Andrew Hinton's Understanding Context

Hello Daniel,

This is a great discussion.
In your framework, I guess “SkyMiles” would be an app, provisioning different services available to the consumer like “SkyPriority” depending to a “status” concept. The problem is indeed for people to understand apps, i.e. rules of synchronization. You seem to prefer “unbundling”, but I would answer that very often consumers require the bundling of different attributes in a simple marketing concept. They don’t have patience for understanding and choosing among a long list of options. I worked some years in Marketing, and while unbundling is fairer and clearer, actually consumers may often go to the more opaque and costlier solution !

So people work it out by marketing “hints” and “customs”. You know for example that a “gold” status is usually OK for most features and a “bronze” one rarely so. “Silver” is the tricky one, so many marketing programs just shunt it !

Bottom line: design concepts have an heuristic role to help people navigate in the complexity. As you cannot always put five “like” buttons, you tolerate ambiguity. A great branding and communication is often one which convey the right intuitions of the consumer on how the app will work. I insist it is a cultural and therefore time-sensitive device.

Now, what computing is great for, is to force the marketer to clear up her mind, and that makes the conceptual analysis you call very useful as behind-the-scenes thinking, and distinguish basic concepts from synched up apps. But I doubt it will ever become frontline reality.

As to physical overlap of concepts, I would say this happens very often, as most concepts are not “design” oriented. This come back to our email discussion on natural concepts like the one of a “dog” or a “pig”. Usually we dress “things” around us like pigs, dogs, and duomos with multiple purposes. I can take multiple actions towards my dog Fido, take it for a walk, train it to be a vigilant guardian of my house, play with it, and so on. These actions correspond to different purposes, and they may clash, eg I may wish to give Fido some sweets because I like it, or keep Fido hungry because I want it to be agressive at night to keep the watch.

Let me guess your answer: you would say that we should distinguish two dogs concepts, “leisure dog” and “watch dog”, and synching them in my Fido “app” requires me to be very clear about the balance I want to bring about in its behavior, which determines in return how I will educate it, and how much sweets I can allow Fido?..

This also work for the duomo case by the way. The duomo becomes an “app” synching its religious concept with the touristic one. This is negociated in a concrete schedule, rules of behavior of the public, budgetary planning, and so on.