I went to a Broadway play yesterday, Relatively Speaking.
The middle one, which starred Marlo Thomas, was the best. All were comedies, with lots of laughs, but the middle piece was also poignant, human and sad. The suspension of disbelief was complete. As you sit in the dark theater, with a few hundred others, you forget you're there. Instead, you're drawn to a small apartment, where the actors enter and exit. Your emotions go up and down, left and right. The designer in this case is a team. The playwrite, the actors, and the director, John Turturro, who you never see, but if you know him as an actor, later you realize the gestures were very much his.
The NY Times has a two-part story about design run amok. It takes place in Linclon Center, where a few hundred people were watching a Mahler symphony, performed by the NY Philharmonic. Toward the end of the performance, from somewhere in the first row, a phone starts ringing. And it keeps ringing. So the conductor does something unusual. He stops the performance.
You could think of the conductor, Mahler, the orchestra, and even the ushers as the designers of this user experience. The iPhone was not supposed to be part of the design, but it was. The user had silenced the phone, but it has a rule that under some circumstance being silent meant playing the Marimba ringtone. Over and over.
Now there are reasons why the iPhone rang even when it was told explicitly not to by its user. That's not the point of this piece. Not whether they were right or wrong to design it this way. The point is there are other designers at work in the world the iPhone lives in. And their choices matter too. Not just to other designers, but to the users. Who, coming to a symphony, and at least some of them not being Apple customers, expect to have it "just work" too.