This article was written in 2017. It might or it might not be outdated. And it could be that the layout breaks. If that’s the case please let me know.

The need to use things vs the urge to make things

I’m trying to define the research area for my master. As far as I understand it right now, it’s going to be about the quality of the urge to make things versus the quality of the need to use things. There are people who create stuff, for whatever reason, and the things they make are not always usable for the people who have to use them. I want to find out why.

Our first assignment is to create an association graph/mind map and publish it on our research blog in a publishable way. At first I sketched it on paper, which is a good exercise but is not something you can share on a blog. Then I tried a few of those mind mapping apps, and I disliked the results. I also thought about learning D3.js. I probably should. But I haven’t started yet, and I don’t think it’s something I can learn in a weekend. So for now I decided to publish this first version of my mind map as a collapsible and expandable outline. Let me know what you think, and let me know if you can actually use it.

Quality of…
The urge to make things
reasons to make things
I want to
To become rich/famous
  • Do others need it
  • For fun
  • To earn a living
  • Somebody wants it
  • Somebody needs it
  • I like making things
  • I like solving complex problems
what makes a thing good
it works
  • good enough
  • sort of works
  • everybody is happy
  • … for now, but there’s still work to do
it fits within a set of rules/principles
  • things I learned
  • appropriate for this job
  • fashion
  • It makes me happy
  • Client is content
  • Users are satisfied
  • It’s beautiful
  • It brings in money
  • It’s original
  • It’s innovative
  • It’s visually pleasing
  • It’s spectacular
  • It’s consistent
Are there any restrictions
  • money
  • team
  • time
  • talent
  • ambition
The need to use things
reasons to use things
  • I need it
  • I want it
  • I have to
what makes a thing good
  • it works
  • adjustable
  • usable
  • easy
  • nice
  • fun
  • options
  • personalisation
  • layers
  • useful
  • dogma
Are there any restrictions
  • sun
  • cold
  • hot
  • moving
  • disquiet
  • colourful
  • dark
  • light
  • noisy
  • social
  • sound muted for social reasons
  • born
  • grown
  • noisy surroundings
  • dark
  • born
  • grown
  • older than 40
  • forgot glasses
  • born
  • colourful surroundings
  • crappy device
  • black and white screen
  • not intelligent
  • not an expert
  • stressed
  • uncomfortable
  • bad device
  • too intelligent
  • an expert
bad device
  • simulates blindness
  • simulates deafness
  • simulates spasms
  • born
  • illness
  • environment
  • bad device
  • autistic
  • child
  • parent
  • ill

Right now I want to start investigating a few things. I want to understand the different reasons why people want to create things. And I want to understand the different reasons why people use things. Then I want to know their definitions of quality; I guess these definitions might differ. And this difference might have to do with the different restrictions that people who make and people who use have to work with.

I think in the end the ultimate goal is to come up with ways, or tools, to make accessible design obvious, natural and easy. One of the principles I want to keep in mind during my whole research is that the end result may never be dogmatic. And that’s because the reason why I make things is because I like making things.

So far this outline is mostly based on a few hunches. Feel free to add items to the outline in the comments. Suggestions for better ways to present such a list are welcome as well.