The User Experience in Saving the World


Advocacy Campaigning

Advocacy is defined as the act of supporting a cause or issue to achieve a desired result. It is your actions directed specifically at changing the world for the better, however, you define that. Whilst a campaign is simply an organized course of action to achieve a goal.

An advocacy campaign, as opposed to a marketing or political campaign, is differentiated by its intention to achieving one of these four types of goals:

  • raising awareness
  • helping more people contribute to the end goal
  • aligning opinion formers
  • lobbying decision makers

These goals broadly describe what the campaign needs to achieve to be be successful, but does not capture what it means to be the user or ‘advocate’ of a campaign.

The Experience of Everything

I recently came across Jesse James Garrett‘s talk at UX Week 2009, which defined user experience (UX) with four dimensions: Perception, Action, Cognition and Emotion.

Jesse James Garret PACE 26:20

The PACE model and UX disciplines

External engagement: Our interaction with the world via

  • Perception: engaging the senses
  • Action: engaging the body

Internal engagement: What’s going on in our heads through

  • Cognition: engaging the mind
  • Emotion: engaging the heart

Making up the acronym PACE.

UX Element / DisciplinePACE DimensionNotes
Information ArchitectureCognitionConcerned with the way people process and gain meaning from information.
Information DesignCongnition, PerceptionDeals with the intersection between thinking and perceiving
Visual DesignPerception
Interaction DesignActionIt's all about behaviour
Navigation Design
Interface Design
Congnition, Perception, ActionFocusing on where these 3 come together

In fact, Garrett states that all areas of design fit with this model.

4 Dimensions of UX (PACE)

The PACE Model and Other Design Disciplines

It’s not surprising to see game design placed at the centre of these 4 dimensions. But it dawned on me, that advocacy and campaigning also fit very much at this centre.

Like the experience of choosing to play a game, a call to ‘change the world for the better’ is one that must engage us to see, feel, think and then act voluntarily towards an unnecessary goal.

A Voluntary Act

An advocacy campaign expects to change the world, but for the majority of people those specific goals, no matter how lofty or worthy will simply be pushed aside by the demands of their everyday lives. This is true even in the case of advocacy for issues that may seem wholly necessary by those already committed to it.

Even with climate change campaigning and epic high stakes. No one has to save the world.

Our everyday lives are wrapped in the comfortable acceptance of the way things are. An average user’s perception of a campaign starts with viewing the goal as unnecessary.

A campaign must take someone from seeing an unnecessary goal through to acting for it passionately. To create a transformation and experience, it would bring all four UX dimensions together in harmony and add a world changing purpose to it.

In short, to campaign to save the world, it requires the design of hero experiences.


How The Story Ends


We need stories.

Whenever the world gets a bit too complicated, too big for us to comprehend we, humans, huddle around the campfire and imagine ourselves into the stories that help us find our place again.

We are at a moment in history, a cusp of something so big and monumental that it will change the way we live forever. How often do you get to say that?

How often do you get to be there at the start of an epic story? To have the chance to see and be a part of how the story ends.

Wendy Wendy
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Why The Story of Climate Change is like...

Epic scale stories used to understand climate change and how we face the challenge it presents.


A Moonshot

May 27, 2014
A Moonshot

In 1961, President Kennedy declared: “We will send a man to the moon and bring him back safely by the end of the decade.” At the time we had just sent a man into space for 15 minutes. We did not have the rockets, the navigation or the life support systems for a moon trip and most people, including my parents, thought it was complete folly. Seven years later we had developed and demonstrated the technology -- ahead of schedule. We had a clear ambitious goal and a deadline, and we rose to the occasion.

We can do that again with the climate. Shifting the world’s energy from fossil fuels to renewables could be accomplished before 2045, with CO2 levels peaking about 430 parts per million. (Source: ConsensusForAction)


The Second World War

The Second World War

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, 68 percent of Americans acknowledge, "Global warming is at least a somewhat serious problem." Nonetheless, it's unlikely that Washington has the political will to mobilize America to combat global warming.

This grim reality is reminiscent of the beginning of World War II, when the U.S. dithered for 21 months until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor forced us to act. (Source: Huffington Post)

We have been here before. In the 1930s, some politicians of all parties ignored the threat of war brewing in Europe and failed to take the steps to deter aggression or prepare early enough to defend ourselves. At the time, the two main excuses put forward to justify inaction and appeasement were that there was not enough money to pay for proper defences, and that the British public would not support a government that took tough measures.

Yet by the end of the 1930s, public opinion was far ahead of Chamberlain’s government in demanding tough measures, and the costs of the war itself ultimately far outweighed the costs of the measures that might have prevented it. (Telegraph)


The Tobacco Industry's Denial

May 27, 2014
The Tobacco Industry's Denial

In 1953, a scientific study demonstrated that mice painted with cigarette tar developed fatal cancers. In December of that year, tobacco companies created the Tobacco Industry Research Committee (TIRC) to cast doubt on the link between tobacco and cancer. It worked. Between 1954 and the late 1970s, more than 100 lawsuits were filed against tobacco companies and not one plaintiff received money, the authors say.

In 1979, tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds hired Seitz, former president of the National Academy of Sciences, as a consultant. His credibility helped TIRC counter research linking smoking with health problems. As one tobacco industry executive put it in an infamous memo, "Doubt is our product.

...What Singer and Seitz did for tobacco, Nierenberg did for global warming.
(Source: USA Today)

Two videos
Doubt - Tobacco and the Anti Science Movement
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The Abolition of Slavery

The Abolition of Slavery

There were many supposed arguments against abolition. The most absurd ideas generally were about not rocking the boat: ideas such as "slavery is natural and has always existed," or the enervating idea that it's impractical to change such a big system. On energy and climate, the status quo pitch goes like this: "We've relied on these fuels for so long and will for a long time to come."

But often the seemingly most effective argument against change – which the Confederacy leaders raised in Lincoln – focuses on economics: it will cost too much. When it comes to tackling climate change, we hear extreme versions of this objection all the time. (The Guardian)

Averting the worst consequences of human-induced climate change is a "great moral issue" on a par with slavery, according to the leading Nasa climate scientist Prof Jim Hansen. (The Guardian)


The Civil Rights Movement

May 28, 2014
The Civil Rights Movement

I think Climate Progress is right to argue that we may need the equivalent of a new civil rights movement built around climate and energy—at least if we’re going to make rapid reductions in our carbon emissions, which will require changes in behavior and changes in politics.

We haven’t gotten there yet—in fact, in the U.S., greens generally seem to be losing support. There’s a million and one reasons for that, but it’s worth remember that civil rights or gay rights were hardly universally popular when advocates like Martin Luther King Jr. or Harvey Milk began pushing them. (Time)