From dating experience to real identity crisis of the web

Posted on December 11, 2009


If anybody cares, I haven’t access my blog, facebook, twitter, IM and any other social media for exactly one month. During this period I asked myself one single question: what does humanity really mean today on the web? What is the biggest challenge here for the next generation’s user experience design?…

One month ago my best friend’s fiancee broke up with her because an article on the 10th page on Google’s search engine under her name: A highly manipulated article accusing her irresponsible behavior in terms of relationships with her ex. And it turned into a deal breaker. My friend’s dream of marrying in a rich family is officially over. Now look at what fashionable girls do for dating : You meet someone in the bar, you Google his name, you ask your personal lawyer to count how much money he make..and then you choose if you go out a date with him. Google becomes our biggest obstacle of finding true love.

Yeah we don’t do this 5 years ago. Now we blame the internet gets to transparent to ban us making any mistakes. Today we are not who we really are, we are what google says who we are. Everything is openly connected and we’ve been trying so hard to make things open: making browsers more open, more social and more you, making everything connected, making open IDs. Suddenly we found out: The more we try to design for “you”, the less “you” can express yourself freely. Maybe it is time for the UX designers to make the user experience less open, more humane. And you know what’s ironic: it costs three years to make everything, but it might cost more than three decades to make the openness disappear.

When we talk about user experience, we always say we are engaging in making people’s life better. Nowadays we’re even trying to embed the most intricate and sophisticated human emotions into the consideration of design: like religious needs and sexual needs. However we designed a huge system that ignore the most basic one: The need to lie. Or they need the freedom to lie. If we are really aiming to design a YOU centric web, this question becomes unavoidable and probably be the hottest one in the next 10 years: How do we design a web that people can have real freedom within?

The web has changed, thus you have changed. But I know I love the world better before Columbia found the new land – when things were harder but full of unknown hope and inspiration.

Wei Zhou

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