Luxurious software

Posted on April 15, 2009

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Sounds intriguing, I know. Software as a luxury. I had a hard time propose and market this idea to my peers. It indeed comes from my terribly artistic psyche, but that’s also a buzzword hidden in all the things we talk about today, User-centered design, web 3.0, SNS, etc., I have been thinking about this for a while, and I define the thesis work I have been working on as a cutting-edge luxurious software for collectors to express themselves, manage their collections, and fundamentally, turn their mundane everyday life into a scared, ritual journey. (You may see this work in the next CHI conference).
I want to start with the term luxury. Luxury is the state of great comfort and extravagant living, it is an inessential, desirable item that is expensive or difficult to obtain. This sounds like so contradictory to the definition of a software, which is, traditionally, viewed as a tool that suppose to help people to accomplish a certain task, instead of fulfilling some extravagant emotionally needs. I also assume “luxury software”’s core concept will not be associated to luxurious price, but luxurious experiences.
There’re a lot of existing softwares deal with luxurious experiences, the popular ones are facebook and twitter, perceived generally as social softwares, but essentially contain a large part of luxurious component.
As the concept of luxurious experience comes to the digital domain, we do need a deep study of what existing conventions in the physical world should be borrowed, and which conventions should be abandoned to achieve a better luxurious experience in virtual world. The transition of old-form software(productive product, desktop apps) to new-form software(experience product, web apps) is phenomenal. I tried to avoid the concept of “software as an art form” but “software as an luxurious product”, however, I do see a lot of opportunities for traditional artists, filmmakers, composers and product designers to participate into the process of user-centered design, helping interaction designers to impose better pitches for the creative leap.

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