Seeking: Candidates for a Service Design Internship at Inflection

I am looking for a graduate student intern to conduct a service design internship at Inflection this summer. This person would help me uncover, craft, and articulate a broader service strategy for our offerings, tying together marketing, sales, business development, product design, and member services. You must be familiar with the tools and techniques of service design (customer journey maps, blueprints, etc. etc.)

If you are interested, please let me know in the comments. Thanks!

Oddly nostalgic: the passing of the printed Encyclopædia Britannica

For as long as I can remember, if I didn’t know something, I’d look it up. The age of the internet has turned me into a habitual Googler, but as a kid, it was books — most often the dictionary, occasionally the encyclopedia.

And that encyclopedia? It was the Britannica. I don’t remember exactly how old I was when we got it (12, I think, as we had this 1985 version), but it had a prominent place in our little home. Leather bound. Tiny type. And pages upon pages of facts.

Owning it was definitely an investment on our family’s part. Economically, we were lower-middle class (socio-economically, fairly solid middle class). We were not an acquisitive household, saving for my dad’s predilection for VCRs. But when it came to my education, my capability to learn, my access to knowledge, we did not spare expenses. We bought a set outright, which cost $1,249 at the time (which, according to this calculator is $2676.77 in today’s dollars).

Now, I’m typically not one to wring my hands at the death of the printed book. Long ago I wrote about the benefits of ebooks, and this was particularly true for reference works. So I surprised myself at being affected by the news that the new editions of The Encyclopædia Britannica will no longer be available in print form. Most books are transient things, read once, placed on a shelf, and largely forgotten. The Britannica, though, was a different thing altogether, and key to the experience was its gravity (both figurative and literal). It was a physical presence in our house. Heck, it probably weighed more than my mom.

There’s something to the tangibility of information that allows you to grasp its scope. Clearly, what we now have access to at our fingertips is far greater, and I will never suggest “things were better then,” but I do think what we’re missing, and what my children will definitely miss, is a sense of the real scale of knowledge. Our computers and screens have rendered this information as weightless and abstract, and I wonder if this literal lack of gravity will lead to a sense of a figurative lack of (informational) gravity.

Trend: designers moving from agency/consultancy to in-house

Let me begin by saying how excited I am to have Todd Zaki Warfel join our team at Inflection. I’ve known Todd for a number of years, and have respected his passion, commitment, and sharing within the UX community, and know that he’s going to be a tremendous asset in our efforts moving forward.

I’m also intrigued because Todd’s move seems to be part of a larger trend I’m witnessing, and, obviously, taking part in: designers (and particularly design leaders) moving away from the agency/consulting world and heading in-house. I don’t have a huge sample size, but it’s hard to ignore when you see folks like Andrew Crow and David Cronin go to GE, or Bill DeRouchey join Simple, or former APers such as Leah Buley, Ryan Freitas, Ljuba Milkovic, off the top of my head. And that doesn’t take into account the other people who have approached me since my move and told me of their similar plans, yet to be executed.

I suspect that all these folks realized the same thing I did (and most of them did so long before me): in-house is the frontier of design and user experience. And the typical reasons why people worked at consultancies (variety of projects, working with the best talent) no longer holds true. The design teams at many organizations rival and excel what you typically find in an agency, and thanks to the fracturing of the device landscape and the growing appreciation of the need to address a broader customer experience, in-house designers don’t find themselves just spinning wheels, but working across multiple platforms and challenges.

Interesting times!