How Systems Effect Output


In Code and other Laws of Cyberspace, Larry Lessig argues that we need to pay close attention to how systems are designed if we want to understand their effects. The way that systems are designed can have a huge impact on what they produce. Everything from the words that are used to interact with users to the underling architecture of a system can effect how a system is used and what gets produced as a result.

In this post I wanted to make some observations on existing website interfaces to see if their design may be effecting what is produced. I should point out however that while the design of system can influence how it gets used and what it produces, in many cases it is the desired interactions and outcomes that influences how system are also designed.

Dan Ariely asks, Are we in control of our own decisions?

As an introduction to this post I want to reference Dan Ariely’s TED talk on Dec of 2008. Dan Ariely is the author of Predictably Irrational in this talk he shows some ways in which we are influenced to a large degree not by our own rational judgment but by systems and other outside influences. (From 5.00 to 8.00 min) Dan Ariely observes to how the even the design of a form can have a massive impact on the decisions people make.

“We wake up in the morning and we feel we make decisions… However what this is actually saying is that many of the decisions we make are not residing within us. They are residing with the person who is designing that form. The person who designed that form will have a huge influence on what you end up doing.”

Language and Branding

There are plenty of marketing and advertising books that explore how language and visual design can influence people. When designing platforms aimed at involving users it is vital to use language that communicates this. Youtube, MySpace


Website Discussion: Comments / Threaded Comments / Forums /

One Response to “How Systems Effect Output”

  1. Hi Michael after months of watching the development of the John St site, I realised there was a website attached and I’m really intrigued by your project. How did the developers and you hook up? Are they supplying paints and resources or have you financed this yourself? I’d like to feature this on the (which has a slightly different focus to yours, being on built rather than pre-built environments). But keen to know more about your project in terms of the raison d’etre behind it!
    Look forward to hearing from you.
    best regards Sophie Jerram

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.