Sunday, June 28, 2009


Brilliant post from Dan Lockton on the design problems of making smart meters usable and useful.

In a sense, it relates to this post at the RSA's Social Brain about "the dark side of "nudge""; of course, the downside of all these neat ideas about adjusting people's decision processes into ones that are more rational, or at least less harmful, isn't a sinisterly hyperefficient world where all troublesome individuality has been, blah, blah, but instead a world of undermaintained, malfunctioning good intentions.

In science-fiction terms, rather than a space-opera dystopia, it's a New Wave one we've got to watch; all greasy handrails, important safety devices rigged to stop them making a noise, and infinite reserves of bitterness and resentment. From Dan's scenario-planning:
The display is still there on the fridge door, but when the batteries powering the display run out, and it goes blank, no-one notices.
Quite; like the indefinitely deferred maintenance that tends to kill modern buildings. In fact, what that snippet reminded me of was democracy.

1 comment:

Dan Lockton said...

Hi Alex,

Hope you don't mind if I use your "a world of undermaintained, malfunctioning good intentions" quote here and there (attributed of course). Am going to see some people from the Department of Energy and Climate Change's smart meter team on Monday.


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