Posts tagged “Santa Cruz”


Sometimes a seemingly minor interaction has a big impact.

At Black China Cafe in Santa Cruz, a small rock keeps napkins in place at the coffee station. With a cup of coffee in one hand, getting a napkin means picking up the rock, putting it down somewhere, picking up a napkin, and then putting the rock back in place.

I had just been thinking as I walked to the cafe about how hard it’s become for me to do something simple like walk across a parking lot without simultaneously jumping on my phone and checking my email, Twitter feed, etc.

I like being able to get lots of things done while I’m mobile, but at times I do this even when I don’t need to, and it starts to feel like a compulsion to multitask. Coming out of that context, the focused attention and step-at-a-time-ness of this little rock/napkin moment at the cafe shifted my whole pace of being.

Interaction design has always talked about temporal elements like pacing and pause. In their book, Interaction Design: Beyond Human-Computer Interaction, authors Helen Sharp, Yvonne Rogers, and Jenny Preece present a case study in which software testing showed adding pauses to a particular interaction would benefit users, and discuss some of the engineers’ reaction to this finding:

To make these changes would require adding additional menus and building in pauses in the software. This conflicts with the way engineers write their code: they are extremely reluctant to purposely add additional levels to a menu structure and resist purposely slowing down a system with pauses.

Right now, human/device interactions commonly involve waiting impatiently for our things to do what we’ve asked them to, and faster processing is often a goal. But as technological capability increases and our devices become faster than we are, I wonder if it may become increasingly necessary to also think about purposely slowing down elements of an interaction to create a different user experience – a’la the napkin rock – that is more aligned with “human-speed.”

The Hand-made’s Tale

Real real…


At Verve Coffee Roasters, my favorite cafe in Santa Cruz, each cup of coffee comes with a cup insulator hand-tied from a napkin by the person serving it. It’s a nice little touch that makes that cup of coffee seem special and folksy.

and fake real…


AT&T, keepin’ it unreal with a fake photocopied-annotated-and-passed-around-the-office flyer–a piece of marketing collateral that they mailed to my house. (It’s crumpled because I threw it out, then decided to write about it and rescued it from the trash.)

What are companies thinking when they send us stuff like this? Fake real, with its pretensions to authenticity, is even worse than fake.

Related posts:
Quickies: Fake Authenticity
Don’t Brand Me, Bro
This Space Available
Meet the new authenticity

Why not?

Every drummer knows, it’s hard to find a place to practice.

Drummer, Highway 9, Santa Cruz mountains

So when I drove by this guy rocking out on the side of the road, I thought, “yes, that makes so much sense.” Plenty of space, no neighbors around to get pissed off at you.

So how come the roadsides aren’t dotted with drummers?

Even though it’s a great solution, it takes a certain degree of chutzpah to go drum in the woods.

Lots of seemingly innovative ideas never take hold. Some of these concepts may be asking customers to “drum in the woods”– to behave in ways that might stick out, feel weird, or refute what they’re comfortable with.

Nicolas Nova further explores why ideas do and don’t take hold in his visually rich Inflated/Deflated Futures presentation.

Related posts:
Minding Manners
Open Carry


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