This Is How We Do It (“process value” and why it matters)


I was recently invited by the folks at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple Restoration Foundation to give a talk as part of their Break the Box series, which celebrates “creative nonconformity.” It was a real honor. I’ve written before about a design pattern in media/culture that I informally call “process value”, and this talk was an opportunity to really attempt a deep dive into the idea.

Here’s the presentation:

[vimeo 22723497]

From the program notes:

What do homemade music videos by OK Go, live Twitter updates about Egypt, and industrial films from the 1950s have in common? They all have a high degree of “process value”: a willingness to expose the creative act itself and embed it, front and center, in the finished product. And they generate intense engagement on the web — often much more than their big budgeted, high-production-value counterparts. Wired and Fast Company writer and filmmaker Pavlus looks at why that is — and how to put it to use.

One thing I wasn’t able to talk about in the presentation (because I’m just not knowledgeable enough about it) is how this idea of process value applies to architecture. Luckily, there was a gentleman in the audience who filled in that gap for me during the Q&A session, explaining how Frank Lloyd Wright himself was very much into “exposing the scaffolding” of his process both literally and figuratively in his architecture and architectural philosophy.

Here’s a list of links to the videos that I included in the talk:

C’Etait Un Rendezvous, by Claude Lelouche

Here It Goes Again, by OK Go

Touch Wood, by Morihiro Harano, Kenjiro Matsuo, et. al.

A Glorious Dawn, by Symphony of Science

The Monitor, by me, Christie Nicholson, and Christopher Mims

7 Ways to Walk the Walk, by Alissa Walker

Lego Antikythera Mechanism, by me, Andrew Carol, Misha Klein, Adam Rutherford, et. al.


RadioLab, Infinite Jest, Longshot magazine, slow food, Michael Bay, Kickstarter, and many more.

5 Responses to “This Is How We Do It (“process value” and why it matters)”

  1. There are only 2 replies? Really? This is gold.

    I take a philosophical approach to everything I develop for the web in the same light you have shown here. Your ideas about all of this fall in parallel with my own conclusions. Thank you for sharing.

    Interaction in a digital world is a little bit different. There are micro-realities defined by the bounds of the application or website, set forth by planning and the awesomeness of the development team. Within those bounds, if all interactions follow the same rules, and lead the user to believe the reality they are in – we can bypass the “authenticity” of reality and supplement a modified authenticity based on the rules of the micro-reality. This is the act of switching a user’s subconscious from reality into a predesigned virtualized reality.

    Getting users into that space requires an initial spark – A way for the user to relate to the simulation that mimics their own interpretation of reality. This idea of authenticity as a lure into a modified micro-reality is very sneaky. I applaud your ninja-advertising-brain.

    Aaron Sherrill
    Director of Interactive
    Digital Surgeons

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