There’s something magical about three simple words in Apple’s Mac OS X. On the rare occasion that I need to retrieve an archived file from my backup disk, I am called on an adventure. Or perhaps I’m mysteriously beckoned to follow along on a journey. Or maybe the time has come for me to fulfill my destiny. The feeling lasts for just a moment and is spurred on by merely three words. Enter Time Machine.
Sure, Mac OS X tries to build on this theme and literally take me there by warping me into a space supernova where my files await. However, these aesthetics don’t actually make the experience and occur after the feeling has already worn off. As it stands, Time Machine launches quite slowly and then takes even a bit longer to load my archives. By the time this happens, I’m firmly snapped back into reality and waiting impatiently to browse my files. It’s the upfront command alone, the call to Enter Time Machine, that creates the wonder.
This all makes me wonder how such a seemingly arbitrary and insignificant line of text can have such an emotional and experiential impact. Perhaps an Apple designer has some unique insight, although the text could have just as easily been placed as a joke or by chance. Nevertheless, I’m interested in how such a simple thing can have such a large impact on the user experience. Especially amidst the overwhelming talk of gamification, where the world is boiled down into hollow stimuli and reward systems, it seems that genuine experience and emotion comes from exciting a user’s imagination. This connection requires nothing tangible, yet powerfully engages the user’s mind. I feel that this sort of experience (not experiencification) could be created plainly and effectively, without any need for superficial systems, and would hold tremendous beneficial power.