Design for Emergence
Blog Post written by Neil Clemmons
Were the framers of the Constitution some of the first “experience designers?”
That’s a question I was pondering this week
I’m on my way back from a planning summit in our Toronto office We do these to stretch our thinking as a team and share work and ideas . We were fortunate to have Michael Dila of Torch Partnership join us for an engaging conversation about the intersection of design and business. Michael chaired last years Overlap conference in Toronto . While an academic by background, he has certainly crossed over into the world of business with some thought provoking ideas.
A topic that Michael talked about was “Designing for Emergence.” He used theConstitution as an example of emergence or extensibility. The constitution ismore than it’s words on a page. It’s more than the interpretation of those words into the rights that we hold dear. It is more than the definition of those rights into law. It’s more than the interpretation of that law in the social fabric. And it’smore than the defense of that law in today’s legal system. We quickly see the power of an extensible framework that changes the course of history and forms the very basis of democracy.
Michael went on to talk about a few examples:
- The constitution is an interpretive framework.
- It provides an interface to complexity.
- It was an early idea in “open source” extensibility.
What’s interesting is how the Internet and today’s next generation experiences are forming a similar foundation for free speech, free enterprise, open extensibility, and connecting people of diverse backgrounds in shared thinking and experiences. We certainly have freedom of speech, the right to assemble, and the upholding of individual rights with today’s Internet and social media trends.
- The internet is an Interpretive framework – designed by it’s architects to be extended and morphed. These core building blocks, from applications to programmatic interfaces to standards push the power to the people.
- The best experiences offer an interface to complexity. Think eBay, or Amazon, or a booking engine for travel. They have dramatically simplified the complexity of commerce, shopping.
- The internet is all about extensibility with an open source mindset to embrace distribution of function and development of standards.
What are “emergence” ideas online today?
- Flickr is a great example of emergence. What started as a photo sharing site has become an open platform accessible to others. What started as a place for you to share photos has become a repository for your friends and other sites as well.
- The same is true of Facebook or MySpace with their open environments. Others start to use the code fragments and applications that their friends are using.
- Twitter started as a tool to connect you to your friends, but has quickly morphed into a emergence idea where you can track conversations and thinking real-time with people or brands you want to follow, whether they’re your “friends” or not.
Are you thinking about the emergence and extensibility of your brand? Are you thinking about the role of participation and the opportunities for your brand to simplify the complexity of your customers needs? And are you thinking about how you enable extensibility of your brand through the efforts, debate, and conversations of others.
The constitution and democracy are a blueprint for much of the change shaping the world, and in a lot of ways, what is shaping the Internet. You might want to take some time to reread it with a brand experience in mind and ask if you’re brand is designed for emergence.
“We the people” is about the digital brand democracy.