The User Experience Blog
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Falling in Love with Machines: A Case of Low Expectations

I have a long and intense history of falling in love with machines. As a User Experience Designer, I likely pay more attention to machines than most people, but what most people also don’t know is that I am paying attention to how Emotional Freedom Technique E-book

tyle: italic;”>they are engaging with their machines. What I’ve found is that there are three things that inspire people to fall in love with their machines, two of which make sense and the third blows my mind.

First, a definition. When I say “machine,” I am speaking of any tool a person uses to do something. I could be talking about a shovel or a 3-D modeling application but I’ll still call it a machine. (Take THAT strictly defined taxonomies!)

The first sensible reason that people fall in love with their machines is that they allow them to do something they couldn’t do without it. Take television and the telephone as an example.
The second sensible reason is that their machines allow them to do

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something they can do now, but better. Continuing with the previous examples, high-definition television and mobile telephones.

Finally, the third reason: People fall in love with machines that do what they’re supposed to do.

This becomes more apparent with more complex machines, like computers & cell phones, but think about that for a moment… our expectations of such devices are so low that we fall in love with them simply because they work. To prove the breadth of my point, I will avoid the obvious discussion about Macs and iPhones and talk instead about something much more entertaining. Diaper pails.

If you are a parent, this will sound very familiar. “You’re having a baby! Congratulations, I’m so happy for you! There’s so much stuff you’ll need. You ABSOLUTELY have to get a Diaper Genie…” and so on and so on. But the Diaper Genie is always mentioned. Why do people love it? It works.

What is a diaper pail supposed to do? It is supposed to hold dirty diapers and the unholy stench that comes with them. Before our daughter was born, my wife and I bought a large, generic, cheap diaper pail that had a slot for some deodorizer disks. We thought this was pretty cool. Until we started to use it. It held the diapers pretty well, but the smell? Not so much.

We caved and bought a Diaper Genie. And it was probably the best forty bucks I ever spent. Using the thing is a little goofy, and it requires proprietary bags. But I don’t

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care (mind you, this is a user experience guy saying this). My daughter’s room doesn’t smell like poop.

This is how I fell in love with my Diaper Genie.

What have you fallen in love with just because it does what it says on the box?

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One Response to “Falling in Love with Machines: A Case of Low Expectations”

  1. Toad says:

    I agree! I think the most recent thing I fell in love with because it worked was my iGoogle homepage. I wanted a place to put information and tools I use every day. With the iGoogle home page, it just works.

    Another one was a set of those Forearm Forklifts. For a number reasons, we end up helping friends move. A lot. For the last move, I grabbed a set of these at Menards. I felt a little silly buying something I learned about through an infomercial, but they looked like they’d work. We had some big, awkward items to cope with in this move. Wow do these things work! I watched a 6’4″ guy and a 5’8″ guy comfortably easily carry the sleeper sofa out the door and down the steps. It just works.

    DeNae