Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Pride of Ownership

Ownership is huge.

It's the reason I have gone as far with this design journey as I have. It is MY project. No one told me to do it and no one told me I HAD to do it. It started by accident, I started having fun with it, and it took on a life of its own. Even though my journey has been due to a bunch of happy accidents, I still feel like I am in control because I still make the decisions including whether or not to continue.
I've been following the work of Dan Ariely. He's had a fascinating life where a serious accident led to his life's work. His writing reminds me of Daniel Pink's though Pink comes to the concepts from a journalist and Arielly from the point of view of a researcher, a behavioral economist. In Ariely's book The Upside of Irrationality, he describes the fond, anthropomorphic bond he has with a toy chest. Though utilitarian and cheap-Looking, it is Arielly's favorite piece of furniture. Why? Because he had to struggle through building it himself. It's the Ikea model for interpersonal relationships: the emotional investment created in building something yourself is a bond that can last a lifetime.

I myself have come to agree with this rationale, with and without the inclusion of a little hexagonal wrench. I love all the things I built myself despite their wobbly, ugly, or illogical composition. The emotional investment I have in each piece is irrational but undeniable. My favorite creation, my daughter, I have become quite attached to. It makes no sense. She is a liability in terms of capital in flow. She takes up huge amounts of time, space, and energy. At the beginning, when we brought her home, she wasn't terribly useful, yet I love her more than any other thing I've created or any other investment I've made. Go figure.

But the irrationality of my feelings makes sense. It is the pride of ownership, not that I own my daughter, but it is the sense of marveling at something I've had a part in creating or helping to develop. Look at the experiment I talked about in my last post. My students love their classroom because they had a hand in forming it. They have an investment in making sure that it fits their own and everyone else's needs.

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