Lift09 — Change — Nicolas Nova — The Recurring Failure of Holy Grails [en]

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Videophone 1969 — so expensive that nobody could use it.

The Intelligent Fridge 1996

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Location-based services 1993 — a success in terms of communication, but not in terms of where people are *(steph-note: not sure I got that right)* — Google Latitude, but problems for privacy reasons. Not that simple.

Common characteristics:

– overoptimism
– reinvention of the wheel
– ignoring similar attempts


– Trapped in the zeitgeist (designers, researches, engineers).
– Time is not stable. Innovations happen slowly.
– Short term, long term
– bad understanding of “users”
– the “average human” myth

Automating rituals (Where are you? Smart fridge that does the shopping.)

Virtual assistants in MS Office. Idea: technology should be more “natural”. Making things “natural” is difficult: what is natural, and how can technology really replicate it?

What is “natural” shifts over time. Eg. swiping travel cards that are in bags in the subway: natural for the people who are used to do it, but not for those who have never been in the subway. It’s difficult to define.

So, why is it important to explore failures?

Many failures are actually good ideas before their time. Failures can indicate possible futures to explore. More detailed critique. Source for design (Apple certainly learned a lot for the iPhone from their Newton failure).

It’s important to spot failures, there is a need to document them and turn them into a design strategy.

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