My Thoughts on Thoughtless Acts (Intro: Part 0)

General Thoughts

So, for the first time I’ve read Jane Fulton Suri + IDEO’s book titled “Thoughtless Acts” cover to cover. I really like the book and have decided to write a post on each of the 7 main sections of this small, photographic exploration of how humans interact with the world around them. This is the first of those posts, where I will mostly give a summary of the book and its basic premise, and outline the seven “parts” of the book. I should have the first post up very soon, and hopefully I can get this all done within a week!

For those of you who were present (not only physically) for all of our UOCD* lectures, you might recognize many of the pictures from this book, since every IDEO lecture was plastered with these images. The pencil in hair image shown above is found in the “adapting” section of the book. This section covers the many ways we alter the context of things to meet our objectives, from taking a “utilitarian” pencil and turning it into a decorative, wearable object, to makeshift doorstops, or even using our shoes as projectiles to try and take other objects out of trees. (I hate it when soccer balls get stuck in trees…)

Seven types of thoughtless interactions

In any case, the book is divided into 7 sections, each having a theme still relating to the way we interact with others, the enviroment, and consumer goods at a subconscious level.

Reacting? (with objects and spaces we encounter)

– covering the sun with our hands to see further, running our hand along a picket fence , running up escalators backwards for fun, etc…

tree etching Responding? (to qualities and features of products that elicit specific behavior)

-sliding down stair handrails, etching you and Sally’s name into a heart on that oak tree, etc…

Co-opting? (using our immediate surroundings to our advantage)

– a little boy riding on the shopping cart his mom pushes along adsentmindedly, hanging a towel to dry on that chair in front of the open window, etc…

Exploiting? (physical and mechanical qualities we understand)

-folding our arms to shield from the cold, shoving gum underneath our school desk, etc….

Adapting? (the purpose and context of other things)

– using a hoodie to control a bad hair day, using a towel to fan the smoke detector you just set off, etc…

Conforming? (behavioral patterns learned from our social and cultural groups)

– maintaining the existing separation between people when you sit down in a near empty subway car, hold your coat closed tightly like everyone else keep more heat (?) from escaping as you walk down the street on a cold day, etc…

Signaling? (conveying messages and prompts to ourselves and others)

-write down that homework assignment on your hand before you leave class, the difference between a musician in transit and a street performer: a bucket…

UOCD is Olin’s 2nd year user-oriented design course.


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