Laughs]
Jen
But I can't list seven people in my job title. [Both laugh] The last couple of times when I've had to fill out forms and put myself on conference websites and stuff, I keep saying, "designer advocate."
Pamela
I like that. I like advocate better than evangelist. Somehow it seems more approachable.
Jen
And Mozilla lets you make up your own job title. I just change it whenever.
Pamela
Yeah, so you can just change it whenever. Maybe she'll take suggestions from you guys. If you want to comment in or whatever.
Jen
Yes! Excellent work there. But what is my job? My job is to travel around at conferences and speak about awesome stuff, the kind of stuff we talk about on the show all the time. Web standards, accessibility, advocate for the open web. Specifically, right now, I'm talking about layouts. All I do, when I'm not on the podcast, is talk about layout design.
Pamela
It's a really good talk. I saw it.
Jen
I don't talk about layouts on the podcast very often. [Pamela laughs] But we will. Because it can't be all layouts, all the time, on this show.
Pamela
But once in a while.
Jen
Yes. I'm trying to line people up. But they're scared to be on the show. I'll make them.
Pamela
It's not that scary. [Laughs] You guys should come on the show!
Jen
I'll have a lot of time that I wasn't going to have otherwise to make demos and build gallery websites and help advocate at the W3C. Work with the CSS Working Group and go talk to browser makers. Especially, hey look, the ones who make Firefox. But also the other ones. And say, "Hey, these properties are really hot right now, we should get these in." I'm so excited. It's been an adjustment in my life and I already booked a whole crazy schedule of conferences over the fall. But over the winter that's going to ease up and I'll have time to do these other things and I'm so excited.
Pamela
That sounds like an exciting time.
Jen
It's pretty awesome. I almost don't believe it. I think that's why I didn't want to talk about it at first. I wanted to make sure it was real and believe it. I haven't met anyone else on my team in person. I want to make sure they actually exist.
Pamela
Real life, it's still a thing. [Laughs]
Jen
I see them... in video. But I want to shake some hands. That's when I know for sure that it's really real.
Pamela
I think that's really cool, to have the flexibility to work remotely. I know we do that on our team, too. On a much smaller scale. I think it's important to be able to have your life and that whole thing.
Jen
I've always thought Mozilla was awesome. I've always been very grateful for what Mozilla did by putting out Firefox and breaking up the monopoly that Internet Explorer used to have. I feel like they saved the web by doing that, honestly. But I didn't know them a whole lot as a company. Because I'm an employee I get to be behind the scenes and see some of the stuff that's coming out later and know some things that aren't public yet. The more I learn, the more I'm like, "Wow! Wait a minute. I really like this company." There was controversy last year. There's drama everywhere. I don't care about drama. I'm like, "Wait. Wow! I was prepared to handle a certain amount of things that I wasn't so comfortable with and those things aren't even there." It really does seem like a dream come true. I'm becoming a super, huge fan of Mozilla, and not just because I work there. I think 2016 is going to be really fun.
Pamela
Yeah. It sounds great.
Jen

What was I thinking of before when we started talking about sponsors? Generational stuff. But before that. We were just at Push Conference. People were talking about Internet of Things. Connected devices. Also, last week, in episode 107 of The Web Ahead we talked about data tracking with Brett Gaylor. It feels like, as we have more and more and more pieces of hardware in our life and they're tracking us and following us, those things could be helping us. But mostly they're going to be fulfilling the needs of their funders. The corporations that set that stuff up. I don't want to talk about all of that stuff today, because I like staying on one topic for a show.

Back in the day when computers were new and most people didn't know how to use a mouse and you had to show your friend how to use a mouse. It felt like we could see without talking about it, how computers were going to help us so much. Typing on a computer is so much better than typing on a typewriter. Being able to do email is so amazing and so much faster than doing a snail mail letter. It feels like we're at a point now where all this stuff has been around long enough that we almost completely forgot what it was like. A lot of younger people don't know what it was like before the computer showed up in our lives. Meanwhile, we had to grow up and get jobs and the industry grew up and we all went from being webmasters to being 17 different roles and a $50 million project and now we're worried about how to talk to the CTO and get the data from the research studies so we can get the deployment with the 17 different versions of deployment software. Things have gotten so complicated. We're focused so much on what our "users" need, what our clients need, what our company needs. What's our exit strategy? What are our VC funders expecting? What are our metrics? Have we grown fast enough? How can we accelerate our growth? How can we convert more? Our brains are so wrapped around those questions that we forgot the thing that you reminded me of: Is the technology that we're building making human lives better?

Pamela
We've felt out the humanity part of it, right? Is it making our lives better? Is it going to make us feel more than we are?
Jen
I know it's our job to get paid to build stuff for people who have business goals and fulfill those business goals. When is the moment that we — whether a designer or somebody else — asks, "Do we like what we're building? Is this going to be a good trend?" You turn on NPR and someone's talking about this all big and general. Should we get rid of all of the computers or keep all of the computers? Is it good or bad? That's a good question to ask. But talking to you, I think it's more realistic to ask, "The thing that me and my teammates are building right now, are we making the lives better of the people who interact with the stuff we're making?" Separate from our business goals. Am I working for a bank that's doing awful, awful things and I should quit my job, or am I working for somebody else? Or maybe I'm working for a bank who's doing really great things. Who's helping people figure out their finances and not just an evil empire. There are ways in which the smallest decisions that we make — that you might not need a stakeholder to sign off on — but you can help sway things towards actually making human experiences more possible.
Pamela

I think that's the case. Even with the most boring sites, or the ones that could be sinister, like insurance or banking or aspects of healthcare. Where it's so close to us. It's our bodies, our family, our money. It's really important to people. It's easy to lose sight of that. I've been guilty of this, too. We do this big picture research and data science but I still do usability testing, too. We'll be testing something and people will be like, "The ads." I'm like, "Well, you know, we have to have the ads, so we can't really talk about that." Or they'll say, "I wouldn't sign up for something like this." I'm like, "But we're testing the signup process, so just pretend like you would." We get in that loop. We're getting so good at being persuasive. We're getting notifications and we know that triggers dopamine in our brains and we're almost programmed to respond to those things. We can manipulate that to a certain extent. Where do we draw the line between what is ethical, what is positive, what is going to be meaningful to people, and where do we not?

I worry about happiness. I feel like you could co-opt happiness and make it a marketing message, like you were saying earlier. "Here's the secret formula to happiness and now we're going to use it to exploit human weakness and sell more stuff." I would hate to see that happen. I think it can be a win-win. I think we can meet in the middle. We can make people feel like there are possibilities. Feel like their own goals and accomplishments can be amplified, or at least considered and made important without selling out. [Laughs] Making it all about the ads or buying something or signing up or that kind of goal-focus that we have right now.

Jen
If it's not us asking those questions, then who's going to ask them?
Pamela
Yeah. Exactly.
Jen
If no one ever asks any of those questions, are we going to end up liking the world that we end up building?
Pamela

It's very easy to focus on the negative things. It's much harder to tease out where are the positives and how can we do that? It's not as straightforward, either. That's what I've learned about happiness. It's really complicated, the things that make people happy. It's a spectrum. You have intense moments. But you also have things where maybe you're not happy in the moment, but you're happier long term when it's done and you feel proud that you accomplished something. We need to be thinking about all of that. We're very focused on the interacting self. I'm clicking, I'm scrolling, I'm moving, I'm navigating around this experience. It's much harder to think about what people remember from an experience or what they anticipate or what moments they want to extend. I had one great interview, we were talking about his favorite site. It was a TV related site. He said, "I'll go when I miss an episode and I'll watch it. It's so good, I don't want it to end. But it did end. And I'm not ready to watch another episode. I want something else in that moment to explore. After that, I might want to say something about it. Even for myself. To think about what I thought about it. Maybe I want to discuss it with somebody." Of course, I think, "We need a like button on there." But what he was saying was beyond that. "I want to be able to take this thing that I love, that's part of my identity, and I want to make it a part of my life and a part of me." We have these blunt instruments to do that right now. But if we don't start thinking about others. Like you say, once we've got beacons and ships embedded in everything around us, where's that going to take us?

With data, too, I feel like a lot of that is very persuasion and marketing oriented, right? We'll just collect al the data now. We don't know what we're going to do with it. We just want you to sign off so we can collect it all. Of course, data scientists are like, "What are we doing to do with all of this data? We don't know what to do with it. But we're going to keep it because somebody, somewhere said we should." But what if we didn't? What if we said, "I'm only going to keep the data that I need right now. Or I'm only going to keep the data that I know I need to create this kind of experience. The other data I'm going to forget." What about forgetting? That's an important part of our experience with life and can be necessary. We don't have that built in. At least not to data.

Jen
It feels like there are amazing product ideas. But it's slower work. It's doing usability testing to find out where the testing is and registration flows. You can get more people to finish registering so you can convert so you can get more users so you can satisfy your VC funding goals. That's a clear path, and important, at times.
Pamela
It's clear now, because we figured it out.
Jen
Right. That's true, too. Why did you say "like button"? You said that because Facebook or whoever invented it and it became such a giant pattern. I was thinking to myself, comments. Here's the fast thinking. It's this rut that we've created. He should be able to comment, because that's the only way that we've ever imagined this. But the comments get crazy, especially comments on popular video websites. That's terrible. Let's shut that down. Maybe you could have comments where you only see your friends comments. You have to sign in with Facebook. I already had rapid fire. I already know, there's the idea that's already been had for 10 years. There's the reason that idea's not going to work, there's an alternative that might work, there's the two reasons I think that idea is stupid too. Twenty seconds of thought and conclusion and then...
Pamela
Then done. I'm mocking it up. [Laughs]
Jen
What about in 1996 when none of this had been invented yet? We had all kinds of ideas. Is it possible for us to come to this with fresh ideas?
Pamela

Looking at people who are working at the boundary between art and technology are sort of questioning this. I was at a conference a couple of weeks ago. Corey Pressman presented this project called Poetry for Robots. He said, "What if we could get metadata on images by having human beings create poems and haikus about hose images and use that?" Instead of when we searched "happy" on Google and got a bunch of happy smily faces, instead we would get images of awesome forests, a complicated scene of people who are sharing a special moment together, or whatever the case may be. It's that out of the box thinking.

There are other artists thinking about this in terms of wearables. What if you had a belt buckle and I had a belt buckle and when we knew it was time to leave the party, I could nudge you through my belt buckle. "Ok, Jen, time to step out now, it's getting a little too crazy here." I don't know if these are good ideas. But maybe we need to have more crossover between the communities, instead of saying, "That's just some crazy art project."

I like your idea of going back to those early days, too. I had one of those horrible websites in college. I think it's horrible now but I look back and I'm like, "Maybe it wasn't so horrible." With the image in the middle and the navigation all around in a circle. [Laughs] Why did we get in this one way of thinking and let one way of driving revenue and profit get in the way?

There are indicators that we need to think more broadly as happiness as a goal. Countries are doing it. They're measuring the GDP. That's economics. They're also measuring happiness on about nine different parameters. Employers are doing it now, too. They're measuring happiness of employees in various ways. Not just compensation. It's not just money, but other factors as well. We've learned that it impacts creativity, longevity, feeling a sense of teamwork. Maybe we can start bringing those models over.

Jen
I had a thought and it disappeared. Let's just do a sponsor. [Both laugh] Maybe I'll remember it again. I do feel completely fine except I'll be like, "I have an idea, let me hold that idea in my head for 30 seconds... wait, what?" [Laughs] I can't even hold for 30 seconds.
Pamela
That happens to me when I'm not jet lagged, I'm afraid to say.
Jen
Pamela
Wow, that's a testimonial. [Both laugh]
Jen
Yup, I like that. Bam. No problems whatsoever. You used to have so many problems with cheapo, .12/month hosting. You'd get calls every five minutes.
Pamela
It's hard to know. There are so many different options for hosting.
Jen

People ask me all the time. How about you just go with the one that we know? So, Mediatemple, check them out. Thank you so much to them for continuing to support the show and truly make it possible to do this. Thanks.

I really do think there's something there about asking this question of, "Are we making a better experience of what it's like to be human?" Or let's not be centered on humans. Let's just say, "Are we making a better experience for the planet?" Are we helping something beyond the deadline that we have next week.

Pamela
I'm fascinated by it. People are trying that. There's the internet of trees. By hooking them up to the internet, we're trying to understand if trees communicate. Do they have a language? Is our food speaking and we don't know it? We're trying to understand animals. There's so much curiosity we still have about the world and how it works. Technology is going to be a part of that, but we want it to be a good thing. We have a lot of hard things ahead of us on earth, in general. Do we want it to be the internet of babies? Where the baby gets a poopy diaper and you're ordering the diapers and you're getting ads for other baby products because they know you're about to be pregnant with your second baby because they've done all of the statistical analyses. Is that where we want to take it?
Jen
No.
Pamela
No. [Laughs] My vote is no, too. I think we can do better. But it's going to be hard. We have to challenge ourselves to think about those things. Thinking in a new way.
Jen
It's funny. I think it's easy, especially for those of us who watch lots of movies. Which is most of us. It's easy for us to think of a world that's good guys and bad guys. If I work for a big corporation and I like the people in my office. They're actually really smart and interesting and they care deeply and they're ethical people. There's no way my company might do something bad, because there are no bad guys in my office. But that's not actually now it works. I feel like these systems that we have, the infrastructure that we have, the corporate structure, there's a way in which you could have 100%, smart, wonderful people, but there's something about the way that we go about the work that we're doing that biases us towards making decisions that are not good decisions. We don't even know that we accidentally built something that's going to turn out to be horrible. I feel like it's our job, even if it's uncomfortable and you don't think it's something that you're supposed to do or even if there "isn't any time", at some point we have to make time to ask these questions. Are we burning through more energy than we want to? What's up with climate change? What's going to happen with all of the data? What's going on with privacy? Are we building a world where really what we're doing is focusing on how massive corporations are going to maximize profit as quickly as possible. I don't believe that we all only have to work for that beast.
Pamela

I don't think all of that has to be evil, either. I'm not putting out an anti-capitalist message or anything. I think we're on the same page with this. Why does it all have to be this one way? Why does it have to be more, more more?

A tangent on the Internet of Things is that I worry about the Internet of Junk. We're going to have so much junk. Why can't I have a phone for 20 years? I'm just revamping it or fixing it or getting it upgraded somehow. Why do I always have to get rid of the old thing. Now there are laws. Hopefully you're recycling that. But I worry about the Internet of Things. Those Amazon dash buttons. What's going to happen to those? They're going to end up in a trash pile somewhere.

Jen
To me, those are 100% about brand loyalty. Locking you into a brand.
Pamela
Who wants that all over their house? Martha Stewart would be appalled because she puts up a thing and it's a clear or light green container.
Jen
Talk to us about the generational thing. We're going to get old and die. Some of the biggest challenges in front of us, especially around climate change, and around culture and what is culture becoming? We're sitting here in Europe having this conversation. The way we're able to all be connected and know other people around the globe in a way that never would have happened 20 or 50 years ago. There are all of these amazing things that are happening, too. It is easy to focus on the bad stuff. The world that kids are growing up in today is so completely different. I'm guessing you're vaguely the same age as me. The way that we grew up was very different. We're Generation X. What's going on with how people perceive technology and what technology means to people?
Pamela

I got really interested in that. It's personal. My kids are fascinating with how they're using technology. I saw they were using it in such different ways.

For instance, we went on a trip to the mall. My oldest daughter begged me. They went into the stores, these four girls. It was very typical. But then we met and got smoothies. They were trading pictures and deciding, "This one, let's Snapchat that to so-and-so. This one we can Instagram direct to these three people because we don't want these other people to feel left out. Let's make a Flipagram of these moments and we're going to post it on this account." It went on and on. "What music are we going to use?" I was totally fascinated. I said to my daughter, "I want to learn more about it. Can I talk to your friends?" She was like, "No. You can't study me. Stay away from my friends. And me, for that matter. You're creeping me out." [Laughs]

Jen
They were making a report of their mall experience and delivering a custom version of it to a bunch of different people.
Pamela

They were. It was part of a deeply embedded part of the experience for them. I thought, "This generation is so different." So I set out to study it. This one was interviews. Hundreds of diary entries with kids between the ages of five and 17. I did some different things, too. When you're talking to kids, one-on-one, who wants to talk to me? So I would set them off in conversation with each other and spark a conversation or try to pick groups that knew each other a little bit so they were comfortable with each other. For the little kids, they didn't do diary entries, but I had them play sometimes. We had a space where they could play with toys and tablets and phones and all of these kinds of things. To learn what's going on with this generation. We take them for granted. They're digital natives. In fact, their data natives and social media natives, too. They know what's going on. We don't need to worry about them at all. In my consulting practice, and I think this is true of other companies who have really confused on Millennials or Boomers, depending on the business model. our generation, no. No one cares about them because we're so small and insignificant. But that's usually how it goes. We take the younger ones for granted.

What I found was really fascinating. They're using technology in these really creative ways. They want to make things. They want to use it to communicate. They're still teenagers. They don't want to be policed by their parents or their teachers. They have a strong concern with privacy. That's not about, "My information is going to go to the NSA," or, "A future employer is going to see that." They're not having those kind of worries. Yet they're deeply focused on privacy because they are afraid of being judged by peers. They don't want their parents in on things. They don't want their teachers in on things. They don't know how to use a lot of the privacy settings. They have all of these workarounds and mythologies that they tell about how technology works. Strategies you can use. If you're between the ages of 10 and 17, you have multiple social media accounts and you can open them up or shut them down at any time. They're for different versions of yourself. There's one I don't want my parents to see. There's one for this group of friends and they're the only ones who know about it. Kids that were mad when other kids discovered their accounts. They're like, "I'm going to have to get rid of that one now, because I didn't want anyone to know about that one. I'm doing it just for me or just this group of friends."

Very creative, very involved in privacy issues, and they're using crappy technology. The worst possible technology. They've got the oldest computer in the house. They've got that big monitor that you haven't sent to recycling yet. With the big CPU, in the living room.

Jen
The CRT monitor.
Pamela
Exactly. They've got one of those. They've got feature phones. If they have a smartphone, it is cracked beyond recognition and it's an older model.
Jen
An iPhone 3Gs with a shattered screen?
Pamela

Absolutely. I saw so many of those.

They're ergonomics are poor. So many kids talked about dropping the phone on their face. [Both laugh] Because they're lying down with the phone. Or using is scrunched away, hidden, trying to sneak it, because their parents are giving them trouble about using it. It made me think, a lot of the things that we see with people of other generations are amplified with this group. Privacy is there, but they're even more keyed into that. Being able to connect with people, they're even more keyed into it. They're negotiating a grownup world, too. A lot of these kids were on Twitter and participating in grownup conversations. That's a weird experience for them. They're a little bit empowered by it. "Yeah, I can be a part of this conversations!" But a little bit scared of being in on that. This generation is very attuned to the issues. I was talking earlier about if you look at the Time magazine covers and look at the Boomers, it was all Woodstock and hippies and free love and all of that. Gen X, that was the slacker generation. Millennials were the "me, me, me" generation. Gen Z is characterized as a little kid in a business suit. Being really pulled together. These kids are giving TED talks. They're inventing things. They're winning Google science fair. They're deeply engaged in our world. It's because of technology. They're aware of so much more than they were before.

I came out of all of this with a really positive vision of the future. It's not so bad. We hear about how the kids are all addicted. They're on their phones all the time. They're not able to relate to each other. We hear a lot about bullying. I did hear about that. There's a lot of positive things, too. They're more connected to the world. To different people that they might not have interacted with before. To grownups. Maybe not their parents, but other grownups. I felt hopeful about it.

Jen
You hear people say, "Kids already know how to use this technology. They're geniuses at it. They're 100% set." I think that's pooey.
Pamela

That was so true. They have a lot of workarounds. Adults do, too. Something bad happens, like we see an ad has to run and you open up another tab to wait your three seconds to close out of it. You have strategies for little stuff like that. For them, it's even more catastrophic. They don't know what to do sometimes. They'll see messaging and be like, "I don't know if this is the right place for me. Should I not be on this site?"

We forget. Teens seem like adults, but they're not. Your brain is still developing. You're not able to do everything. A lot of the sites that they're not able to accomplish their goals on are the sites where they need to do that most. Education sites, nonprofit sites, and college sites were very frustrating to these kids. Whereas ecommerce, they're like, "I get that paradigm, but I don't have much to spend. I only have a gift card." These other places where they want to go, they feel unsure about.

Some of the conventions we take for granted, they don't know yet. The hamburger menu. A couple of kids were like, "I'm one of the few people that knows about that. That's a secret backdoor way into the underpinnings of the site. The inner workings of the site. Only developers know about that." I was like, "Really? Hmm. Interesting."

Jen
That is fascinating. To be like, "It's a secret tunnel and I discovered it. Only the nerds who know about it and I discovered it."
Pamela
That's such a cool story.
Jen
If it were only true! [Both laugh]
Pamela
I was like, "Wow, what if there was a secret link on sites..." Well, I guess, you can view source. [Laughs]
Jen
It used to be the sitemap. Back in the day, you'd click on the sitemap link and you'd get the god-view of the whole website.
Pamela
They don't understand a lot of the same conventions that we do because they're not using the same sites that adults are using. When they get to that point, they're like, "Well..." Maybe they'll be good to tap at this point before they form those perceptions. If we're looking toward positive design and out of the box thinking. They're not assuming that you have to have this grid layout or navigation over here or you even have to have it at all. They love the idea of playing and experimentation and sites that we would think, "I don't have time for that," or, "That's too crazy for me." They love that sense of wonder.
Jen
Especially the kids that are pretty young, if they had access to tablets, a lot of them learned how to use swipe and touch before they knew how to speak their first language. They're using computers without knowing how to read. Talk about an interface design challenge. Design an interface where people can't read anything on the screen because they don't know any words. [Laughs]
Pamela
It's amazing that there are some great resources for that, too.
Jen
And it works. Maybe not the web, but if you've ever put an iPad in front of a kid, it's not just the kid toy apps they're playing with. They'll play with whatever. The way the play with physical objects. "I don't know what this does, I'll just do something and see what happens."
Pamela
I had kids playing interchangeably with iPads, baby dolls, kitchen sets, another phone. It's all fluid. It's not like, "I'm going online. It's computer time." I think parenting rules have to change. We're used to that, "You can have this much screen time," or, "I'm taking away your screen time." It's so much more than that to a kid. It's taking away their friends, their schoolwork, their creative outlet. That's not a good solution, either. It's like the detox for grownups. This parenting idea that we have. We're going to take it away for awhile and that'll teach them. It doesn't really work.
Jen
Do the studies that you do change your parenting?
Pamela
It did a little bit. In every relationship there's a "yes" person and a "no" person. I'm more the "yes", anyway. I'm not a "let's take away stuff" or "let's ground you", because I feel like that doesn't work anyway. But I feel like it's changed my perspective. Convinced me that's not going to work or be productive for them in the future, either. They need to learn how to manage that themselves and figure out those ideas. They're in a different world. There's a generation gap between my youngest kid, who's six, and my older two daughters, who are 11 and 13. The older ones didn't grow up with touch and the younger one did. They're all moving very fluidly between so-called "real life" and technology now. But that's going to continue to accelerate. The generation gaps might get smaller and smaller. A lot of that is grounded in technology. Now the jet leg is hitting me. What was I answering in the first place? [Laughs]
Jen
In some ways, it's the digital divide as well. Six year olds in this country in this income bracket with this access to technology, their brains have grown in this way. These other kids who had different experiences and different amounts of access to technology, maybe these ones are growing the old school way and these ones are growing the new way.
Pamela
So it's not just digital divide in terms of access, but digital divide in terms of mindset and human experience. The way your brain is forming.
Jen
That's the scariest part.
Pamela
I'm no neuroscientist, but I've done enough study of that related to the happiness stuff. There's a known body of work around the things that we do over and over again create different pathways. There was a great study about cabbies in London because it's the most complicated city to negotiate. Their brains actually work differently from everyone else because of the way they've had to learn to memorize this crazy street system. I think that can only be the case of kids who grew up with technology and who didn't. They're building different pathways, and this may have implications for everything.
Jen
By the way, anyone listening, you can go to thewebahead.net/108 and leave a comment. I'm surprised no one's left comments on episode 107 yet. Maybe because we've decided that comments are evil and you should never comment. I haven't had any problems. I've had spam problems but I haven't had evil comment problems yet. It's still a very small community. I read every comment. I'd love to hear what people think about this stuff. I think there's so much to say about it.
Pamela
Yeah. There's so much to think about with it. It's exciting. We're lucky. It's an exciting time to think about this stuff. I feel challenged. I want to think about it in a positive way. I want to think about, "Where can we take this in a way that's going to make our lives truly better?" I think we can do it.
Jen

I do think that, in some ways, the technology itself is neutral. It's up to us, not in a big picture, authoritarian decision getting made. But in every one of these tiny decisions that we make. Every meeting we're in at work. Every project we work on. We're putting a little drop of water into a lake of what's going to happen. It's in these decisions that we end up creating a world that we're really happy with. That really is great. Versus a world where we create some kind of corporate data tracking monster. [Pamela laughs] Or whatever. Right now, this month, that's the thing that freaks me out the most. Some kind of monster that we don't like.

Oh, I know what it was that I was thinking. I recently heard someone talking about parenting. I think it was a blog post I read. She was saying, there's this idea that as a parent, you want your kids to not be having too much screen time. I think this comes from the idea of not watching too much television.

Pamela
There have been lots of studies about that and how that's detrimental to kids.
Jen
She was saying, as a parent, I should also model that. I can't tell my kids to limit their screen time and limit their consumption if then I'm always looking at my phone. She realized, the things I'm going with my phone, when I was a kid, my mother be on the phone with her friend, then writing things on the calendar on the wall, then looking up a recipe in the recipe book. All of the administration of the home or expression of her relationships with her friends. This wide, diverse bunch of adult stuff. My mom is doing a bunch of adult stuff. I'm playing in the corner and she's doing that stuff over there that looks really boring. The author realized that these days, in her life, so much of that would happen on her phone. How would her kid even know?
Pamela
It just look like she's on her phone.
Jen
If she's texting with her friend and then looking up a recipe and then organizing her calendar and then making travel plans, to the outside... not only is about kids and parents, but it's about us, as humans. It looks like we're watching TV all day. When actually we're doing this wide diversity of different activities.
Pamela
We have that instinct. I remember a moment a few years ago. I was visiting my brother and my mother walked into the room. Everyone was watching TV but I was on my Kindle. She was like, "Everyone's on their screen." Because somebody had a phone and they're watching TV and I'm on the Kindle. I was like, "Wait a second, that's not quite fair. I'm reading here. This isn't screen time." [Laughs] We're very conditioned to that. Screen time is bad. It takes us away from real life.
Jen
There is something about it. Especially when you're physically not aware of what you're doing. You're physically hunched over a screen and you're staring. I could stay in one physical position, staring at this piece of glass for an hour. It's not physically good. There is something about being out of your body. You're not aware of your physicality.
Pamela
Right. You could just look on YouTube for people falling off of subway platforms and bumping into poles when they're distracted on their phones.
Jen
When we do start to do whatever this is going to be. This internet out in the physical world. We're going to stop hunching over our small screen so much. There will be more of a physicality about it, perhaps.
Pamela
I hope it will free us up from that. I read that article, too. I thought it was interesting. She started narrating what she was doing. "Now I'm going to make travel plans." When I read that, I thought, "Wouldn't it be great if we did that with each other?" Or the technology was away from us. We weren't holding it or wearing it. Maybe the technology would still be there, so we wouldn't have to narrate all of that stuff.
Jen
But somehow it would look different. That was her solution to her kids. I'll tell my kid that I'm doing that calendar now. That way they'll learn as toddlers and older that these are the kind of things that a person does with a phone.
Pamela
That I'm not playing flappy bird on here.
Jen
Or ignoring you because I hate you. [Both laugh] Aren't kids, in Generation Z, they're actually over how much we're on our screens?
Pamela
They are. I heard a lot of stories about that from the kids that I spoke to. They were annoyed with their parents. They're like, "I'm trying to tell my dad about my game or my day at school and he can't tear himself away from his screen. I feel like I can get some distance from that. I have too many other things to do." Because they are so busy. I don't even know how they do it. They're young and energetic, I guess. [Laughs] There's kind of a resentment. "My parents don't care about me. They're on the screen." Yet another angle for this negative narrative of looking at the screens. Part of it is being conscious of it and maybe trying to get away from it. The narrating idea was creative. Hopefully we won't be all staring at a screen or a phone in our hand. We can reintroduce ourselves to the world.
Jen
I do think that's where awareness comes in. And just narrating to myself. Right now, I'm answering an important email. Now I'm killing time wandering around aimlessly online not doing anyone. Now I can put my phone down. [Both laugh]
Pamela
There's an aspect of mindfulness to it, right? There are certainly apps that help you do that. I've tried a lot of those, too. I'm as guilty as anyone. I'm an epic procrastinator and the internet is great for that.
Jen
It's easy to get distracted from your own discomfort by using the internet.
Pamela
It is. But I don't know how well an app that limits you... that's hard, too. For instance, you're writing a blog post. You've put on Hemingwrite or something that shuts down the internet for a certain amount of time. What if you need to look something up? I feel like it's so embedded in our lives in so many ways. It's a skill I'd like to have. I don't want something else managing that for me. That's a big decision. I don't know if the machine or software or app should make that decision for me. I'd like to make it for myself.
Jen
Maybe this younger generation will have those skills, I hope. Or maybe those are the kinds of things that we design into the things that we're building.
Pamela
It's probably a little bit of both, I would imagine.
Jen
A way to remember our own humanity and get back to what we care about the most. Thanks for being on the show today.
Pamela
Thanks so much, Jen. It was great talking to you.
Jen
How can people follow you and find you and read what you're writing and find more about your research?
Pamela
You can go to changesciences.com. You can follow me on Twitter @paminthelab. I did that because no one can spell my last name. But if you can spell my last name, Pavliscak, you can find everything, because I'm the only one. [Laughs]
Jen
That's handy! And people can go to thewebahead.net/108 and we'll have a bio for you with all of these links. People can watch all sorts of conference presentations and such by just searching for your name.
Pamela
Awesome.
Jen
Thanks so much. Thanks to Mediatemple and the View Source Conference by Mozilla for supporting the show. Like I said, thewebahead.net. You can follow the show @thewebahead on Twitter. Also, it is super helpful if you would go leave a review or rating in the iTunes store. I know iTunes it not the center of the universe, but the iTunes universe is the center of the podcast catalog universe. All of the ratings and reviews in that catalog get perpetuated... that's the wrong word. What's the right word? Aggregated out into the universe...
Pamela
Propagated.
Jen
Propagated! There's a good word. Bonus points for jet lag. It's a huge help, especially for helping people find the show, which is what I care about the most. Help other people find the show by helping it get higher up in the store. Thanks so much for listening and we will be back next week with another show.
Pamela
Thanks again everyone. Thanks Jen.

Show Notes

Comments

What a great and interesting chat.

As a person into persuasive design, I totally agree with your thoughts on what constitutes a good user experience. For me, it's about tapping into what the user actually want instead of numbingly focusing on business goals and behavioral goals.

If we're not trying to make the world a better place for our users — to truly help them — then our persuasive efforts will wear off. Then it will only be a brief encounter — a "one-night stand" as I like to say.

I believe that any effort into design that is one-sided will fail - whether it is only focusing on user goals (that probably won't make for a viable business in the long run) or only on business goals (that probably won't make for a long-lasting relationship).

Great discussion. And two comments so far :-). I enjoyed the discussion about this aspect of making the world a better place. It wasn't one of the major reasons I left industry (10 years ago, after 18 years), but it's become one of the reasons I've stayed where I am — helping to design and build IT systems so other scientists can do science.

Another thing I've found interesting about the whole podcast series is that I feel like I'm terrible at UI, but I see so much that's out there that's user-hostile. I do feel that the podcast series has helped me ask better questions of the people I work with who do design and recognize important elements of good design when I see it.

Lastly, I found the discussion of the generations quite interesting, particularly from my perspective as someone at the tail end of the boomer generation.

Well done, and I look forward to more.

So good, really love the parenting discussion at the end. I have a four year old that can out iPad anyone, she's currently learning Scratch Jr. which is so cool — makes it hard to limit screentime especially as a developer mom. I'd like to read the article comparing phone usage to our parents managing the household in other ways (cookbook, calendar on wall) and don't see it in the show notes. Tried searching too but no luck, any idea where I can find it? Thanks!!

I'm late to the party, trying to catch up on the podcasts I missed in the last few months. Really glad I listened to this and followed the hyperlinks.

Fascinating hearing teenager's perceptions of the "hamburger menu".

When newspapers and novels came out, everyone was also worried about the social impacts of this new technology. Mass-market print may have been the original "screen time".

Add new comment