Home > Uncategorized > The City Museum: contradicting mental models and changing affordances

The City Museum: contradicting mental models and changing affordances

Creative Commons License Goodbye War, Hello Peace by teru is licensed under a Attribution Noncommercial (3.0).

In this podcast, I describe two concepts from Donald Norman’s book entitled The Design of Everyday Things. I discuss both affordances and mental models and provide a textual definition of these terms from Norman. I then go on to discuss how a place like the City Museum alters these concepts by using rhetoric to create and design new uses of these things. I discuss how that rhetorical design change alters the way people understand the things in the City Museum. I also describe the artist and genius behind the City Museum, Bob Cassilly. I provide an interview and audio clip from him and how he describes his use of everyday things in unique and bizarre ways that differ from the ways people normally use and interact with those things based upon their mental models and affordances. I discuss how things and technologies can become agents of rhetoric that invite us to interact and use them differently than we perhaps originally intended (based upon our mental models and affordances). I think this concept is exactly what occurs when people visit the City Museum, and I look forward to experiencing it next week!

Source for Bob Cassilly audio: http://videos.stltoday.com/p/video?id=4823946

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. November 7, 2011 at 1:53 AM


    Thanks for the tennis shoes reminder! Okay, your podcast was extremely helpful for me because I now have a much better understanding of the concept of affordances. When you say that the City Museum breaks the rule of what affordances are, it helps me to understand what they actually are. I too am excited to look critically at the objects in the City Museum and examine how they don’t follow the rules of affordances. I think that is part of what makes places like the City Museum so cool. It’s not creative to remain within the limits of what affordances afford us. This podcast also helps me to understand what the rhetoric of things are because it comes through in what something affords us. When you alter the affordances, you alter the rhetoric of the thing as well. The City Museum has altered the rhetoric of everyday things, and that is why it is so popular. Can’t wait to go on all the slides!

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