Thursday, March 22, 2007

Out Before You Hit The Ball
Been checking out some mind-expanding articles on design - how design is moving out from the exclusive territory of industry, fashion, architecture, and into conversations, politics, education. Why things are designed that sound bad, and why they can't be designed to sound good. And I thought about HRC's phone call, looking for me to donate money.

First, links to the cool places that have stirred my thinking:
Metacool's Sound Matters (the briefest post);
Bruce Nussbaum's "Are Designers The Enemy of Design?" in BusinessWeek
Logic+Emotion's "Designers Are The Enemy of Design."

Next, how the recent call started:
"Hello, may I speak to Mike A-."
"This is Mike."
"How are you this evening? My name is [fundraiser x] and I'm calling on behalf of HRC..."

Design-wise, this call is set up to fail. HRC only calls me for money. They may think the conversation's designed to foster my generosity, but since I've so familiar with this "design," it builds my skepticism instead. The conversation's opening gambit puts me on the defensive. "I'm calling on behalf of HRC" is designed to make me say "I'm sorry, I'm not able to donate at this time."

There's probably a document in front of the fundraiser, some kind of flowchart that shows the conversation's possible designs, which gives him ways to keep the conversation going. I think the caller tried to engage me further by mentioning something about HRC's work. However, telling me what I already know about the gay community's struggle for rights will not prime me for action.

So the batter is out before the ball even crosses the plate.

First step toward hitting a home run? Change the design of that conversation - maybe by starting with that sheet of paper in front of the caller.

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