Putting People First

Daily insights on user experience, experience design and people-centred innovation
Audience Business Culture Design Locations Media Methods Services Social Issues






















Experience design

Interaction design


Service design

Ubiquitous computing












Mobile phone


Virtual world






User experience

User research


Financial services


Public services



Urban development


Digital divide

Emerging markets


Social change


August 2005
12 August 2005

DoCoMo designs phones for the elderly

This month, NTT DoCoMo, Inc. will release a mobile phone able to slow down speakers’ voice speed. The key targeted users are the elderly, reveals Tech-on.

The speed converter technology slows down speakers’ voice speed up to 0.7x, so the listener can feel like that the speakers’ dialogue goes slowly. The technology does not slow down the voice part, but shortens the part without sound between phrases. When a time lag between the original voice and the converted voice exceeds one second, the function automatically stops.

DoCoMo also prepared a main menu screen exclusively designed for the handset. By reducing the number of menu items as well as using relatively large icons, screen operation became easier than before.

Other functions include a system to start an emergency alarm of about 80 dB and a pedometer.

(via Engadget || Regine of We Make Money Not Art)

12 August 2005

6 August 1991

6 August 1991: Tim Berners-Lee posts the first website.
Fourteen years later it is impossible to imagine the world without the internet.

A Guardian profile on Tim Berners-Lee.

12 August 2005

Richard Florida on technology, talent and tolerance [AlterNet]

When Richard Florida published his upbeat Rise of the Creative Class in 2002, he became the instant darling of progressives everywhere. What’s not to like about a man who says diversity, tolerance, and a vibrant cultural life are required ingredients for economic success?

Florida’s latest offering, The Flight of the Creative Class: The New Global Competition for Talent offers a grimmer and more nuanced vision of both America and the world.

This Richard Florida is worried. For one, he fears that the nation’s turn to the right — hostility to foreigners, widening income divide, social conservatism — endangers the single most important source of U.S. power: its ability to attract global talent. But even when he looks beyond the borders, Florida finds other reasons to worry. Unlike Thomas Friedman, he see the dark side of the global creative economy, whose tendency to concentrate economic wealth must be recognised and controlled for the greater good. The same thriving cities, brimming with talent and ingenuity can easily turn into creative ghettoes that increasingly exclude greater parts of humanity.

Read the interview

(via CPH127)

11 August 2005

Blinklist and the human mind

Blinklist, a new social bookmarks manager (still in Beta), makes a lot of claims about functioning the same way that our mind does:

“BlinkList is a tool that allows you to create a mental map of the internet of sites that are important to you. It’s a bookmarking manager designed to work in the same way your brain stores data and thinks about things.”

“Traditionally, whenever you saved something on the computer, you had to put into a category or a folder. Well, human beings don’t operate in such a rigid way. When you want to save something, you usually think of multiple mental notes that might make sense, depending on what it is that you are saving.”

As a cognitive psychologist, I am generally somewhat skeptical about such claims. But encouraged by the Blinklist development team (see comment below), I gave it a try.

Frankly, Blinklist has a lot of potential as a link organiser, but the Beta version still has so many usability problems that I cannot see myself switching to the service yet. (More detailed comments by me can be found on the Blinklist discussion forum).

Blinklist says it will launch the full version in October 2005.

11 August 2005

Overview of experience design blogs

This list has been replaced by two shared lists of, one on experience design blogs and one on mobile experience design blogs. The tags are xdblogs and mxdblogs.
11 August 2005

The Work Foundation’s iSociety project

The Work Foundation’s iSociety project is a definitive and independent analysis of the impact of information and communications technologies (ICTs) on our everyday lives.

The UK-based project is especially focused on the ways that information and communications technologies (ICTs) are changing life at home and at work, and at how organisations of all sizes can use them more effectively to improve performance and enhance productivity.

The site contains currently eight reports, the most interesting of which (to me) are already a bit older:
You Don’t Know Me, but… Social Capital & Social Software (pdf, 760 kb, March 2003, 68 pages)
MobileUK – Mobile Phones in Everyday Life (pdf, 628 kb, March 2003, 56 pages)
RealityIT – Technology and Everyday Life (pdf, 864 kb, July 2002, 68 pages)

11 August 2005

Impact of weblogs and mainstream media [Technorati]

Technorati has published this chart (click to enlarge) that illustrates the influence or authority of a site or blog as measured by the number of people who are linking to it.

As the chart above shows, the most influential media sites on the web are still well-funded mainstream media sites, like The New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN. However, a lot of bloggers are achieving a significant amount of attention and influence. Blogs like bOingbOing, Daily Kos, and Instapundit are highly influential, especially among technology and political thought leaders, and sites like Gizmodo and Engadget are seeing as much influence as mainstream media sites like the LA Times.

Read full story

11 August 2005

Better by design [RSA Journal]

Design used to be associated purely with aesthetics. Today it has been embraced by business leaders and is advocated for social policy development.

Nico Macdonald (blog) investigates these claims.

Read text-only version
Download laid out version (pdf, 176 kb)

(via CPH127)

11 August 2005

What to expect from the next five decades? [RSA Journal]

The forthcoming 2005 State of the Future report will outline what it considers to be the 15 greatest challenges facing humanity.

Jerome Glenn, director of the Millennium Project, gives us a preview and a glimpse of some of the changes he believes the world is likely to see over the next half-century.

Read full story

11 August 2005

The future of mobile technology: learning ‘on the run’? [NESTA Futurelab]

Mobile phones are used in Asia in strikingly innovative ways. In Japan, there have been stories of schoolgirls writing messages on scraps of paper, photographing them with their phones and then e-mailing them to friends. In Korea the third biggest national newspaper, Oh My News, gets most of its content from citizens who e-mail text stories or photos from their mobiles.

Only a few steps behind, the UK seems to have developed an insatiable appetite for mobile technology. Mobile phones are replaced on average every 18 months, and a recent report from the consultancy mobileYouth found that one in three children aged between 5 and 9 owns a mobile phone: the average age of first phone ownership is now 8. […]

Mobile phones are already being used in education, but so far the uses have been fairly modest. […] [However] the pace of change suggests that mobiles will be used extensively in colleges and schools within the next five to ten years.

Read full story

11 August 2005

MEX: the mobile user experience conference

MEX, the PMN mobile user experience conference, will take place on 6 and 7 September 2005 in London.

The two day conference provides insight into all aspects of the mobile user experience, including technology platforms, design strategy and the commercial reality of delivering truly user-centred mobile products.

Combining 40 expert speakers, open debate and networking sessions, MEX provides a unique environment to discuss best practice, future technologies and learn from leading industry executives.

Go to conference site
Download conference brochure (pdf, 532 kb)

11 August 2005

CKS, a usability and interaction design practice for South-East Asia

CKS (Center for Knowledge Societies) is the first and only usability and interaction design research practice in and for South-East Asia.

The company, which is based in Bangalore and New Delhi, affords design driven insight into the contextual use of information and communication technologies for emerging economy scenarios.

CKS uses a variety of innovative social research tools, to understand user needs and practices to fine tune existing products and services and to conceptualise altogether new technology configurations.

10 August 2005

Next-generation MBAs looking to Bangalore [International Herald Tribune]

Graduate students from top schools in the United States, Europe and Asia, most from master of business administration programs, are vying for internships at India’s biggest private companies. For many, outsourcing companies are the destinations of choice.

Read full story

10 August 2005

New interaction design association

Alumni and staff of the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea (which is now no longer based in Ivrea) have just founded an Interaction Design Association to “promote the interaction design culture, knowledge and experience” and “to create and maintain a network of contacts working in the field of interaction design”.

Unfortunately you can only join if you have studied at Interaction-Ivrea or have worked there full-time or as a consultant. So it is really an Interaction Ivrea Association.

Email this address for more info.

10 August 2005

Ethnobase, a web resource for ICT ethnographers

Ethnobase is a web resource for ethnographic approaches to studying Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). The site is based at the London School of Economics, Department of Sociology, and aims to network the growing ranks of ICT ethnographers, increasing communication and awareness of their work.

(The site doesn’t contain a huge amount of information yet, but it has some interesting links).

10 August 2005

Incite, a technology and ethnography incubator

INCITE, an incubator affiliated with the University of Surrey (UK), supports critical inquiry into technology and ethnography and provides a creative interdisciplinary space for research projects which explore the socio-cultural dimensions of technology use and design.
10 August 2005

Tim Berners-Lee on blogging and the future of the web [BBC Newsnight]

In August 1991, Sir Tim Berners-Lee created the first website. Fourteen years on, he tells BBC Newsnight’s Mark Lawson how blogging is closer to his original idea about a read/write web.

Read full interview

10 August 2005

Innovation through people-centred design – lessons from the USA

This very interesting Global Watch* mission report (which I just finished reading) summarises the results of an official UK field trip to the US to investigate the impact of people-centred research in the design process.

The authors were interested in the ways in which people-centred research becomes integrated into both the product design and development process as well as embedded within organisational culture and long-term strategic thinking.

They emphasise that people in their social context rather than task-centric users should be considered a fundamental source of product and service innovation.

The report, which dates from October 2004 and contains 76 pages, focuses mainly on new technology including computer hardware and software, mobile phones and technology services.

(* The UK government Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Global Watch Service is dedicated to helping UK businesses improve their competitiveness by identifying and accessing innovative technologies and practices from overseas and provides funds to assist small groups of technical experts from UK companies and academia to visit other countries for short, fact finding missions.)

Download report (pdf, 1.3 MB)

(via CPH127)

(a reflection on the report by David Hawdale in FormFunctionEmotion)

10 August 2005

Insights from “Thoughtless Acts” [Business Week]

Veteran designer Jane Fulton Suri who is the author of the new book Thoughtless Acts, discerns unmet consumer needs via keen observations of ordinary people doing ordinary things.Some industrial designers sketch, some study new material technology, some collect inspiration from garbage. Fulton Suri watches and looks, and then presses her observations into the design of products and environments.

As the leader of the “human factors” group at IDEO, the international design consultancy, she and her colleagues will watch kids brushing their teeth, parents pushing strollers, or patients checking in at the emergency room, trying to find opportunities for design to improve the experience. Yet often that means looking for something less obvious: the ways in which the experience can improve the design.

Read full story

10 August 2005

e-Qaeda | From Afghanistan to the internet [Washington Post]

[You could call it a less pleasant sort of “experience design”]

The Washington Post’s website features a special report consisting of three in-depth articles, two video reports and various graphics that explore how al Qaeda has become the first guerrilla movement in history to migrate from physical space to cyberspace.

With laptops and DVDs, in secret hideouts and at neighborhood Internet cafes, young code-writing jihadists have sought to replicate the training, communication, planning and preaching facilities they lost in Afghanistan with countless new locations on the Internet.

- Terrorists turn to the web as base of operations (August 7, 2005)
Briton used internet as his bully pulpit (August 8, 2005)
The web as weapon (August 9, 2005)
Video reports

(In case this really gets you going, also read Global Guerrillas, a blog by terrorism expert John Robb that focuses on political disruption and “the emerging bazaar of violence,” which visualises the Iraq insurgency not as a traditional military operation, but as a decentralised business process that operates on basic economic and technological principles. In a post last year, Robb even compared the Iraq insurgency to a bazaar that leverages rapid prototyping and swarming principles.)

(via FutureWire)