09 January 2013 // 2013-09

Broken Experience

Broken experience between Twitter and Facebook, on my phone.

The other day I was cooking coconut curry and quickly flicking through Twitter updates while stirring.

A tweet from my alma mater went by, and I stopped to see what they had to say. Usually I don't keep up that much with the latest college sports scores, but I'm curious to learn about new things going on at the school.

The Oxy post was a retweet with message: "RIP to a California legend MT @KCET: We regret to inform you that Huell has passed away. ow.ly/gC3Qw."

I paused for a moment. I didn't know who Huell was. At least I didn't think I recognized the name. It didn't sound like anyone from the school, and it didn't sound like a politician or California political figure. Admittedly, I don't live in California any more, and I'm no longer a student. Who was Huell and why was this person so important to the college that they sent out a tweet and used the word "legend."

I clicked on the link.

And things died right there.

Facebook. "You must log in first." For a news article? Really? What was @KCET doing that they somehow managed to hide their post behind a Facebook wall?

Remember that this all happened in a matter of seconds, while I stirred curry and casually checked Twitter on my phone. I went from mild curiosity to contempt, projecting my feelings equally at Twitter, Facebook, the Oxy Twitter account, and the @KCET account.

I don't use Facebook that much, and I definitely didn't care enough to log into Facebook while making lunch just to get more details on a link in a tweet that only half caught my attention. It wasn't that important.

I've been thinking about the actual concept of "experience" lately. As a consultant working in the user experience space, "experience" is a word that I hear thrown around a lot. It often gets applied to my job title and my work, and I've never been that comfortable with the phrase "user experience."

While I've been spending time researching and thinking about what really defines a person's experience (more on that at a later date), I know that memory, perceptions, and expectations all play a role.

Experiences are unique to the individual, but as creators of products and services, we often try to influence or orchestrate experiences for others.

In this case, my expectations were not met. It's a common pattern to see a tweet, click on a link, receive a web page, and scan the screen for relevant or interesting information. The main focus of my attention was elsewhere (cooking lunch), and anything that breaks this pattern would be unexpected and out of the ordinary. Hitting a Facebook wall on my phone after a tweet? Too much effort required to complete that task; not enough motivation.

In 2013 I hope to spend more time studying the cognitive processes behind memories, perceptions, expectations, will, emotions, and imagination to better understand the package that is "experience."

Incidently, I did later look up "Huell" because I was still curious. Huell Howser was a TV host with a show called California's Gold. I actually have seen a few snippets before on PBS, although I can't say I've ever watched a full show.

Here is a brief clip about Eagle Rock, the namesake for the Eagle Rock neighborhood of Los Angeles, where Occidental College is located.

Author: Erin Jo Richey
URL: http://erinjorichey.com/thumos/articles/broken-experience

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