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Putting People First

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September 2008
30 September 2008

The marketing view of user-centred design

Darts
User-centred design becomes user-driven innovation when you are dealing with businesses in Central and Northern Europe, and customer-centric marketing when you deal with people working in marketing and branding.

Yet these concepts are not at all the same, and share only superficial similarities.

Case in point is this article from Marketing Daily. Some excerpts:

Combining [qualitative and ethnographic] research, data analytics and sales engagement is a proven approach to building actionable personae that informs hyper-targeting and hyper-messaging for optimal campaign results. [...]

The best marketers listen to what audiences think and feel about the brand’s products and services. Smart brands collect and use this learning to build brand promises that are both different from competitors and optimally relevant to the customers they want to attract. [...]

A radically customer-centric approach helps identify the likely highest yielding channels through better understanding how customers collect information about competitive products and services. [...]

The best technology marketers understand that radical customer-centricity results in more efficient, effective, revenue-generating marketing campaigns.

It is a distressing article that doesn’t contain a word about the value of the products and services themselves.

Frankly I am appalled that this old and dated premise – first you develop a product, then you market it – is still so much alive.

User-centred design is just about the opposite: first you understand the “market”, then you develop the product or service based on this understanding. If you do it that way, the actual “marketing” becomes a piece of cake, as products and services are conceived from end-user needs to begin with.

UPDATE: Apparently, I started a controversy.

30 September 2008

Toward a European Internet-of-Things

Internet of Things
Europe could take the lead in the next generation of the Internet. In a document entitled “EU Communication on Future Networks and the Internet”, the European Commission has outlined the main steps that Europe has to take to respond to the next wave of the Information Revolution that will intensify in the coming years due to trends such as social networking, the decisive shift to on-line business services, nomadic services based on GPS and mobile TV and the growth of smart tags.

They also launched a public consultation on the policy and private sector responses to these opportunities, in order to prepare an upcoming Communication on the Internet of Things. This document will propose a policy approach addressing the whole range of political and technological issues related to the move from RFID and sensing technologies to the Internet of Things. It will focus especially on architectures, control of critical infrastructures, emerging applications, security, privacy and data protection, spectrum management, regulations and standards, broader socio-economic aspects.

A working paper on the Internet of Things accompanies the consultation by outlining the early challenges of this important development.

And to make sure you got the importance of it all: the French have even organised a ministerial conference on it all.

(via Bruce Sterling)

30 September 2008

Mike Kuniavsky reflecting on PICNIC’s Internet of Things session

Networked services
Mike Kuniavsky, one of the founders of Adaptive Path and currently principal of the ubiquitous computing device studio ThingM, wrote a (somewhat technical) reflection on his Orange Cone blog about the Internet of Things session at the recent PICNIC conference in Amsterdam.

“One of the ideas that emerged in multiple presentations in conversations is for a device information brokerage and translation service. The idea is that a central service brings together information generated by all of these smart devices in a standard way and in a predictable location to facilitate mashups between various devices.”

Read full story

29 September 2008

Picnic conference videos

PICNIC
On Dik.nl, you can find quite a lot of Picnic conference videos.

(via European Centre for the Experience Economy)

29 September 2008

Thoughts on the Euro Information Architecture Summit 2008

Euro IA Summit
Victor Lombardi was at the Euro IA Summit in Amsterdam, and reports on it on his blog Noise Between Stations.

The article reviews presentations by Adam Greenfield (Head of Design Direction, Nokia and keynote speaker), Ruud Ruissaard (Informaat), Chris Fahey (Behavior), Eric Reiss, James Kalbach (Lexis-Nexis), Joe Lamantia (Media Catalyst), Peter Van Dijck and John Ferrara, as well as Victor’s own.

29 September 2008

On re-posting negative articles

Speedbird
A few days ago, I reposted excerpts from a rather negative piece on Adam Greenfield.

Posting such articles is always a difficult call to make, and I am the first to admit that I don’t always make it right.

Putting People First is a blog with news about what is happening in the field, and is widely read therefore. It is also a blog run by someone who is part of the experience design community – rather than a neutral observer – and managed by an experience design company that depends on that community.

When reporting controversy, I have to make a judgement call on whether the controversy is intellectually valid or weak, and make a decision on whether to publish it or not. Usually I am able to make these decisions correctly – the 2,500 posts so far have led to very few complaints – but on a few occassions I did made mistakes.

Re-posting the negative Adam Greenfield review was such a mistake, as it was an intellectually weak piece, and didn’t do justice to Adam’s work.

Unfortunately once something is published, it is out there. So it doesn’t make sense now to remove the post. Hence this further reflection, which is also an apology to Adam.

Putting People First is and remains a work in progress, done largely in my free time. I can only ask to let me know – as Adam did – when you feel wronged by what is written, because that is the only way for me to improve this online resource.

27 September 2008

Experientia’s Jan-Christoph Zoels at Picnic /3

PICNIC
Experientia’s senior partner Jan-Christoph Zoels was this week at the Picnic conference in Amsterdam, and has been providing regular reports. Here is his third one, covering the Thursday afternoon sessions:

Making Love is Eskil Steenberg (Quel Solaar)’s take on a multi-player story adventure. Imagine seeing your favourite game inside a steam sauna. Beautifully rendered images provide an evocative and foggy background to players building and destructing their neighbourhoods. Social actions result in social pressures and player alliances. Do you want to be known for the destruction of a neighbourhood?

What will the networked city feel to its users? Adam Greenfield started his exploration of the Long Here and the Big Now by questioning new modes of place-making where new conditions of choice and actions are no longer physical but reduced to screen-based interactions. Information visualisation add a new digital sense of time extension to our live experiences in providing historical awareness and multiple views — a new parallelism of time. How can information about cities and patterns of use be visualised in ways to enable local awareness, on demand access and collective actions? Adam challenged the audience to design cities responding to the behaviour of its residents and other users in real time in moving form browsing urbanism to act upon it.

Tracking our world – A discussion brought together researchers exploring new ways to measure, visualise and make sense of changing environmental contexts to guide professional and governmental practices.

  • Stan Williams, director of the HP Information and Quantum Sytems Lab, described his labs intention to measure CeNSE – the Central Nervous System for the Earth (Fortune article | Bruce Sterling blog post) – via a variety of nanotechnology sensor systems. Imagine one trillion nanoscale sensors and actuators will need the equivalent of 1000 internets, creating huge demand for computing power but also providing energy efficiency.
  • Professor Euro Beinat showcased the effect of using people, their movement and activities as sensors in the CurrentCity.org project. Their Amsterdam visualisation explored the human agglomeration and activities across the city using aggregated and anonymous mobile phone location data.
  • Eco Map is a Cisco collaboration with three cities worldwide – Seoul, Amsterdam and San Francisco – to demonstrate the impact of real-time individual activities in aggregated views of our cities to foster individual and governmental actions. Explore the UV heat loss of your roof at night to inform insulation requirements or understand the solar capacity of the same roof and get installation advice. Wolfgang Wagner, Cisco, and Jared Blumenfeld, San Francisco, prototype how to use complex public data sets to inform individual desires for greener ways to live, work and play.

Bruno Giussani introduced the four finalists of the Picnic Challenge 08 to make a measurable impact on the reduction of carboemissions. Over 280 participants proposed their ideas competing for an award of 500,000 Euro funded by the Dutch Postcode Lottery.

The four finalists were:

  • RouteRank, who designed a web tool to find best travel routes for time, distance and environmental impact in one single view;
  • Smart Screen consists of a thermo-responsive, shape memory window screen to reflect sun rays and reduce air conditioning costs;
  • VerandaSolar are easy mountable and affordable solar screens for self installation to reduce your energy bills, empowering millions of small scale users to make a larger impact;
  • Greensulate, the Picnic Challenge 08 winner, engineered an organic, structural insulation panel made from local agricultural by-products.

The Design as a Collaborative Process session brought together Bill Moggridge, co-founder of IDEO, and Younghee Jung, senior design manager at Nokia, to document new creative and participatory design processes.

Bill showcased The Rockefeller Foundation and IDEO initiative Design for Social Impact, the Designers Accord and Shinichi Takemura’s Tangible Earth project. Each project guides its users to action – from design processes and methods, to codes of professional conduct, to understanding the global impact of local actions in an empathic information visualisation. To discover anew why globes changed world views over the last five hundred years, check out the Tangible Earth Demo Movie.

Younghee spoke about the choices and burdens of living with intimate technology – showcasing the results of participants in Mumbai, Rio and Acara designing mobile phones. They showed how diverse subjective views of what technology could be, how not to patronise usage patterns and how emotional touchpoints and usage patterns are formed.

What happens when we pay attention?Ethan Zuckermann, a co-founder of Global Voices, described in his talk Surprising Africa a range of social actions resulting in increased media attention. He challenged the audience to stop thinking about Africa in terms of aid, but to understand the changing political climate influenced by bloggers and citizen activists, the current infrastructure developments (community media, mobile banking, malls, etc), and the innovation capabilities of local research institutions.

For more Picnic reporting, check also Bruno Giussani, Hubert Guillaud (writing extensively and excellently in French), Ethan Zuckerman, Ernst-Jan Pfauth and Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten and Smart Mobs.

26 September 2008

A little switch with a big impact

Airplane mode
Is there a point in the evolution of mass market mobile phones that cellular connectivity as we understand it today is perceived not as a core feature, but as an optional extra?

Jan Chipchase of Nokia explores convergence, connectivity and dis-connectivity in a new and smartly written essay titled “A Little Switch With a Big Impact“, pointing out four trends that will ensure the practice and willingness to disconnect evolves.

“In time the design, language and social norms for connecting, dis-connecting and re-connecting will have reached the point where switch becomes the primary interface to our digital selves.

Of course by then it will called something else, will do something else such as appropriately syncing with everything else that matters to you and your stakeholders. Think of a world where everything is by default on, where the “record” and “capture” button is replaced by “pause”. And then re-imagine the Airplane Mode.”

Read essay

26 September 2008

Why the net won’t turn us all into social isolationists

Net, Blogs and Rock'n'Roll
David Jennings, author of the book Net, Blogs and Rock’n’Roll, argues why he disagrees with Cass Sunstein on the future described in his book Republic.com 2.0, one where we all subscribe to the Daily Me, a filter that presents us only with the worldview of people we agree with.

Last year Cass Sunstein produced a revised version of his book Republic.com, titled — with crushing inevitability — Republic.com 2.0. In it, he critiqued the impact of the net on democratic discourse and public spaces. His dystopia is one where we all subscribe to the Daily Me, a filter that presents us only with the worldview of people we agree with. What we gain in (temporary) contentedness we lose in critical appraisal and debate — with potentially dire political and social consequences.

I think there are three sets of reasons why Sunstein’s dystopia will not come about:

  1. Filtering and recommender systems will always be imperfect; they’ll never be as good as their evangelists would have you believe.
  2. Even if perfect filtering did work, people wouldn’t like it; they’d quickly get ‘perfect’ fatigue.
  3. If people did liked perfect filtering, we wouldn’t need the blogs that Sunstein argues are the medium of ‘echo chamber’ opinion: if all you ever have to say is ‘me too’ in chorus with your like-minded peers, the whole point of blogging (self-casting) disappears.

Read full story

(via FutureLab)

26 September 2008

Microsoft Research New England inaugural symposium

Microsoft Research
On Sept. 22, 2008, Microsoft Research New England conducted an inaugural symposium in Cambridge, Mass., hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to open an extensive collaboration with leading research institutions in the region.

The symposium included introductions to Microsoft Research and its New England lab, discussed the possibilities inherent in interdisciplinary research projects, and examined some of the ways that computing will enhance the sciences of tomorrow.

Two talks are very aligned with the themes of this blog, and can be viewed online:

Understanding Socio-Technical Phenomena in a Web 2.0 Era (video)
danah boyd, Fellow, Harvard Berkman Center for Internet & Society

Web 2.0 signals an iteration in Internet culture, shaped by changes in technology, entrepreneurism, and social practices. Beneath the buzzwords that flutter around Web 2.0, people are experiencing a radical reworking of social media. Networked public spaces that once catered to communities of interest are now being leveraged by people of all ages to connect with people they already know. Social network sites like MySpace and Facebook enable people to map out their social networks in order to create public spaces for interaction. People can use social media to vocalize their thoughts, although having a blog or video feed doesn’t guarantee having an audience. Tagging platforms allow people to find, organize and share content in entirely new ways. Mass collaborative projects like Wikipedia allow people to collectively create valuable cultural artifacts. These are but a few examples of Web 2.0.

Getting to the core of technologically-mediated phenomena requires understanding the interplay between everyday practices, social structures, culture, and technology. In this talk, I will map out some of what’s currently taking place, offer a framework for understanding these phenomena, and discuss strategies for researching emergent practices.

(via apophenia)

Designing Experience/The Experience of Design (video)
Bill Buxton, Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research

I have a personal mantra:

Ultimately, we are deluding ourselves if we think that the products that we design are the “things” that we sell, rather than the individual, social and cultural experience that they engender, and the value and impact that they have. Design that ignores this is not worthy of the name.

If I am right and that the real outcome of the exercise is the experience, then does it not make sense that the quality of that experience be front and centre in the conceptualization, design, and implementation of any product or service? Yet, the vast majority of technology-based products and services stand as testament that this is currently not the case. Unless we consciously take steps to change this situation, we risk losing the potential benefits that such products and services were intended to deliver. Furthermore, as we go further and further down the path of ubiquitous computing, the consequences of not doing so will become ever more serious.

Consequently, the intent of this talk is to address the nature of design, and how design thinking and practice can be integrated into our processes, and help address this situation. From the perspective of integration, we describe a process which is based on three interdependent and equally important pillars that must drive everything from day one: design, technology and business. The argument made is that if there is not a comparable investment, competence, and degree of innovation in each, from the start, then the endeavour will be seriously jeopardized.

In discussing this, we then drill down a bit deeper into what we mean by design. The argument made here is that, despite frequent claims to the contrary, everyone is not a designer; rather, design is a distinct profession, with a distinct practice, which is just as specialized and essential as engineering, for example.

The historian Melvin Kranzberg stated that technology is not good, it is not bad, but nor is it neutral. The whole point of this talk is to help us land more firmly and consistently on the positive side of the equation through an appropriate focus on users and experience through an improved appreciation of the role of design.

26 September 2008

Software that hacks your behaviour

Writeroom
I enjoyed this funny little article by Jasper van Kuijk on extremely persuasive software:

We humans were not designed to work behind a computer all day. In fact we were not designed to be in the office all day. We find it hard to concentrate, only drink coffee, and don’t relax sufficiently. Here’s number of programs that tries to coach you into more productive or healthy behavior. Call it persuasive technology (technology that intentionally changes attitudes or behaviors through persuasion and social influence), call it nudging, or call it design with intent, the idea is to get you do do what you want to do even though you can’t always do that.

Read full story

26 September 2008

Is Adam Greenfield a communist or…?

Speedbird
Frankly, I don’t think so. But it’s a thought that provokes someone’s thinking, apparently.

Is Adam Greenfield A Communist Or…?” is the provocative title of an article by Jeroen Elstgeest (interaction designer at Informaat) on InfoDesign, who reflects on Adam Greenfield‘s keynote at the coming EuroIA Summit in Amsterdam.

“Adam said people are pulling back from social interaction because of technology (e.g. iPods, cell phones, etc.) and he likes to counter that with yet more technology? It’s true, you can fight fire with fire, if you do it right. Done wrong the fire gets bigger. Is this the right way?”

“In a sense, that makes him a socialist. He believes in an utopia. And like Ben said: “An utopia for one (single group) isn’t the utopia for society as a whole”, unless you enforce it in some way. Or put into other words, you could design it! Call in the interaction designers, whose natural tendencies are towards controlling everything, the whole user experience. But Adam won’t allow that, because he already recognized that trait and tries to neutralize it with three simple words: ‘Underspecify, underspecify and underspecify.'”

Further reading on Adam Greenfield: Hubert Guillaud’s article (in French) and Ethan Zuckerman’s piece on Greenfield’s talk at PICNIC 08.

Please note: The above article should be read in conjunction with this one.

26 September 2008

Experientia’s Jan-Christoph Zoels at Picnic /2

PICNIC
Experientia’s senior partner Jan-Christoph Zoels is this week at the Picnic conference in Amsterdam and is sending regular updates. Here is his second one, covering the Thursday morning sessions:

Group actions just got easier!Clay Shirky jump-started the second day of PICNIC 08 with stories about the problems and challenges of social media. In each story he showed how social dilemmas or needs facilitate new ways of sharing, collaborating and social action. Sharing of social objects such as images, tools and questions enables the starting of a discussion leading to a gathering of an interested community with a trail of conversation. Group rules on Flickr ‘Black & White Maniacs‘ address the social dilemma of getting attention by asking people to comment on to previous photos in the act of posting their own, therefore spreading the opportunity of getting seen and acknowledged throughout the community of practice.

In a second example Shirky documented the re-emergence of simple tools to facilitate fast uptake, sharing and synchronization with others. Limited features and clear rules of engagement (no shouting – visual text changes) help to divide the attention across the bulletin board members.

His discussion of the Pluto page on Wikipedia showcased the powers of collaboration of reciprocal sharing and syncing in creating exhaustive content with extensive links. 5000 edits by over 2200 users showed the distribution of a long tail curve demonstrating an ecosystem where everybody can participate on the level they desire. The Galileo page on the other side has still the trappings of a five hundred years flame war resulting in the disabling of editing capabilities.

Lastly he demanded an extension of the power of social media to not only show how we think but to also cover how we can act. Harnessing collective actions require a built-in acknowledgement of the assembled insights and opinions and resulting new group structures.

100% of user on online dating sites lieGenevieve Bell, a leading anthropologist at Intel’s Digital Home Group, spoke about the complicated daily constructions of truth and lies in personal life on and off the web. How to resolve our daily Secrets & Lies in new engaging social media where the devices and media keep trails forever. The uncoordinated intentions of individuals and their revealing devices will lead to tensions between cultural practices and ideas about secrets and lies and ICT applications. This poses complicated questions for e-Gov, national security and reputation indices.

Mike Fries, president of Liberty Global, discussed O3B Networks – the other three billion initiative – of Google, HSBC and Liberty Global in bringing high-speed satellite telecommunication access to underserved populations in emerging markets. His Future of Television conversation focussed on the delivery of more tailored and personalised content supported by advertisements, changing viewer behaviours of random access to digital TV and time shifting viewing habits.

Michael Tchao, the manager of Nike Techlab, spoke in his Tools, Things and Toys presentation about how to use information to inspire runners and convert physical activities into digital connect and communities. The Nike+ collaboration with Apple focussed on supporting runner motivation in designing sexy tools, engaging interfaces, synched running cycles and community challenges. The Nike+ HumanRace initiative used web tools to connect individual aspirations with local running communities to organize a series of worldwide races on 31.8.08.

Nabaztag co-inventor Rafi Haladjian (blog) presented his search from connecting rabbits to connecting everything else. What will be the effortless, spontaneous information providers of the future? How will they enable limited attention bandwidth? In extending his hold on emotive objects he showcased the new and very cute Naonoztags. The newest Ztamps and Mirror by Violet is a passive RFID reader and sensors enabling fast connections between tangible object and web-based information. Examples shown were links between drug packages and your personal health site, direct access to news sites or personal photo collections.

For more Picnic reporting, check also Bruno Giussani, Hubert Guillaud (writing proficiently in French), Ethan Zuckerman, and Ernst-Jan Pfauth and Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten.

25 September 2008

Experientia’s Jan-Christoph Zoels at Picnic /1

PICNIC
Experientia’s senior partner Jan-Christoph Zoels is this week at the Picnic conference in Amsterdam and is sending regular updates. Here is his first one:

Create the Future – Collaborative creativity is the guiding theme of Picnic, Amsterdam’s Cross Media Conference, now in its third year with a fascinating rooster of speakers, workshops and artistic events. Putting People First will report on key events over the next three days.

Aaron Koblin, an artist from Los Angeles, showed the use of lasers to generate data clouds in his eerie video with Radiohead’s Home of Cards as a soundtrack. Lounged on Google’s Code section it enabled the remixing of audio and image tracks facilitated by the use of Processing, a visual software for designers and artists by Casey Reas and Ben Fry.

His latest collaboration with MIT’s Sensible City Lab is Currentcity.org, a data visualization of KPN cellphone data of SMS usage in Amsterdam during New Year’s Eve 2007 and Queen’s Day. The time based representation adds a new dimension to understanding people’s communication patterns in select locations during social events.

Dueling with Distance was Stefan Agamanolis‘ metaphorical comparison of fast and slow communication patterns. Drawing on poetic and provocative work done at MIT Dublin and at Distance Lab, he questioned how distraction-free and contextual use of space can support new communication patterns. Mutsugoto enabled poetic and intimate mobile interactions between partners over distance; Isophone suspended callers in sensory deprivation chambers resulting in an increase of stream of consciousness conversations; and Solar Vintage integrated traditional embroidery techniques, LED’s and solar cells in embellished objects. Stefan heads up DistanceLab.org, a research lab in Scotland.

Linda Stone presented a podium discussion on The Emerging Real-Time Social Web deploring the ludicrous notion of ‘friending’, fake friends and the social pressures of being available in social web networks.

  • Jyri Engeström, founder of Jaiku and now at Google, focussed on how social objects draw people together and may enable new ‘social peripheral visions’ in supporting social relevance beyond the documentation of activity streams.
  • Matt Jones, founder of Dopplr, recalled Jane Jacob’s request for a diverse spectrum of social roles to support the health of social cities. Dopplr supports asymmetric and informational relationships in letting other people’s travel plans emerge.
  • Addy Feuerstein presented Allofme.com, a time line-based personal image collection and annotation tool. In this social network recorder friends and family can collaborate in establishing time lines of themselves, compare individual memories and public events.
  • Philip Rosedale of Linden Lab interpreted Second Life’s maker culture as allowing for an increasing diversification of creativity. However, the scarcity of people’s attention and the missing of curatorial intentions resulted in images full of crafted objects devoid of avatar interactions.

The highlight of the evening was Itay Talgam‘s Conducting Creativity, a session dedicated to explore the creative leadership and collaboration style of famous conductors. Videos showing Zubin Mehta’s precise and autocratic conducting style, the stoicism of Richard Strauss, and the passion and emotional subtlety of Leonard Bernstein highlighted different approaches to guiding creative teams.

For more Picnic reporting, check also Bruno Giussani, Hubert Guillaud (writing proficiently in French), Ethan Zuckerman, and Ernst-Jan Pfauth and Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten.

24 September 2008

Gestures will force the mouse into retirement

Mouse
The Financial Times argues that the ability of computers to read and understand our gestures is bound to move the mouse into retirement:

At almost 30 years old, is the computer mouse ready for retirement? Certainly, a growing band of human-computer interaction (HCI) specialists believe so. The crude language of “point and click”, they argue, seriously limits the “conversations” we have with our computers.

Among them is Bruce “Tog” Tognazzini, a veteran HCI expert who joined Apple in 1978 as its 66th employee and founded the company’s Human Interface Group during his 14 years there. These days, after spells at Sun Microsystems and online healthcare company WebMD, Mr Tognazzini is a respected consultant, author and speaker with usability company, the Nielsen Norman Group.

Read full story

(via Usability News)

23 September 2008

Task-based user experience for home networks and smart spaces

Homebird
Nokia Research Center published a technical report, entitled “Homebird – Task-based User Experience for Home Networks and Smart Spaces”.

Contemporary wireless networks in people’s homes are already enabling consumer electronics devices to communicate with each other. Standards like Universal Plug and Play are being developed for interoperability between devices from different manufacturers. For example, a digital media player device is able to display video clips from a home PC or play music from portable devices. Development of the user experience is also needed to have devices perform tasks in concert. Homebird is a demonstration of a task- based user experience on a mobile phone. It discovers features of other devices automatically and suggests to the user that certain tasks can be performed together with those devices.

This approach cuts down the number of steps needed to perform common tasks, and also makes it easier for users to find out what can be done in a particular environment. The implementation architecture makes it easy to add new tasks, and they can also have the phone perform actions in the background without user interaction. The task-based approach was evaluated with a small user study, and participants found it easy to understand and useful, if they were offered tasks that suit their daily life.

Download report

22 September 2008

The New School appoints Bruce Nussbaum Professor of Innovation and Design

Bruce Nussbaum
The New School has announced that Bruce Nussbaum, one of the leading thinkers and writers about the intersections of innovation and design, has been appointed Visiting Professor of Innovation and Design. He will work broadly across The New School, with a faculty “home base” in the School of Design Strategies at Parsons The New School for Design, which houses degree programs in design and management, integrated design and environmental studies.

Nussbaum (often profiled on this blog) will surely find a highly stimulating environment in an excellent university so defined by its rich history of dissent and democracy, European exile culture and social research. In short, we couldn’t be more pleased.

Congratulations, Bruce.

22 September 2008

In the Netherlands, ‘Big Brother’ cafe watches what you eat

Cloud commons
The Restaurant of the Future at the University of Wageningen investigates the influences on eating behaviour and carries out studies for the food industry. Ceiling cameras record not only what food you selected, but what you almost selected and how long you paused before deciding. Facial recognition software analyses your level of enjoyment.

The $4.5 million Restaurant of the Future is run by scientists of Wageningen University and Research Center, working with Sodexo, an international catering firm, and the Noldus software company, to answer questions from the food industry and behaviorists. [...]

Research on consumer behavior has been around since marketing began. Cornell University professor Brian Wansink has published popular works in the United States on how to fight obesity through food psychology, and runs a lab designed to look like a kitchen on the Cornell campus. McDonald’s has done confidential studies on its own customers.

But with its spy machines, databases and battery of analysts, the Wageningen project, with 42 companies participating, is meant to take the study of eating to a level approaching rocket science.

Read full story

22 September 2008

Cultural clouds: a new kind of commons?

Cloud commons
Joe Lamantia, a New York-based user experience and information architecture consultant, has a very good blog which now also contains a worthwhile article on the emergence of cultural clouds as the newest kind of public commons.

By cultural clouds, I’m talking about the new layer of the human cultural stack we’re busy laying down as a by product of all our social and creative activities in the inofverse. [...]

These new cultural clouds appear in the ever growing collections of crowdsourced collectively or socially accumulated judgements, cultural products, knowledge, history, relationships, etc., encoded in the form of managed digital information. [...]

Socially collected, digital, reified human cultural products and judgements are a new *type* of commons. I think they’re a new type of resource, brought forth largely by the cognitive surplus we enjoy. And as profound technological permeation and ubiquitous computing bring on the age of everyware, the cloud commons will grow (and fragment / specialize / multiply?).

Who and what will govern the new cloud commons? How will we define and manage these resources?

Read full story

22 September 2008

Identity management manifesto

Identity management manifesto
In March this year Trendbuero, the consultancy “for social change”, organised its 13th Trend Day. The topic was “Identity Management – Recognition replaces attention”, with speakers such as Richard Florida, Willem Velthoven of Mediamatic, Norbert Bolz (BANG-Design), Hartmut Esslinger of frog design, and Dick Hardt of identity 2.0.

The organizers have synthesised the interviews with experts worldwide (including the author of this blog), the presentations of the speakers and the results of a workshop into an extensive manifesto (SlideShare, PowerPoint, PDF) that is worth reading.

The paper argues that today’s “attention economy” will be succeeded by a “recognition economy,” in which opportunities for design will continue to increase: “Compulsory self-responsibility will force consumers to optimize their self. This self will call for deliberate decisions and new orientation frames. Identity will become a management assignment. Recognition will become the new key quantity.” The result is what the authors call “Egonomics – an economy geared to the own self.” Egonomics comprises of the following pillars: Body: Healthstyle; Security: Authentification; Relationships: Connectivity; Recognition: Reputation; Self-actualization: Creativity.

(written in part with input from CNet article)