Expectation is the next of the four themes comprising Conversation (the first concept of the Ontology Of Participation). Certain functional qualities of a product allow for it to be used in a familiar way, but to achieve an unexpected outcome (the intended use of some products is broad enough to allow for flexibility in its use).
For instance, communication technology (telephone) has permeated our lives for several decades now. Its purpose is to allow us to communicate with people we know, or intend to know. The emergence of mobile phone technology has sparked fascinating behaviors in many societies. Specifically, I'm referring to the Flash Mob. I talked about this previously when I described Group Assembly. Individuals participating in FlashMobs utilize communication technologies the way they are intended — to communicate with other people — but what's different here is that the technology is used to communicate with people they don't know. It's this use that is unexpected.
[Macy's "love rug" Flash Mob in 2003 from Satan's Laundromat by Mike] For example, one of the first flash mobs occurred at a Macy's in Manhattan in June of 2003. The crowd was coordinated using text messages, email, and blogs. The expectation for using text messages and email is to communicate with people you know, but in this case the communication occurred among strangers (unexpected). Nearly 100 people gathered around a $10,000 rug. If asked by a store employee if they needed assistance, were instructed to say they all lived together in a 'free-love commune' and were looking to purchase a 'love rug' but they always shopped together as a group (see this great article on Flash Mobs, Flash! Mobs in the Age of Mobile Connectivity, by Judith A. Nicholson).
Again, this is an example of using a product (mobile phone and email) in an expected way (communication) to achieve an unexpected outcome (coordinate strangers to gather and act in a coordinated way).
The first concept of the Ontology Of Participation is Conversation: Individuals interact with things in a more meaningful way — they have a conversation with products — extending them beyond the utility for which they were created and into new design spaces.
Conversation with a product occurs when an individual uses it in a manner inconsistent with the specifications intended by the originating enterprise. Rather than the product being a completed part of the world, the world is becoming part of the product. As meaningful participation with the product begins, the conversation leads to the realization of new possibilities. And as a person’s interaction with the product breeches its predefined role in utility, it takes on human-like characteristics, almost exhibiting a life of its own. The interaction becomes more sophisticated, much like face-to-face communication. Conversation is the starting point of the adapting enterprise — many people may be engaged in conversation with a product, but those individuals haven't combined forces yet.
The following themes describe the characteristics of the conversational aspects of this elevated interaction.
[Conversation from Adoption, Participation, And The Propagation Of Design Continuities by Brian Haven]Intention: The functional characteristics and brand identity embodied in a product define how it will be used.
I'll break these themes down with examples over the next several days.