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Abundance and UX

by Jon Lax
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Is abundance necessary for user experience to thrive?

I spent some time this weekend listening and thinking about Chris Anderson’s talk from PopTech! . Chris is looking to move beyond the Long Tail and is focusing on the notion of what happens when you look at the world through a lens of abundance rather than the classic Adam Smith economic model of scarcity.

He explains that Alan Kay creates the GUI because he imagines a world where computing power is abundant rather than scarce. In a world where computing power is viewed as scarce you don’t create things like icons, because it requires too much of the processor’s scarce resources.

What happens when you look at the world through a lens of abundance?

I propose that the best user experiences sit on top of an infrastructure layer of abundance. This generation of growth in the digital channel is directly attributable to abundance. Abundance means things get cheap because they are plentiful. Cheap servers, cheap software, cheap bandwidth all set the stage for great UX.

User Experience and abundance are like chocolate and peanut butter. In a world of abundance we are forced to solve problems for users. How do I make an abundant world useful and useable? Amazon’s “people who bought this” only occurs because of abundance. If there were only 100 products for sale, you just don’t need features like that.

In fact, abundance on its own would be difficult to get value out of without user experience design. What good is having access to 9 million songs, if you can’t find what you want?

I like Chris’ view on abundance, I am interested to see where he goes with this. Until then, I will continue to look at the world as abundant rather than scarce.

post authorJon Lax

Jon Lax, Teehan + Lax  helps client define and design customer experiences in the digital channel. He has been working in digital media since 1994. He started at Shift Magazine in 1994 where he helped develop the first ad supported site in Canada. In 1995 he received a National Magazine Award Nomination for his writing in the magazine. Jon went on to Grey Interactive in 1996, where he became Sr. Copywriter. He has won Cannes Lions, <span class="caps">CMA</span> <span class="caps">RSVP</span> Awards, Marketing Magazine and Advertising &amp; Design Club of Canada Awards for his work. He has sat as a judge for Marketing Magazine, <span class="caps">CMA</span> RSVPs, London International Advertising Awards and Applied Arts Awards. In 2002 Jon was named one of &#8220;30 to Watch: Marketing&#8217;s Next Generation&#8221; by Marketing Magazine.

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