Merry new rock around the sun friends. You’d think we’dve learned by now about desire lines. You’d think I’d have learned about resolutions, bwah ha ha ha.
So here goes a New Years resolution in public blog format: I vow to be funny more often and write a blog post every 2 months this year, that is 6 whopping posts. Now you might think this sounds small and silly folks, but I’ll correct’ya right now. I have averaged 1 to 2 blog posts a year for the last two years. So the track record isn’t particularly fantastic. I had a holiday, and I focused on the sunshine, the garden, the food, and an occasional swim or stretch for the last 2 weeks. Now I am rearing and ready as freddy to dive into 2019. This will be the year of being funny and 6, count them, 6 blog posts. Here is the first, plus its funny!
So now onwards to the funny bit.
I want to share with you a super serious professional user experience researcher joke:
Why did the fancy chicken cross the road?
To get to the other side, as directly as possible… because the desire path ran right through it!
Get it? the desire path… ran right through it?
Desire lines are the paths of desired journey, or sometimes most direct line of sight, or least resistance / low caloric cost. they’ve got heaps of names, mostly, the shortcut.
“Desire lines, also known as cow paths, pirate paths, social trails, kemonomichi(beast trails), chemins de l’âne (donkey paths), and Olifantenpad (elephant trails), can be found all over the city and all over the world, scarring pristine lawns and worming through forest undergrowth. They appear anywhere people want to walk, where no formal paths have been provided. (Sometimes they even appear despite the existence of formal paths, out of what seems to be sheer mulishness—or, perhaps, cowishness.) Some view them as evidence of pedestrians’ inability or unwillingness to do what they’re told; in the words of one academic journal, they “record collective disobedience.” Others believe that they reveal the inherent flaws in a city’s design—the places where paths ought to have been built, rather than where they were built. For this reason, desire lines infuriate some landscape architects and enrapture others. They also fascinate scholars, inspire artists, and enchant poets. There is a fifty-five-thousand-member-strong Reddit thread dedicated to them, in which new posts appear daily with impassioned titles like “Desire never ends” and “Don’t tell me where to go.” People seem to relish discovering odd new desire lines, the more illogical the better, and theorizing about what desire they express.”
- excerpt from: https://www.newyorker.com/tech/annals-of-technology/tracing-and-erasing-new-yorks-lines-of-desire
You have most definitely seen one, or walked one before. You know when the sidewalk or pavement you are walking on goes on straight and you want to take a shortcut through the diagonal of an empty field? Only to discover that there is a dirt pathway there from all the other hundreds of pairs of feet that had the same shortcut desire of treading that path too? A desire path is the wearing down and erosion we create by many humans wanting to follow a more desirable / shorter pathway rather that the silly designers or architects straight and inefficient sidewalks or pavements.
Some truly empathetic and innovative designers and architects nowadays leave the space around a building grass for a year and see what desire paths develop over the usage for a periods of time, and then later on have the sidewalks installed to match the desire lines people already made. Neat huh? Smart huh? Good experience design right-o.
It turns out that,
Fancy chickens cross the road just like any other chicken, to get to the other side.
Ciao for now,
More on Desire paths / Desire lines:
One thought on “You’d think we’d learn… about desire paths.”
Sounds like the path not taken by Robert Frost!