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Putting People First

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June 2009
30 June 2009

August new media gathering in Banff involves Experientia partner

The Makers
Interactive Screen 0.9: The Makers (10 to 15 August 2009) is the 14th installment of the Banff New Media Institute’s acclaimed new media summit, where media makers from Canada and the world gather to reflect on the current state of new media and the shape of things to come. At the end of each summer, producers, investors, and policy makers convene with artists, technologists, and cultural researchers of diverse horizons in the majestic mountain setting of Banff.

“Interactive Screen aims to stimulate the creation of emotionally powerful, creatively inspired, and economically viable new media in Canada and abroad. Part conference, part festival, part peer exchange, part creative workshop, Interactive Screen is always intensive. Over six days of work and play, workshop participants engage in constant dialogue and collaboration through various panels, workshops, and performances. Together, they delve into the creative, social, and business impacts of content, technologies, and networks. Participants invariably come away from the event with new projects and alliances, a refined set of skills, and a renewed faith in the cultural power of new media.

The theme of The Makers will explore the idea of a “society of makers”. This ties in to the “cultural object” — with a focus on those who “make culture”, not those who “own” it.”

Experientia partner Jan-Christoph Zoels is a member of the program faculty, as well as Kate Armstrong, Natalie Bachand, Daniel Canty, Raphaël Daudelin, Andrée Duchaine, Sarah Hamilton, Melissa Mongiat, Jacob Wren, and Adam Zaretsky.

You can still register now.

30 June 2009

Are we losing our ability to think critically?

Thinking critically
Samuel Greengard writes in the latest issue of Communications of the ACM on how some experts believe that computer technology might be affecting people’s ability to think deeply.

“We’re exposed to [greater amounts of] poor yet charismatic thinking, the fads of intellectual fashion, opinion, and mere assertion,” says Adrian West [, research director at the Edward de Bono Foundation U.K., and a former computer science lecturer at the University of Manchester]. “The wealth of communications and information can easily overwhelm our reasoning abilities.” What’s more, it’s ironic that ever-growing piles of data and information do not equate to greater knowledge and better decision-making. What’s remarkable, West says, is just “how little this has affected the quality of our thinking.”

Read full story (subscription required)

Note that the magazine’s editorial is about open access to the magazine’s online contents, and even reading that editorial requires a subscription. Sic. Here a short excerpt.

“The problem with the “information wants to be free” principle is that “free,” per se, is not a sound business model. The current implosion of the U.S. newspaper industry certainly testifies to that claim. Having been personally involved with an open-access publication for about five years now, I have come to realize that publishing has real costs. Any publishing business model must account for these costs. Even “free” must be monetized! [...]

As for ACM’s stand on the open-access issue, I’d describe it as “clopen,” somewhere between open and closed. (In topology, a clopen set is one that is both open and closed.) ACM does charge a price for its publications, but this price is very reasonable. (If you do not believe me, ask your librarian.) ACM’s modest publication revenues first go to cover ACM’s publication costs that go beyond print costs to include the cost of online distribution and preservation, and then to support the rest of ACM activities.”

26 June 2009

Arup Foresight – Drivers of Change

Arup Drivers of Change
Arup’s Drivers of Change initiative is an on-going research programme exploring those issues most likely to have a major impact upon society, on Arup’s business and on that of their clients.

Following the success of drivers of change 2006 publication, Arup Foresight recently published an update.

This new set of 175 cards investigates leading drivers in greater depth that have particular relevance to the work of Arup. They include energy, waste, climate change, water, demographics, urbanisation and poverty.

The cards can be used for developing business strategy, brainstorming, education and to help the reader to gain greater knowledge of the issues which are driving global change. The publication also encourages us to think holistically and creatively.

Also check out the various Arup Foresight blogs:
* future frequency
* emtech primer (by Duncan Wilson)
* global village
* foresight podcasts
* city of sound (by Dan Hill)

26 June 2009

Microsoft’s global R&D transformation

Rural kiosks
Navi Radjou writes on HarvardBusiness.org that he recently visited the Microsoft Research India lab in Bangalore, describes what he learned about their Technology for Emerging Markets (TEM) unit, and draws some interesting wider conclusions.

“What impressed me most about TEM is its staff members’ multidisciplinary backgrounds. In addition to computer scientists and engineers, TEM also includes experts in the areas of ethnography, sociology, political science, and development economics, all of which help Microsoft understand the social context of technology in emerging markets like India. [...]

By leveraging its multidisciplinary talent, TEM has developed some amazing solutions designed for emerging and underserved markets, both in rural and urban environments.”

Radjou sees this as an example of Microsoft’s new direction in terms of research and development:

“Undoubtedly Microsoft is pioneering the R&D 2.0 model that I discussed in my last post — an organizational model that relies on anthropologists and development economists to first decipher the socio-cultural needs of users in emerging markets like India and then use these deep insights to develop appropriate technology solutions. And it’s telling that Microsoft picked India as the epicentre of its global R&D transformation.”

He concludes with “some operating principles that [he] can offer to senior managers in other multinationals who wish to deploy the R&D 2.0 model in their own emerging market units like India.”

Navi Radjou is the Executive Director of the Centre for India & Global Business at the Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge.

Read full story

26 June 2009

Service Design, a short essay by Jennifer Bove

Jennifer Bove
Service design, while often talked about in academia, is getting more and more attention from design companies and service providers, as the impact of experience design has been proven to increase customer satisfaction and brand perception, argues Jennifer Bove in Creativity Online.

In the article, she discussed a service design talk she gave as part of the Dot Dot Dot series put on by the MFA in Interaction Design program at the School of Visual Arts, and more in particular lays out five issues — immediacy, co-creation, voice, expertise and customisation — to keep in mind when thinking about the services we design.

Jennifer Bove is a founder and principal at Kicker Studio in San Francisco and on the faculty of the School of Visual Art’s Interaction Design MFA department in New York. She is also a former student of Interaction Design Institute Ivrea, Italy.

Read full story

25 June 2009

Book: Ethnography and the Corporate Encounter

Ethnography and the Corporate Encounter
Ethnography and the Corporate Encounter: Reflections on Research in and of Corporations
Edited by Melissa Cefkin
Berghahn Books, July 2009
262 pages

Abstract
Businesses and other organizations are increasingly hiring anthropologists and other ethnographically-oriented social scientists as employees, consultants, and advisors. The nature of such work, as described in this volume, raises crucial questions about potential implications to disciplines of critical inquiry such as anthropology. In addressing these issues, the contributors explore how researchers encounter and engage sites of organizational practice in such roles as suppliers of consumer-insight for product design or marketing, or as advisors on work design or business and organizational strategies. The volume contributes to the emerging canon of corporate ethnography, appealing to practitioners who wish to advance their understanding of the practice of corporate ethnography and providing rich material to those interested in new applications of ethnographic work and the ongoing rethinking of the nature of ethnographic praxis.

Introduction

Chapter 1. Business, anthropology and the growth of corporate ethnography – Melissa Cefkin

Encounters with corporate epistemologies
Chapter 2. “My customers are different!” identity, difference and the political economy of design – Donna K. Flynn

Doing anthropology in organizational contexts
Chapter 3. Participatory ethnography at work: Practicing in the puzzle palaces of a large, complex healthcare organization – Chris Darrouzet, Helga Wild and Susann Wilkinson
Chapter 4. Working in corporate jungles: Reflections on ethnographic praxis in industry – Brigitte Jordan with Monique Lambert

Refractions of anthropological ways of being and knowing
Chapter 5. Writing on walls: The materiality of social memory in corporate research – Dawn Nafus and Ken Anderson
Chapter 6. The anthropologist as ontological choreographer – Francoise Brun-Cottan

Epistemologies, Part Two: Culture and the corporate encounter
Chapter 7. Emergent culture, slippery culture – conflicting conceptualizations of culture in commercial ethnography – Martin Ortlieb

Another look: commentaries from the academy and corporate research
Chapter 8. Insider trading: Engaging and valuing corporate ethnography – Jeanette Blomberg
Chapter 9. Emergent forms of life in corporate arenas – Michael M. J. Fischer

Melissa Cefkin is a cultural anthropologist with experience in research, management, teaching, and consulting for business and government. Currently based at IBM Research in the area of services research, she earned her PhD from Rice University and remains dedicated to pursuing a critical understanding of the intersections of anthropological practice within business and organizational settings.

25 June 2009

Practices around privacy (and Nokia)

Tehran
A few days into the brouhaha about Nokia-Siemens Networks equipment being used for surveillance in Iran, Nokia user researcher Jan Chipchase reflects on the controversy, and delves into the subject of privacy.

“In the past few years our research into how people communicate, how they capture and share experiences has repeatedly touched on issues around privacy, security and trust.”

Jan then continues in sharing with us “10 relatively modest insights drawn from studies of mainstream users around the world”. They confront us with some broader issues, raise many questions, and are a strongly recommended read.

Read full story

24 June 2009

How people power can transform Britain

Reboot Britain
The Independent is publishing a collection of essays to launch NESTA’s ‘Reboot Britain’ programme.

Reboot Britain will explore the role new technologies and online networks can play in driving economic growth and radically changing public services. The programme will begin with a one day event on 6th July which will look at the challenges faced as a country and how the combination of a new digital technologies and networked ‘Digital Britons’ can produce innovative solutions to tackle them.

Diane Coyle (leading economist and author) on the Reboot Britain essays
The essays in this collection were commissioned as ‘provocations’. They have lived up to that challenge. The areas covered include education, entrepreneurship, healthcare, climate change, democracy – in fact the whole terrain of politics and public policy.

Lee Bryant (Headshift) on How people power can reboot Britain
Placing people at the centre of a more innovative and more agile public sector is Lee Bryant’s priority, to enable ‘smart’ government – ‘big’ in its inclusiveness, ‘small’ in its bureaucracy. Fewer initiatives, more open data, and more feedback from users are required to deliver this.

Andy Hobsbawm (Green Thing/Agency.com) – All Together Now: social media to social good
Andy reminds us that socially motivated activity is an intrinsic part of life and celebrates how this is already being organised and aggregated online in powerful ways. New ways of contributing together with the highly visible ways in which the impact of that participation can be seen hold the potential for an unprecedented level of global action and global understanding.

Paul Miller (School of Everything) – Weary giants and new technology
Paul hopes that an ecology of private start-ups, social entrepreneurs and government investment can be created to deliver services that are better and more effectively targetted. The digital world is not about content, but about organisation, he argues; cyberspace is not a world apart but rather a tool for re-imagining and re-creating the real world. READ IT!!

Micah Sifry with his Lessons from America
Micah takes from President Obama’s campaigning and early months in government the lesson that open and collaborative government with many, many citizens involved is feasible and powerful. And notes that this embrace of online power is ‘inherently disruptive’: “What happens when those numbers climb into the millions, and people who have been invited to have a voice now expect to be listened to?”

Tom Steinberg (mySociety) talks about how Open House in Westminster
Tom assesses where the culture of transparency enabled by the internet can powerfully be applied to parliamentary processes in a way that is truly transformative. This is much more of a challenge than simply becoming competent in the latest tools and technologies, but instead requires a deep level of understanding of the capabilities of the internet together with an appetite for radical openness.

Paul Hodgkin (Patient Opinion) on How the new economics of voice will change the NHS
Paul wisely puts the promise of technology in its social context and argues that managers in healthcare must build productive technology-mediated relationships with patients. If they do, they will learn much from the empowered and passionate citizenry.

Jon Watts (MTM London) on Getting the balance right
Jon notes the opportunities the digital world offers new businesses but sounds a warning about the limits, too, for British companies lacking the scale needed to compete effectively in increasingly crowded media markets. He offers some proposals that focus on the needs of emerging UK innovators and, most importantly, on what he describes as: “The collective, collaborative efforts of the people we used to refer to as the audience.”

Julie Meyer (Ariadne Capital) looks at A day in Entrepreneur Country
Julie would also like to see less of the wrong kind of government. She argues that despite a significant cultural shift, Britain is a long way from reaching the destination of ‘Entrepreneur Country’, and amongst her many recommendations is simply less cash being taken out of new businesses in taxes.

Daniel Heaf (4iP) on Next please – placing your bets in the digital economy
Dan wants to ensure Britain controls its own digital destiny by properly directed investment, using public value as a guiding light for private businesses as well as public organisations – and all the more so as taxpayer money is supporting so much new technology investment.

24 June 2009

Charles Leadbeater essay: The Art of With

The Art of With
Charles Leadbeater explores what the advent of the web, collaborative practice and open source ways of working mean for the arts and art organisations in this excellent 20-page essay commissioned by Cornerhouse.

“The 20 century avant garde was built on the principle: separate and shock. The avant garde of the century to come will have as its principle: combine and connect. The web will encourage a culture in which art creates relationships and promotes interaction, encourages people to be a part of the work, if only in a small way.

This “participatory” avant-garde will not emerged from thin air. It will be fed by the way the web gives new energy to participatory approaches to art, a digital version of a folk culture in which authorship is shared and cumulative rather than individualistic. [...]

For the participatory avant-garde a work of art becomes more valuable the more it encourages people to join a conversation around it and to do something creative themselves. Participatory art is based on constant feedback and interaction, people talking, arguing, debating around the art and their views having some impact. “

Highly recommended reading, as its implications go far beyond the arts world.

Download essay

24 June 2009

Intel’s Genevieve Bell on humanising technology

Genevieve Bell
Malaysian newspaper The Star devotes plenty of space to user-centred design in three stories that feature the work of Genevieve Bell, Intel’s user experience director.

“Marrying” anthropology and science

“I still write and publish my work in academic journals. To me, what we do in companies like Intel is the cutting edge of anthropological study.

“We form a relationship with the consumer and represent their needs. It’s a moral obligation to tell their stories.

“We find out what makes people tick, not just so that we can sell them things, but to make life better for them by ensuring that people in small towns and emerging markets can afford it. We want to help create technology for more people.”

Annoying things device-users do

“The top responses for strange mobile etiquette behaviour ranged from making a cashier wait until a cellphone call was completed and texting while driving.

Other responses included using a laptop in a public toilet, as well as hearing typing and conversations at church, during a funeral, and in a doctor’s office.”

Better television

“My engineering colleagues were desperately convinced that everything was a PC waiting to happen.

“What is needed is to meaningfully blend television and the Internet. My research conclusion was clear – consumers love television and only put up with their PCs because they want to connect to the Internet.

“It’s clear that people care about social networking and its technologies so how to we bring that into TV sets?

“Imagine accessing Flicker or Twitter on your television without turning it into a PC ? We desire for television to do more but it must not be too complicated. The challenge is to create technology that can accommodate local content,” she says, noting that there is a huge space for advancement in consumer electronics, especially to “make television better”.

23 June 2009

Social media moving to mobile media?

Brightkite
In an article for Computerworld, Paul Lamb suggests that we are transitioning from online social media to an era of social mobile media or “SoMo”.

“Social media is literally on the move. While useful for anonymous and asynchronous communications, computer-based social media is rapidly becoming old school. In comparison, mobile social media is personal and dynamic — and more closely tied to how people engage in the real world. SoMo not only provides us the freedom to meet each other where we are, it also gives computing a distinctly human face.”

Read full story

23 June 2009

Do women need special cell phones? Deutsche Telekom says yes

Woman's phone
In an article with a very stupid illustration, MobileCrunch reports on a short story that appeared in the German version of Technology Review, which states that Gesche Joost, head of the Design Research Lab of Deutsche Telekom Laboratories, says “making things small and pink is not enough”.

“According to Gesche Joost [...], cell phone manufacturers do need to distinguish between the specific needs of men, women, young and elderly people.

Her research has shown that women in particular put emphasis on privacy and look for cell phones that allow them to get contacted by a certain group of people (family, friends, etc.) but by nobody else. Another feature is micro communication. Joost claims that her work has shown that especially young girls want services like Twitter to be installed on their cell phones. A third factor asked for (especially by women with families) is the possibility to organize multiple tasks at the same time just by using the cell phone.”

Luckily a much more detailed synopsis of the actual research itself is also available, in English even:

Woman’s Phone
Exploration of female needs towards information and communication technology (ICT) based on a participatory design process; development of new services and products for female customers in ICT.
Project Partners: IxDS Berlin, T-Mobile International, Product Design Center DTAG, EAF (Europäische Akademie für Frauen in Politik und Wirtschaft)

23 June 2009

First LIFT09 France videos are online

LIFT France
The first LIFT France conference took place last way in Marseilles. Being in Seoul, South Korea, myself, I missed it entirely, but luckily the videos are now becoming available.

Welcome to Lift!
Lift founder Laurent Haug and Lift France chair Daniel Kaplan will explain the theme and organization of the conference.

Initial and necessary challenge: “Technology & Society: Know your History!”
Is technology liberating us or enslaving us? Hardly a new question, says Dominique Pestre… He will thus challenge us to raise our level of thinking and, in searching for an answer, to embrace dissensus and complexity: How can we welcome techno-skeptics in order to produce more sustainable technologies? Can we really believe that green techs will allow us to avoid drastic (and collective) choices on how we live? How can the interaction between markets, democracy, usage, science, code, become more productive?
Keynote: Dominique Pestre, historian of Science, EHESS, Paris

Changing Things (1) – The Internet of Things is not what you think it is!
If the “Internet of things” was just about adding chips, antennas and interactivity to the things we own, it would be no big deal. Discover a wholly different perspective: Open, unfinished objects which can be transformed and reprogrammed by their users; Objects that document their own components, history, lifecycle; Sensitive and noisy objects that capture, process, mix and publish information. Discover an Internet of Things which intends to transform the industrial world as deeply as the current Internet transformed the world of communication and media.
Keynote: Bruce Sterling, writer, author of Shaping Things
They do it for real: Usman Haque (haque :: design + research / Pachube) and Timo Arnall (Elastic Space)

Video: Timo Arnall: “Making Things Visible” [22:13]
A designer and researcher at Oslo School of Architecture, Timo Arnall offers here his perspective about networked objects and ubiquitous computing. His presentation, and the intriguing design examples he takes, highlights two phenomena. On the one hand, he describes how sensors and RFIDs can enable to “make things visible” as the title of his presentation expresses. On the other hand, he shows the importance of going beyond screen-based interactions.

Changing Things (2) – Fab Labs, towards decentralized design and production of material products
Existing or unheard-of things, designed, modified, exchanged and manufactured by individuals or entrepreneurs anywhere in the world; Local workshops equipped with 3D printers and digital machine-tools, able to produce (almost) anything out of its 3D model; P2P object-sharing networks… Are “Fab Labs” heralding a new age of industrial production?
Keynote: Mike Kuniavsky, designer, ThingM
They do it for real: Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino (Tinker.it) and Michael Shiloh (OpenMoko / MakingThings)

Changing Innovation (1)- The end of IT
Today, corporate information systems are innovation’s worst enemies. They set organizations and processes in stone. They restrict the enterprise’s horizons and its networks. They distort its view of the world. But ferments of change emerge. Meet those who breathe new air into current organizations, those who design tomorrow’s Innovation Systems.
Keynote: Marc Giget (Cnam)
They do it for real: Euan Semple (Social computing for the business world) and Martin Duval (Bluenove)

Changing Innovation (2) – Innovating with the non-innovators
Innovating used to be a job in itself. It has become a decentralized procès which includes, in no particular order, researchers, entrepreneurs, designers, artists, activists, and users who reinvent the products they were supposed to consume. Why is that important? What does it really change? And where will it stop? WILL it stop somewhere?
Keynote: Catherine Fieschi, Counterpoint/British Council
They do it for real: Marcos Garcia (Madrid’s Medialab-Prado) and Douglas Repetto, artist and founder of Dorkbot

Takeaways: Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet’s thoughts from Lift
NKM“, 35, is Minister of State to the Prime Minister, with responsibility for Forward Planning and Development of the Digital Economy. Known as an activist for sustainable development, she was minister in charge of Ecology between 2007 and 2009.

Video: Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet’s takeaways (FR) [43:52]

Changing the Planet (1)- Sustainable development, the Way of Desire
What if global warming and the exhaustion of natural resources were in fact, initially, design problems? How do we move from bad, unsustainable design to a design – of goods, services, systems – that is sensitive and sustainable, durable and beautiful, sensible and profitable? Could we build sustainable growth on desire as well as reason, on creativity as well as regulation? Short answer: Yes!
Keynote: Dennis Pamlin, WWF, author of “Sustainability @ the Speed of Light”
They do it for real: John Thackara (Doors of Perception) and Elizabeth Goodman (designer, confectious.net)

Video: Dennis Pamlin: Changing the Planet [23:50]
Dennis Pamlin, who is Global Policy Advisor for the WWF, introduces the ecological challenges we face and contrast them with most of the technological progresses. His talk delineates a set of filters to understand how to judge innovation on conjunction with the long-term consequences they might have on the planet.

Video: John Thackara: Changing the Planet [23:14]
John Thackara, who is director of Doors of Perception, gives a provocative talk about the role of design in finding solutions to the ecological crisis. After inviting us to avoid terms such as “future” or “sustainable” as they maintain a certain distance to the problem we face, he shows a rich set of projects he participated in. He makes the important point that the resources to be put in place already exist and that they might not necessitates complex technological developments.

Changing the Planet (2) – Co-producing and sharing environmental consciousness
Planetary climate change is too large a challenge for each individual. It can quickly become abstract, technical, remote. How can we reconnect individual aspirations, personal and daily choices, to global challenges? How can we all become part of environmental measurement, evaluate and compare the impact of our own activities, become parts of our collective environmental consciousness?
Keynote: Gunter Pauli, ZERI (Zero Emissions Research & Initiatives)
They do it for real: Frank Kresin (Waag Society) and François Jegou (SDS-Solutioning / Sustainable Everyday)

Video: Gunter Pauli: Changing the Planet [55:14]
Gunter Pauli, who founded and directs ZERI, the “Zero Emissions Research Initiative” of the United Nations University in Tokyo, spoke about redesigning manufacturing processes into non-polluting clusters of industries.

Conditional Future
“The best way to predict the future, is to invent it”, said Alan Kay (and Buckminster Fuller). That is only true if as many of us as possible are given the opportunity to discuss, build, experiment and reflect upon their present and their future. Three speakers describe the conditions required to make that possible.
Rob van Kranenburg (Fontys Ambient Intelligence, Council) and Jean-Michel Cornu (Fing)

More videos are being posted to LIFT’s Vimeo, DailyMotion, Blip, Metacafe, Revver and Viddler accounts, so you can choose the platform you like.

23 June 2009

Four must-read pieces on UX Matters

UX Matters
Four must-read pieces on UX Matters:

The social buzz: designing user experiences for social media
By Junaid Asad, UX and human factors professional
With the rise of social technologies, one-way design is no longer enough. The collective intellect of users, arising from the societies they represent, now has the biggest say in what could be considered a design success. Because of advancements in technology, users now have the power and freedom even to design their own user interfaces, according to their whims and fancies, ignoring recommended UX best practices. With social technologies, users often have the freedom to choose sets of features they would like to use in applications and even where they want to interact with them. Similar to the popular use of the term Web 2.0, we might now refer to the current phase of design evolution as Design 2.0.

Innovation workshops: facilitating product innovation
By Jim Nieters (director of UX, Yahoo!)
While the business community sometimes overuses the term, innovation is the single most important factor in business. It is what makes any company different from its competitors. An innovation is a novel idea that a company delivers to market with highly profitable results. As UX professionals, if we want our efforts to be relevant to the business, we have to think about more than just insights or great designs. Ideally, our role is to find the intersection of customer delight and financial opportunity. We need to find ways of introducing great ideas that make our companies money. As difficult as coming up with a new idea that differentiates your product from those of your competitors can be, just coming up with the idea itself sometimes seems easy compared to the challenge of getting your organization to accept and act on it. Innovation workshops can both help you come up with great ideas and align your multidisciplinary product team around them.

Reusing the user experience
By Peter Hornsby, senior information architect at Friends Provident
Like software component reuse, the reuse of UX design elements can be a very efficient form of reuse—particularly because this form of reuse occurs very early in the product development cycle. The ability to reuse prior work effectively is one characteristic of a mature discipline.
Done well, component reuse can provide a significant increase in the effectiveness of the design process. Effective reuse must minimize associated human and computational costs while still allowing a degree of flexibility. The human cost is the time a designer requires to find the component to be reused, to understand it, and to perform any necessary modifications. The computational cost is the cost of employing a reusable component relative to that of a purpose-built version of a component. While the formal development of a library of reusable UX components can be a costly process, building reuse into your development process and creating components from existing design artifacts can still bring significant benefits and efficiency to your UX team.

Moving into user research | establishing design guidelines
By Janet M. Six, principal at Lone Star Interaction
A discussion of readers’ questions:
* moving from technical writing to user research
* establishing and documenting design guidelines

23 June 2009

The rise of the sensor citizen

Sensor citizen
Anne Galloway was one of the excellent presenters at the recent LIFT conference in Geneva. So it is with much pleasure to notice that she has written the latest contribution to Vodafone’s Receiver Magazine.

In her critical contribution ‘The rise of the sensor citizen – community mapping projects and locative media‘, 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.”

Anne Galloway (site | 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. 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. Galloway’s work has been presented to international audiences in technology, design, art, architecture, social and cultural studies, as well as published in a variety of books and journals. She currently teaches design and computation arts at Concordia University in Montréal, Canada.

Read full story

23 June 2009

Towards social business design

Social business design
Social business design is a new concept that could potentially become quite important for businesses and corporations:

In “From Social Media To Social Business Design, David Armano explores what businesses would be like if they were truly social.

“Imagine if a company like GM, was at the core “social”. Not just participating in “social media”—but through every part of their business ecosystem, were connected—plugged into a collective consciousness made up of ALL their constituents, from employees to consumers to dealers, to assembly line works etc. What if big organizations worked the way individuals now do. We’re actively using cloud services, mobile, networks and applications that offer real time dynamic signals vs. inefficient and static e-mail exchanges. In short, imagine if what makes “Web.2.0″ revolutionary was applied to every facet of an organization transforming how we work, collaborate and communicate? We think this is possible. And we’re calling it “social business design“.”

Armano’s company Dachis Corp. is currently working on rolling out a set of offerings to help businesses understand and apply these constructs to achieve leveraged and emergent outcomes that are measurable.

Bruce Nussbaum loves it.

” This is one of the most important attempts to answer the key question of What Comes Next? What comes next after the great recession ends? What will be the New Normal for consumers, for businesses, for all global organizations.

In essence, David argues that it is not sufficient for companies to merely plug into and participate in the social media of its customers. Companies must BECOME social media and be organized as social media.”

Meanwhile Jevon MacDonald of the same corporation is giving the idea a bit more grounding on his own blog and the Fast Forward blog. Read his contributions:

Understanding the role of Enterprise 2.0 and moving towards a Social Business
In the last few years the concept of social software in the enterprise has matured significantly, but we are still grasping for a real understanding of its role, and what to call it. I believe that understanding the separation of social software and social strategies can bring us closer to seeing the complete picture.

Taking the leap: Social Business Design
Social Business Design is the first (as far as I can tell) effort to completely unite both the strategic and implementation components of a new kind of business. Social Businesses are those which are designed from top to bottom as a reflection of the world we all live in online today. A business were everyone is connected and able to contribute but also where the right tools are available to them to do all of this with a business intent from the beginning.

Social Business Design and the Real Time Enterprise
For the first time we are seeing a complete set of ideas emerge which are applicable on both a strategic and implementation level. The four major archetypes of Social Business Design can be integrated to move past simple data interchange and in to a world of work in which end-users are in control and through which they can collaborate in real time. Without this framework it was easy to miss the need to develop strong ecosystems and intelligent metafilters in addition to a dynamic signal.

23 June 2009

The revolution will be fetishised

#iranelection
Now that the refrains of “Twitter Revolution” and “the first uprising powered by social media” are fading into the distant memory that is 24 hours ago, we can start debating, says Jonathan Salem Baskin, what impact, if any, it had (or is still having) on events in Iran.

“Social movements are, well, social, by their very definition; people have been agitating and acting together since the platform tools to do so were quill pens, inkwells, and whispering in one another’s ears. Nothing new there. So the first question to ask is whether new media changed the conduct or outcomes of the social event itself (i.e. in Iran).

I’m not sure it did.”

In fact, provocatively he asks: “So what if George Washington’s troops had tweeted about their suffering at Valley Forge, or the Mensheviks had similarly described the cruelty of their Bolshevik brethren. Would subsequent events have turned out differently?”

Actually his best one comes at the end: “What if it were Florida in 2000? A candidate wins the popular vote (vs. the Iranian pretender losing by 20 million or so), and then a court made up of unelected lifers decides that the other guy won. I wonder if there’d been tweets of the protesters there would have been more protests…or a greater popular uprising?”

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(via FutureLab)

Another reflection on the same topic comes from an article in the International Herald Tribune:

“Iran’s sometimes faltering attempts to come to grips with this new reality are providing a laboratory for what can and cannot be done in this new media age — and providing lessons to other governments, watching with calculated interest from afar, about what they may be able to get away with should their own citizens take to the streets.”

23 June 2009

A range of new products will be created from social data

Reid Hoffman
LinkedIn founder and CEO Reid Hoffman says in an interview on Nokia’s Ideas Project that the unprecedented accumulation of social network data provides fertile ground for the cultivation of products and applications that leverage and yield analytics from user identities and relationships.

Watch video

Related is a post by Jenna Wortham who in her New York Times blog from SXSW introduces several web applications that make sense of the social media pile-up.

Ideas Project also contains a new feature story, entitled “Besting the Human Brain“. It explores the fact that the distinction between artificial and human intelligence may soon disappear entirely, and features the thinking of science fiction author and mathematics professor Vernor Vinge, cyberlaw scholar Jonathan Zittrain, neurobiologist and Whyville founder James Bower, communications and digital pioneer Dewayne Hendricks, and tech observer Jerry Michalski.

23 June 2009

Technology is for revolution (and repression)

Apple Big Brother 1984
Far from being a tool for oppression, as often portrayed in old science fiction, technology has become a means of liberation, argues the Financial Times.

“Technology gets a bad rap in the old media. In books and films, it is often the machinery used by governments to crush individuality. [...]

A funny thing happened on the way to the digital dystopia. Far from being a tool for repression, the internet has become a means by which people shake off state censorship.

The internet has pushed governments in undemocratic and semi-democratic countries on to the defensive. They used to be able to control the flow of information on televison or in newspapers with relative ease. The ability of anyone with a mobile phone or a video camera to broadcast at will has confounded them.”

The reflective article also cites Clay Shirky.

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23 June 2009

As blogs are censored, it’s kittens to the rescue

Kitten
The New York Times discusses extensively the “Cute Cat Theory of Internet Censorship”, as propounded by Ethan Zuckerman, a senior researcher at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School.

His idea is deceptively simple: most people use the Internet to enjoy their lives, and among the ways people spread joy is to share pictures of cute cats. Even the sarcastic types (who, for example, have been known to insert misspelled messages under pictures of kittens) seem to be under their thrall.

So when a government censors the Internet, it had better think twice: “Cute cats are collateral damage when governments block sites,” Mr. Zuckerman wrote for a recent talk. People who could not “care less about presidential shenanigans are made aware that their government fears online speech so much that they’re willing to censor the millions of banal videos” and thereby “block a few political ones.”

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