Response: The Psychopathology of Everyday Things

The first reaction I had was a laugh. When I looked at the teapot, and finally realized the joke, I had a grin on my face. What made the beginning more funny was that the “Norman door” thing was actually real, and the doors that bug me every day are actually named after Norman.

One example that reminded me was a flashlight I had back when I was in China. It was very simple, yet as a kid I spent hours and hours to figure out how to turn it on. Since I was so accustomed to thinking that flashlights always had a switch, usually buttons, I was analyzing the object so meticulously that I was almost about to dismember the whole thing. When I almost gave up, I rotated the bottom part of the flashlight (like how you rotate the cap of a water bottle) and it worked! The creative yet unpopular design of the flashlight reminded me of a similar object with low discoverabilility.

One question (and a thought) however, that came to mind while reading this was that I do agree generally that most machines and products that we utilize should have great discoverability and understanding, we should not generalize this and state the ALL products should do so. This is because some are intended for us to question its usage and that curiosity is what makes the product sell. For instance, when I first came to the old market near WTC mall, I bought a wooden box that seemed normal, but had a secret pocket inside to hide my most precious goods. Had most people known this, I am sure that the functionality of the object would have decreased immensely into the state of just being a wooden box with extra slots.

As I scrolled through the photos at the end, another funny example occurred, as I was able to relate to the author. He was in a London hotel where the sink was supposed to be pushed instead of draining automatically or with a lid to cover. That way, the sink was like a switch; once pushed, it would not drain the water, which confused the author as he was accustomed to other designs of sinks. I too had the same problem when I first faced bathroom sinks here at NYUAD, which is why when I saw his example I started laughing as well.

All in all, this was a very enjoyable text for me to read, and really had me thinking again about new categories to define how “good” or how “bad” products are really are, in this case their aim for consumers and how they are designed for these people to use them.

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