The New Underworld

(Ref Id: 1429887191)

The ancient ruins of Egypt tell a story of Pharaohs of old that spent decades preparing for the afterlife. Why would one have a giant tomb built and filled with relics of your present life? A couple of theories have been presented: 1) that the journey to the afterlife in some ethereal sense takes the objects along for the ride or 2) their purpose is to remind oneself of the life left behind upon returning. Perhaps the ancients did not expect to be able to recognize their old lives and needed the relics in order to ground them again.

We Have Become the New Ancients

If we look at the Internet as the new world and our regular daily lives as, well, just that, we find some interesting similarities. First, there exists a desire for the familiar, even when doing so is completely nonsensical. Second, again like these ancients, there is a human preoccupation with this afterlife that is all consuming.

As a purveyor of LIMS functionality in this new world you must become aware of these two facets of the human condition and develop for them.

Nonsensical Remote Controls

Peel transforms your smartphone into a remote control. If you visit the Peel website you'll catch a glimpse of their main interface. It looks like anything but a remote control. In fact, it looks like a miniature magazine.

In the new world something like a remote should remind you of, well, a remote control. This lack of clear association between the old world and the new is missing. The restrictive interface also tries to direct one's attention to shows and movies that are not of your choosing -- so called 'Recommended Shows' appear first and one has to consciously move past them to even get to the useful interfaces.

The Peel device should not really even be called a remote control but rather a kind of 'usurper of your remote control.' You get fancy bells and whistles, shiny pictures, and proposed benefits, but in the end it is little more than a toll booth painted with balloons and confetti.

In your designs, stick to the best of the existing systems/devices when emulating functionality in the new virtual world and then enhance it to prove real benefits. Do not follow the 'leech-ware' pattern.

The All Consuming Fire

Unsurprisingly, people are spending an inordinate amount of time connected to the Internet. It has become a preoccupation and in some cases an altogether unhealthy one. Viewed from an economic standpoint, the pyramids were similarly an immense waste of public time and resources. These structures were meant to house only a small number of nobles upon death. All that effort could have been better spent producing public works for those still living.

The lesson here for the designer is to help optimize processes and provide advantages for people here in the physical world rather than simply generate additional distractions in the new one.


The possibilities of a new and intangible world are endless, and in a nutshell that is why they can be so wasteful/time-consuming. Look at the incredible waste of ancient Egypt where massive structures were built to house only a handful of the dead. We must not relegate our design efforts to simple profiteering in the wake of these new advances -- vain attempts to reproduce that ferryman's boat to the underworld and the new life it promises in exchange for coin or salable preference/usage data are unethical. You can do better.

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Citation: The New Underworld. (2015). Retrieved Wed May 23 10:56:06 2018, from;iid=readMore;go=1429887191