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In Dunne’s article (In)Human Factors the author speaks to several different ways that design can help provoke people in ways that are not unfriendly to users. He purposes 4 distinct ways in which design can provide aesthetic experiences: Defamiliarization, Design as Text, Bypassing the Self, and Functional Estrangement. I would like to quickly talk about an example, the iPad, of a Design as Text.

In the article Dunne uses Roland Barthes definition to explain Design as Text:

a space of chains and layers of meaning between the object and the viewer, continuously expanding with no fixed origin or closure.


image by author, taken on 10/15/2010


I think that the iPad does exactly this with it’s interface of a grid of icons for applications. These applications are purposely installed by the user. It’s unlikely that there are any two non default iPad’s with the same set and arrangement of applications. This means that this set of applications is likely unique to the user creating a layer of meaning for that particular users. Furthermore, these applications are arranged on several different screens by the users themselves. So, the spacial relationship of the application icons become important and meaningful themselves. If we take this into account with the fact that most users are constantly adding and deleting applications, moving around icons, and starting and ending on different gridded icon screens. If this is the case, I think that it can be said that the iPad’s screens of gridded applications, with the spacial, meaningful relationships become a Design as Text.

In the same way, I’m wondering how this might fit in to what we know about “an experience” and how Duey(?) explains that “an experience” has a discrete beginning and end. I’m not sure how the two might, if at all, fit together.