What can we learn from the analysis of disorientation?
An excerpt from this presentation by Ruedi Baur:
"We simply allow ourselves to be guided by the system, led by the hand, almost to the point of losing any notion of orientation in the process. So we can fairly easily imagine this future world in which everyone would be systematically guided by his device, connected to the synchronized global network, and gradually lose any sense of natural orientation. It is a matter of everyday observation that being guided considerable reduces our capacity to know where we are and have any spontaneous sense of the route towards our chosen destination. Neither is this phenomenon only connected with satellite navigation technology; more generally, any guidance by a reliable artificial system tends to reduce our capacity to orientate ourselves naturally, that is to interpret what is in front of us in the environment and independently take decisions that would truly enable us to find our way. (...) What can we learn from disorientation? How can a design project leave room for individual choice? How can we orientate without guiding?"
Why do I blog this? Although the tone here is slightly over-deterministic, I like the design issue that is at stake when creating urban signage (supported by digital and non-digital means). There's plenty of study about how people orientation but it would be good to grasp the user experience of disorientation... and use it as a starting point to create meaningful systems.