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January 2006
31 January 2006

In Davos, CEOs get creative [Business Week]

If any single business theme emerged from the 22 sessions on innovation at Davos, it is that CEOs realize that their current corporate organizations and cultures need to be dramatically changed, and that new people with new skills have to be hired.

This was brought home to hundreds of senior corporate managers at Davos when they went through a series of six CEO workshops designed to get them to think and act creatively. The workshops were set up to show business leaders how to design new processes, systems, and products by taking on new creative capabilities. In short, it pushed CEOs to personally try to “operationalize” innovation, and in doing so, showed them how hard it is to get it right.

Read full story

31 January 2006

The future of UK transport in the next 50 years

We can either stumble into the future and just hope it turns out all right or we can try and shape it.

A government thinktank charged with considering the future of UK transport in the next 50 years, just released its report on what future transport problems we can anticipate and how we can best deal with them.

The report, by the Foresight Programme of the Office of Science and Technology, looked at how new technologies or systems might be used to head off total gridlock.

Almost 300 UK and international experts contributed their vision of potential scenarios for sustainable infrastructure and transport in the UK in 50 years’ time.

Read articles: The Guardian | BBC | False Positives weblog
Official website: project synthesispress releasedownload page
Other national foresight programmes in Europe

31 January 2006

Experience design and national parks

During the Fall semester of 2005, Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design teamed with MAYA Design to do a long-distance academic collaboration.

Students were given the Strategic Plan 2001-2005 of the National Park Service and were asked to develop a hypothetical roadmap for the Strategic Plan 2006-2012 that is devoted to advancing its “goal categories” oriented toward “visitor experience.”

The students focused their work on the Rocky Mountain National Park and targeted the following interface categories: web, signage, environments, printed matter and digital devices.

To find out more and download all the documentation, visit this MAYA web page.

30 January 2006

The future of media in the internet age [International Herald Tribune]

Given the opportunity to start a new media empire from scratch, what would be the ideal approach?

Four high-ranking media executives who were in Davos, Switzerland, during the World Economic Forum last week, shared their visions with Thomas Crampton of the International Herald Tribune.

Gerhard Florin, executive vice president and general manager of international publishing at Electronic Arts, is convinced that “media will be driven by interactive entertainment that empowers consumers”.

Michelle Guthrie, chief executive of the Asian broadcaster STAR Group, is convinced that the next-generation media empire will be built using highly localized content. Guthrie was skeptical that users would generate a large portion of the content but said audience interaction has already become an important part of content and revenue for STAR.

Shelby Bonnie, chief executive of CNET Networks, said future media empires would center more on a broad brand name than on a means of distribution. “The successful media empire of the future will regularly send their audience to the best stories by their competitors. The three-legged stool of content will be original, user-generated and aggregated.”

According to Rick Kim, head of global business at the South Korean Internet company SK Communications, the battle has already begun: “We are erecting the building blocks for the next-generation media empire”.

Read full story

30 January 2006

A new journalism takes root after the riots [International Herald Tribune]

“Blogs, the free-form online journals that have gained wide popularity, are making inroads in the newsrooms of what bloggers sometimes derisively call the mainstream media”, writes Bruno Giussani in today’s International Herald Tribune.

“An increasing number of editors and reporters seem to accept that adopting this form of journalism is one way they can remain relevant as the digital era pushes media – and advertising money – in new directions.”

“A Swiss magazine recently took the opportunity to try a blog-based approach to online journalism, in an effort to report the issue in a deeper and perhaps more helpful way.”

Read full story

30 January 2006

Experience Matters at Macromedia

Experience Matters is the name of a section on the Macromedia website where the company wants to show its customers "what great experiences are, how they deliver better business results and how to create them".

"Macromedia is motivated by the belief that great experiences build great businesses. Great experiences are hard to quantify, but we all know when we are having them. They are the memorable events that give shape to our lives. We believe that technology has reached a point in enabling the digital world to move beyond function towards great experiences – experiences that can complement and even compete with those of the physical world.

30 January 2006

Eventbranche on the experience economy

Eventbranche is a Dutch-language blog of Henk-Jan Winkeldermaat where you can view (English-language) videos of recent presentations by Marc William Hansen, chief experience officer at LEGO (on experience co-creation) and by Joe Pine, author of The Experience Economy (on the digital experience).

(via CPH127)

28 January 2006

European Centre for the Experience Economy

Following the publication of Pine & Gilmore’s book “The Experience Economy: Work Is Theatre & Every Business a Stage”, the University of Amsterdam founded the European Centre for the Experience Economy to create a place and network for fundamental academic research on experiences and transformations in their broadest sense as distinct economic offerings, and to establish a body of empirical evidence around the conceptual frameworks contained within The Experience Economy.

The goals of the Centre are to become the leading body of expertise in Europe in the field and to close the gap between theoretical concepts and an integrative body of knowledge. The Centre aims to study, develop, and improve methodology for implementation of experience strategies and concepts.

It organises a series of lectures and workshops and has a publications section, including the recent paper A New Perspective on the Experience Economy (pdf, 524 kb, 20 pages).

(via InfoDesign)

28 January 2006

$250,000 award for human-centred computing

The 2007 Bower Award and Prize will be presented to a distinguished scientist in the field of Human-Centered Computing.The Bower Award for Achievements in Science is presented annually by The Franklin Institute to a researcher of any nationality for outstanding work in the applied or basic sciences, or engineering. A predetermined field of study is chosen each year as a theme. A gold medal and a cash prize of $250,000 are awarded to the individual selected to receive the Bower Award and Prize for Achievement in Science.

The theme for the 2007 Bower Award for Achievement in Science is Human-Centered Computing. The organisers are soliciting nominations of individuals who have significantly advanced Human-Centered Computing; who have clarified the relationship between human cognition and computing; or who have successfully translated some important aspect of basic research into significant, practical results. Areas of contribution can include issues of design, collaborative work, and assistive technology.

The Franklin Institute Awards Program is among the oldest and most comprehensive international science and technology awards programs in the world. Previous Franklin Institute Laureates in Computer and Cognitive Science include Marvin Minsky, Lucy Suchman, John McCarthy, Douglas Engelbart, Whitfield Diffie and Noam Chomsky.

Call for nominations

27 January 2006

Ambient discoverability on a design shopping site

Karl Long of Customer Experience Strategy reviews, a shopping site that sells an extremely eclectic mix of products, it seems like a stylish, urban outfitters for grown ups. The web site is a flash extraviganza that puts to sham, essentially breaks every rule in the book when it comes to ecommerce, web design, usability etc. and it works brilliantly.

He argues that the site uses flash in some very interesting and entirely appropriate ways that makes sense for the kind of store it is, and continues with a discussion of findability and discoverability, settling on the new concept of “ambient discoverability”.

Read full story

27 January 2006

User-driven innovation at Lego

The new version of Mindstorms, Lego’s all-time best-selling product, was developed with the help of a Mindstorms User Panel, with the aim of developing a better product but also a tighter, more trusting bond between corporation and customer.

A lengthy article in Wired Magazine explains how it all worked.

Update 8 March 2006:
Another lengthy article just came out in CNET News.

27 January 2006

Project Finland, cyber diplomacy with a child’s view

Some years ago, the media office at the Embassy of Finland in Washington, D.C. saw the potential and possibilities of investing time and effort on children as a novel target group for building relations and international understanding. This was the beginning of Project Finland, a fun and interactive Web site designed with middle school-aged Americans in mind.

The design of Project Finland can be characterized as a user-centered participatory process. First, the project idea began as an attempt to find effective ways to reach young audiences to share information about Finland. But not just any information. The authors wanted to engage the children intellectually by looking for solutions in cutting-edge fields such as high technology, bioenergy, water, the education system and physical fitness.

Secondly, the user-centered design process means that feedback and the user experiences of children and teachers have been gathered by utilizing multiple methods (e.g. usability analysis, embedded feedback, interviews, observation). The collected data has provided valuable insights for further development of the user-interface and contents of the Web site.

Read full story

26 January 2006

Practice-based and user-driven innovation in small communities

Finnish designer Ulla-Maaria Mutanen (aka The HobbyPrincess) argues that small communities will have to radically change their innovation policy in the near future. This will include the moving from strictly institutional, business-oriented idea of innovation and competence development towards an idea of innovation as practice-based, interactive, and often times semi-professional learning activity.

This was the topic of her talk yesterday during a seminar organized by the Finnish Foundation of Municipal Development and attended by the Finnish President.

Mutanen first discussed this argument in the light of the recent innovation studies, which suggest that an increasing number of innovations emerge currently within the communities of users and semi-professional developers. Second, she introduced learning theories that emphasize the collective, situated, and object-oriented nature of new knowledge creation and capability development. Finally, she discussed the MIT FabLab concept as a concrete example of an organizational arrangement that builds on the idea of a cooperative, practice-based, municipal innovation activity.

Read full post

(via The Innovation Insider)

26 January 2006

Challenges of Design Promotion in Europe [Business Week]

Business Week reports on the recent Challenges of Design Promotion in Europe conference which drew new attention to areas where European businesses excel — and fall short

A recent conference in Paris, called Challenges of Design Promotion in Europe and sponsored by the French design council, Agence pour la Promotion de la Création Industrielle, brought together several hundred of Europe’s most influential leaders in the design community.

The featured companies all understand that design isn’t just about looks. It’s also about employing new materials to reduce waste and improve performance, and about focusing on customer needs to make products and services more user-friendly.

The bad news is that the challenge of spreading the word on design is considerable. A survey of almost 4,000 European company managers from a broad range of industries conducted exclusively for the conference revealed that they consistently rank design among the least important ingredients to business success.

Read full story

26 January 2006

Erosion of Power: Users in Charge [CNET]

CNET’s Release 1.0 editor in chief Esther Dyson sits down with ZDNet editor in chief Dan Farber to discuss the upcoming PC Forum conference which takes place on March 12-14, 2006 in Carlsbad, California.

The theme of the conference is the rise of the user class, with vendors becoming more responsive to users’ demands.

View video

25 January 2006

Experientia attending LIFT conference

Experientia partner Jan-Christoph Zoels will be attending the meanwhile sold out LIFT conference next week. If some of the Putting People First readers are going to Geneva as well, do seek him out.

Aside from his role in Experientia, Jan-Christoph is also a senior associate professor at Interaction Design Institute Ivrea, where he teaches graduate students and leads collaborative innovation workshops with business, including Sony, Hitachi, Nokia, Alcatel, Orange, Fiat and Telecom Italia. Previously he was director of information architecture for Sapient (New York), and senior designer at Sony Design Center USA, responsible for strategic product development.

24 January 2006

Design professor Lee Kun Pyo on Korea and context-dependent design [Business Week]

Over the past decade, Korea’s Samsung Electronics has transformed itself from a copycat producer of uninspiring goods into one of the world’s top consumer-electronics brands. Much of that transformation is due to a shift in power at the company from engineers to designers. Samsung’s rebirth has inspired other Korean companies to place a greater emphasis on design — in fact, it has energized the country’s design community.

One of the keenest observers of this renaissance has been Lee Kun Pyo, director of the Human-Centered Interaction Design Laboratory at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology.

BusinessWeek Asia Editor David Rocks and Seoul Bureau Chief Moon Ihlwan
recently sat down with Lee to discuss the changes sweeping Korean design.

Read interview

24 January 2006

“Shaping Things” by Bruce Sterling

Shaping Things is about created objects and the environment, which is to say, it’s about everything,” writes Bruce Sterling in this addition to the Mediawork Pamphlet series. He adds, “Seen from sufficient distance, this is a small topic.”

Sterling offers a brilliant, often hilarious history of shaped things. We have moved from an age of artifacts, made by hand, through complex machines, to the current era of “gizmos.” New forms of design and manufacture are appearing that lack historical precedent, he writes; but the production methods, using archaic forms of energy and materials that are finite and toxic, are not sustainable.

The future will see a new kind of object — we have the primitive forms of them now in our pockets and briefcases: user-alterable, baroquely multi-featured, and programmable — that will be sustainable, enhanceable, and uniquely identifiable. Sterling coins the term “spime” for them, these future manufactured objects with informational support so extensive and rich that they are regarded as material instantiations of an immaterial system. Spimes are designed on screens, fabricated by digital means, and precisely tracked through space and time. They are made of substances that can be folded back into the production stream of future spimes, challenging all of us to become involved in their production. Spimes are coming, says Sterling. We will need these objects in order to live; we won’t be able to surrender their advantages without awful consequences.

Amazon page of this book
Core77 book review

23 January 2006

Designing for the Scent of Information

Apparently a must-read if you work on sites with large amounts of information:

Designing for the Scent of Information
The essentials every designer needs to know about how users navigate through large web sites
By Jared M. Spool, Christine Perfetti and David Brittan

The users coming to your site all have one thing in common: their animal instinct. When a user wants to find something on your site, they are on the hunt. Just like a fox in a forest, they’ll be most successful when they pick up a strong scent.

Does your site’s content have the strongest scent it can? Does your site’s design enhance your information’s scent or obscure it? If you don’t know how the scent of information affects your users, chances are your site prevents them from finding your most important content.

In Designing for the Scent of Information, you’ll learn the design secrets of successful sites, such as,, and You’ll see how users approach a site, how they decide where to click, and how certain designs are better at getting users to the information they seek.

(via Usability in the News and MNnteractive)

23 January 2006

One of four web users are disabled users

A new look at what makes up accessibility.

“Did you know that up to 25% of all visitors on your website have some kind of accessibility problem. Some of your users may be blind, deaf, dyslectic, has learning disabilities or motoric disabilities such as schlerosis, parkinson’s disease, etc. A so-called functional disability.

But how about users with a technical disability: Wireless devices, slow internet connections, old browsers, feed readers, etc. These should be considered as well, as there are probably more people with technological disability than functional disability.

25% of all web users have some kind of accessibility problem. That is a claim from the Danish Center for Accesibility.”

Read full post

(via Usability in the News)