Mindy Sue brilliantly interprets Emmett Williams’s poem Sweethearts as a digital experience.

Sweethearts is one of my favorite books, and I’ve posted about it before, as it’s had a huge influence on my own work. If you haven’t read it yet, Mindy’s site is a great way to dive in.

“I think it’s also worth considering how the term “platform”-software that powers a wide community of networked interactions, devices and experiences—may function in relationship to the question of access. Platform is a euphemism for control: build the platform and you rule the territory by granting or restricting access to people, places, things or data. Software platforms are to some degree institutional, but museums also function and describe themselves as platforms, in a broader sense. Sometimes this description of the museum-as-platform is conceptual, other times it is describing the walls themselves and the art they display. The museum building, you might say, is a certain platform for social interaction organized around viewing art. Transferring this concept to the Web is more complex: what if certain artworks from a museum are stolen, damaged, sold or repossessed? If these works disappear from the museum’s walls, what are the implications for that museum’s digital audiences? These works could still be displayed on its website. But something would be different.”
re:form has published a fascinating essay from Lauren Archer on the history of the [x] to close button that is central to many of today’s desktop interfaces. She goes digging through the archives and finds, interestingly enough, that the earliest use of the interaction occurs in the Atari TOS:


  This is a screenshot of Atari TOS 1.0. Built on top of GEM to be ported to the Atari ST in 1985, from the computers division of Atari Corp. It is the earliest example of the [x] button I’ve been able to find.
  
  So why here? Why now?
  
  This may be another example of Atari, an American company, borrowing from Japanese culture. The first example, of course, being the name Atari itself, a Japanese term from the game Go that means “to hit the target”.
  
  The use of [x] for close and [o] for open could come from the Japanese symbols batsu and maru.

re:form has published a fascinating essay from Lauren Archer on the history of the [x] to close button that is central to many of today’s desktop interfaces. She goes digging through the archives and finds, interestingly enough, that the earliest use of the interaction occurs in the Atari TOS:

This is a screenshot of Atari TOS 1.0. Built on top of GEM to be ported to the Atari ST in 1985, from the computers division of Atari Corp. It is the earliest example of the [x] button I’ve been able to find.

So why here? Why now?

This may be another example of Atari, an American company, borrowing from Japanese culture. The first example, of course, being the name Atari itself, a Japanese term from the game Go that means “to hit the target”.

The use of [x] for close and [o] for open could come from the Japanese symbols batsu and maru.

Company culture as interaction design

"Artificial cultures are instant. They’re big bangs made of mission statements, declarations, and rules. They are obvious, ugly, and plastic. Artificial culture is paint.

Real cultures are built over time. They’re the result of action, reaction, and truth. They are nuanced, beautiful, and authentic. Real culture is patina.”
—Jason Fried, You don’t create a culture

I’ve been thinking about office culture a lot lately—how to develop it, how to foster it, and how to create it. I’ve long felt that a lot of company cultures feel fake—that if a culture is mandated or initiated from the top they are actually inauthentic within the company.

I’ve started to think about culture in the same way I think about interaction design. And like interaction design, culture is not static, it is ever-changing and always moving. Companies are built by teams which are built by departments which are people by people and each new employee adds a layer to the culture and they bring their own perspectives, insights, and backgrounds into the fold.

A principle I return to often in thinking about interaction design is the idea of frameworks and platforms. Designing frameworks means the designer has the first word, not the last. It means the designer gets to start the conversation but leaves room for improvisation and for others to add and contribute.

Real culture isn’t rigid and can’t be mandated. You can start the conversation, but each employee brings their own experiences to the table. Each new employee, each new voice will change your company culture in a small way and that’s okay. That’s good! Trying to enforce a particular company culture will be fake and leave employees disconnected from their work. All you can do is add your contribution and create space for the culture to move and grow and evolve and patina.

Further reading:
What Your Culture really says
When Culture Turns into Policy