Exploring the Magic of Design

27 Sep 2009 - 6:08pm
4 years ago
9 replies
910 reads
Jared M. Spool
2003

Hi David,

I'm intrigued with your comment:

> But what Designers do IS magic! That act of synthesis towards craft
> towards implementation is a wondrous magical thing once turned into a
> Palm Pre or HP NetBook Mini that brings new areas of delight that were
> never there before.
>
> What's wrong with magic? What's wrong with the unexplained? Or the
> secretly explained (LIKE MAGIC!).

Magic is an awesome metaphor. You're right about it's wondrous
qualities.

What's interesting to me about the choice of magic is the point of
view that sees it as magical.

There are three approaches to the point-of-view thing:

1) We look at magic from the Harry Potter or Terry Pratchett view
where there are things happening on a level that mortals aren't meant
to understand.

2) We look at magic from a more phantasmal viewpoint, where there are
forces in the universe that just defy explanation (ala Shroud of Turin
or the creation of the solar system, but on a more productive level)

3) We look at magic from the viewpoint of a professional magician (ala
David Copperfield or Penn & Teller), where the magicians view the
process as explainable, but design an experience for their audience
that is mystical.

I think, if we're going to assert that there are magical qualities to
design, we should pick which one we want to go with.

Personally, I'd go with the professional magician viewpoint, because
that means that we have control over it (and don't require special
powers). It also, in my mind, is the closest thing to experience
design as we think of it today.

One of the things I like about the comparison to professional magic is
that magicians, when they get together to talk/teach/share their
craft, don't ever talk about the "magical elements", except from the
perspective of the audience.

For example, there's a saying amongst magicians: "That's when the
magic happens" It describes the "magical moment", a point in the
audience's experience when they are to think that the core element of
the trick (such as the chosen card moving from the deck into the
magician's coat pocket) is happening. Of course, the mechanics of the
trick happened at another point in time. The magical moment is part of
the experience design, focusing the magician on the audience p.o.v.

Is that what you were thinking? Or were you thinking it might be a
different perspective on magic?

Jared

Comments

27 Sep 2009 - 6:25pm
Dave Malouf
2005

actually, I was totally thinking of #3 the professional and how they
orchestrate and choreograph a performance experience. WE (the pros) all know
what we are doing, but that sense of awe and delight we can't in thinking it
is Mystical, is the goal for many classes of products and services.

"How did that waiter know I needed more bread?" If you go to a Michelin
rated restaurant they are just trained to serve. stuff like that.

AND! here's the clincher, it is all b/c of you that I even have insight into
that world. All those conversations about your son and the card tricks. But
also through my understanding of the Mage from Babylon 5.

-- dave

On Sun, Sep 27, 2009 at 7:08 PM, Jared Spool <jspool at uie.com> wrote:

> Hi David,
>
> I'm intrigued with your comment:
>
> But what Designers do IS magic! That act of synthesis towards craft
>> towards implementation is a wondrous magical thing once turned into a
>> Palm Pre or HP NetBook Mini that brings new areas of delight that were
>> never there before.
>>
>> What's wrong with magic? What's wrong with the unexplained? Or the
>> secretly explained (LIKE MAGIC!).
>>
>
> Magic is an awesome metaphor. You're right about it's wondrous qualities.
>
> What's interesting to me about the choice of magic is the point of view
> that sees it as magical.
>
> There are three approaches to the point-of-view thing:
>
> 1) We look at magic from the Harry Potter or Terry Pratchett view where
> there are things happening on a level that mortals aren't meant to
> understand.
>
> 2) We look at magic from a more phantasmal viewpoint, where there are
> forces in the universe that just defy explanation (ala Shroud of Turin or
> the creation of the solar system, but on a more productive level)
>
> 3) We look at magic from the viewpoint of a professional magician (ala
> David Copperfield or Penn & Teller), where the magicians view the process as
> explainable, but design an experience for their audience that is mystical.
>
> I think, if we're going to assert that there are magical qualities to
> design, we should pick which one we want to go with.
>
> Personally, I'd go with the professional magician viewpoint, because that
> means that we have control over it (and don't require special powers). It
> also, in my mind, is the closest thing to experience design as we think of
> it today.
>
> One of the things I like about the comparison to professional magic is that
> magicians, when they get together to talk/teach/share their craft, don't
> ever talk about the "magical elements", except from the perspective of the
> audience.
>
> For example, there's a saying amongst magicians: "That's when the magic
> happens" It describes the "magical moment", a point in the audience's
> experience when they are to think that the core element of the trick (such
> as the chosen card moving from the deck into the magician's coat pocket) is
> happening. Of course, the mechanics of the trick happened at another point
> in time. The magical moment is part of the experience design, focusing the
> magician on the audience p.o.v.
>
> Is that what you were thinking? Or were you thinking it might be a
> different perspective on magic?
>
> Jared
>
>

--
Dave Malouf
http://davemalouf.com/
http://twitter.com/daveixd
http://scad.edu/industrialdesign
http://ixda.org/

27 Sep 2009 - 7:30pm
Steve Baty
2009

So you're thinking of magic in the Arthur C. Clarke sense of "any
sufficiently advanced technology (or service)..."?

2009/9/28 Dave Malouf <dave.ixd at gmail.com>

> actually, I was totally thinking of #3 the professional and how they
> orchestrate and choreograph a performance experience. WE (the pros) all
> know
> what we are doing, but that sense of awe and delight we can't in thinking
> it
> is Mystical, is the goal for many classes of products and services.
>
> "How did that waiter know I needed more bread?" If you go to a Michelin
> rated restaurant they are just trained to serve. stuff like that.
>
> AND! here's the clincher, it is all b/c of you that I even have insight
> into
> that world. All those conversations about your son and the card tricks. But
> also through my understanding of the Mage from Babylon 5.
>
> -- dave
>
> On Sun, Sep 27, 2009 at 7:08 PM, Jared Spool <jspool at uie.com> wrote:
>
> > Hi David,
> >
> > I'm intrigued with your comment:
> >
> > But what Designers do IS magic! That act of synthesis towards craft
> >> towards implementation is a wondrous magical thing once turned into a
> >> Palm Pre or HP NetBook Mini that brings new areas of delight that were
> >> never there before.
> >>
> >> What's wrong with magic? What's wrong with the unexplained? Or the
> >> secretly explained (LIKE MAGIC!).
> >>
> >
> > Magic is an awesome metaphor. You're right about it's wondrous qualities.
> >
> > What's interesting to me about the choice of magic is the point of view
> > that sees it as magical.
> >
> > There are three approaches to the point-of-view thing:
> >
> > 1) We look at magic from the Harry Potter or Terry Pratchett view where
> > there are things happening on a level that mortals aren't meant to
> > understand.
> >
> > 2) We look at magic from a more phantasmal viewpoint, where there are
> > forces in the universe that just defy explanation (ala Shroud of Turin or
> > the creation of the solar system, but on a more productive level)
> >
> > 3) We look at magic from the viewpoint of a professional magician (ala
> > David Copperfield or Penn & Teller), where the magicians view the process
> as
> > explainable, but design an experience for their audience that is
> mystical.
> >
> > I think, if we're going to assert that there are magical qualities to
> > design, we should pick which one we want to go with.
> >
> > Personally, I'd go with the professional magician viewpoint, because that
> > means that we have control over it (and don't require special powers). It
> > also, in my mind, is the closest thing to experience design as we think
> of
> > it today.
> >
> > One of the things I like about the comparison to professional magic is
> that
> > magicians, when they get together to talk/teach/share their craft, don't
> > ever talk about the "magical elements", except from the perspective of
> the
> > audience.
> >
> > For example, there's a saying amongst magicians: "That's when the magic
> > happens" It describes the "magical moment", a point in the audience's
> > experience when they are to think that the core element of the trick
> (such
> > as the chosen card moving from the deck into the magician's coat pocket)
> is
> > happening. Of course, the mechanics of the trick happened at another
> point
> > in time. The magical moment is part of the experience design, focusing
> the
> > magician on the audience p.o.v.
> >
> > Is that what you were thinking? Or were you thinking it might be a
> > different perspective on magic?
> >
> > Jared
> >
> >
>
>
> --
> Dave Malouf
> http://davemalouf.com/
> http://twitter.com/daveixd
> http://scad.edu/industrialdesign
> http://ixda.org/
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

--
Steve 'Doc' Baty | Principal | Meld Consulting | P: +61 417 061 292 | E:
stevebaty at meld.com.au | Twitter: docbaty | Skype: steve_baty | LinkedIn:
www.linkedin.com/in/stevebaty

27 Sep 2009 - 7:40pm
Fred van Amstel
2005

I would add the anthropological meaning of magic: the manipulation of
signs in a ritual. It´s a way of thinking, talking and using something
we don´t know.

Who could exactly say what is needed for doing good design? Even
though we have a name for craft skills (tacit knowledge), we cannot
generalize it for everyone.

I remember Jack Schulze saying that design is not somethings that
happens in your mouth, it´s something that happens in the world, in
your hands...
http://www.kickerstudio.com/blog/2009/05/six-questions-from-kicker-jack-schulze/

If it´s some kind of cultural intervention, as Schulze said, the magic
analogy could be interesting. Magic is an intervention of the sacred
over the profanne, transfering some of it´s qualities in the ritual.

Could we think design a the new magic of transforming crude objects
into meaningful ones?

How sacred are the signs we manipulate?

What could we know more about Design, thinking it as some kind of magic?

2009/9/27 Jared Spool <jspool at uie.com>:
> Hi David,
>
> I'm intrigued with your comment:
>
>> But what Designers do IS magic! That act of synthesis towards craft
>> towards implementation is a wondrous magical thing once turned into a
>> Palm Pre or HP NetBook Mini that brings new areas of delight that were
>> never there before.
>>
>> What's wrong with magic? What's wrong with the unexplained? Or the
>> secretly explained (LIKE MAGIC!).
>
> Magic is an awesome metaphor. You're right about it's wondrous qualities.
>
> What's interesting to me about the choice of magic is the point of view that
> sees it as magical.
>
> There are three approaches to the point-of-view thing:
>
> 1) We look at magic from the Harry Potter or Terry Pratchett view where
> there are things happening on a level that mortals aren't meant to
> understand.
>
> 2) We look at magic from a more phantasmal viewpoint, where there are forces
> in the universe that just defy explanation (ala Shroud of Turin or the
> creation of the solar system, but on a more productive level)
>
> 3) We look at magic from the viewpoint of a professional magician (ala David
> Copperfield or Penn & Teller), where the magicians view the process as
> explainable, but design an experience for their audience that is mystical.
>
> I think, if we're going to assert that there are magical qualities to
> design, we should pick which one we want to go with.
>
> Personally, I'd go with the professional magician viewpoint, because that
> means that we have control over it (and don't require special powers). It
> also, in my mind, is the closest thing to experience design as we think of
> it today.
>
> One of the things I like about the comparison to professional magic is that
> magicians, when they get together to talk/teach/share their craft, don't
> ever talk about the "magical elements", except from the perspective of the
> audience.
>
> For example, there's a saying amongst magicians: "That's when the magic
> happens" It describes the "magical moment", a point in the audience's
> experience when they are to think that the core element of the trick (such
> as the chosen card moving from the deck into the magician's coat pocket) is
> happening. Of course, the mechanics of the trick happened at another point
> in time. The magical moment is part of the experience design, focusing the
> magician on the audience p.o.v.
>
> Is that what you were thinking? Or were you thinking it might be a different
> perspective on magic?
>
> Jared
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

--
.
.{ Frederick van Amstel }. Curitiba ´´ PR
¶ ...''''''''''|| www.usabilidoido.com.br
Instituto www.faberludens.com.br
.
MSN e Gtalk usabilidoido at gmail.com
\\...................

27 Sep 2009 - 11:20pm
Audrey Crane
2009

On a different track -- I studied some mathematics (specifically pure
mathematics, lots of proofs, few numbers) in college.

My favorite kind of magic, and the kind that I can most relate to
when talking about design, is this kind: http://bit.ly/S5Xgc. I think
it falls outside Jared's 3 because I do it, but it can be just as
mystical an experience to me as anyone else, that little miracle bit
at least.

Anyone who's ever written many hard proofs can relate to that. It's
what I believe great designers and great mathematicians have in
common. For lack of a better word (besides miracle) we call it
'intuition'.

Had some good conversations with Hugh Dubberly over this one...

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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28 Sep 2009 - 1:51am
cfmdesigns
2004

On Sep 27, 2009, at 5:30 PM, Steve Baty wrote:

> So you're thinking of magic in the Arthur C. Clarke sense of "any
> sufficiently advanced technology (or service)..."?

But don't forget the corollary: "Any sufficiently analyzed magic is
indistinguishable from science!"

From the massively fantastic (and 2009 Hugo Award-winning) webcomic,
Girl Genius:
http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php?date=20081205

-- Jim

28 Sep 2009 - 2:12pm
Michael Kurtz
2009

%u201CMagic%u201D seems that it could be applied in many ways.

It seems to me that interface designers working in the
%u201Cmagical%u201D shows that this industry is the front-line of
technological progress and evolution. As a Neanderthal might find a
flashlight magical, it is as Steve Baty and Jeff Drew reminded us,
"Any sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from
science!" Jef Raskin once wrote, %u201CThe primacy of the interface
was a revolution largely unforeseen by even the boldest of science
fiction writers.%u201D

Over the years as users have grown, some of the magic has ebbed away.
Once the magic is explained, understood, or becomes commonplace it
disappears (like Highlander 2). Might examination of the
%u201Cde-magification%u201D of interface elements, of their evolution
and cultural impacts bring us to see more plainly the doorways to the
next %u201Cnew magic%u201D?

I like to think it%u2019s the pursuit of this %u201Cnew magic%u201D
that drives us to do what we do.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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28 Sep 2009 - 9:38am
Miguel Peres
2007

Hi Jared,
As an amateur magician, I can say the process of designing a product has
many similarities to the act of performing magic. Among other things, both
of them take in account the audience, the context, and the goal to create
different types of experience. I've already faced similar reactions from
people after kinetically scrolling a list on Iphone and after seeing a torn
card begin restored in front of theirs eyes: wow.

--
Miguel Peres

On Sun, Sep 27, 2009 at 7:08 PM, Jared Spool <jspool at uie.com> wrote:

> Hi David,
>
> I'm intrigued with your comment:
>
> But what Designers do IS magic! That act of synthesis towards craft
>> towards implementation is a wondrous magical thing once turned into a
>> Palm Pre or HP NetBook Mini that brings new areas of delight that were
>> never there before.
>>
>> What's wrong with magic? What's wrong with the unexplained? Or the
>> secretly explained (LIKE MAGIC!).
>>
>
> Magic is an awesome metaphor. You're right about it's wondrous qualities.
>
> What's interesting to me about the choice of magic is the point of view
> that sees it as magical.
>
> There are three approaches to the point-of-view thing:
>
> 1) We look at magic from the Harry Potter or Terry Pratchett view where
> there are things happening on a level that mortals aren't meant to
> understand.
>
> 2) We look at magic from a more phantasmal viewpoint, where there are
> forces in the universe that just defy explanation (ala Shroud of Turin or
> the creation of the solar system, but on a more productive level)
>
> 3) We look at magic from the viewpoint of a professional magician (ala
> David Copperfield or Penn & Teller), where the magicians view the process as
> explainable, but design an experience for their audience that is mystical.
>
> I think, if we're going to assert that there are magical qualities to
> design, we should pick which one we want to go with.
>
> Personally, I'd go with the professional magician viewpoint, because that
> means that we have control over it (and don't require special powers). It
> also, in my mind, is the closest thing to experience design as we think of
> it today.
>
> One of the things I like about the comparison to professional magic is that
> magicians, when they get together to talk/teach/share their craft, don't
> ever talk about the "magical elements", except from the perspective of the
> audience.
>
> For example, there's a saying amongst magicians: "That's when the magic
> happens" It describes the "magical moment", a point in the audience's
> experience when they are to think that the core element of the trick (such
> as the chosen card moving from the deck into the magician's coat pocket) is
> happening. Of course, the mechanics of the trick happened at another point
> in time. The magical moment is part of the experience design, focusing the
> magician on the audience p.o.v.
>
> Is that what you were thinking? Or were you thinking it might be a
> different perspective on magic?
>
> Jared
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

28 Sep 2009 - 7:32pm
jkolko
2010

I'm enjoying this thread, mostly because of the similarity it has to
the title of my next book:

http://www.methodsofsynthesis.com/

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=46102

28 Sep 2009 - 8:35pm
Dave Malouf
2005

I'd like to write the companion piece. "Critiques of Synthesis
Outcomes".

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=46102

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