The Cracker Jacks Phenomenon

“The good news is that in the past five years we have crossed a tipping point in designing products that are authentic, work and feel fantastic, present the user with minimal complexity and provide great value. That is also the bad news. The reason is the well-known Cracker Jacks Phenomenon, namely, The More you Eat, the More You Want.” — Bill Buxton

Some years ago, the speed of development in technology surpassed the consumer’s ability to keep up with it. The reaction against this barrage of new and complex technology was to look for the familiar and authentic. Simple interactions became king – we preferred tweets over podcasts and Instagram effects rather than megapixels.

The consumer now has an incredibly high expectation of technology -not in the specs but in the user experience. There are thousands of YouTube out-of-box-experience posts that testify this fascination about measuring how well we’re being pampered. Anything not meeting our high expectations will die a slow death on the blogosphere.

Few people understand this contemporary design challenge better than Bill Buxton. I am excited to have him in the lineup of amazing speakers at the 2013 International Conference. A principal researcher at Microsoft Research, Bill Buxton has had a 35-year involvement in research, practice and commentary around design, innovation and human aspects of technology.

At the conference, Bill will address this issue head on. In his words:

“The good news is that in the past five years we have crossed a tipping point in designing products that are authentic, work and feel fantastic, present the user with minimal complexity and provide great value. That is also the bad news. The reason is the well-known Cracker Jacks Phenomenon, namely, The More you Eat, the More You Want. Ironically, our very success as a discipline and industry has not solved the complexity problem; it has just moved it from the device to the ever increasing collection of technologies that are starting to populate the ecosystem.”

“The fact is the cumulative complexity of a bunch of simple things is still beyond the human threshold of frustration. This talk is about creating a civil society out of the society of appliances whereby working in concert, more of the right technology results in less complexity and more value.”

Bill’s talk will be one of several dealing with emerging issues created by rapid changes in technology, human interaction and society as a whole. – Paul Hatch, IDSA 2013 International Conference Chair