Some Things My Brain Is Chewing On

The Food For Thought employee break room experiment in user-centered technology (user-centered design) is in every nook and cranny of my mind this morning.

The first and most exciting thing happened yesterday when my boss (our owner) gave me permission to make this project the subject matter my dissertation. My research is focused primarily on user-centered technology as presented by Robert Johnson in his book by the same name. Johnson’s subtitle, A Rhetoric Theory for Computers and Other Mundane Artifacts, is really resonating with me as I continually analyze my goals, tasks, and the motivations that underpin them regarding this break room project.

I’m also tying in Adorno’s The Culture Industry (particularly sub-cultures of retail and it’s sub-sub cultures of consumerism, buyers, vending, suppliers, technologists, etc). Clay Spinuzzi’s Tracing Genre’s Through Organizations will serve as my third point of triangulation. His manner of dispelling the myth of designers-as-saviors who swoop in to save users is resonating with more clarity every day. In other words, by using the technology that my team designs (an unattended self-service kiosk) to operate our own employee break room, my new perspective as a user (and the genres I create, centrifugally, to adapt my tasks to the system’s limitations – and/or vice versa) helps me see that innovation does indeed start with the user. Designers are merely conduits who must research, analyze, and prioritize user innovations in rhetorically meaningful ways (via centripetal TPC acts).

So, back to the mundane meatiness (apologies to R. Johnson) of the project.

The first thing that crossed my mind was that today is Thursday and my next order is due to arrive tomorrow. But I don’t know for sure 1) if that’s pretty much a sure thing and 2) what time it’s likely to get here. Knowing both of these things would be very helpful to me, and if I was using the ECRS Gateway for automatic EDI integration with my supplier (KeHE), I’d have the situational awareness I need to stop wondering. The Gateway provides a wealth of automated notifications, all of which display on a real-time dashboard accessible via a browser. These include PO acknowledgements, ship notifications, invoices, etc. Gateway also handles the insertion of new items into the database, which I’m doing manually now.

Also, two guys from our vending operator advisory board will be in town this afternoon for a meeting in which we’ll discuss all the things they and their break room operators need.

So much more…

Vending operators, restocking, recycling, coffee, Boone Barr display (move candy dispenser), sit-and-eat (ipods on wall), rodents, menu rotation, loyalty add value, opt-in/out of marketing (current method for filtering), etc.


About burtaycock

Father of 2 great boys, interaction designer, doodler, student of life.
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