One of the nice things about working with smart people is the conversation. It soars to heights, teleports across topics serendipitously, and can suddenly dive back towards its original target like a bird of prey. As an illustration, one day I slyly documented these topic shifts over a long lunch between myself and two other designers at the company. The results of this exercise are below.

To protect the innocent, let’s just call my cohorts Designer A and Designer B.

—Here the lunch began—
  • The mighty power of A’s coffee
  • Giant squid, existence of
  • Digital plague in World of Warcraft
  • Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, to Hell
  • Assistant Stage Managing
  • The casting couch
  • A’s Mac’s inability to run World of Warcraft
  • Half-Life, Destroy All Humans!
  • Movies made from games, quality thereof
  • Resident Evil
  • Clue
  • Mrs. Peacock’s dinner quote, a recital
  • B’s game idea: Home of Terror
  • The need for more talking dinosaurs in interfaces, generally
  • 10-word Firefly summaries
  • Zombies as a philosophical construct (P-Zombies)
  • Why zombies are scary
  • The constituent parts of fear
  • Vampires compared to zombies

—Here the food arrived—

  • Consciousness & souls
  • Daniel Dennett
  • The souls of rocks
  • Buddhist animism
  • SOY!
  • Huppets
  • Digressions
  • Burning Man
  • Wrestling for Dummies
  • Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the movie
  • Socks
  • Sockscriptions
  • Losing socks
  • Travel
  • Rio Bravo
  • Zombies again, consciousness as an Invisible Pink Unicorn
  • White board marker technology
  • Pirates
  • The need to play Pirates of the Caribbean
  • The meaning of “Dead Man’s Chest” in general vs. George MacDonald Fraser’s interpretation
  • Fight choreography
  • Transporter 2, a mini review
  • Dinosaur Comics, the brilliance of
  • Does Cthulu’s head qualify him as a cephalopod? Discuss.
  • Greco Roman & Turkish wrestling
  • Hating the Sound of Music
  • B’s plan for his 3 wishes
  • Choosing invisibility vs. flight vs. telepathy

—Here the lunch ended—

Though this capacity for digression significantly enhances any given lunch, during pressured design meetings, it needs to pointed out and reined in when it’s not contributing to productivity. But you can’t just note that you’re “digressing.” After all, digression is part of the free-wheeling free-association that helps designers discover useful connections and patterns. No, you need another word, a new one that points out that you’ve begun to go down more rat holes than gold mines.

A New Term is Needed
For this reason I coined the term “digregious” as a portmanteau of “egregious” and “digression,” and have been trying to popularize it amongst the teams here. Please feel free to use it in your own design meetings.

Some references, for those wondering: plague in World of Warcraft, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Destroy All Humans!, Firefly, philosophical Zombies, Buddhist animism,, SOY!, Digressions, Burning Man, Sockscriptions, Invisible Pink Unicorn, George MacDonald Fraser, Dinosaur Comics, Cthulu, cephalopod