How to Design the Privacy Experience Users Deserve
Designers must take up the banner of designing a better, more delightful privacy experience
Have you ever wondered why MREs aren’t a bigger industry?
Of course you haven’t. Because who would choose to eat an MRE over eating a nice cooked steak, a fresh summer salad, or even a good ole hamburger from McDonald’s?
For those of you who are unacquainted with an MRE, it’s a type of meal that stands for “Meals Ready-to-Eat.” They are prepackaged, non-freeze-dried meals with a five-year shelf life that don’t become spoiled even in freezing or extremely hot temperatures. They are known for their light packaging and their ability to provide 1,200 calories in a single meal, and they’re a go-to meal for military forces in the field. They also happen to be a great representation of everything that’s wrong with the current approach to privacy design.
I first came into contact with MREs sometime in elementary or middle school, in Huntsville, Alabama. The interesting thing about this particular city was that we lived in the shadow of both NASA and a gigantic military base, Redstone Federal Arsenal. Both entities had such a big presence in town that it’s safe to say that at least half of my friends’ parents worked at one of those two places.
As a result, there was a great deal of military culture and practice that made it into everyday life and conversation. I remember that MREs came up in a conversation one Sunday while I was at church.
I was confused: Here were these meals that had an incredibly long shelf life, that were light, that were prepackaged, and that only took a little bit of water for preparation. Why in the world didn’t everyone eat these all the time?!
Well, because these ready-to-eat meals were designed for utility; they were designed by an organization (the military) to fuel their assets (their soldiers). As far as the military was concerned, there were only two requirements: make it portable and pack in the calories.
And it showed: MREs taste nasty, and unless you expend calories like a soldier in the field, they’ll make you fat.