“A vast sea of digital information [is] being recorded by an ever thicker web of sensors, from phones to GPS units to the tags in office ID badges, that capture our movements and interactions. Coupled with information already gathered from sources like Web surfing and credit cards, the data is the basis for an emerging field called collective intelligence.
Propelled by new technologies and the Internet’s steady incursion into every nook and cranny of life, collective intelligence offers powerful capabilities, from improving the efficiency of advertising to giving community groups new ways to organize.
But even its practitioners acknowledge that, if misused, collective intelligence tools could create an Orwellian future on a level Big Brother could only dream of.”
The discussion started from the premise that our understanding of the effects of online media on society “are largely based on research in open societies, especially in the U.S. But there’s lots less work on the effects of new media in other parts of the world, especially in closed societies, and much of the work that’s done is incomplete and sometimes inaccurate.”
Aside from Zuckerman himself, panels included John Kelly, founder of Morningside Analytics, who talked about the emerging networked public sphere and presented his maps of online social networks in Iran, Egypt, Russia, and China; Evgeny Morozov, who is writing a book on the Internet in authoritarian countries; and Porochista Khakpour, an Iranian-American writer who discussed how the Iranian diaspora uses the Internet..
The book, which grew out of the digital natives project at Harvard University’s Berkman Center, investigates “what it means to grow up in a mediated culture and the ways in which technology inflects issues like privacy, safety, intellectual property, media creation, and learning,”.
In a long review in the Washington Monthly with the title “Open Society – The rules of the digital era aren’t clear, even to the generation that has grown up in it“, Doron Taussig argues that digitisation means social change.
“To live online is to live in a sort of permanent public, and it’s not clear that people have grasped this.”
“There are no cheaters ’cause in my system cheating is the most positive activity.”
“Faulty residents are charged with negligence and sent to live in ‘financially active’ communities.”
“[The will be] a never-ending variety of new richness values that makes the informal economy supremely superior to the current nonsensical cash culture.”
KashKlash (see also here) is a lively public domain platform where you can debate future scenarios for economic and cultural exchange. Beyond today’s financial turmoil, what new systems might appear? Global/local, tangible/intangible, digital/physical? On the KashKlash site, you can explore potential worlds where traditional financial transactions have disappeared, blended, or mutated into unexpected forms. Understand the near future, and help shape it!
The questionnaire is still open and it takes five minutes to compile. Please fill it out.
And if you are a Facebooker, you can also go here.
“Deep Search” wants to look at the social and political dimensions of how we navigate the deep seas of knowledge. We want to examine the pursuit of categorizing that data and what it means to relate to the world through digital search technologies. Futuristic applications and computational complexity aside, cognitive technologies deliberately designed to yield results in a limited frame of reference, imbed political philosophy in seemingly neutral code. In the daily reality of information overflow it is crucial to acknowledge both arbitrariness and willful designation, and that hierarchies are not miraculously produced by nature itself. Innocent utilities that blend into the routine of everyday work and leisure subtly bend our perception, and weave threads into the fabric of cognitive reality.
How is computer readable significance produced, how is meaning involved in machine communication? Where is the emancipatory potential of having access to such vast amounts of information? And where lie the dangers of having to rely on search engines to make use if that information? These questions of culture, context und classification in information systems should not be ignored since what is at stake is nothing less than how we, as individuals and institutions, come to find out about the world. “Deep Search” addresses the social and cultural dimension as well as the information politics and societal implications of search.
The days after the American presidential election are clearly a period of reflection. Newspapers and magazines are full of thoughtful articles, and conferences seek to define the new agendas and directions for our world to move towards.
The World Economic Forum gathered about 700 global thought leaders in Dubai for a summit on some of the key issues on the global agenda.
An international conference in Turin, Italy, last week had a much narrower focus, and tried to outline what constitutes good design policy.
The event, which was organised by Torino 2008 World Design Capital in collaboration with Michael Thomson, director of Design Connect (London), comes at a time when a major discussion is emerging internationally on design policy and innovation.
EIAA Mediascope Europe 2008 (press release – executive summary) tells you all you want to know about why people are using digital stuff. It is particularly useful if you want to know what 25-34 year olds are doing online. The 35+ are grouped into ‘other’.
Research released today from the European Interactive Advertising Association (EIAA) shows that Europeans are deepening their experience of the internet by not only increasingly using it for leisure pursuits but to actively enhance and manage their daily lifestyles. Over half (55%) of European internet users are now online every single day, three quarters (75%) are using the internet during their evenings and 51% of Europeans (up 13% from last year) are on the web at the weekends. Freedom and flexibility are key watchwords for today’s consumers too with almost half (49%) of broadband users using wireless.
Almost three quarters (73%) of European internet users state that as a result of the internet they are staying in touch with friends and relatives more, 54% have booked more holidays or made travel arrangements and almost half (46%) are better able to manage their finances. In addition they claim that the internet has provided them with a greater choice of products and services and access to important information resources.
This is Ofcom’s third report on developments in international communications markets. Putting the UK market into an international context is becoming increasingly important, as communications service provision globalises and as technological innovation breaks down traditional national market boundaries.
This report sets out the availability, take-up and use of communications services among seven main comparator countries (the UK, France, Germany, Italy, the US, Canada and Japan). Where data are available, we have included a further five European countries (Poland, Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden and the Republic of Ireland). We also consider separately the development of communications markets in the large emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China.
IBM is announcing a collaborative effort with European Union partners to develop new technology that will help support active aging and prevent cognitive decline in the elderly population.
Based on intelligent audio and visual processing and reasoning, the “HERMES Cognitive Care for Active Aging” project will develop a combination of home-based and mobile device-based solutions to help older people combat the natural reduction in cognitive capabilities. The three-year project includes a special focus on developing an interface that will be comfortable for technology-averse users.
The HERMES project brings together experts ranging from gerontology and speech processing, to hardware integration and user-centered design to achieve the common goal of cognitively supporting older people.
Anne Galloway (blog) recently completed a PhD in sociology and anthropology at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada, which involved conducting an ethnographic study of the design of mobile and pervasive technologies (download dissertation). She is interested in connections between technological, spatial and cultural practices, and her current research explores design as a social and cultural activity and asks how social and cultural relations are designed.
In her (somewhat academically written) Receiver contribution she takes a close look at community mapping and sensing projects, and points out both the opportunities and challenges for activism made possible by locative technologies.
“Community mapping and sensing projects that use commonly available consumer electronics as environmental measurement devices, enable people to collect and view a wide array of location-based data. As a form of public science, such projects stand to reinvigorate environmentally focused civic engagement. However, given public concerns around environmental risks and their connections to technological progress, I believe that this kind of active citizenship should promote more critical reflection on the values and goals of the very projects that expect to create such profound changes in these domains, and carefully consider the limits of its own power.”
A related paper is “Mobile Publics and Issues-Based Art and Design.” To Appear in Sampling the Spectrum, edited by Barbara Crow, Michael Longford and Kim Sawchuck, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, forthcoming 2008.
From December 4-6, 2008, the beautiful baroque city of Turin, 2008 World Design Capital, will host the conference, themed “Usability and Design: Cultivating Diversity“, with important contributions being made by companies such as Google, IBM, Oracle and many others.
The conference will concentrate on overcoming the traditional professional divide between the concepts of usability and design, with a particular focus on uniting the diverse cultures and practices within Europe: “The UPA Europe conference provides a great opportunity to reinforce the importance of usability and user-centred design in Europe, and will underline the central role of the UPA in advocating these ideas,” says Michele Visciola, President of the UPA Italy, and conference chair.
Highlights of the conference will include four keynote speakers. Elizabeth Churchill, principal research scientist at Yahoo! Research; Anxo Cereijo-Roibás, user experience research manager at Vodafone Global; acclaimed designer Isao Hosoe; and Daria Loi, design researcher at Intel Corporation will speak on topics related to five macro-themes: industrial design and usability, cross-cultural design, designing mobile usability, usability and creativity, and managing design in organisations. Downloadable versions of the speakers’ presentations will be available online after the conference from www.upaeurope2008.org.
On the final day of the conference, open discussions on the outlook to the future will be held by special interest groups for UPA and UXnet. Inspired by the Slow Food cultural movement, which aims to protect and defend our world’s heritage of agricultural biodiversity and gastronomic traditions, European UPA members are invited to bring their own original contributions to the growth of the usability culture and practice.
The Usability Professionals’ Association supports usability specialists, people from all aspects of human-centred design, and the broad family of disciplines that create the user experience in promoting the design and development of usable products. The conference is open to both UPA and non UPA members. A detailed program of events and speakers can currently be found online at www.upaeurope2008.org.
Late registration is now open: to register, contact conference program manager Cristina Lobnik, email: cristina dot lobnik at upaeurope2008.org, tel. +39 011 8129687.
The project, which is funded by the Danish Network for Research Based Userdriven Innovation – NfBI, will be exploring how to create new products and business models to improve the life of the half of the world’s population that is getting by on less than 4 USD a day (in comparative purchasing power as if they were living in the US), and how to put people first and include their needs and aspirations, and their knowledge and resources in this [which the UN calls Growing Inclusive Markets].
Aside from the forementioned Center, other entities involved are SPIRE – Research Center for Participatory Innovation at University of Southern Denmark, and the Danish company Danisco, that provides bio-based solutions for food ingredients and other stuff and is exploring how it can develop products and business models that will improve the nutrition and income of people in the rural areas of India.
According to a blog post by Louise Koch of the Center for Sustainable Innovation, the research project aims are:
- To map the existing field of knowledge and methods for people centred innovation with BoP
- To identify the key challenges and opportunities for companies in identifying and incorporating peoples needs and aspirations in innovation with BoP
- To sketch a methodology for a people centred approach for innovation with Base of the Pyramid.
[Or, what cities and regions have to go through to attract the “creative class”.]
The current Adelaide invitee is Dr Genevieve Bell, an Australian-born anthropologist and ethnographer, who is currently the Director of User Experience in Intel Corporation’s Digital Home Group.
During her residency, Bell will examine what people are doing with technology, what their aspirations and frustrations are, what people want to be when they grow up, and how technology fits into that. She said the internet, TiVo and mobile technologies were giving us more to worry about than ever before and that people were still trying to work out the issues and boundaries.
Younghee was interviewed by the Canadian Woman.ca site for an article that set out to understand what it means to design for women, and concludes that it really is about design for all.
“You can’t really generalize what women want, because you always have to consider the trade-offs. If I do need and like the functions, I will probably overlook the size issues. Choosing a phone is a lot like choosing a boyfriend. You cannot look at just one aspect of the product—he may be handsome, but he may have a personality problem. A mobile phone is something that you wake up with and go to sleep with.” […]
Even though they may ultimately use products the same way as men, starting off with womens’ inspirations for product design may be more helpful in creating a device that works equally well in a number of environments. Factors such as ease of use, while important to both sexes, can become more refined through the crucible of a woman’s dual roles in society, as she balances both work and home life, and needs her technology to function equally well in both situations. “When it comes to inspiring a design solution, what women think is a very interesting place to start with,” said Jung. “If it’s good for women, it’s good for men, too.”
The project has – up till now – not been very well communicated (the site has a lot of empty pages), but a book is in the making and one of the chapters is finished and it is strong. Very strong. Although it doesn’t have much to do with tourism.
“Wellness and safety are mega-trends closely associated with innovation in service design. Slow-city and slow-food life philosophies are global trends. There are numerous natural opportunities for slowing down in an authentic, natural environment in Finland and Estonia. The dynamic increase of wellness tourism is mostly a question of marketing – the need already exists.”
Koskinen, who clearly has an eclectic mindset to just about everything, takes a resolutely Finnish cultural angle, and makes remarkable connections: Alvar Aalto and Naomi Klein, Hilary Cottam (Participle) and the Finland Futures Research Centre, a book published in 1923 (“Scientific Advertising” by Claude Hopkins) and the discipline of interaction design, the Finnish Red Cross and digital fabrication.
I really like this piece of writing. The article is conceptual in nature, calls upon interdisciplinary approaches, and is just a highly refreshing and intellectually stimulating read:
“In regard to design, the conceptualisation and increasing complexity of work is obvious. The amount of manual work and artistic activity decreases as the proportion of concept design and strategic development requiring more versatile know-how increases.
The theme of this article, service design, is essentially intertwined with conceptualisation and increasing complexity. In the evolution of competence, there is a gradual shift from product design to service design. This change can also be understood through the changes apparent in social structures. The service sector is in a state of dynamic growth in Europe.”
The high cost of using a mobile phone in Africa is the focus of second programme (alternate site). Africans spend between 6 to 10% of their monthly income on mobile phone use. What do they do to afford this?
The last programme (alternate site) looks at Africa as a highly innovative environment for mobile phone use, with many mobile services — banking, micro-finance, market information, political activism, journalism — that are still marginal in more developed economies.
The series was produced in collaboration with Atelier des Médias, RFI’s participative web community.
“Africans are not the passive recipients of technology many people seem to think they are. Indeed, some of the more exciting and innovative mobile services around today have emerged as a result of ingenious indigenous use of the technology. Services such as “Call Me” — where customers on many African networks can send a fixed number of free messages per day when they’re out of credit requesting someone to call them — came about as a result of people “flashing” or “beeping” their friends (in other words, calling their phones and hanging up to indicate that they wanted to talk). […]
The concept of mobile payments did, too.”
He concludes that also when dealing with indigenous societies, ICT solutions should “seek to build on existing procedures and traditions, and not just assume that a new, modern solution is better and replace everything that went before”.
The article was published in the current issue of Vodafone’s Receiver Magazine, which is all about space, exploring how we are using the world itself as our interface.
“There is a world of information that we can’t immediately see in the streets we walk and drive in, and in the buildings in which we work, play, and live. The great potential of the mobile geospatial web is to reveal this hidden world to us, by adding geospatial and timing data to the user experience in an instant. But this immediacy also presents challenges we must weigh carefully, if we are to successfully create geospatial mobile experience.”
Lab Members are made up of users from around the world and range in age from pre-teen to young adult. Currently there are 75 users from 19 countries in the lab.
The Lab’s ongoing research looks to understand how these teens experience entertainment across all the screens they use (e.g., phones, televisions, computers, etc.).
The team is given regular assignments – for example, downloading games on their mobile phone – and then they are asked about their experience. The results are published on the site each month.
The latest assignments:
RapidResults – mobile multi-tasking
We want to understand teens’ current habits of using their phone and computer at the same time along with their interest of using simultaneous voice and data on a mobile device.
Mobile downloads 2 years later
Two years after our first study on mobile downloads, Lab members tell us how things have changed, if there have been improvements and how we can fix the user experience.
RapidResults – Going green
Tell us what you do to help the environment and how “green” affects the decisions you make.
RapidResults – James Bond inventions
If you were Agent 007, James Bond, what new invention would you create that would make using technology a better experience for you? Our teens tell us their ideas…
RapidResults – education
Tell us how technology can be used to improve the education experience.
RapidResults – mobile accessories
Tell us about the accessories you use with your mobile phone
Location-based services will serve up special offers and notices based on where you travel. We want to see how willing teens are to tell us where they learn, play and shop.
setting the overall direction and priorities for their onscreen tools. With hundreds of envisioning questions and fictional examples from clinical research, financial trading, and architecture, this volume can help definers and designers to explore innovative new directions for their products.
“Working through Screens” is available in three formats, each of which is freely available via the creative commons license (Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike).
1. Highly summarized “Idea Cards” .pdf (recommended for a quick look!)
2. 143 page .pdf book
3. Full book as 121 .html pages
People are from earth, machines are from outer space [Interactions 2008 column]
People are from earth. Machines are from outer space. I don’t know what kind of manners they teach in outer space, but if machines are going to live here in our world, they really need to learn to behave properly. You know, when on Earth, do as the earthlings do. So, hey machines, you need to become socialized. Right now you are arrogant, antisocial, irritating know-it-alls. Sure, you say nice things like “please” and “thank you,” but being polite involves more than words. It is time to socialize our interactions with technology. Sociable machines. Basic lessons in communication skills. Rules of machine etiquette. Machines need to show empathy with the people with whom they interact, understand their point of view, and above all, communicate so that everyone understands what is happening.It never occurs to a machine that the problems might be theirs. Oh no. It’s us pesky people who are to blame.
Signifiers, not affordances [Interactions 2008 column]
One of our fundamental principles is that of perceived affordances: that’s one way we know what to do in novel situations. That’s fine for objects, but what about situations? What about people, social groups, cultures? Powerful clues arise from what I call social signifiers. A “signifier” is some sort of indicator, some signal in the physical or social world that can be interpreted meaningfully. Signifiers signify critical information, even if the signifier itself is an accidental byproduct of the world. Social signifiers are those that are relevant to social usages. Some social indicators simply are the unintended but informative result of the behavior of others. Social signifiers replace affordances, for they are broader and richer, allowing for accidental signifiers as well as deliberate ones, and even for items that signify by their absence, as the lack of crowds on a train platform. The perceivable part of an affordance is a signifier, and if deliberately placed by a designer, it is a social signifier.
CNN designers challenged to include disabled
I’m on a campaign to make assistive devices aesthetically delightful – without impairing effectiveness and cost. Why are things such as canes, wheelchairs so ugly? I urge the skilled industrial designers of this world to revolutionize this arena. Perhaps the Industrial Design Society of America (IDSA) and the equivalent design societies all over the world ought to sponsor a design contest. The best design schools should encourage design projects for assistive devices that function well, are cost effective (two aspects that are often left out of design schools) as well as fun, pleasurable and fashionable (aspects that are absent from more engineering- or social-sciences -based programs). There are many groups at work in this area: simply do a web search on the phrases “inclusive design” or “universal design” or “accessible design”. They do excellent work, but the emphasis is on providing aids and assistance, or changing public policy. All that is both good and essential, but I want to go one step further: add aesthetics, pleasure, and fashion to the mix. Make it so these aids are sought after, fashionable, delightful, and fun. For everyone, which is what the words inclusive, universal, and accessible are supposed to mean. Designers of the world: Unite behind a worthy cause.
The psychology of waiting lines
This is an abstract for a PDF file, “The Psychology of Waiting Lines.” Waiting is an inescapable part of life, but that doesn’t mean we enjoy it. But if the lines are truly inescapable, what can be done to make them less painful? Although there is a good deal of practical knowledge, usually known within the heads of corporate managers, very little has been published about the topic. One paper provides the classic treatment: David Maister’s The Psychology of Waiting Lines (1985). Maister suggested several principles for increasing the pleasantness of waiting. Although his paper provides an excellent start, it was published in 1985 and there have been considerable advances in our knowledge since then. In this section, I bring the study of waiting lines up to date, following the spirit of Maister’s original publication, but with considerable revision in light of modern findings. I suggest eight design principles, starting with the “emotions dominate” and ending with the principle that “memory of an event is more important than the experience.” Examples of design solutions include double buffering, providing clear conceptual models of the events with continual feedback, providing positive memories and even why one might deliberately induce waits. These principles apply to all services, not just waiting in lines. Details will vary from situation to situation, industry to industry, but the fundamentals are, in truth, the fundamentals of sociable design for waiting lines, for products, and for service.
>> Check also this related CNN story
Sociable Design – Introduction
This is an abstract for the attached PDF file, “Sociable Design“. Whether designing the rooftop of a building or the rear end of a home or business appliance, sociable design considers how the design will impact everyone: not just the one, intended person standing in front, but also all the rest of society that interacts. One person uses a computer: the rest of us are at the other side of the desk or counter, peering at the ugly rear end, with wires spilling over like entrails. The residents of a building may never see its roof, but those who live in adjoining buildings may spend their entire workday peering at ugly asphalt, shafts and ventilating equipment. Support for groups is the hallmark of sociable technology. Groups are almost always involved in activities, even when the other people are not visible. All design has a social component: support for this social component, support for groups must always be a consideration.
Sociable design is not just saying “please” and “thank you.” It is not just providing technical support. It is also providing convivial working spaces, plus the time to make use of them. Sociable technology must support the four themes of communication, presentation, support for groups, and troubleshooting. How these are handled determines whether or not we will find interaction to be sociable. People learn social skills. Machines have to have them designed into them. Sometimes even worse than machines, however, are services, where even though we are often interacting with people, the service activities are dictated by formal rule books of procedures and processes, and the people we interact with can be as frustrated and confused as we are. This too is a design issue. Design of both machines and services should be thought of as a social activity, one where there is much concern paid to the social nature of the interaction. All products have a social component. This is especially true of communication products, whether websites, personal digests (blog), audio and video postings mean to be shared, or mail digests, mailing lists, and text messaging on cellphones. Social networks are by definition social. But where the social impact is obvious, designers are forewarned. The interesting cases happen where the social side is not so obvious.