Archive for August, 2009
- Of, relating to, or of the nature of an illation.
- Expressing or preceding an inference. Used of a word.
- Of, relating to, or being a grammatical case indicating motion toward or into in some languages, as in Finnish Helsinkiin, ”to Helsinki.”
“Yet the immediate effect of these speeches [of Churchill’s] on the British people was limited. Their effect was cumulative (or, to use Cardinal Newman’s favorite adjective, illative).”
It’s an interesting use, since in this context, illative implies a significant effect produced by a prior accumulation of insignificant impacts, whereas the dictionary definition suggests a subtler manipulation.
rhodomontade: braggadocio: vain and empty boasting; vainglorious boasting or bragging; pretentious, blustering talk. (Dictionary.com)Wow.Not just an unusual word, but one I don’t think I’ve ever even seen before. I came across it in the following context:
…now Halifax asked Churchill ‘to come out in the garden with him’ for a talk. Before that Halifax told Cadogan, ‘I can’t work with Winston any longer.’ Cadogan: ‘I said, “Nonsense: his rhodomontades probably bore you as much as they do me, but don’t do anything silly under the stress of that.”‘ (from Five Days in London: May 1940, page 153 by John Lukacs)
(Do you think Cadogan actually used the word “rhodomontades” in conversation?!)
Lovers of language, unite!Back in December 2007, I quoted a passage from The Meaning of Tingo, by Adam Jacot de Boinod. Tingo is a book I enjoy dipping into; discovering words from other cultures that express a novel viewpoint is always delightful.So I was pleased to hear from Adam the other day, telling me about his new book, The Wonder of Whiffling, which discovers words from the English language as its usage has evolved around the world:
Discover all sorts of words you’ve always wished existed but never knew, such as fornale, to spend one’s money before it has been earned; cagg, a solemn vow or resolution not to get drunk for a certain time; and petrichor, the pleasant smell that accompanies the first rain after a dry spell.
Even better, there’s a blog at the book’s web page with some interesting word discussions.And even better than that, you can follow @wonderwhiffling on Twitter, and get words delivered right into your Twitter feed. For example, the three most recent tweets:
NEW WORD: tyromancy (1652) fortune telling by watching cheese coagulate
new phrase: ash cash (UK slang 1989) a fee paid to a doctor for signing a cremation form
today’s word: pingle (Suffolk) to move food about on the plate for want of an appetite
I had an experience yesterday that was totally exhausting, but fascinating. An expected action catalyzed an unexpected emotional reaction; a relatively small incident set off a huge welter of emotions. The trigger turned out to represent — and therefore evoke — much larger, parallel, issues that lurked under the surface.
It’s almost like a pain path: when a person has physical pain, it stimulates the nerve path to the brain. The more often that path is traced, the more developed — and responsive — that nerve path grows. And the more sensitive and exquisite the pain.
I don’t know if the identical neuronal process applies to emotions. If it doesn’t, it surely provides a useful parallel, a useful analogy. Once an emotional route is traced — a certain type of event, a certain interpretation of that event, a certain emotional response to that event — that same route is more likely to be retraced the next time an event of that type occurs.
[I suppose this is the foundation of behavioral psychology: to encourage a desired emotional response by forcing interpretation (either positive or negative) to a controlled event combination (grafting a contrived event onto one that otherwise occurs spontaneously). And by repeating the process over and over, to “retrain” the interpretation to that type of event, thus leading to a different, more desirable, emotional response.]
Musing on Using
All of this led me to think about how the best products or interfaces take positive advantage of this quality: of the ability of one small experience to somehow tap into a depth of prior, more emotional experiences.
In some ways, this is the goal of great User Experience design: to create a series of positively felt interactions that build upon one another to create a superlative overall experience of a product.
Every “Little” Interaction Counts
This is why every “little” key press, every symmetry of interface, every tactile feedback, every sound, every visual transition matters so much. It’s why people like Steve Jobs and Jon Ives are totally obsessive. Because the User Experience as a whole is created by tens and hundreds of little interactions, little trigger events.
On the one hand, this means that the system can tolerate a certain degree of bad experience (think Symbian S60 menus), if the overall experience is positive enough (think Nokia phones). Because the positive emotional reaction will still be triggered often enough to keep the overall experience positive.
On the other hand, this means that the first series of experience event absolutely has to be wonderful, to establish the desired User Experience pathway (think original Palm Pilot). If not, a neutral or negative pathway is established, which is difficult to overcome — perhaps impossible to overcome entirely (think Motorola RAZR).
Creating Passionate Relationships
But the really powerful lesson is that if once you’ve established a solid experience path, you can evoke a strong response in it with even a very small interaction (think iPhone). You can leverage the historic cumulation of experiences to evoke a disproportionate emotional response… for better or for worse.
Each little experience doesn’t just add to the effects of the previous ones, it builds upon them. The speed and intensity increase, up to a certain point. You get more bang for your buck. And you create passionate user-device relationships.