Dump the quick fix & design for gradual change

 "Slow change boils down to sustaining improved qualities of life"  
So much work in Positive Computing involves behavior change, but significant change (to ourselves or societies) is a process that unfolds over time.  Quick fix approaches, shallow problem-solving, and "quick easy steps"--so appealing from a business perspective--fail to get us through the long haul.

In a recent article, "Slow Change Interaction Design" Matrin A. Siegel and Jordan Beck of Indiana University provide the groundwork for an ongoing theory and practice of design for slow change.  They define slow changes as "attitudinal and behavioural changes that are difficult to initiate and sustain" bringing to light ethical dilemmas, impacts of timescale, and the value of systems thinking inherent to slow change problems.  They also challenge the dominance of quantitative feedback, advocating for greater balance:
"It is misguided, in general, to prioritise numbers at the expense of experiential qualities with regard to slow change processes…The quality of an experience is what drives people toward or away from it". 
In my case, it certainly is the quality of the experience provided by the narrative approach of Zombies, Run! that allows me to sustain a jogging habit, far more so than the number or length of my runs.  But of course motivators will vary by individual, and will vary for each individual over time--another tenet honored by slow change interaction design theory:"Even wide-reaching tools or techniques have to be malleable for fine-tuning per individual user."  According to Siegle and Beck we should stop being driven by a fast return, catch-all mentality, and "first find out what works--even if what works doesn't seem scalable."

Finally, the authors are adamant that success will hinge on our ability to think holistically and to "incorporate non-technological agents purposefully into a given user's change process".  We will certainly be keeping tabs on future developments in slow change design for its profound value to work in Positive Computing.

Read the full article at Interactions
"Slow change interaction design" Siegel, Martin A.; Beck, Jordan (2014)

Interactions vol. 21 (1) p. 28-35