The speed at which we live

Alan Lightman wrote an amazing paragraph in his book “Einsteins Dreams” in 1993 that is never more pertinent that it is today:

“A man or a woman suddenly thrust into this world would have to dodge houses and buildings. For all is in motion. Houses and apartments, mounted on wheels, go careening through Bahnhofplatz and race through the narrows of Marktgasse, their occupants shouting from second-floor windows. The Post Bureau doesn’t remain on Postgasse, but flies through the city on rails, like a train.

Nor does the Bundeshaus sit quietly on Bundesgasse. Everywhere the air whines and roars with the sound of motors and locomotion. When a person comes out of his front door at sunrise, he hits the ground running, catches up with his office building, hurries up and down flights of stairs, works at a desk propelled in circles, gallops home at the end of the day. No one sits under a tree with a book, no one gazes at the ripples on a pond, no one lies in thick grass in the country. No one is still.

Why such a fixation on speed? Because in this world time passes more slowly for people in motion. Thus everyone travels at high velocity, to gain time.”

He’s telling us about the pace of life. The way we live in 2010 with almost the same accuracy as the French apothecary Michel de Nostredame. Take this description and apply it to UX and you understand the need for speed and simplicity. To put it bluntly, consumers just haven’t got the time in their busy lives to learn, digest, explore or engage in the same ways anymore. Life moves at a speed that doesn’t promote pace.

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