“Social innovation is a process of change where new ideas emerge from a variety of actors directly involved in the problem to be solved: final users, grass roots technicians and entrepreneurs, local institutions and civil society organizations. The main way in which it differs from traditional “garage” innovation is that here the “inventors” are groups of people (the “creative communities”) and the results are forms of organization (the “collaborative services”).
Looking attentively to the complexity of the contemporary society shows many cases of these worldwide (for more, see the Sustainable Everyday project). While the stories are diverse, they have one clear (and expected) common denominator: they resulted from the initiatives of people who collaboratively invented new ways of living and producing and who have been able to enhance them, solving specific problems and, at the same time, making concrete steps towards sustainability happen.”
Issue 1 (Spring 2009)
- Editorial: Shall We Dance? – by Dorte Madsen
- Connecting the Dots of User Experience – by Gianluca Brugnoli
- Towards an Architectural Document Analysis – by Helena Francke
- The Machineries of Context – by Andrew Hinton
- On Uncertainty in Information Architecture – by James Kalbach
Issue 2 (Fall 2009)
- Editorial: Open 24/7 – by Byström, Pharo & Resmini
- Card Sorting, Category Validity, and Contextual Navigation – by Stefano Bussolon
- From Prediction to Emergence – by Brigitte Kaltenbacher
- Mediation as Message – by David Walczyk & Cedomir Kovacev
“I’ve seen first hand and have on occasion experienced the symptoms of culture shock include: increased irritability; becoming hypercritical of locals and local practices; withdrawal – in particularly spending long time resting or in bed; physiological reactions; and excessive eating, drinking or drug use.”
“Many years ago, I read a book by Kenneth Blanchard & Spencer Johnson called The One Minute Manager. The book is an allegory about good versus bad management. It describes the journey of a young man who wants to learn how to become an effective manager.
Sitting at home one day, I found myself musing on what Blanchard & Johnson would have to say about user-centred design. Like management, user-centred design is ostensibly simple, yet when it comes to great user experiences many people do it incorrectly. And as with management, there are some simple but powerful rules.
This fable is the result of my thinking. I’ve retained the narrative structure of The One Minute Manager and if you know the book there are some other similarities you’ll discover. But above all, it’s a simple description of the secrets of user-centred design. I hope you en- joy it, apply it and pass it on.”
“Constantly checking our feeds for new information, we seem to be hoping to discover something of interest, something that we can share with our networks, something that we can use, something that we can talk about, something that we can act on, something we didn’t know we didn’t know.
It almost seems like an obsession and many critics of digital technology would argue that by consuming information this way we are running the danger of destroying social interaction between humans. One might even say that we have become slaves of the feed.
“Think about what lies within the system of banking: people and businesses. Now, do banks do anything to “connect” people and businesses to facilitate transactions amongst and between people and businesses? When was the last time your bank actually helped you do the following:
- Solve a problem not having to do with a transaction
- Introduced you or your business to others who may need your product or service
- Provided you with new information or knowledge that helped you or your business be more productive
- Helped you or your business grow revenue, besides lending money for you to do it yourself
- Helped you find relevant and relative resources that you need
The answer to these questions is a bank simply doesn’t do any of these things, at least not consistently and as a regular part of their relations with customers.”
The Nokia people liked it. In a subsequent video interview on the site she affirms her belief that we are at the beginning of a time during which we will learn how to leverage the power of social dynamics to find a new potential in human capital. Our ability to assemble in real-time on the Web allows us to exchange information and act on ideas in ways that were previously impossible.
“I don’t think we’ve even scratched the surface yet of understanding how to leverage the power of these social dynamics, but I think a key to unlocking the potential is going to be through developing better tools to visualize our human capital, which would be a combination of our strengths, our skills, and our social connections.”
Co-production as a new way of thinking about public services has the potential to deliver a major shift in the way we provide health, education, policing and other services, in ways that make them much more effective, more efficient, and so more sustainable.
This paper provides the basis for both a better understanding and a stronger evidence base for co-production.
Given the current diversity of uses of the term, this paper also explains what coproduction isn’t and demonstrates why co-production looks set to create the most important revolution in public services since the Beveridge Report in 1942.
The paper also diagnoses why public service reform is stalled, and why a radically new approach – sharing the design and delivery of services with users – can break this logjam and make services more effective for the public, more cost-effective for policymakers, and more sustainable for all of us.
“The concept aims to capture the essence of magazine reading, which people have been enjoying for decades: an engaging and unique reading experience in which high-quality writing and stunning imagery build up immersive stories.
The concept uses the power of digital media to create a rich and meaningful experience, while maintaining the relaxed and curated features of printed magazines. It has been designed for a world in which interactivity, abundant information and unlimited options could be perceived as intrusive and overwhelming.”
The talking points and slides can be downloaded from his blog, Orange Cone.
“Walk the streets of downtown Washington and you will see many people, a majority perhaps, plugged in to a two-dimensional world. Peer into the vehicles, and tally a scary number of drivers on hand-held cellphones, even texting. This may be illegal in the District, but the temptation is too great. We have become digital zombies.
Actually, we have become symbionts, says Katherine Hayles, author of “How We Became Posthuman.” Just as a lichen is the marriage of a fungus and an algae, we now live in full partnership with digital technology, which we rely on for the infrastructure of our lives.”
Being cool or being good: researching mobile phones in Mozambique
Julie Soleil Archambault
Drawing on my fieldwork experience in Inhambane, southern Mozambique, where I conducted research on mobile phone use amongst youth, my paper tackles issues of acceptance and rejection. As I sought to gain acceptance amongst youth I found myself participating in various controversial and, at times, dangerous activities that made me the victim of intense gossip and outright rejection by some. The fact that I came to the field accompanied by my husband and daughter only made matters worse. In this paper, I present the challenges of “being cool”, while also “being good”, and the repercussions of my research choices on my social standing. I then discuss how, instead of compromising my research, this predicament had a positive outcome by revealing social dynamics that might otherwise have remained hidden, namely the importance of concealment and the ambiguous role mobile phones play in deceit.
The BECC conference focused on understanding the behavior and decision making of individuals and organizations and using that knowledge to accelerate our transition to an energy-efficient and low-carbon future.
The conference brought together people from the US and around the world to share the latest insights, research, and experiences pertaining to behavior, energy and climate change.
The 2009 Behavior, Energy and Climate Change Conference was the 3rd annual conference to focus on accelerating our transition to an energy-efficient and low carbon economy through an improved understanding and application of social and behavioral mechanisms of change. This year’s conference built on the overwhelming success of previous BECC Conferences in which participants discussed successful program strategies, shared innovative research findings, and built dynamic new networks and means of collaboration. This conference brought together a diverse group of energy experts, social scientists, and policymakers to discuss the social and behavioral basis for, and practical implementation of, reducing energy use through the adoption and application of more energy-efficient technologies, energy conservation activities, and lifestyle changes.
- New York Times article on the conference
- Reuters article on the conference
- Article by Energy 2.0 Community
- Conference report by attendee Philip Johnson: Day 1 – Day 2 – Day 3
- Conference report by attendee Douglas Fisher: Part 1 – Part 2
- Conference report by attendee Scot Holliday
- A review by Experientia’s Irene Cassarino on a similar conference in Europe
“Apple has launched a beautiful phone with a fantastic user interface that has had a number of technological shortcomings that many iPhone users have accepted and defended, despite those shortcomings resulting in limitations in iPhone users’ daily lives.”
“When we examine the iPhone users’ arguments defending the iPhone, it reminds us of the famous Stockholm Syndrome–a term invented by psychologists after a hostage drama in Stockholm. Here, hostages reacted to the psychological pressure they were experiencing by defending the people that had held them hostage for six days.”
Reflections on Research in and of Corporations
Edited by Melissa Cefkin
Berghahn Books (July 2009)
Hardcover, 253 pages
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.
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.
1. Introduction – Business, anthropology, and the growth of corporate ethnography – Melissa Cefkin
2. “My Customers are Different!” – Identity, difference, and the political economy of design – Donna K. Flynn
3. Participatory Ethnography at Work – Practicing in the puzzle palaces of a large, complex healthcare organization – Christopher Darrouzet, Helga Wild, and Susann Wilkinson
4. Working in Corporate Jungles – Reflections on ethnographic praxis in industry – Brigitte Jordan with Monique Lambert
5. Writing on Walls: The materiality of social memory in corporate research – Dawn Nafus and Ken Anderson
6. The Anthropologist as Ontological Choreographer – Françoise Brun-Cottan
7. Emergent Culture, Slippery Culture – Conflicting conceptualizations of culture in commercial ethnography – Martin Ortlieb
8. Insider Trading – Engaging and valuing corporate ethnography – Jeanette Blomberg
9. Emergent Forms of Life in Corporate Arenas - Michael M. J. Fischer
“As web-based augmented-reality applications have exploded, it’s more important than ever to remember AR is a technology based on utility and not gimmicks.
Unfortunately, as with most new and emerging technologies, it’s quickly becoming overhyped and abused. Usability and user experience have been thrown under in the stampede of agencies and brands saying “Hey, look — me too!” Even more disturbing is that most marketers are overlooking the most unique aspect of AR itself: that it’s a technology that can create innovative and sustained engagement between a brand and its target consumer through utility.”
The focus of the sandpit is to create ideas for projects that have the potential for commercial value. The five-day sandpit will be held at Bailbrook House near Bath on 15-19 March 2010.
The challenge of reducing the amount of energy used in buildings requires an innovative and multidisciplinary approach. The aim of this sandpit is to bring together a varied group of up to 30 individuals from industry and academia — in particular experts in human factors and user-centred design — to work together to develop collaborative research proposals.
The sandpit will result in the Technology Strategy Board committing funding ‘in principle’ for consortium research projects developed by the participants. The Board has allocated up to £2m to fund industry-led collaborative research arising from the sandpit.
Deadline for application: 17 December 2009
(via Dan Lockton)
The Guardian – 9 December 2009
Danah Boyd: ‘People looked at me like I was an alien’
Microsoft researcher Danah Boyd talks about social networking, young people and how the web is more private than your home.
There’s one cliche in particular that annoys Danah Boyd: the “digital native”.
“There’s nothing native about young people’s engagement with technology,” she says, adamantly.
The Microsoft researcher, who has made a career from studying the way younger people use the web, doesn’t think much of the widely held assumption that children are innately better at coping with the web or negotiating the hurdles of digital life. Instead, she suggests, they’re pretty much like everyone else.
“Young people are learning, they’re learning about the social world around them,” she says. “The social world around them today has mediated technologies, thus in order to learn about the social world they’re learning about the mediated technologies. And they’re leveraging that to work out the shit that kids have always worked out: peer sociality, status, their first crush.”
ReadWriteWeb – 10 December 2009
Says Danah Boyd, Leverage the Web’s Most Disturbing Content
Microsoft researcher Danah Boyd took a decidedly different approach when considering social networking at today’s LeWeb conference [and made] the point that negative and disturbing web content can also serve as a vehicle for change.
“Boyd explains how those who monitor online profile information, tend to have something to gain from it in a negative way. For example, oppressive governments often monitor the web for signs of criminal activity in order to enforce laws or suppress certain activities. Nevertheless, Boyd believes the visibility of violence, drug use and criminal activity can also be used by regular netizens for constructive purposes.”
Steve Portigal started the debate with a piece which intends to “to reframe rather than refute” Norman’s argument.
Nicolas Nova thinks that Norman’s piece reflects “a narrow understanding of what field research about people can convey”. Nova also takes issue with the “distinction between improvement and breakthrough (or what [Norman] calls “revolutionary innovation”).” Perhaps, Nova says,” it’s a framing issue but the notion of a “breakthrough” seems a bit weird when one think about the whole history of technologies. This terms seems more appealing to the marketing/business people than observer of how objects evolved over time.’
Todd Zaki Warfel writes he “couldn’t disagree more with the content of the [Norman] essay. He singles out both “how Don defines design research” and Norman’s claim that innovations “are invariably driven by the development of new technologies.”
Nikos Karaoulanis argues that that Norman’s essay “really lends to the argument that design research and especially design thinking is absolutely crucial, if not critical to designing in our time.”
Adam Richardson says: “I actually agree[s] with much of what he says, though I see the definition of design research he’s using as overly narrow.”
Check also the comments on each of these pieces.
“If interaction design really is the business of behaviour change I believe this must apply two ways. While it’s true that design can influence users and engender cultural change, this is always a product of our more tangible work: changing the behaviour of technology. As a user-centred designer of technology my goal is simple: to make its behaviour humane. But how should I approach this?
Humanity implies emotion and, beneath that, personality. These areas lie beyond the frontiers of classical HCI and usability. Fortunately, as often happens, we view the distant summit and see others have already planted the flag. Toymakers, for instance, have explored the art of bestowing personality on products for years. The results are fairly crude, but I defy anyone to watch the torture of a Pleo and successfully suppress a twinge of guilt. Even in its moments of crisis, Pleo has a distinct personality; that is to say, it conveys emotional information.”