The Mulholland Drive of Innovation

This morning I found myself discussing the strange, surreal world of David Lynch and what a feat it was for him to take a mass TV audience hooked on the seemingly straight-laced crime drama that was Twin Peaks and totally mess with the audience’s expectations and perceptions on every level… Until the metaphysical became the norm and it was okay to be overtaken by evil spirits or for mystical characters to tell you clues in your dreams.

The great thing about cinema is however high-brow your aim, it must be pinned down to images, words, actions, committed to celluloid. A movie does not exist as purely a metaphorical exercise. One must commit.

In creating new innovations, one often has to deal with fuzzy themes and explorations rather than tangible ideas. I’ve found this can often be mis-leading in a team’s quest for great ideas – if you can’t take the fuzzy themes in-front of you and express them as concrete ideas that a user has to interact with through screens or objects then it’s likely there is no idea there. This does not mean that the team is committing to any single idea, it is merely testing out the hypothesis that actual products exist in this realm. It a matter of transitioning from saying something like ‘people can communicate in subtle ways through our service’ to saying ‘the user opens the app and they can select a color to match their mood…’ Now we can begin to have a discussion about what subtle communication really means.

By being able to discuss ideas at a real, concrete level, the team can begin to critique it based on shared physical experiences than on metaphors we might all interpret differently.

And for me the genius of Lynch is how brilliantly he can translate the metaphysical, surreal themes of finding oneself a completely different person into a literal expression on film.

I wonder what he would do with interaction design.


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