A nondual description of User Experience Design

Is the design of experience the design of self?

  1. What we consider to be our self, seems to be the result of how the brain processes information about itself in the world. We are not consciously aware of a large part of such processes.
  2. Energy is a scarce and expensive resource. The brain expends energy on selective attention. It seems to regulate attention through the action of suppression or selective signal enhancement of stimuli.
  3. This act of energy conservation may take place as a result of the brain trying to minimise surprise, i.e find the optimal middle ground between expectation, perception and action, which occurs in a continual loop.
  4. The perceptual lags that are the result of this ongoing process seem to be normalised for the purposes of seemingly continual and stable perception. For instance, why does the brain prepare for an activity even before we become concious of our decision to do it? This layer appears to present the illusion of actions as if they are volitional. i.e Even if an action may have been initiated by unconscious mental processes, we still feel like we chose to act that way. A sense of agency is attributed to our actions.
  5. It even appears to manipulate our memory of subjective time. The slowing down of time seems to be an illusion that helps normalise such lags between unconscious processes and conscious awareness.
  6. The self, therefore, seems to be an emergent, moment to moment function of the organism’s experiences of the world, in a dance of give and take.
  7. Another way to say this is – You are what you experience.
  8. We make use of language to refer to an imagined entity, an inner experiencer of experiences, as the self, even though it falsely implies that awareness and the one who is aware are two different entities. (A popular Indian analogy speaks of this as an eye trying to see itself.)
  9. We even become habituated to making such references to our selves in our internal monologues, further reinforcing the idea of this duality.
  10. An experience-designer, however, tries to see past the false nature of this dichotomy, the trick of language. For instance, she knows that it may be more accurate to use – “I am that noise” and not “I hear that noise.” This conveys the removal of the mediating layer. (However, saying such things out loud can make people think the designer is insane – so the designer keeps this to herself.)
  11. Anyway, the designer understands that experiences make the experiencer. Its where sheeple come from and deadheads.
  12. So a UX designer designs experience that helps users define themselves in relation to the service that they are using.
  13. The goal is to minimise the gap between I and that, until I am that. The shorter the gap, the better the experience.
  14. Since the designer cannot actually be the person she designs for, she tries to understand that person by attempting to experience the conditions first-hand. This is an empathic process that tries to minimise the gap between the self and the other.
  15. The resultant information is called user-research and forms the basis for the design of the experience.