For my final paper, I’m hoping to address the topic of meaning-making in minimum viable products.

This post from Greg Laugero on Johnny Holland was a big inspiration after I stumbled across it in my search for paper ideas. What I found interesting about this particular article was not just the focus on the business side of analysis, but rather its similarity to finding the “core” of a design that we’ve been taught (a connection I hadn’t really drawn before that). I believe that we as interaction designers here at IU have seen this process first-hand and have rather explicit feedback to seek out the “core” of the design first. We kind of “get” it already. But looking at this from a business angle, this whole idea of MVPs (minimum viable products) is an aspirational pipe-dream in many corporate settings.

What I’m currently hoping to do is to look at minimum viable products through the lens of  (our pretty basic introduction to) semiotic analysis, specifically addressee/addresser/sender/receiver of signs and meaning, similar to my original topic. I’m hoping to look at Path (though I’m struggling to find screenshots of v1) as an example to study. The problem I’m foreseeing is that this might just end up producing an analysis of “yep, this extreme simplicity makes it easier for meaning-making to occur through A B and C.”

Because of that, I’m thinking of trying to make the opposite argument in saying that the pursuit of the minimum viable can actually reduce meaning-making because of the same aspects. I’m thinking that this approach could help make an actual argument as to why MVPs are typically first picked up by tech adopters and not necessarily by the general public. As part of my argument I’ve also been toying with the talking about how this meaning-making is affected when existing products are reconstructed as MVPs (for example, people getting up in arms over redesigned applications in Windows 8).

I’d really appreciate any feedback or thoughts you all would like to share!