A path in a park. Photo by Rene Lehmkuhl on Unsplash.
A path in a park. Photo by Rene Lehmkuhl on Unsplash.

“Desire paths’ — a concept from urban planning and landscape architecture — have a lot to teach those of us in product management. Desire paths are commonly seen in parks and public spaces. Instead of walking along the geometrically perfect paths designed by landscape architects, people instead tend to take the fastest (or most scenic) route from A to B. Over time, their many footsteps form new paths in the grass.

Such desire paths exist because, in many cases, planners haven’t sufficiently researched where folks want to go and how they’ll want to get there — perhaps because they prioritize…

All around the world, things are looking more and more the same. Coffee shops, Airbnb listings, and boutique hotels feature the same subway tiles, brass fixtures, and neo-Scandinavian minimalist furniture, regardless of what continent you’re on. A few years ago, Kyle Chayka in The Verge coined the term ‘AirSpace’ to describe the eerie sense of visual sameness invading built environments across the world, helped along by Silicon Valley forces like Airbnb and social media feeds. A few years on, the AirSpace phenomenon still exists, but it is slowly being eclipsed by new singular trends in visual design.

The Atlantic declared

For the third day in a row, I found myself crying in the Dropbox meditation room. A glass box with interior curtains situated in the middle of the sales floor, it was neither soundproof nor private; the sounds of ringing desk phones and salespeople making cold calls made it an impossible space for meditation. Like many office perks in Silicon Valley, this meditation room was mostly designed for marketing, along with the ping pong tables and beer on tap. While virtue signalling towards employee wellness, these perks mostly served to lure people into entry-level jobs they are otherwise uninterested in…

Will Stokes

Senior Product Manager @ ResearchGate, living and working in Berlin

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