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Navigators, Explorers, and Engaged Participants

by David Armano  |  
July 27, 2006
Last weekend I had three different kinds of interactive experiences. In each of them, I acted like three different kinds of people (more accurately mindsets)....

...A Navigator. An Explorer. And an Engaged Participant. Before I get into how I define these along with examples, allow me to make a few analogies:

Getting to the destination: Have you ever hopped in your car for your weekend getaway and all you cared about was getting there? You couldn't care less about the scenery you passed on the way to the destination. All you want to do is get to that beach house, cabin, or whatever so your weekend can begin. Once you get behind the wheel–it's all about navigating the path of least resistance.

Taking in the journey: Now suppose that you are on a different kind of trip where you've decided to take the side roads and make a few stops along the way. You're curious about the area you are traveling in and want to explore what it has to offer. You still want to get to your destination, but the direct path doesn't appeal to you as much as the more interesting nooks and crannies that you take in on the "scenic route."

Stopping by for a spell:
So let's say that time isn't an issue at all, and you really don't have a pre-determined destination. Let's say you buy a train ticket to a location you've never visited and you spend the day there, You visit with the local people, get to know a few of them by the end of the day, and even take some pictures back with you to share with a few friends.


So back to my three distinct interactive experiences that I had over the weekend. While doing my online banking, I realized I was being a Navigator. I knew exactly where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do and I quickly plotted my course to arrive at my destination (getting my bills paid).

But then, I turned into an Explorer while going through the RPA site. The site has this really interesting way of "navigating" through it that allows you to move through 3 dimensional space. There was also a more straight forward navigation bar at the top–but I choose to use my arrow keys to explore the space. I didn't care as much about getting to point B as much as I did they way I got there.

And lastly, I acted like an Engaged Participant while playing Verizon's Beatbox Mixer which I came across on 3 Minds. Since it was Saturday night and I had all the free time in the world–I killed some of that time by playing with the very cool mixer. I was delighted by the sounds and how I could manipulate and mix the vocals from each artist. And when I was done, I shared what I had done with some people that I knew would appreciate it.

So that's my story. Sometimes we are Navigators. Sometimes we are Explorers. And other times, Engaged Participants. And sometimes we're all three of these and more. Food for thought as we think about how we incorporate digital and non-digital experiences in our everyday lives.

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David Armano is a practitioner of Experience Design and a creative director for Digitas. He blogs about creativity, innovation and design at Logic + Emotion. David is also a contributor to FutureLab, the MarketingProfs Daily Fix  and Royal Academy of Art, The Hague

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  • by Adam Kayce : Monk At Work Wed May 23, 2007 via blog

    Interesting concept... and it makes me think about our roles as business owners/designers of others' experiences/etc., too. As an example, I can se how it would benefit me (and my readers) to have a Navigator's viewpoint of my own business, and yet allow the space for readers/patrons to be Explorers, while doing everything in my power to encourage them to also become Engaged Participants. And, for me to become an Engaged Participant in their lives, as well...

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