Joseph C Lawrence
Joseph C Lawrence
A designer and a philosopher, trying to help designers be better by understanding more about the mind.

Cognitive Artifacts (complementary & competitive)

I have been thinking about the idea of the extended mind for a couple of years now, and the design of tools as essentially parts of the human mind. Its from this perspective that I really love the work of Bret Victor – especially his ‘Media for thinking the unthinkable’. It was therefore with great […]


Prediction & Surprise in Design

One of the main, overarching, prevailing views of the human mind in cognitive science at the moment is that it is a prediction machine, at pretty much every level of architecture. Philosophers and scientists such as Andy Clark, Karl Friston & Anil Seth describe a picture of cognition in which we (our brains, our minds), […]


The Dark Side of Good AI - 'More human than humans'

I want you to imagine a future. A good future. The future that the people who are currently warning us about AI are hoping to create. Actually, before you do that, let’s just quickly do a two minute rehash of the threat of AI, as it is often presented to us by the likes of […]


The best (though deep and complex) way to design novel, brilliant interfaces

I recently wrote about prototype theory, and how it supports the notion that we should abide by design conventions, or at least introduce new design patterns very gradually. Let’s face it though, that’s not where the fun, the fame and the glory lie. Truly memorable, creative and powerful design is often defies convention and introduces something that […]


Prototype theory & design conventions

There’s an old rule in interface design that you should stick to conventions, not try to re-invent the wheel, and design UI controls and features in the way people would expect them. This guideline is at the heart of many debates in the design world when new UI features start getting used more frequently (for […]


An alternative to Personas

Our understanding of psychology is growing and changing constantly. In universities and research centres, the fundamental concept of what a human mind is, and how it works, is evolving rapidly. The everyday world of work, and products and our daily lives lags behind in this understanding however, and as a result a lot of the […]


What Ayahuasca taught me about design

A couple of months ago I found myself in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, in Peru. In fact I found myself lying on my back on a small mattress in the dark with 14 other people, waiting for an extremely powerful visionary and hallucinogenic medicine I had just drunk to take effect. The 6 […]


Genes, Silos & Gollum

It’s just so much easier to imagine that we are all neat individuals, that have consistent personality traits, motivations and desires, isn’t it? It’s so much easier to pitch ideas to clients, and rationalise designs and solutions when we all buy into the illusion of the rock solid self inside all of us. Well, alas, being a […]


Two theories of us

We consume a lot of information these days about psychology and neuroscience. Daily papers and popular magazines almost always include the results of some study or other, that give us further insights into the way humans are – what our motivations are, how we process information, the effects of our emotional states and so on. […]


The Extended Mind

The term ‘Extended Mind’ was coined by Andy Clark and David Chalmers in 1998. As far as I’m concerned it’s perhaps the most fascinating area of Cognitive Science and Philosophy for designers and makers to know about. This is because it explains how things out there in the real world (a notebook, an iPhone, Google Glass…) […]


Minds

People talk about ‘minds’ all the time. “It was on my mind”, “I changed my mind”, “mind-reading”, “the mind’s eye” – and it is incredibly important if you want to do good design, to understand what a (human) mind is and how it operates, but how well do we really understand this? The Great Oracle of Wikipedia’s […]


Embodied Cognition: A brief introduction

Embodied cognition is a little difficult to define, so I’m going to do it mostly by way of examples. In short though it is the view that our bodies – the shapes they are in , the movements they make, the way we use our motor systems – contribute to and even form the basis […]


Humans evolved with tools, and now we can't live without them

University College London Anthropologist Matt Pope has some interesting and clearly true things to say about how tools have shaped our evolution. Our invention and use of technology is a defining characteristic of our species. Few other species use tools at all, and none with anywhere the complexity that humans do. The fact is though, […]


A lesson in consciouness

Consciousness is the big kid in the playground. Something we all think we know about, but which has remained somewhat elusive to Science and Philosophy. I just want to share a quick lesson in consciousness now, which is more of a question provoker, than an answer to anything. I recently read ‘Consciousness Explained’ by Daniel […]


Microsoft Hololens

The Microsoft Hololens looks very exciting. In a nutshell, it’s a headset that projects virtual objects and images into your visual field. So it’s kind of like virtual reality in that you are seeing things that seem real, but aren’t, in front of you, but you are also seeing what is really in front of […]


The Med Sensation Robotic Sensor Glove

Here is a great example of how we are moving away from interfaces, as smart technology becomes more integrated with our natural senses and abilities. The ‘Med Sensation’ does two things – it augments our hands’ natural sensing abilities, and also quantifies the feedback that we would normally have to just intuit, by recording data […]


Minimum Viable Interface - The Beginnings

I have been toying with this idea for a while now – an equivalent of the ‘Minimum Viable Product’ (MVP) concept for interface design. I’d therefore like to coin the phrase ‘Minimum Viable Interface’ (MVI) as the general umbrella term for my thoughts on how to go about the constant process of striving for perfect […]


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