This week, start here:
We’ve known for some time that the idea that public institutions trail private enterprise in innovation, design and experience thinking is a false one (much, much more on that below). This week, proof of that comes in the form of an article by Marianna Adams on barriers to family engagement in museums.

It’s quite a smart piece — and one with broad applicability outside of the museum space (“Say ‘Please touch!’ as often as you can. Everyone finds real objects awesome.” has awesome retail implications) — but it returns to a familiar place for Dark Matter readers. Ultimately, the allocation of precious resources (time, money, staff) to a specific experience is a manifestation of an organization or institution’s values.


The UK’s Government Digital Service has migrated away from proprietary document formats like Microsoft Word, and toward open file formats because

we want to make it easier and cheaper to do business with government.

What is your organization doing to make it easier and cheaper to do business with you? No, seriously.

While you’re at it, take at look at this remarkable GDS post on designing navigation, and the challenges of identifying and bucketing user audiences.

One final socialist missive from the UK: TheyWorkForYou allows British citizens to subscribe to alerts every time that their town, district, a specific keyword or their elected Member of Parliament is mentioned in Parliamentary proceedings. It’s a novel service that drives a pretty compelling form of accountability.

Forbes published a really smart piece by Anthony Kosner this week on the IBM/Apple partnership, in which he discusses the role of design in the IBM service/product suite, and the ways in which Apple complements that offering. Here’s a particularly nice gem:

Design is much more than what something looks like. It is the externalization of problem solving.

On a closely-related note, Flickr UX lead Phil King penned a great piece for the First Round Review on ways in which designers of all stripes can earn a seat at the corporate table and play a broader strategic role in organizational decision-making. Among his best points, the always-salient present ideas as ideas.

This week was a treasure trove of thoughtful organizational theory, beginning with Dark Matter favorite Gerry McGovern on the value of internal bridge builders, and the challenges in broadly recognizing and rewarding them within the operation. A compelling challenge:

Right now, performance measurement occurs almost exclusively within organizational silos. Once we build the bridges between silos we must reward those who work across these bridges.

Bud Caddell taps into Secret and Microsoft to illustrate his suggestion that the re-org (in contrast to ongoing incremental change) is a remnant of a bygone era.

Continuing with the theme of ongoing incremental change, Neil Perkin posted a great look at the relevance of Boston Consulting Group’s 40 year-old Growth Share Matrix. BCG naturally suggests today that companies need to “constantly renew their advantage, increasing the speed at which they shift resources among products and business units.”

A good bit of data-powered goodness this week as well, beginning with Ben Gibbs of Wolff Olins on the rise of “design data”, and why it’s a good thing when a client asks to see 100 variations on an approved logo (your authors think that the latter point might take it a bit too far).

Super design-researcher Jan Chipchase points to a fantastic challenge by Studio D Radiodurans that asks how we might design ethical studies that make use of both open data and user-consent (that’s consent, not content). It highlights the challenge posed by Facebook’s social experiments and the role of researchers in an age of broadly available public data.

Marc Abraham, in a review of O’Reilly’s new book on Designing Multi-Device Experiences, gives a smart overview of consistent, continuous and complementary design patterns, that serve as a great primer for those beginning to think through experiences of this sort. Save, bookmark and share internally, folks.

Finally, a tough one to wrap your brain around: TechReview has a great article on No Man’s Skya new game in which the playing universe and worlds are crafted algorithmically, enabling what amounts to infinite gameplay. The challenge: how does one test a universe of incomprehensible scale? If that sounds abstract, it informs a lot of where we’re headed.


BoingBoing published the original 1953 proposal that Walt Disney and illustrator Herb Ryman put together for bankers necessary to fund the development of Disneyland. If you’ve not seen it, the proposal reads like a thesis on experience design, with interactions vividly imagined across a well-articulated customer journey, to wit:

A MOVING SIDEWALK carries you effortlessly into the World of Tomorrow where the fascinating exhibits of the miracles of science and industry are displayed. The theme for the World of Tomorrow is the factual and scientific exposition of Things to Come.

As Saneel Radia of Finch 15 said this week on Twitter: amazing to see this in today’s context of innovation and disruption hype.

Yep, exactly.