#dConstruct - Don Norman on embracing systems and complexity

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

![Don Norman at dConstruct 2011](http://www.onemanandhisblog.com//IMG_9199 - Version 2.jpg "IMG_9199 - Version 2.jpg")

Don Norman appears to be scene setting – he’s talking us through many of the current issues in technology. He’s given us a little light Google-bashing, talking about the familiar issues that you are not Google’s users (unless you’re an advertiser) – you’re the product. The nymwars around Google+. The lack of design expertise.

And others – Apple and its rules.  So switch to Android – and you have to design for dozens of different devices, screen sizes and versions of the OS, instead of two.

And now we have tablets. There’s no consistent language of what you do to achieve any particular task across devices yet (and Apple is busy disrupting ideas by reversing scrolling in Lion, too).

“It’s a great challenge – and we’re still learning. Are you ready?”

The distinction between devices is blurring, you can’t be focused on a single device type any more. Interfaces are changing and blurring.

Apple licensed music, and made it easy to sell songs at a reasonable price. They made it easy to find music. iTunes is an SAP database – they took that complicated database and made it easy to use. And they made it possible for other people to develop accessories. And they made an “iPod approved” system which meant they could make money from that ecosystem. Amazon has done many of these things with the Kindle. Kindle dominates because it has the easiest system.

Twitter: Built of social clusters of people. Retweets get you from one cluster to another. Twitter provides the tools, and we provide the content (and the usage methodology, too – users came up with @replies and #hashtags). We’re curating and editing through these social processes.

“You need to think systems” – as opposed to a single app or website.

Ah, I’m beginning to remember the style of dConstruct from last year – some of these talks are so wide-ranging (if you’re being kind) or rambling (if you’re not) that they’re hard to summarise in a post. Norman is effectively exploring how we need to shift our mindsets from single products to systems, that we build in co-operation with others, be they other companies, or our users.



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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.