Three postcards overlaid on Alignment, Wayfinding and Network Thinking
Three postcards overlaid on Alignment, Wayfinding and Network Thinking

This post is a few notes on some ideas raised during the Unlearning Design Thinking workshop at the 2021 Information Architecture Conference. They do not replace the basic ideas of Design Thinking (popularised in the Stanford/Google/Double Diamond models). What I am attempting is to use the idea of Alignment to bring system thinking models closer to how human think.

I am now using three postcards to explain these ideas. I will be running some online/offline workshops later this year.

This post has three main sections:

  • Alignment

Alignment


Cartoon frog from Jurassic Park movie
Cartoon frog from Jurassic Park movie

In the last few weeks there has been a lot of discussion about accessiBe. It is a product that overlays onto websites to ‘fix’ accessibility problems in the original design. It is an automated tool to solve a problem that other professionals try to fix thru adjusting of original code, using defined web standards and engaging with users to check what problems and solutions actually work. (Advice: do not use accessiBe. Read this post by Adrian Roselli for why).

It is the idea of automation that interests me. Automation is offered as clean technical solution to a problem. …


I live in Stroud. It is a small town in the South West of England. It is mostly set in five valleys, carved out over the years by rivers. The town has both a fairly standard selection of shops and a weekly Farmer’s Market. Our family tries to use both and support the local economy (tho the last year has led to more use of Click And Collect for supermarket and Amazon deliveries). This post is about both what I feel I need to shop more easily and also a discussion of what may be better socially and economically.

There…


There is a theory that people with privilege fund and patronise the arts to prevent futures that threaten their privilege. This generally works but went catastrophically wrong (from their perspective) with the Salons and the French Revolution. This is the idea of the arts acting as reconnaissance for conservatism.

What this means is that the expansion of vocabulary and ways of expressing novel ideas is being watched in order to ensure it does not enable radical change. The most extreme version of this ideal is explained in George Orwell’s 1984 and the explanatory note on Newspeak. …


A 6 minute talk for BA Fringe event on why Normal is a problem and why New Nexts are so important.

Normal as Bait and Switch

One issue raised in the talk is that Normal is often talked of as if it were a neutral mathematical concept. Simply how averages cluster.

However, that is not what Normal is now. Over the last 180 years it has been switched from being such a measurement to a target of a type of person. From describing the typical in a population to a default in any population.

This is why BroTech works. It uses datasets and data…


showing both sides of card about judging your sense of energy available and the intensity of place of activity
showing both sides of card about judging your sense of energy available and the intensity of place of activity

I was sending some Etsy orders this week and Comfort/Capacity Cards were in one package. This post is about my attempts to lose my control in workshops to gain comfort for participants.

Everyone have fun (or else)

I run (even now online) experiential workshops on senses and emotions and it is hard to talk about those subjects without experiencing sensory or emotional moments.

However, there is a serious tension in this. I generally get good feedback for workshops but there are valid criticisms about such individual and group activities. Facilitators have the power (due to the temporary authority of holding a place and a time…


Tactile map of The Keep archive in Sussex
Tactile map of The Keep archive in Sussex

Maps help people both create a sense of anticipation and reduce a sense of anxiety about going to a new place. Offering different maps to people with differing physical and cognitive capabilities is offering a better welcome to more people.

Acuity Design creates a lot of tactile maps for blind people to use in transport hubs, museums and other public spaces. We work with clients to understand what needs to be communicated in a map (and what is better communicated thru digital audio or staff encounters). We work with people with a range of forms of visual impairment to ensure…


6 images of ABCD wyafinding process collected together
6 images of ABCD wyafinding process collected together

I make a lot of maps, especially for public spaces like transport hubs and museums. I specialise in tactile maps for blind people. This means I need to understand how humans navigate known and unknown spaces.


Good Dissent in large text on blue background
Good Dissent in large text on blue background

I have registered GoodDissent.com as the start of some 2021 work on ideas of confidence in defying authority and breaking group think for positive reasons.

Good Dissent is idea that came out of Design For Dissent workshops last year and further reading on active listening and communication skills.

At the moment, the web address simply takes you to Etsy and the Good Dissent badges I started selling last December.


New Next: Normal, Colonial Thinking, WEIRD, AI and Post Norma
New Next: Normal, Colonial Thinking, WEIRD, AI and Post Norma

This is the text of a Lightning Talk about Post Normal design I gave in early 2021. You can download the audio talk from Dropbox.

Hello, my name is Alastair Somerville. I run Acuity Design, which does accessible design for museums and public bodies, as well as facilitating workshops for companies and government agencies.

One of the things which comes up a lot in accessibility projects is a phrase and that phrase is Edge Users. It is the idea that there are people who have differing needs or capabilities away from the core target user group. That these people exist…

Alastair Somerville

Sensory Design Consultant, usability researcher and workshop facilitator. www.linkedin.com/in/alastair-somerville-b48b368 Twitter @acuity_design & @visceralUX

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