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May 05, 2006


Joe McCarthy

Wow, what a great article! I've been reading, thinking and doing more about combining play and work lately, but there are several new [to me] dimensions and perspectives presented here (especially with respect to design).

To add a few more potentially interesting and/or relevant references, the notion of combining play and work reminds me of the term plorking (pronounced "plurking") a mashup of play and work that I first heard in Rick Jarow's inspiring audiobook, The Ultimate Anti-Career Guide. I can't find a reference to it on the web, but there are other descriptions of plorking.

Doug Rushkoff, in his fabulous book Get Back in the Box: Innovation from the Outside In, has a whole chapter devoted to "The Play is the Thing: Following the Fun" where he weaves a compelling argument about how and why work can and should be intrinsically fun (as well as meaningful and rewarding for everyone involved in the endeavor).

Ben Cerveny

Ulla! What a superb articulation of play as a productive strategy! Hopefully someday "real soon now" my book can join the bibliography. :)


You took your toes right out of my mouth...

Business process management people, organizational communications professionals and Enterprice Agility Scholars could use your Essay. Way to go Ulla!


Fantastic stuff! Luckily, the design departments are allowed to play even if the top management of Finnish companies might look very serious in their continuous attempt to please the stock owners ;-) I have participated a project where we played roles with small dolls to find possible or typical usage patterns for a new technology. It works.


Thanks for the good example! Do you think that play ends where the design deparment ends? How adaptive are technology developers to a product concept that uses different technology than their own?


Joe! It was great to meet you in Redmond and thanks for the good references!

Ben, I'm so much looking forward to read your book!

Petteri, I'm still laughing to your innovative "veit jalat suustani" translation. :-D


U-M, often technology developers need to look at other technologies, so that is not the biggest challenge. Instead, starting to think from the user perspective is. This is understandable as they have been educated to think in terms of systems, cost, efficiency, etc. But I have seen engineers playing :-)

Nathan Schleicher

A close-to-home topic. I'm just about to enter the design world as a product design graduate of CCS. I've made my mark on this school because through the embracing of play. My most comprehensive, and literal, result of this was a playground concept I dubbed "Soundscape" due to a unifying theme of music throughout. As an iconclastic move I reject traditional "designer" mediums for much of the development of the project, and instead brought out my Crayolas and went crazy!
Needless to say, though I would love to continue experimenting with playful processes of design, I fear the reaction of future employers saying, "what do we do with this guy?!" or "ok, thats interesting, now what are you doing here" (which I've already gotten from on major design house).

Time and determination will prove if my passions will be a help or hindrance...

Joan Vinall-Cox

Found this through http://www.tapio.com/2008/01/social-objects.html and loved the combination of Huizinga and Vygotsky almost as much as the ideas. Made me think of those images of young tech workers messing around in very casual work environments. Which came first, permission to play because of their success at being creative, or their success at being creative because they could play?

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