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Putting People First

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July 2009
30 July 2009

Designing waits that work

Waiting lines
The MIT Sloan Management Review has published Donald Norman’s paper ‘Designing Waits That Work‘ (available for $6.50).

It is based on a 2008 paper by Norman, entitled ‘The Psychology of Waiting Lines‘ (which is freely available), but sections have been added on “Variations of basic waiting lines” (including triage, categorization of needs, and self-selection of queues) and “Deliberate Chaos.”

According to Norman, “the original is better in the amount of detail and formal analyses, worse in the rough draft and inelegance of the writing as well as a lack of examples which I added for SMR.”

Here is Norman’s introduction to the 2008 paper:

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 the PDF file, The Psychology of Waiting Lines, 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 “emotions dominate” and ending with the principle that “the 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.

29 July 2009

An interview with Eric von Hippel

Eric von Hippel
Scott Wilson interviewed Prof. Eric von Hippel of MIT’s Sloan School of Management for the Deloitte Review.

“Open source technology and lead user innovation: two subjects very much in evidence across a diverse number of business sectors today. But how can they help companies grow, and what can we learn from the likes of open innovators ranging from small communities of windsurfers to digital giant Google?

Professor Eric von Hippel of MIT’s Sloan School of Management is known for pioneering research that has prompted a major rethinking of how the innovation process works. He is the originator of lead user theory and a leading voice on open methods of innovation development. Here he expounds on the benefits of open source technology, why users are at the center of the innovation process and how they can trigger major changes in both company business models and in government policymaking.”

Von Hippel is the T Wilson Professor of Innovation at Sloan and also a professor of Engineering Systems at MIT. His academic research examines the sources and economics of innovation. He has founded and participated in start-up firms and is a founder of the entrepreneurship program at MIT. His most recent book is Democratizing Innovation (MIT Press). In the spirit of openness, copies of this and of his earlier book Sources of Innovation (Oxford University Press) can be downloaded free of charge from his MIT web site.

Read interview

(via Praveen Singh)

29 July 2009

Nokia in trouble? How fast can a mobile device giant react?

Nokia
Fascinating and seemingly very realistic tale on the potential of Nokia (and other device manufacturers) to be able to react to the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, based on the time frame of their product development cycles.

“When the iPhone was announced (January 2007), an analyst friend of mine calculated the competitive response from Nokia, based on his understanding on how companies of this size in this industry in general are able to change. For the purposes of this article, we tried to revisit the prediction to update it with anecdotal evidence. So far there has been seemingly little activity that has affected the trajectory. Or are we missing something?”

Conclusion: First products that are roughly comparable with iPhone version 1 will begin shipping in 2014, but the capabilities to compete effectively as a platform will only be in place by 2019.

Read full story

(via Niti Bhan)

29 July 2009

Experience sampling on the iPhone

Track your happiness
Can the Apple iPhone measure your happiness, asks Jenna Wortham on the New York Times Bits blog.

“Matt Killingsworth, a doctoral candidate in psychology at Harvard University, thinks the phone might at least help researchers gather some data about it. Mr. Killingsworth, a former software developer, has helped create an application called “Track Your Happiness” for the iPhone to collect information to determine which factors are associated with happiness.”

Read full story

29 July 2009

User research at Apple

Apple
In a truly excellent article, entitled “You can’t innovate like Apple”, Alain Breillatt also discusses Apple’s approach to user research.

“While I’m sure Jobs says he doesn’t do research, it’s pretty clear that his team goes out to thoroughly study behaviors and interests of those they think will be their early adopters. Call it talking to friends and family; but, honestly, you know that these guys live by immersing themselves in the hip culture of music, video, mobile, and computing.

The point is not to go ask your customers what they want. If you ask that question in the formative stages, then you’re doing it wrong. The point is to go immerse yourself in their environment and ask lots of “why” questions until you have thoroughly explored the ins and outs of their decision making, needs, wants, and problems. At that point, you should be able to break their needs and the opportunities down into a few simple statements of truth.

As Alan Cooper says, how can you help an end user achieve the goal if you don’t know what it is? You have to build a persona or model that accurately describes the objectives of your consumers and the problems they face with the existing solutions. The real benefit, as I saw in my years working at InstallShield and Macrovision, is that unless you put a face and expectations on that consumer, then disagreements about features or product positioning or design come down to who can pull the greatest political will—rather than who has the cleanest interpretation of the consumer’s need.”

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28 July 2009

People will be able to control and federate their own data

John Clippinger
John Clippinger, who directs the Law Lab at Harvard University, predicts, in this video on Nokia’s IdeasProject, a huge shift over the next one to two years in the way people manage their identities.

He asserts that “user-centric identity, “the ability of individuals to carry their information from one site to another in a “cloud” of their own making, will become increasingly important.

Watch video

Related content:
Article on Future Banking in which John Clippinger describes some of the ways in which traditional information asymmetries between enterprises and their customers are being redressed to allow individuals more control over their personal information.

28 July 2009

Stanford seminars on people, computers and design

Stanford HCI
CS547. Human-Computer Interaction Seminar (Seminar on People, Computers, and Design)” is a course of the Stanford HCI Group, coordinated by Terry Winograd, on topics related to human-computer interaction design.

Below is a run-down of the 2008-2009 speakers (all videos are available online):

September 26, 2008 – Tristan Harris , Apture
New models for browsing (video)

October 3, 2008 – David Merrill, MIT Media Lab
Natural Interactions with Digital Content (video)

October 10, 2008 – Karrie Karahalios, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana Champaign
Visualizing Voice (video)

October 17, 2008 – Jesse James Garrett, Adaptive Path
Aurora: Envisioning the Future of the Web (video)

October 24, 2008 – Peter Pirolli, PARC
Information foraging theory (video)

October 31 , 2008 – Justine Cassell, Northwestern University
Building Theories: People’s Interaction with Computers (video)

November 7, 2008 – Merrie Morris, Microsoft Research
SearchTogether and CoSearch: New Tools for Enabling Collaborative Web Search (video)

November 14, 2008 – Gail Wight, Stanford Dept. of Art and Art History
Unreasonable Interactions (video)

November 21, 2008 – Sergi Jordà
Exploring the Synergy between Live Music Performance and Tabletop Tangible Interfaces: the Reactable (video)

December 5, 2008 – Jaroslaw Kapuscinski, Stanford Dept. of Music
Composing with Sounds and Images (video)

January 9, 2009 – Todd Mowry, CMU
Pario: the Next Step Beyond Audio and Video (video)

January 16, 2009 – Hayes Raffle, Nokia Research
Sculpting Behavior – Developing a tangible language for hands-on play and learning (video)

January 23, 2009 – Dan Saffer, Kicker Studio
Tap is the new click (video)

January 30, 2009 – Bobby Fishkin, ReframeIt
Social Annotation, Contextual Collaboration and Online Transparency (video)

February 6, 2009 – Bjoern Hartmann, Stanford HCI Group
Enlightened Trial and Error – Gaining Design Insight Through New Prototyping Tools (video)

February 13, 2009 – Vladlen Koltun, Stanford CS
Computer Graphics as a Telecommunication Medium (video)

February 20, 2009 – Michal Migurski & Tom Carden, Stamen Design
Not Invented Here: Online Mapping Unraveled (video)

February 27, 2009 – Sep Kamvar, Stanford University
We Feel Fine and I Want You To Want Me: Case Studies in Internet Sociology (video)

March 6, 2009 – Jeff Heer, Stanford HCI Group
A Brief History of Data Visualization (video)

March 13, 2009 – Barry Brown, UCSD
Experts at Play (video)

April 3, 2009 – John Lilly and Mike Beltzner, Mozilla Foundation
Firefox, Mozilla & Open Source — Software Design at Scale (video)

April 10, 2009 – Clara Shih, Salesforce.com
Social Enterprise Software Design (video)

April 17, 2009 – Alex Payne, Twitter
The Interaction Design of APIs (video)

April 24, 2009 – Jim Campbell, electronic artist
Far Away Up Close (video)

May 1, 2009 – Gary and Judy Olson, UC Irvine
What Still Matters about Distance? (video)

May 8, 2009 – Dan Siroker, Carrotsticks
How We Used Data to Win the Presidential Election (video)

May 15, 2009 – Scott Snibbe, Snibbe Interactive
Social Immersive Media (video)

May 22, 2009 – Will Wright, Maxis / Electronic Arts
Launching Creative Communities: Lessons from the Spore community experience (video)

May 29, 2009 – Robert Kraut, Carnegie Mellon
Designing Online Communities from Theory (video)

Archived lectures from CS547 can also be downloaded from iTunes.

27 July 2009

What is the interest created by conversational currency?

Interest rate
As the world moves to accommodate “everyone’s interest” could we be headed towards a global economy based on “free interest”, asks Jay Deragon on AlwaysOn. And what is the interest created by conversational currency?

Social media is about depositing conversational currency for use and gaining “interest” from it. A conversation can and does create a currency exchange of value. Sharing pertinent information with people whom can use said information to create more value for themselves and others creates an “interest”.

Conversations propagate based on the rate of interest. Rate of interest in your conversation is reflected by the rate of change. The more your conversation “changes” from one to one to a million the higher the interest rate becomes.

Read full story

27 July 2009

Conceptual consumption

Consumed
An article in the New York Times Magazine brought me to an interesting article by behavioural economist Daniel Ariely, who has been featured previously on this blog:

“Anybody who is honest about consumer behavior knows that often what we buy is not simply some thing but some idea that is embodied by that thing. “Conceptual consumption” is the name given to this practice in a recent paper with that title by Dan Ariely, a professor of behavioral economics at Duke University (and author of the book “Predictably Irrational”), and Michael Norton, an assistant professor of marketing at the Harvard Business School, in The Annual Review of Psychology. Their notion has various subsets, one of which is the consumption of goals.”

Conceptual Consumption
by Dan Ariely (Duke University) and Michael I. Norton (Harvard Business School)
Annual Review of Psychology 2009. 60:475–99

Abstract
As technology has simplified meeting basic needs, humans have cultivated increasingly psychological avenues for occupying their consumption energies, moving from consuming food to consuming concepts; we propose that consideration of such “conceptual consumption” is essential for understanding human consumption. We first review how four classes of conceptual consumption—consuming expectancies, goals, fluency, and regulatory fit—impact physical consumption. Next, we benchmark the power of conceptual consumption against physical consumption, reviewing research in which people forgo positive physical consumption—and even choose negative physical consumption–in order to engage in conceptual consumption. Finally, we outline how conceptual consumption informs research examining both preference formation and virtual consumption, and how it may be used to augment efforts to enhance consumer welfare.”

A shorter article on the same theme and by the same authors can be found on the Harvard Business Review.

27 July 2009

How wired gadgets encroach on privacy

Gadget
With every high-tech gadget we buy, we give up a little more privacy. Many devices today are in constant communication with their manufacturer. And it’s not just consumers who are losing their rights — the technology gives authoritarian states whole new ways of keeping tabs on individuals.

“In the age of networked digital devices, it seems that values such as the sanctity of the private sphere, the protection of our private property and the inviolability of our correspondence no longer count for very much.”

Read full story

26 July 2009

Indian Design for All newsletter features German design

Design for All
The Design for All Institute India has published a special issue of its newsletter together with IDZ International Design Centre, Berlin. Guest Editor is Prof Birgit Weller.

Design for All Institute Of India is a self financed, non-profit voluntary organization, located in Delhi, India, which seeks corporate and public partnership in order to carry forward its very ambitious agenda of pro-actively building bridges of social inclusion between the design community and all other groups whose activities can be positively influenced by a coherent application of design methodology. Design for All means creating products, services and systems to cater to the widest possible range of users’ requirements. We initiated the concept and have received enormous encouragement from domestic as well as International communities.

Download newsletter (125 pages)

26 July 2009

Benedict Singleton on socio-technical assemblages

Benedict Singleton
Benedict Singleton is in the later stages of a practice-based PhD on service design at Northumbria University.

In his research he uses “critical, self-directed design projects, alongside literary and ethnographic strategies, to rethink some basic assumptions about service design – which have proliferated so quickly and widely that they constitute an emerging orthodoxy.”

“From this position, service design is not ‘about’ dampening the ecological impact of human activity, the expansion of the third sector, designing pleasant and saleable ‘experiences’, ‘wellbeing’ or ‘community’. These are applied goals. Service design is ‘about’ designing systems of interpersonal exchange, and the socio-technical assemblages that result from this process. These assemblages are actors that (re-)shape landscapes – urban, rural, domestic, material, social, psychological.”

Read interview

24 July 2009

An Experientia celebration in style

IBM
(Article contributed by Experientia editor Erin O’Loughlin:)

On the 23rd July 2009, Experientia celebrated its fourth anniversary in style, at the stunning Villa Tiboldi in the lush Piemontese wine country.

There was a lot to celebrate, in four years of challenges, successes and growth. Starting from Piazza Castello, in the heart of historical Turin, the Experientia team boarded a bus for a drive through some of Italy’s most lovely scenery – countryside villas, terraced vineyards and rolling hills.

The warm summer evening and the candle-lit villa were the perfect backdrop to a night of congratulations and surprises, starting with the team’s thank-you gift to the partners, of an original-design notebook, bound in Experientia orange. (Now we can reveal to the partners that the bus was late because we hid this surprise gift so well that even we couldn’t find it when it was time to depart!) A further surprise gift was in store later in the evening, as our wonderful office manager was presented with a thank-you for all the hard work she does organising and informing those of us who are new to Italy and to Turin.

The partners each took the opportunity to thank the team and to tell their version of the Experientia history and the birth of the company, to much applause and raising of glasses, as we enjoyed a first-class, five-course meal.

In four years, Experientia has grown from four men with a vision to a thriving company of over 20 team members, with an excellent mix of skills and a great feeling of camaraderie. Congratulations Experientia. Happy Birthday!

Check the Flickr photo set of the evening

23 July 2009

IBM and the Internet of Things

IBM
Two articles by Richard MacManus on ReadWriteWeb caught my attention because they both deal with IBM and the Internet of Things.

In a first article, MacManus describes how IBM is involved in some very interesting projects at the intersection of two big trends [he has] been tracking in 2009: the Real-time Web and Internet of Things.

“They have a website devoted to this topic, called A Smarter Planet. As the name implies, it focuses on environmental matters such as energy and food systems. Sensors, RFID tags and real-time messaging software are major parts of IBM’s smarter planet strategy. The catchcry for the site – Instrumented, Interconnected, and Intelligent – is about outfitting the world with sensors and hooking them to the Internet to apply the ‘smarts.’”

The article also gives some concrete examples of practical projects IBM is involved in, including collaborations with Matiq, an IT subsidiary of Norway’s largest food supplier Nortura, with Danish transportation company Container Centralen, and with German car manufacturer Volkswagen.

A second post talks about MQTT, an IBM-developed protocol for real-time messaging that could become a keystone of the emerging Internet of Things, and that IBM believes is actually better than Pachube (but has a better name!).

23 July 2009

TEDGlobal: ‘The democratisation of intimacy’

Stefana Broadbent
Anthropologist Stefana Broadbent says that modern communications aren’t expanding our circle of friends but are strengthening our most important relationships, reports Kevin Anderson on The Guardian’s PDA blog.

“Modern communications are not expanding our social circle, but anthropologist Stefana Broadbent says that mobile phones, instant messaging and social networking are actually strengthening our core relationships.

Research has shown that with instant messaging, if there are 100 people on your buddy list, you’ll only chat with at most five people on your list. Eighty per cent of phone calls are to four people. With voice-over-internet service Skype, that number drops, with most people calling only two others.”

Read full story

Read more about the democratisation of intimacy on Broadbent’s UsageWatch blog.

23 July 2009

How the digital world is changing the rules of modern courtship

Newsweek
As part of a feature series on Facebook (see below), Newsweek explores how the digital world is changing the rules of modern courtship:

“It wasn’t so long ago that the idea of a college romance playing out online—for better or for worse—would have been deemed weird, nerdy, or just plain pathetic. As the thinking went, if you had to go to the Web to find a mate, or break up with one, it must have meant you weren’t capable of attracting anyone in the real world. But then MySpace came along, and Facebook took over—and today, courtship has become a flurry of status messages, e-mail flirtation, and, not so uncommonly, breakups that play out publicly for all 400 of your not-so-closest friends.”

Read full story

Other stories in this series:

  • Facebook at Age Five
    The social networking site now boasts 250 million users, but has yet to make a single dollar in profit. Five years after its inception, a look at whether it can last another five.
  • The Salacious Story Behind Facebook
    What the company doesn’t want you to know about its ignominious start.
  • The Father of Social Networking
    With Facebook, 25 year-old Mark Zuckerberg, turned a dorm-room diversion into a cultural phenomenon. His next goal? To finally turn the company profitable.
  • Face-to-Facebook (video)
    Newsweek talks to Facebook users (and a few self-proclaimed addicts) about how the social networking site fits into their lives.
23 July 2009

TEDGlobal updates

TEDGlobal
Both the Guardian newspaper’s PDA blog and TED itself are posting regular updates from the current TEDGlobal conference in Oxford, UK.

(TED stands for technology, entertainment and design, and it’s an exclusive conference that brings togethers thinkers and doers from around the world. The TEDGlobal edition is directed by Bruno Guissani.)

Here are some selected highlights:

Manuel Lima
An interaction designer at Nokia, Lima looks at how complex interconnectedness can be understood. He is compelled by the divide between information and knowledge. So he looks at information visualization.

Rebecca Saxe
In her talk at TEDGlobal, cognitive neuroscientist Rebecca Saxe presented her breakthrough discovery of a particular section of the brain that becomes active when we contemplate the workings of other minds.

Aza Raskin
Aza Raskin is the head of user experience for Mozilla Labs (the people who created Firefox), and today he’s giving us a demo of a whole new kind of Internet browser. Instead of asking us to become computer literate, he’s making the browser learn our language.

Stefana Broadbent
Technology anthropologist Stefana Broadbent analyzes how we text, IM and talk.

Jonathan Zittrain
TEDGlobal director Bruno Guissani takes the stage to welcome Jonathan Zittrain who is a lawyer that specializes in technological, and of course, Internet-based law.

Gordon Brown (video)
Speaking to an international conference of technology entrepreneurs, academics and artists at Oxford, Prime Minister Gordon Brown called for the creation of global institutions to deal with the global problems.
>> See also Guardian PDA post

Also check out the Guardian PDA blog post on a new mobile phone search service for Uganda. It talks about the work of Jon Gosier of Appfrica, who has launched a simple project using a corp of mostly volunteers with mobile phones to find out what Ugandans want to know.

23 July 2009

Designing for sustainability

Designing for sustainability
In this three-part video series, originally posted on Adobe’s Inspire site (a publication from the Adobe Experience Design Team), watch highlights from the Adobe-sponsored roundtable discussion, moderated by former XD Director, Josh Ulm, and featuring leaders of the software industry, design profession, and sustainability movement.

Part 1: Designing for sustainability

Part 2: Towards sustainable design: A discussion
XD Director Josh Ulm talks with Brian Dougherty, Principal Creative Director of Celery Design, and Gaby Brink, Creative Director of Tomorrow Partners, about the challenges and opportunities involved in making design more sustainable.

Part 3: Building a sustainable design movement
XD Director Josh Ulm talks with Valerie Casey, who leads the digital experience practice at IDEO, about her efforts to build a sustainable design movement, through the Designer’s Accord.

23 July 2009

Literature review on museums and libraries in a digital age

 
The Futures of Learning blog, which is associated with a MacArthur Foundation project, just completed an extensive literature review, conducted as part of the project, Inspiring the Technological Imagination: Museums and Libraries in a Digital Age.

The work discussed in this literature review seeks to answer the question how institutions might change to take advantage of the learning opportunities provided by new digital media, and sets out to contribute to the development of a field in new media and learning by focusing on the role of museums and libraries as part of distributed learning networks.

The series comes at the closure of a just completed literature review on New Media Practices in International Contexts, covering the unique characteristics of digital media user behaviours in very different socio-cultural contexts of China, Korea, India, Brazil, Japan and Ghana, with a particular interest in the intersection of youth, new media and learning.

The research was directed by Anne Balsamo, PI. The blog postings were authored by her and other members of the research team: Cara Wallis, Maura Klosterman, and Susana Bautista (University of Southern California).

Here are the contributions:

22 July 2009

Visions of Europe in 2030

IP
The age of globalization is over. The coming 30 years will be shaped by the logic of scarcity, resulting in a turn away from global trade and the creation of self-reliant geopolitical zones.

Wolfram Eilenberger argues on Spiegel Online that Europe is prepared for these challenges.

“The dogma-free, democratic marketplace of ideas, for which Socrates gave his life in Athens, is today a communicative reality in which hundreds of millions of citizens are actively taking part. The spirit of scientific methodology and veracity embodied by Bacon, Descartes, and Newton as a measure of the collective interpretation of the world is driving a community of researchers that is unique in its diversity. The federal confederacy based on fundamental human rights that Erasmus and Kant envisaged as the “kingdom of ends” is now our political order. The collective safeguarding of physical and intellectual basic rights that Aristotle recognized as the foundation of every polity, and the ethically concerned liberalism of Adam Smith are guiding the logic of our economic activity. And finally, the vision of a secular, active, multilingual life elevated by Shakespeare, Cervantes, and Goethe as the core of what it means to be human accurately describes our cultural existence today as nascent Europeans.”

The article has been provided by Internationale Politik–Global Edition as part of a special agreement with SPIEGEL ONLINE. IP–Global Edition is the English- language quarterly journal of the German Council of Foreign Relations, published in association with IP, Germany’s premier foreign policy monthly.

Read full story