Dan Saffer recently asked me to contribute some thoughts on adaptation, hackability and architecture to his forthcoming book Designing for Interaction (New Riders, 2006), alongside 10 other 'interviewees' such as Marc Rettig, Larry Tesler, Hugh Dubberly, Brenda Laurel etc. Dan's been posting their various responses up at the official book site (see also UXMatters) yet he kindly agreed to let me post my full answers below (the book will feature an excerpt).
The questions he posed were: Can products be made hackable, or are all products hackable? What types of things can be designed into products to make them more hackable? What are the qualities of adaptive designs? You've spoken on putting "creative power in the hands of non-designers." How do interaction designers go about doing that? What can interaction designers learn about adaptability from architecture?
Given this, Dan had inadvertently provided me with the impetus to get down a decent summary to a few years' worth of thinking around this subject. So what follows directly addresses one of the stated purposes behind this blog: to see what we can draw from the culture and practice of architecture and design into this new arena of interaction design - and some of the issues in doing so. (An unstated purpose of the blog - of providing me with an indexed notebook - is also fulfilled!) Here goes: