Different has to be experienced.

We run The Universal Design Project on software called Basecamp. The company that created Basecamp is on the verge of releasing a new email system called Hey. What’s interesting about this is that they’re declaring email “broken” and are more or less redesigning the way people interact with email. Here’s a recent tweet from their CEO in reference to it:

Now, in regards to email, we’re heavy Gmail (G Suite) users. We use it every day. It does what we need it to. It’s reliable. It’s comfortable. But do we feel this way because Gmail is what we’re used to? Maybe it’s because Gmail is one of the most widely used and popular options, defining the status quo of email platforms of today. If “everyone uses it” maybe it’s what email should be?

Or is it?

Hey hasn’t been released yet and I’m not making a defense for it. It’s being touted as dramatically different. Will Hey be a popular option? Maybe. It’ll have the opportunity to prove itself once people get their hands on it.

But if it’s just a concept, it’ll never catch on.

This is one of the biggest challenges with universal design and housing. We’re comfortable with our homes. But do we feel this way because they’re what we’re used to?

There are lots of people who know the problems with the status quo and are clamoring for something different. The desire for something better is strong, but few people know what to do with that desire aside from advocate for something better.

We need to focus on providing opportunities to experience what universally designed (i.e., universally accessible) housing can be like. The status quo of housing is seen as “not-a-problem” by most people. Most people just don’t know any different, so they don’t know what else is possible.

Very few concepts sell themselves.

Different has to be experienced.


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