All posts filed under “Engineering

Shaping behaviour: Part 2

Shaping behaviour: Part 2

Speedometer, rev counter and fuel and temperature gauges on the dashboard of my 1992 Reliant Scimitar SST. Photo taken on B1098 alongside Sixteen Foot Drain, Isle of Ely, England. In part 1 of ‘Shaping behaviour’, we took a look at ‘sticks and carrots’ as approaches […]

Bollardian nightmare?

Bollardian nightmare?

Rising bollards near Darwin College, Cambridge. A man was killed here in May 2006 when his car hit the right-hand bollard; see third photo below. Many thanks to Steve Portigal and Josh for suggesting this subject! Bollards which automatically retract into the road surface to […]

Preventing baggage trolleys going down the escalator

Preventing baggage trolleys going down the escalator

These ‘pinch point’ barriers at London’s Heathrow Airport prevent the baggage trolleys from the Bus Station being taken down the escalators which lead to Terminals 1, 2 and 3. Mistake-proofing (for safety reasons: a trolley down the escalator would be dangerous) but also unnecessary if […]

Disaffordances and engineering obedience

Disaffordances and engineering obedience

Image based on Don Norman‘s famous teapot, and the Obey Giant face Last month I asked, in response to some criticism, whether there was a better term than ‘architectures of control’ for the loose category of stuff discussed on this site. The response was great […]

‘Design Must Relinquish Control’

‘Design Must Relinquish Control’

Niblettes tackles the issue of designers and control, specifically, how much the user’s experience and methods of using a product or service should be defined by the designer. The conclusion – paralleling a theme in a marketing speech by Procter & Gamble’s Alan G Lafley […]

The Tell-Tale Part

The Tell-Tale Part

Open the case of your mobile (cell) phone. Do you see a round white sticker, similar to that in the first photo below? This is a water damage sticker, which changes colour if moisture gets into this bit of the phone, and will be used […]

Inconvenience: deliberate or accidental?

Inconvenience: deliberate or accidental?

Seth Godin mentions providing a ‘convenience’ feature for customers and then intentionally making it inconvenient to use: “Here at the White Plains airport, I’m noticing all these people doing things to me. Enforcing irrational rules. Intentionally putting the seats far from the electrical outlets so […]

Ticket off

Ticket off

Henry e-mails: “Perhaps this is too obvious: parking meters; and I mean modern digital ones, enforce arbitrary limits on how much you can pay for at a time (4 hours). Is this to share the enjoyment of democratic parking (at a dollar an hour), or […]

Using trees to encourage safer driving

Using trees to encourage safer driving

Image from New Urban News, by Eric Dumbaugh Ryan G Coleman kindly sent me a link to this very interesting New Urban News story, ‘Research: trees make streets safer, not deadlier’. The gist is that roads planted with trees cause drivers to put themselves in […]

Review: Made to Break by Giles Slade

Review: Made to Break by Giles Slade

Last month I mentioned some fascinating details on planned obsolescence gleaned from a review of Giles Slade‘s Made to Break: Technology and Obsolescence in America. Having now read the book for myself, here’s my review, including noteworthy ‘architectures of control’ examples and pertinent commentary. Slade […]

‘Anti-Homeless’ benches in Tokyo

‘Anti-Homeless’ benches in Tokyo

Images from Yumiko Hayakawa Yumiko Hayakawa has a very thoughtful and well-illustrated article at OhMyNews on the story behind the variety of ‘anti-homeless’ benches and architectural features (including public art) in Tokyo’s parks and public areas – by making it difficult or impossible to lie […]

Speed control designed to help the user

Speed control designed to help the user

Something with an interesting ‘forcing function’ story has been right in front of me all this time: the QWERTY keyboard, developed by Christopher Sholes and then Remington, with the intention of controlling the user’s behaviour. Until typists became proficient with the QWERTY system, the non-alphabetical […]

Shaping behaviour at the Design Council

Shaping behaviour at the Design Council

Photo by Kate Andrews I’ve blogged before mentioning the work of the UK Design Council’s RED research arm, which applies ‘design thinking’ to redevelop and create public services appropriate for societal changes right now and in the years to come. The previous post was specifically […]

Deliberately reducing visibility at road junctions

Deliberately reducing visibility at road junctions

An increasing trend among road planners in the UK is the use of fencing, hedges or banks deliberately to reduce visibility at certain junctions, especially roundabouts (traffic circles), presumably with the intention of forcing drivers approaching a roundabout to slow almost to a standstill every […]