November 11-12, I attended #slush15 as a finalist for the Science Pitching Competition organized by Slush & Kaskasmedia. It was a pleasure to present my idea among so fantastic works (the winner team have developed a novel cartilage repair platform).
My presentation concerned addictive vs. sustainable design of digital services. While it is important to engage users, even engagement can go overboard. At worst too engaging design turns users into addicts no longer in control of their use. This is problematic for everyone. For companies the biggest problem is that unlike addicted animals, addicted people can become aware of their addiction. I claim that as people start to feel less like users, and more like being used themselves, they will turn away. For example, if people feel that the only option for continuous smartphone checking is no smartphone use at all, they will start to dump their smartphones.
The solution? Socially sustainable design that aims not at abusing users, but rather at empowering them. Hence, the next generation design is that which enables users to regain control and find the middle of the road.