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Chapter 4 — The Perfect Meta Product

4.2 Encouraging Meaningful Experiences

You can get quite a lot of inspiration from learning and cognitive theories when trying to understand how someone can live a meaningful experience. Distributed Cognition, for instance, is a learning theory that states that when you learn, you model your own world-view. And you do so in a process that involves your own prior knowledge, the present experience, and the situation itself. This is how we learn, or in other words, this is the way we assign meanings and create new knowledge. Of course we learn in different ways depending on whether you're a famous singer or a dentist, a rebel teenager or a just-married couple, a steel company or a financial consultancy, but the basics are the same. Now, imagine that your Meta Product enables new streams of information. How would this new information impact people's learning behaviour? Moreover, theorists say that we learn better when we are motivated. Motivation is the driving force through which we achieve our aspirations and it is closely related to the way we assign meaning to everything we do.

A meaningful experience has all to do with the context. The more a product is able to understand the context in which the user will interact, the more meaningful an experience will be. Awareness is also very important, to acknowledge a meaningful experience as such, the consumer should be aware that he is experiencing something. — JEROEN VAN GEEL

To use the term 'meaningful experience' is always a bit vague, but that's probably because we are referring to an effect that is very personal in individuals and in groups. We as designers can only try our very best to guess right and to encourage it. When you get to design a Meta Product, keep this ideal in mind and improve your empathy skills, including understanding the collective behaviour and basic cognitive processes of human perception. In chapter 5 you will find more hands-on recommendations on how to design interactions that aim to render meaningful experiences.

…the role of designers in Meta Products is to match the technology and the aspirations of people. — JAN BUIJS