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Putting People First

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April 2007
28 April 2007

Forrester’s new Social Technographics report

Personal Content Experience
Social Technographics
Mapping Participation In Activities Forms The Foundation Of A Social Strategy
by Charlene Li
with Josh Bernoff, Remy Fiorentino, Sarah Glass

Forrester just released a new report, titled “Social Technographics“.

Executive summary
Many companies approach social computing as a list of technologies to be deployed as needed – a blog here, a podcast there – to achieve a marketing goal. But a more coherent approach is to start with your target audience and determine what kind of relationship you want to build with them, based on what they are ready for. Forrester categorizes social computing behaviors into a ladder with six levels of participation; we use the term “Social Technographics” to describe analyzing a population according to its participation in these levels. Brands, Web sites, and any other company pursuing social technologies should analyze their customers’ Social Technographics first, and then create a social strategy based on that profile.

Author Charlene Li provides us with some more insight into the report:

“We group consumers into six different categories of participation – and participation at one level may or may not overlap with participation at other levels. We use the metaphor of a ladder to show this, with the rungs at the higher end of the ladder indicating a higher level of participation.

For example, 13% of US online adult consumers are “Creators” meaning that they have posted to a blog, updated a Web page, or uploaded video they created within the last month. […]

The value of Social Technographics comes when it’s used by companies to create their social strategies. For example, in the report we look at how Social Technographics profiles differ by primary life motivation, site usage, and even PC ownership.

The report also lays out how companies can create strategies using Social Technographics. For example, I’ve used the “participation ladder” to help figure out which social strategies to deploy first – and also how to encourage users to “climb up”, so to speak, from being Spectators to becoming more engaged.”

- Read full story
Related blog post (by Ross Mayfield)

28 April 2007

Book: Personal Content Experience – Managing Digital Life in the Mobile Age

Personal Content Experience
Juha Lehikoinen, Ilkka Salminen, Antti Aaltonen, Pertti Huuskonen
Paperback
382 pages
April 2007

This book takes a personal approach to mobile content management, focusing on the consumer point of view. The authors (all Nokia researchers) consider all aspects from software architecture to end-user needs on mobile personal content, taking a multi-disciplinary angle. The features of the mobile domain that make it special in terms of content management, are highlighted from both the user and technology perspective. Topics covered include personal content characteristics, context-awareness, content management software architecture, metadata formats and user interface design guidelines.

First, the authors discuss the strategic and business impact of this emerging topic, along with guidelines for coping with it (chapters 1-4). Then Lehikoinen et al. present practical ways of approaching the issues discussed in the first chapters, concentrating on the software framework, user interface, and example application concepts that are a combination of the software framework and UI design. They also include some future speculations, and a quick guide for managers. The book combines theory with practice in the form of hands-on examples, application concepts, and software architecture descriptions, including implementation details of a proposed, extendable software architecture targeted at content management in mobile devices.

More information: Nokia | Publisher (Wiley) | Amazon

27 April 2007

User-centered design game

User-Centered Design Game
The UCD game allows human-computer interaction practitioners to demonstrate the key user-centered design (UCD) process and methods to those who are unfamiliar with UCD. The game teaches how to incorporate user-centered design into every step in the software development process. Overall, the purpose of this game is to promote a better understanding of a good design process by demonstrating the importance of understanding and focusing on the end user.

The target audience for this game is those unfamiliar with UCD, yet whose work relates to the definition, creation, and update of a product or service. In other words, everyone involved in the software development process.

The UCD game is structured in 4 sections mimicking a standard user-centered design project: defining the users, analyzing the users’ characteristics, designing and evaluating the designed artifact. The last station – evaluating the process – requires the participants to look back on the three previous stations and reflect their design process.

The game was developed by three people associated with the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (Open University of Catalonia, Spain).

26 April 2007

The infrastructure of experience and the experience of infrastructure

Planning and Design
In “The infrastructure of experience and the experience of infrastructure: meaning and structure in everyday encounters with space” Intel‘s chief anthropologist Genevieve Bell and UC Irvine professor Paul Dourish explore space as an infrastructure for our lived experience of the world, and discuss the ways in which pervasive computing transforms this experience.

The paper was published in the latest issue of Planning and Design – a theme issue on “space, sociality, and pervasive computing“.

Abstract

Although the current developments in ubiquitous and pervasive computing are driven largely by technological opportunities, they have radical implications not just for technology design but also for the ways in which we experience and interact with computation. In particular, the move of computation `off the desktop’ and into the world, whether embedded in the environment around us or carried or worn on our bodies, suggests that computation is beginning to manifest itself in new ways as an aspect of the everyday environment.

One particularly interesting issue in this transformation is the move from a concern with virtual spaces to a concern with physical ones. Basically, once computation moves off the desktop, computer science suddenly has to be concerned with where it might have gone. Whereas computer science and human – computer interaction have previously been concerned with disembodied cognition, they must now look more directly at embodied action and bodily encounters between people and technology.

In this paper, we explore some of the implications of the development of ubiquitous computing for encounters with space. We look on space here as infrastructure—not just a technological infrastructure, but an infrastructure through which we experience the world. Drawing on studies of both the practical organization of space and the cultural organization of space, we begin to explore the ways in which ubiquitous computing may condition, and be conditioned by, the social organization of everyday space.

I am also quoting one synthesising paragraph from halfway into the paper:

What we are suggesting then is an alternative model of space and spatiality than that which dominates current discourse in the design of pervasive-computing technologies and environments. Pervasive computing brings computation out of the traditional desktop and into the spaces beyond; but the critical feature of these spaces is that they are always already populated and inhabited. More to the point, the experience of space is the experience of multiple infrastructures — infrastructures of naming, of movement, of interaction, etc — and these infrastructures emerge from and are sustained by the embodied practices of the people who populate and inhabit the spaces in question. Spaces are not neutral, and their complex interpretive structure will frame the encounter with pervasive computing; as, by the same token, the opportunities afforded by new technologies allow for a reinterpretation and reencounter with the meaning of space for its inhabitants. Fundamentally, the experience of space is coextensive with the cultural practice of everyday life.

I highly recommend reading this paper, although quite conceptual at times , and to savour their thoughts on for instance the importance of ‘seamful’ design (as opposed to seamless computing), “allowing technologies to make boundaries and seams visible”.

(Last year, Bell and Dourish wrote another very good paper together which provided a people-centred critique of the current ubiquitous computing paradigm.)

Download paper (pdf, 173 kb, 18 pages)

(via Peter Dalsgaard)

26 April 2007

Mobile is the 7th Mass Media and is to internet like TV is to radio

Mobile in China
Mobile as the 7th mass media is as much superior to the internet, as TV is to radio, writes the author and consultant Tomi T Ahonen.

“It emerged as the 7th mass media only by the year 2000. By far the youngest of the seven mass media, the mobile is also by far the least understood.”

According to Ahonen, the mobile is the first mass media that can do everything each of the SIX previous mass media (print, music recordings, movies, radio, television, internet) can do. All of the existing media can be delivered via the mobile.

But, says Ahonen, mobile adds five elements not possible on the previous six mass media, making the mobile the inherently superior mass media.

  • First, the mobile is personal. And, from a media owner point of view, the mobile is the first mass media where every single media consumer can be identified uniquely and distinctly.
  • Secondly the mobile is the first always-on mass media.
  • Thirdly the mobile is the first always-carried mass media.
  • Fourthly the mobile is the first mass media with a built-in payment mechanism.
  • And finally, mobile uniquely offers the media audience the input tool, at the point of creative impulse.

Read full post

24 April 2007

36% of online American adults consult Wikipedia

Wikipedia
More than a third of American adult internet users (36%) consult the citizen-generated online encyclopedia Wikipedia, according to a new nationwide survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. And on a typical day in the winter of 2007, 8% of online Americans consulted Wikipedia.

There has been ongoing controversy about the reliability of articles on Wikipedia. Still, the Pew Internet Project survey shows that Wikipedia is far more popular among the well-educated than it is among those with lower levels of education. For instance, 50% of those with at least a college degree consult the site, compared with 22% of those with a high school diploma. And 46% of those age 18 and older who are current full- or part-time students have used Wikipedia, compared with 36% of the overall internet population.

In addition, young adults and broadband users have been among those who are earlier adopters of Wikipedia. While 44% of those ages 18-29 use Wikipedia to look for information, just 29% of users age 50 and older consult the site. In a similar split, 42% of home broadband users look for information on Wikipedia, while just 26% of home dialup users do so.

All told, the use of Wikipedia is more popular on a typical day than some of the more prominent activities tracked by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, including online purchasing, visiting dating websites, making travel reservations, using chat rooms, and participating in online auctions.

Download survey (pdf, 90 kb, 7 pages)

24 April 2007

Interaction design for classrooms

Interactive whiteboard
Berlin-based Henning Breuer specialises in interaction design patterns: his current research is about what kind of tools and interfaces we need to engage best in learning environments today.

After four months of research at the Waseda University in Tokyo, PingMag (the Tokyo-based magazine about “design and making things”) grabbed him for a talk about his interaction works, such as the interactive tactile whiteboard.

Henning’s approach is all about the design of technology from the user’s perspective:

“Interfaces should be useful and usable, helping instead of hindering people in what they want to do. With computerized systems this tends to get difficult, so my task is to design the things in a useful way according to cognitive and cultural psychology. This may include a shift from a purely task-oriented towards an emotional design and user experience.”

Read interview

24 April 2007

Web 2.0 is not for India

Avnish Bajaj
Avnish Bajaj, co-founder and Managing Director of Matrix India (the $150-million India fund of Matrix Partners, a global venture capital company) thinks Web 2.0 is not for India:

“I think people are wasting their time on Web 2.0 in India.”

“People talk about the Internet being convenient, but it is not so in India. You need to go to a cyber café or you have to dial up a telephone line or use a slow broadband connection. Whereas in the US, 150 million households have broadband access all around the clock, sitting at home. When you have such a situation you can do social networking, but where is that happening in India? Do you think a person will go to a cyber café or any public environment to discuss everything about their life?”

“There is a cultural barrier, as not many individuals will express themselves as in Myspace.com. Also, there are infrastructural barriers. Fundamentally it is not about social networking but about community building. In India one needs to first create a product according to people’s needs and subsequently a community will form around it. An example would be Seventymm, which solves a need. We are building a community product around it.”

Though dismissive of Web 2.0 in India, Bajaj thinks that Mobile 2.0 will happen, but it will take time.

“Of the 150 million mobile phone users, only two million are GPRS-enabled. The urban penetration is 52 per cent, while in rural areas it is 7-8 per cent. In reality there will be mobile Internet applications but the market size will not be 500 million but 25-30 million. Sometimes I meet individuals who talk about a 500-million mobile Internet market, which will not exist even when I retire! Overall you have to deliver alternatives not only via mobile Internet but through other mediums because India is at a nascent stage of growth.”

Read full story

24 April 2007

Vodafone research on what women expect from mobile phones

Woman with mobile phone
Vodafone detailed its insights into what women (at least in the U.K. and The Netherlands) expect from mobile phones and functions, reports the Telecompaper (subscription required).

Unsurprisingly, design is the number one selling-point. User research found around 55 percent want a phone that is round, light colored and opens like a clamshell. Some 18 percent want a more business-oriented model, 14 percent want to make a statement with an extrovert design, and 13 percent just wanna have fun, funky design.

Vodafone’s examination of usage patterns shows the phone is essential to women for keeping in contact with family and friends. Women – the penultimate connectors – have much larger social networks to sustain than their male counterparts. Generally speaking, the number of phone numbers in their calling circle is some 2-3 times larger than men’s (excluding business numbers). Women call a lot, and also talk for a long time, especially when it’s an incoming call.

SMS is also important to women. They use it to make contact, show affection, send photos and for shopping lists – and they use this service much more than their men. Although men make more use of content services, women are more prolific users of personalised services, such as ringtones, and are also more interested in specifically “feminine content” such as the Dutch soap opera Onderweg naar morgen or Bridget Jones.

(via mocoNews.net)

24 April 2007

Robot future poses hard questions [BBC]

Robot
Scientists have expressed concern about the use of autonomous decision-making robots, particularly for military use, writes the BBC.

As they become more common, these machines could also have negative impacts on areas such as surveillance and elderly care, the roboticists warn.

The researchers were speaking ahead of a public debate at the Dana Centre, part of London’s Science Museum.

- Read full story
Related article in The Guardian

23 April 2007

Experientia launches Italian version of Putting People First

Putting People First in italiano
We are very pleased to announce that we have created an Italian version of Putting People First.
Siamo molto lieti di annunciare la realizzazione di una versione italiana di Putting People First.

It contains summaries of all the articles of the English version of the professional blog and goes back nearly 8 months – to September 2006. The blog, which contains about 450 posts in all, is in essence identical to the English one (just a bit shorter) and features all the functionalities that the English version has.
Questa contiene i riassunti di tutti gli articoli contenuti nella versione inglese del blog professionale relativamente agli ultimi 8 mesi, da settembre 2006. Il blog, contenente circa 450 post, è sostanzialmente identico a quello inglese (solo un po’ più sintetico) e le stesse funzionalità disponibili nella versione .

The English site does now no longer include weekly Italian summaries and older summaries have been removed from the site so that they will – surely to the delight of many – no longer show up in search results.
Il sito inglese, quindi, non conterrà più le sintesi settimanali in italiano, e le sintesi datate sono state rimosse dal sito, per cui non saranno più ricercabili – sicuramente per la felicità di molti – tramite la funzione di ricerca.

People who have subscribed to the Italian summaries via rss or email, do not have to change anything. They will now get individual Italian article feeds or article emails instead of the weekly summaries.
Le persone che avessero sottoscritto le sintesi italiane via rss o email, non devono apportare alcuna modifica. Adesso loro riceveranno i feed dei singoli articoli in italiano o email degli articoli, anzichè la sintesi settimanale.

22 April 2007

Participation on Web 2.0 sites remains weak

Laptop
Web 2.0, a catchphrase for the latest generation of Web sites where users contribute their own text, pictures and video content, is far less participatory than commonly assumed, a study showed on Tuesday.

A tiny 0.16 percent of visits to Google’s top video-sharing site, YouTube, are by users seeking to upload video for others to watch, according to a study of online surfing data by Bill Tancer, an analyst with Web audience measurement firm Hitwise.

Similarly, only two-tenths of one percent of visits to Flickr, a popular photo-editing site owned by Yahoo Inc., are to upload new photos, the Hitwise study found.

The vast majority of visitors are the Internet equivalent of the television generation’s couch potatoes — voyeurs who like to watch rather than create, Tancer’s statistics show.

- Read full story (Reuters)
Read related story (vnunet.com)

(via Bruce Nussbaum)

20 April 2007

Nokia global user study on where people carry their phone

Where's the phone
Jan Chipchase, the well-known Nokia anthropologist, has just published a blog post, an essay, and a paper (pdf, 344 kb, 8 pages) that explores where people carry their mobile phones and why. The research is based on data from a series of Nokia street surveys conducted between 2003 and 2006.

The first study in this series, conducted in Helsinki during the summer of 2003, was designed to understand the extent to which people noticed incoming communication. Since then the study has evolved to encompass the carrying location of other objects, collect a visual snapshot of mobile phones and their ‘owner’s’ and has since been run in eleven countries across four continents.

19 April 2007

Experientia contributes to Torino 2008

Torino 2008
The new website of Torino 2008 World Design Capital contains an editorial section, managed by Experientia partner Mark Vanderbeeken, with interviews, profiles of design centres, essays and some commented articles from the international press that together provide an international window on Torino 2008.

The monthly interview series features a number of thought-provoking conversations with leading designers or people who have major impact on the design world. The first interview is with Ranjit Makkuni, who is the director of the Sacred World Foundation and the project director of the Eternal Gandhi Multimedia Museum.

Monthly essays explore issues in further depth. The first essay is on people-centred design as a means to affect cultural and social change, and is also written by Experientia partner Mark Vanderbeeken.

The monthly focus on design centres is a contribution to Torino 2008’s theme of design policy, which has the the aim of informing the activities of the Torino Design Centre but also of provoking a debate on what could become a national design policy in Italy. The first featured design centre is the one from Nagoya.

Finally, each month the site will feature an article from the international press. The first one discusses magic as a new metaphor for mobile devices.

19 April 2007

User research on how people consume news

Reading the news
Liz Danzico has written a very interesting and somewhat counterintuitive piece for Adobe Design Center on user research how people are consuming news. She starts the article by featuring two people Paul and Rebecca who are news junkies, but not in the way you think, and goes on to underline how important it is to do this kind of research in context – at home, at work, or wherever people normally are.

Paul and Rebecca both characterized themselves as “heavy online news readers.” And although it’s true that they’re heavy consumers of news, their behavior reveals that they are not getting the majority of their news from newspaper websites, as this description might suggest. While Paul is using the Internet to set up his newsletters and alerts, he’s not really reading news online. Instead, he’s reading e-mail newsletters, which is typical of about 50% of Americans who have broadband at home. Rebecca, for all her diligence, is really gathering all her news and commentary offline, then supplementing it by scanning the headlines online, typical of about 24% of all online news readers. Neither one, then, really lived up to their characterization of how they use the news.

It’s no surprise that Paul and Rebecca can’t articulate what they actually do. People often say one thing, then demonstrate another. Rebecca and Paul are just two of twelve people that we’ve been spending time with for a design research project for a news and media company called Daylife. While the results will be used to inform the user experience of a website in the short-term, our larger goal is to understand how people are consuming news and information today. And the fact that people are unaware of the way they consume news is precisely the reason we wanted to conduct the study in the first place.

Liz Danzico is director of user experience at Daylife, a website that gathers, organizes, and analyzes news from around the world. She is also the senior development editor for Rosenfeld Media, a publishing house dedicated to user experience. Liz has served as director of experience strategy for AIGA, formed the information architecture team at Barnes & Noble.com, and managed the information architecture group at Razorfish, New York.

Read full story

19 April 2007

Carlo Ratti and Régine Debatty featured in Ventiquattro magazine

Régine Debatty
Last Saturday (14 April), Carlo Ratti of MIT’s Senseable City Lab and Régine Debatty of we-make-money-not-art.com were featured in a six page article in Ventiquattro, the magazine of the highly regarded Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore (somewhat comparable to The Wall Street Journal).

Of course, this is delightful news. I have featured Carlo and Régine and their work several times on this blog and I know them both quite well. Each of them has a connection with Torino: Carlo who is originally from the city divides his life between Torino and Boston. Régine has lived in Torino for many years, and moved only recently to Berlin.

The article, with gorgeous photos, is really a double self-portrait featured in a section called “New lifestyles”. They each write about how they live their rather unique lives: Régine as a full-time blogger, and Carlo with a professional architecture studio in Torino and a research group and lecturing activities at MIT in Boston.

Download scan of article (pdf, 1.1 mb, 6 pages)

19 April 2007

Torino 2008 World Design Capital launches Torino GEODESIGN

Torino 2008 World Design Capital
Yesterday I went to a press conference by Torino 2008 World Design Capital at the Milan Design Fair which presented TORINO GEODESIGN.

TORINO GEODESIGN (described in more detail in this Core77 article) is an international competition which will bring designers from all over the world to collaborate with communities and businesses in Piedmont. It will be one of the major events of the Torino 2008 programme.

It is based on the concept of “self-organised” design, that is energetic and highly experimental. The project is generated by a community of consumers, living in large metropolises undergoing change and in cosmopolitan European cities, who transform themselves into suppliers of services.

Speakers were Sergio Chiamparino (Mayor of Torino), Stefano Boeri (project leader of Geodesign competition), Fernando and Humberto Campana (designers), Guta Moura Guedes (President ExperimentaDesign Biennial, Lisbon), and John Thackara (director of Doors of Perception and Dott07). Zaha Hadid was caught ill in New York but contributed via a written statement.

After Stefano Boeri’s presentation of the project, Guta Moura Guedes underlined how design is more and more an issue of people, and therefore increasingly democratic. Cities, she said, are becoming places for bottom-up experimentation in the design field aimed at improving the quality of life for and by those who live within those cities. Design is becoming flexible, hence the overall theme of Torino 2008 (“flexibility”), adapting to different circumstances and issues such as social change, political change and climate change.

Torino’s Mayor Sergio Chiamparino said that three elements in the project were important to him: the in-depth creation of knowledge about the city, the concrete collaboration with citizens and with the topics that matter to them, and the development of a future vision for the city.

Working with local communities is something that the Campana brothers have been doing for quite some time now and they presented several examples of how they work with the rich tradition of handicraft in Sao Paolo, Brazil.

John Thackara finally endorsed the GEODESIGN idea but connected it with the topic of sustainability. We would need, he said, 100 design cities to make a fundamental impact and the radical transformation that is needed. 80% of the environmental impact of the products in our world are the result of design decisions. A large part of the answers can come from other cultures or from other times, where people learned to live sustainability. How can we learn from them?

As described on the new website (and previously illustrated in my interview with Torino 2008 director Paola Zini), the year has been divided into four phases — Public Design, Economy and Design, Education and Design, and Design Policies — each aimed at four specific target groups: the citizens, businesses, the world of education and the institutions.

“Each of these groups represents a cardinal point in the life cycle of contemporary design. Each phase studies, develops and promotes the relationship between design and the urban fabric. This cross section involves the various actors who interrelate within the city and help delineate its aspect.”

Experientia contributes to Torino 2008 website

The editorial section of the new Torino 2008 website, i.e. the part that changes all the time, is curated by me (Experientia partner Mark Vanderbeeken).

Every month the site will feature an interview, an essay, a profile of a foreign design centre, and a short reflection on the international press. The first interview is with Ranjit Makkuni of the Sacred World Foundation and the first essay is by myself on people-centred design as a means to affect cultural and social change.

14 April 2007

New experience design school in the Netherlands

Experience Design at Utrecht School of Visual Arts
The Utrecht School of the Arts in the Netherlands will be starting a new bachelor degree in experience design [website in Dutch only] as of September, the first programme of its kind in Europe, and is now recruiting students.

The four-year degree programme is lead by Rob Van Kranenburg, who used to work at Virtual Platform, De Balie, the New Media Department of the University of Amsterdam, and Doors of Perception. He published on RFID and Ambient Intelligence.

The programme has a strong focus on the design of ambient devices in a wireless world. It is introduced as follows (my translation):

Experience Design is a new study programme at the Utrecht School of the Arts that teaches designers in a new, emerging professional field that brings together (computer) technology, the physical environment and a positive-critical design practice. An Experience Designer develops communication applications that will involve people without them having to sit behind a computer screen. Well known of course are mobile phones, digital organisers, navigation systems in cars and handheld game consoles, but in the coming years we can also expect intelligent clothing, smart spaces (that know who and where we are) and doors that automatically open for some people but not for others. The applications that an Experience Designer develops will add to the quality of life by creating ‘meaningful experiences’ for people with the help of wireless technology.

Interestingly, it has a rather idiosyncratic way of differentiating itself from interaction design (that one can also study at the Utrecht School of the Arts) that is not too clear and I don’t really agree with.

Interaction Design has a much broader orientation on human-computer interaction, and focuses in particular on graphical interfaces, multimedia design, game design and physical/experimental interfaces. Experience Design deals with the (individual) user experience, has a more social focus, and hardly deals with the graphical interfaces of ‘classical’ multimedia such as websites or interactive cd-roms.

But maybe this definition has more to do with internal politics at the Utrecht School of the Arts than anything else, and we shouldn’t focus too much on it.

Good luck, Rob

13 April 2007

The revolution will be televised and then switched off

Xing
Genevieve Bell, Intel’s senior anthropologist, started blogging and the first post immediately describes an intriguing research project on secondary homes.

“We care about how people live, how people want to live, about what matters to them; we strive to understand how technologies are used, understood, and imagined in homes around the world; and finally we seek to foster and develop technologies that provide a seamless fit with — and enhance — cultural, social, spiritual values and practices. (And yes, this is real work, and yes, it is an accepted way of thinking about technology, technology development and innovation. And yes, it is surprising to see this at Intel).

As my team and I are part of Intel’s Digital Home Group, we focus our energies on the ‘home’ in all its many forms and permutations. It is against this backdrop that I have been thinking about and studying ‘domestic satellites’ – homes away from home, or perhaps more precisely places of homefulness away from one’s primary residence. Think of these as dorm rooms, hotel rooms, hospital rooms, elder care facilities, vacation homes, even recreational vehicles, caravans, tents and perhaps your car or cubicle. All the places where we attempt to recreate some version of ‘home’, however incomplete or perhaps deliberately skewed.

I would argue (riffing on classic critical standpoint theory, and Harding’s notion of strong objectivity) that these sites, these domestic satellites, can tell us a whole lot about the nature of the home, precisely because they are a version, not the original rendering, of it. We might learn more about what people value, what they care about, and what frustrates them by seeing how they create home-like experiences away from home. Such domestic extensions also seemed likely to yield interesting technology opportunities in and of themselves – devices that would need to withstand long period of dormancy followed by sudden bursts of activities, or those that were energy conscious or aware, or those that have small format factors, high levels of portability and failsafe reliability and security.”

Although the project is not yet formally analysed, one interesting result is that “in listening to people talk about their second homes, the things they do there, and the things they do not, it is hard not to hear this almost lament, a kind of nostalgia, or longing for a time when technology didn’t feel quite so overwhelming.” People often use them as a place to escape from technology.

So Bell asks, “what should a multinational company that produces technology and technology visions do with such an insight?”

Read full story

(via Steve Portigal)

13 April 2007

NESTA call for user-focused solutions to mental health problems

NESTA width=
The UK’s National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) is calling for innovative project proposals from front-line workers, carers and people with direct experience of mental distress, to tackle some of the key challenges surrounding mental health in the UK, reports the eGov Monitor.

The initiative forms part of the first stage of NESTA’s wider ‘Innovation Challenges’ initiative.

NESTA Chief Executive Jonathan Kestenbaum explains, “The rising cost to the economy of mental health problems alone is enough to support the need for us to find new ways of addressing this issue. We need to empower people at the grass roots to come forward and work together to develop more innovative, user-focused solutions.”

NESTA will look to fund and develop local projects from individuals or teams with experience in mental health (including user- and carer groups). The organisation will be looking for projects which, with the right support and guidance, will have the potential to grow into national projects with real impact.

Project ideas can address any aspect of mental health, across all life stages and in any setting. Projects are likely to range from ways to break down the stigma of mental illness to encouraging the involvement of users in re-designing their own care. They may focus on new and improved processes and services, but could also take the shape of new products or technologies. NESTA is particularly interested in ideas that involve collaboration between different disciplines or different areas of mental health practice.

Read full story