Getting to Your Happy Place — Empathy, Design, Friendship, and Emojis

Route of the Hiawathas 1

Route of the Hiawathas (the Milwaukee Road abandoned train line) that’s now a popular bike ride on the Montana/Idaho border

Things are pretty busy getting another round of the Industrial Design Clinic, my capstone project vehicle for undergraduate seniors, kicked off for another semester.  But I read this little piece of joy in design and thought I’d share.  Angela Guzman, along with her mentor and friend at Apple, Raymond (no last name given, and I looked!) formed a synergistic mentor/mentee team, and friendship, that led to some of Apple’s versions of the glossy little suckers that we live with on a daily basis.  Emojis are fascinating little things in that they started the process of moving straight text messaging out of the pure low-empathy, binary Authoritarian v-Meme state of communication, to a way of expressing emotion and affect that humans need in order to form better, kinder, and more empathetically evolved modes of information transfer.

It’s a great story to read and reflect on, as well as place in the context of Apple’s current Animojis, which then in real time, map facial expressions from your face, onto text messages and the like.  Empathetic evolution is always in play, even during times of what appear to be devolutionary pressures.

There’s a lot of this blog that deals with what could be called ‘The OS for collective intelligence for humanity” — a little clinical and sterile at times.  And while I don’t discount friendship and love, I don’t talk about them very often as outgrowths of developed empathy, and leadership principles that also create these environments.

But they’re a very real part of that rapidly evolving world we live in.  Sometimes, in the middle of a particularly gray, rainy winter in the Pacific Northwest, it’s good to remember that empathy and connection, overall, produces happiness as well as performance.  And that’s a great thing.

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