Event design may be more important than you think. I’m going to argue that event design changes society. And I’ve got legendary communications theorist Marshall McLuhan and computer scientist Alan Kay on my side!
User Experience and Interface Design
My inspiration is an interesting Hewlett Packard Enterprise article: 15 books that influenced top UX and UI influencers by Joe Stanganelli. (UX and UI are abbreviations for computer hardware/software User eXperience and User Interface design.) Here’s an excerpt:
“Many UX and UI specialists take a great deal of inspiration and learning from books that have little, if anything, to do with UX.
This is particularly true for storied computer scientist Alan Kay, one of the inventors of the modern graphical user interface. A self-described “voracious reader” since age 3, Kay provided me with a list of more than two dozen authors—let alone books—that had a profound and “shocking” effect on his thinking and work. The works of one particular author, however, gets special attention from Kay: media theorist H. Marshall McLuhan. Kay points to three McLuhan works from the 1960s:
- “The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man” (1962), in which McLuhan predicted the advent of the World Wide Web more than 30 years before it came to be
- “Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man” (1964)
- “The Medium Is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects” (1967)
Together, says Kay, these books identify a fundamental concept of UX and human factors: that humans evolutionarily adapt their ways of thinking to fit communication technologies. Thus, design changes society [emphasis added].”
Event design changes society
Our society is defined by our communication technologies. As these technologies evolve, society adapts to them and is changed by them. For example, the development and design of touch interfaces has revolutionized what we can do on modern phones. Providing inexpensive ubiquitous communication and knowledge retrieval to most of the human race has significantly changed society.
Event design has a similar impact. Readers of this blog will know that I’m not equating event design with glitz or logistics. Rather event design is about what happens during an event, which is supported by the designed processes that make participant-driven and participation-rich meetings fundamentally different from the old information broadcast model.
Meetings have become a crucial supplier of professional — and hence — societal development. Traditional events espouse the outdated philosophy that only a few people should talk while the rest listen. As these designs fade away, participatory meeting models take their place. New, superior designs foster attendee connection and participation around wanted and needed learning.
Such fundamental transformation of event process inevitably creates societal transformation. Event design changes society!
And that’s a good thing.