With the attention given to travel lately (Dopplr springs to mind, as well as my own increased flight frequency this year) I thought I’d finally write up my experiences with a jet lag prevention technique called Jet Lag Passport.
I was planning my trip to Las Vegas earlier this year when I was approached by Daimon Sweeney. He invited me to check out this small booklet he’d written (sold on his website for 10.25 GBP) that described a pressure points and meditation routine aimed at syncing your biological clock to local time. Being a Fortean and martial artist, I saw no reason not to try it. I printed out the PDF he’d sent me for free (in exchange for a blog post if I liked it) and stashed in my carry-on bag. While taking off I took a look at it for the first time. The routine was easy to remember and takes up very little time. You repeat it for every two hours of flight.
Although it’s always hard to objectively say whether this stuff actually works (and to be honest I feel that’s beside the point) it worked for me. I had a short stay in Vegas (I arrived on Friday evening and left on Monday evening) and a long flight in comparison. I got into the rhythm of things on arrival effortlessly and had none of the weird sudden attacks of fatigue so typical of jet lag. This stuff may not be for everyone, perhaps an open mind and some experience with meditation (however small) is a prerequisite, but I’ll be sure to give it a try the next time I take one of these long flights.
Check out the booklet at Daimon’s website and who knows, if you promise to blog it, he’ll let you try it for free…
There’s been a few posts from the UX community in the recent past on flow states (most notably at 37signals’s Signal vs. Noise). This got me thinking about my own experiences of flow and what this tells me about how flow states could be induced with interfaces.
A common example of flow states is when playing a game (the player forgets she is pushing buttons on a game pad and is only mindful of the action at hand). I’ve experienced flow while painting but also when doing work on a PC (even when creating wireframes in Visio!) However, the most interesting flow experiences were while practising martial arts.
The interesting bit is that the flow happens when performing techniques in partner exercises or even fighting matches. These are all situations where the ‘system’ consists of two people, not one person and a medium mediated by an interface (if you’re willing to call a paint brush an interface that is).
To reach a state of flow in martial arts you need to stop thinking about performing the technique while performing it, but in stead be mindful of the effect on your partner and try to visualize your own movements accordingly. When flow happens, I’m actually able to ‘see’ a technique as one single image before starting it and while performing it I’m only aware of the whole system, not just myself.
Now here’s the beef. When you try to translate this to interface design, it’s clear that there’s no easy way to induce flow. The obvious approach, to create a ‘disappearing’ interface that is unobtrusive, minimal, etc. is not enough (it could even be harmful). In stead I’d like to suggest you need to make your game, software or site behave more like a martial arts fighter. It needs to push or give way according to the actions of it’s partner. You really need to approach the whole thing as an interconnected system where forces flow back and forth. Flow will happen in the user when he or she can work in a harmonious way. Usually this requires a huge amount of mental model adaptation on the user’s part… When will we create appliances that can infer the intentions of the user and change their stance accordingly? I’m not talking about AI here, but what I would like to see is stuff more along the lines of flOw.
Just a short post to check in. I arrived back from Vienna this weekend. The week’s training was a lot of fun, very hot and quite successful. I managed to pass all my examinations which means I’m 2nd dan Takeda Ryu aikido now, and have received my assistants-license. Huzzah!
I didn’t take that many photos, most of them after a day’s training, but there’s a few up at Flickr now. Here’s my favourite shot:
I’ll be off to Vienna in a few hours. I’ll be training Takeda Ryu for five days at the Matsumae Budo Center and resting my battered body in the Bosei Hotel. The week will include a tournament and some examinations, so I’m excited to see the outcome of those. I’ll be back on the air next week!
Or in other words, what I’ve been up to, besides keeping myself busy over at Info.nl.
Reboot 8 is shaping up to be another great conference. I’m already looking forward to seeing Matt Webb and Chris Heathcote speak, among others. I’m also still thinking about doing something myself, the question is: what?
While we’re on the topic of conferences, make sure you don’t miss The Web and Beyond — the 10th annual SIGCHI.NL event. I’ve been helping with the organisation and must say it’s promising to be an interesting look at the web 2.0 phenomenon from an interaction design perspective.
I have a heap of articles and posts lying around waiting to be fed to my del.icio.us account (I actually read all that stuff before bothering you with it). Now to just find the time to tag them all – to think this stuff is supposed to have a low cognitive load!
Right after visiting Reboot 8 I’ll be off to beautiful Italy for some much needed R&R. Be sure to keep an eye on my Flickr photostream for slightly crappy cameraphone shots of Napels, Rome, Florence and Venice. Looking forward to that!
Finally, you may have wondered about the “martial arts enthusiast” bit in this blog’s introduction. Between all of the above I’m getting myself ready for some examinations in Takeda Ryu this summer. When I get back from Vienna, I hope to be a certified teacher’s assistant and second dan in Aikido. Wish me luck.
Now back to our regular programming – deathly silence while I get some more client work out the door.