Google is lost and they just need to stop

Alastair Somerville
1 min readMay 27, 2024

Free version https://acuity.design/google-is-lost-and-needs-to-stop/

When the most powerful man at the most powerful data company says he has no solution to #AI problems. Google CEO Sundar Pichai talks about this in a Futurism article.

There is a solution, just not the one he wants.

Wayfinding

There’s a lovely Wayfinding practical article from the 1950’s (I have a PDF from the original children’s book – contact me for a copy).

The problem is that lost people panic and think that going forward is the best idea.

It isn’t.

The bias to movement as solution is very strong and very wrong.

On not getting lost

When lost, as Google clearly are, there are three steps.

1) Stop

2) Gather your thoughts

3) Move backwards, seeking out where you recognise and where you felt safe

On the last point, it is also true that being mindful and aware of where you move thru as you go forward is important to not getting lost in the first place.

Prevention thru attention.

Systems of movement

Most systems are biased to the idea of forward movement. User journeys, road maps, etc. are mostly represented as linear paths – from here to there. It’s not necessarily a good way to think of projects or products.

Design has not helped with ideas of frictionless and deceptive patterns. These make movement too easy and stopping or going back too hard.

Movement is important to human sense making but sometimes it is best to just stop.

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Alastair Somerville

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