The »user« is a means to reflection that is empty and overloaded at the same time, blurring the traditional differences between reception, production and consumption. Its complexity grows tremendously, forcing the design process to treat the user as its ground zero of knowledge.

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The »User« is an empty formula. He/she might be doing anything, the term is not specific about the actual »usage« that is happening. It should come as no surprise that the word is not very common in the public discourse. You can’t put your finger on it. What is it about?

Our relation to the media is…

This is the second part of a series about digital products, their similarities and differences to traditional communication media. Part One: Medium and Commodity.

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Turn on the TV and you will find yourself immediately in the program. We dive into the sound and pictures of one giant, never-ending broadcast that has no beginning and no end. Compared to that, your smartphone is a very polite thing, its apps waiting below the glass surface for your initial touch.

Whatever follows: the designation »application« is already a hint to the fact that apps are not only about information or entertainment. They provide…

This is the opening of a small series about digital products. Its aim is to map connections and break-points between traditional audio-visual media and their digital successors. Keywords: medium, communication, consumption, user, flow, tool, strategy.

From reception to broadcast: twenty years ago, the »new« of new media was their ability to transform recipients into producers. The internet created new public spheres where everyone with a computer and an opinion or a cute dog could grab a keyboard and a camera and start doing. Meaning: digital pervasion did not start with word processors or computer games, but with media of communication.

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How to clear up? People don’t know anymore. Piling up things, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to be a problem, if we take a look at our parents’ and grandparents’ attics and basements (if they are lucky enough to own a house). The results of a 70-year long lust for shopping and hoarding that we have to deal with.

Even worse, the introduction of 1-Euro-shops (with the Euro itself) and the inevitable IKEA enabled people with small budgets to fill their apartments with unnecessary items. Everybody has too much stuff. What to do?

Managing things — or not

Everybody is constantly managing objects. What…

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In his book Goods: Advertising, Urban Space, and the Moral Law of the Image, Italian Philosopher Emanuele Coccia reads advertising as a collective imagination of The Good Life. What are the benefits of that perspective? Take everything at face value and act accordingly.

Advertising sucks, that is the mild description. It is noisy, follows you everywhere and constantly unloads an imagery of falsehoods upon you. Meeting a commercial is like talking to a person you cannot trust. The person’s interest is purely strategical, there is no open discourse, only purpose: to make me buy something. And that makes it unethical.

Robin Baum

I write about products, images and marketing from a cultural point of view (with a heavy German accent).

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