The “existential calculator” relieves the pressure of having to make too many choices.
After being contacted by Adobe to “create something interesting” for the attendees of this year’s annual AIGA event, Kelli Anderson turned to idea of human decision making. She discovered that while human beings are happiest when they have control and can make their own decisions, too many choices can actually reduce our levels of happiness significantly. She realized this is a first-world problem faced by designers on daily basis, and one that she was keen to solve.
Using a combination of lo-fi prognostication equipment and paper calculation wheels, Anderson created the “Existential Calculator,” part paper-wheel-calculator, part infographic, part mood ring, and part logic-exercise to help “see the future without all the waiting,” as the designer puts it. It can’t help you figure out what to do throughout your day (make a zine? illustrate a book? design a typeface? create an object? change some code?), but it can help you figure out whether or job is worth taking or not.
Here’s how it works:
1.) The user is first instructed to concentrate and envision the job under consideration
2.) They then assess the job’s attributes by turning the wheels/rating “fit”, pay, working conditions, and ethics. In real life, there are a multitude of other factors to consider, but these seem to be the big/universal ones.
3.) As they turn each wheel, the color in the answer window shifts to fit their unique circumstance (there are a total of 72 unique circumstances represented here.) They then take the color of their future and flip to the key on the back.
4.) On the back, the user finds their fortune-color in the center and travels outward to the edge to see where the future of this job will lead (indicated by the bracketing lines that they cross.) It is designed so that similar colors/fortunes in the wheel are adjacent to one another and can share attributes.
To see the “existential calculator” in action and learn a little bit more about it, be sure to watch the following video: