Instruction on Demand

Have you ever tried to put together a greenhouse? Within a greenhouse? Now, I don’t mean those small ones in plastic but a big one in aluminium. Didn’t think so. But I have! Tried, that is.

My parents bought a greenhouse construction from Skånska Byggvaror. It’s a beautiful and ingenious little house in aluminium and it will provide much joy in the future, I’m sure. However, the manual must have been put together by a sadist. Or at least an engineer without any knowledge of usability testing. If only someone had taken the time to test the instructions by letting ordinary people put together all the millions of mostly unmarked pieces with the minute tools. I was sad to see that nothing much had happen since 1996 when I published my PhD thesis, including a study on user manuals.

My Mother had another angle. She suggested, a true entrepreneur, that we should advertise on the Internet now that we knew how to put together this specific model, recognising the market for greenhouse construction support. I suddenly had an epiphany and saw a range of IT-based instructional services on the same theme. Taka a photo of the section you are having trouble with, call us and we send you a short instructional video to help you. If you need personal support, make a video call and show us what is puzzling you and we will talk you through it.

You could also access our self-support site where proud greenhouse owners have made their own videos showing how they put together their houses. We could use tools like Bambuser or Mogulus to create mobile TV-channels with edutainment where we let celebrities compete on how to go from opening of the boxes to putting the last glass into its frame using as little time as possible, a bit similar to Gordon Ramsey’s cook along live show. More tricky situations will be introduced after a couple of seasons (like building a greenhouse within a greenhouse) and unlikely teams in order to create more drama. I’m sure it will result in quite a large number of hours to watch with funny (and dangerous) situations, including arguments bordering on domestic violence (no, we did not get that far, only to some verbal abuse).

This kind of service is a kind of antithesis of making the construction parts intelligent, telling you how to put them together, something researchers have been into for some years creating proactive furniture through augmented reality.

The lyrics of the Goo Goo Dolls song “Iris” includes the line “When everything’s made to be broken, I just want you to know who I am”. Maybe it should be changed into to “When everything’s made to give rise to additional and expensive services, we just want to know who you are”. This reminds me that I should finish my blog post on e-identity I have been working on for some time.

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