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Putting People First

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January 2010
12 January 2010

The New York Times on gestural interfaces

Gestural interfaces
The New York Times reports on “natural” gestural interfaces in an article entitled “Giving Electronic Commands With Body Language”:

“In the coming months, the likes of Microsoft, Hitachi and major PC makers will begin selling devices that will allow people to flip channels on the TV or move documents on a computer monitor with simple hand gestures. The technology, one of the most significant changes to human-device interfaces since the mouse appeared next to computers in the early 1980s, was being shown in private sessions during the immense Consumer Electronics Show here last week. Past attempts at similar technology have proved clunky and disappointing. In contrast, the latest crop of gesture-powered devices arrives with a refreshing surprise: they actually work.”

Read full story

12 January 2010

Denmark leads the way in digital care

Danstrup
Using medical devices and notebook computers, Danish patients can see doctors without leaving home, and have the information automatically logged into electronic records. The New York Times reports.

“Several studies, including one to be published later this month by the Commonwealth Fund, conclude that the Danish information system is the most efficient in the world, saving doctors an average of 50 minutes a day in administrative work. And a 2008 report from the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society estimated that electronic record keeping saved Denmark’s health system as much as $120 million a year.

Now policy makers in the United States are studying Denmark’s system to see whether its successes can be replicated as part of the overhaul of the health system making its way through Congress. Dr. David Blumenthal, a professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School who was named by President Obama as national coordinator of health information technology, has said the United States is “well behind” Denmark and its Scandinavian neighbors, Sweden and Norway, in the use of electronic health records.”

Read full story

12 January 2010

A MobileActive.org whitepaper on scaling mobile services for development

Scaling
Katrin Verclas of MobileActive.org has published a whitepaper entitled “Scaling Mobile Services for Development: What Will It Take?”.

The paper, originially commissioned for the World Economic Forum, discusses the opportunities and critical success factors for scaling m-services – services and products for development delivered over the mobile platform. It discusses some of the barriers for scaling m-services and it addresses how industry, donors, and civil society organizations can move from some of the many promising pilot projects in m-health, m-agriculture, and m-payments to economically viable m-services that increase the quality of life and drive economic growth for the poorest of people.

Read paper

11 January 2010

Yahoo studies social science

Social science at Yahoo
Yahoo Labs is beefing up its ranks of social scientists, adding highly credentialed cognitive psychologists, economists and ethnographers from top universities around the world, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

“In the last year, Yahoo Labs has bolstered its ranks of social scientists, adding highly credentialed cognitive psychologists, economists and ethnographers from top universities around the world. At approximately 25 people, it’s still the smallest group within the research division, but one of the fastest growing.

The recruitment effort reflects a growing realization at Yahoo, the second most popular U.S. online site and search engine, that computer science alone can’t answer all the questions of the modern Web business. As the novelty of the Internet gives way, Yahoo and other 21st century media businesses are discovering they must understand what motivates humans to click and stick on certain features, ads and applications – and dismiss others out of hand.”

Interestingly, the core value of Yahoo is shifting to the user experience:

“The most prominent example is the company’s search engine. It was originally Yahoo’s raison d’etre, but the company is now in the process of replacing its core search technology with Microsoft Corp.’s Bing tool. As part of the deal, it is moving about 400 search engineers over to the Redmond, Wash., software company.

Yahoo has emphasized it is now competing in search through the front-end user experience, positioning results based on what people are most commonly seeking.”

Read full story

11 January 2010

The bridge between cultures and design

Between cultures and design
Microsoft’s Joe Fletcher contributed an intriguing article on software UX in India and China on the ever more interesting Johnny Holland site:

“Over roughly the last 10 years, China and India have given way to a huge rise in technology outsourcing. Jobs are outsourced from companies like Microsoft, Google, T-Mobile, Honeywell, and many others. In Microsoft I’ve worked with teams in both India and China developing software for a variety of uses. Having our headquarters in the US, I usually work with small satellite teams in these countries. I couldn’t help but wonder why these countries who had become huge in the area of software technology, struggled so much in the area of user experience and UI innovation. […]

Given the issues and connections I was seeing, I decided to go straight to the source and start to ask the offices I had worked with, as well as other designers I found through my various networks about these issues. These are just the initial thoughts I’ve started to gather. I plan to interview many more people with what I’ve deemed my curiosity research project, but thought it would be interesting to share a few of the insights I’ve gathered thus far to give a view to others who work with these countries. Given the format of Johnny Holland, I’ve kept these short, but often there are great (and sometimes very amusing) stories behind each point.”

Read full story

11 January 2010

The service design era

Gilbarco
In a two-part series, Korea’s JoongAng Daily newspaper looks at the rise of service design and the notion that modern product designers need to look well beyond the physical form of their projects.

For years, the design field focused primarily on developing products that were attractive and convenient for consumers. Now, however, the industry is increasingly eyeing service design, which involves providing products that offer up benefits to society.

“The current trend is to create designs that improve services in the public domain as well as at corporations,” said Lee Young-sun, a chief design officer at the Korea Institute of Design Promotion. As Baik Jong-won, a professor at the Kaywon School of Art and Design, puts it: “Design that had been merely about making a contribution to beautifying a city environment is now turning into a means of resolving social issues these days.”

Read full story:
Designing with the public good in mind
Satisfying customers drives design advances

(via Core77)

10 January 2010

World Wide Mush

Not a gadget
In his new book, “You Are Not A Gadget,” online pioneer Jaron Lanier explains how the Internet has gone off course. In this Wall Street Journal, he summarises the key ideas and it turns out to be a full-blown rant against “digital collectivism”, free software and open source.

“Here’s one problem with digital collectivism: We shouldn’t want the whole world to take on the quality of having been designed by a committee. When you have everyone collaborate on everything, you generate a dull, average outcome in all things. You don’t get innovation.

If you want to foster creativity and excellence, you have to introduce some boundaries. Teams need some privacy from one another to develop unique approaches to any kind of competition. Scientists need some time in private before publication to get their results in order. Making everything open all the time creates what I call a global mush.”

Read full story

Check also this New York Times review.

10 January 2010

Design for sustainable behaviour (part 2)

CHI 2009
A range of other researchers have also published papers on the topic of design for sustainable behaviour. Twenty papers were presented at the CHI 2009 Workshop, “Defining the Role of HCI in the Challenges of Sustainability,” organised by Elaine M. Huang of Motorola Research. Here is a selection:

Prepare for descent: interaction design in our new future
Jeffrey Wong
Human-Computer Interaction Institute, Carnegie Mellon University
Currently, sustainable interaction design seems primarily focused on behavior change, in the hope of averting irreversible destruction of the environmental systems that make our civilization possible. Underlying this idea is the assumption that the right technology can change behaviors of society-at-large quickly enough to avert irreversible damage. While trying seems more appropriate than doing nothing, current work in Sustainable Interaction Design (SID) is often lacks the scope necessary to foster immediate and deep change needed to avert crises. This paper argues that SID researchers should approach the problem at higher levels to have the massive effects that are necessary. SID should also consider the the design context to be a world radically altered by environmental damage; solutions that fit into today’s lifestyles risk irrelevance. SID researchers can target viable futures by designing for very different social, economic, and humanitarian circumstances than the contexts we currently take for granted. SID allow the projected economic declines to free society from a consumption culture. Research priorities may then shift from prevention and awareness to supporting social, economic, and spiritual structures of society that human happiness possible.

Motivating sustainable energy consumption in the home
Helen Ai He and Saul Greenberg
Dept. of Computer Science, University of Calgary
Technologies are just now being developed that encourage sustainable energy usage in the home. One approach is to give home residents feedback of their energy consumption, typically presented using a computer visualization. The expectation is that this feedback will motivate home residents to change their energy behaviors in positive ways. Yet little attention has been paid to what exactly motivates such behavioral change. This paper provides a brief overview of theories in psychology and social psychology on what does, and does not motivate sustainable energy action in the home.

Visible sustainability: Carbon Label 2.0
Daniela Busse and Wenbo Wang
SAP Labs, LLC
The investment in sustainability research at SAP has been increasing constantly. Of all sustainability parameters, Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions produced in the manufacturing, transporting, use, and disposing of a product (aka a product’s carbon footprint), might be the most representative. Next to its more formal efforts on its product lines supporting businesses with their sustainability needs, SAP also held an internal design challenge earlier in 2008 encouraging employees to design a “carbon label” that would communicate this carbon footprint to the consumers of products that were manufactured or sold by SAP’s customers. In response, we conducted some exploratory field research in the form of user interviews, iterated on a design proposal for this carbon label (including a concept investigation), and presented a solution to effectively communicate a product’s carbon to the panel of judges. The final call is still out on this competition, but we posit that the work we did as part of this project shows how a sound user centered design process is critical in making consumer facing sustainability solutions. Given that SAP is one of the major software makers concerned with sustainability solutions for its customers, we hope to firmly situate user centered design practices in the design of upcoming products in SAP’s “green suite” of products. We would like to introduce our work to this CHI workshop on defining the role of HCI for sustainability, invite feedback, and hope to contribute to the broader discussion on this topic.

A sustainable identity: creativity of everyday design
Ron Wakkary
School of Interactive Arts & Technology, Simon Fraser University
In this paper we explore sustainability in interaction design by reframing concepts of user identity and use. Building on our work on everyday design, we discuss design-in-use: the creative and sustainable ways people appropriate and adapt designed artifacts. We claim that reframing the user as a creative everyday designer promotes a sustainable user identity in HCI and interaction design.

Sensing opportunities for personalized feedback technology to reduce consumption
Jon Froehlich, Kate Everitt, James Fogarty, Shwetak Patel, James Landay
DUB Institute, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Washington
Most people are unaware of how their daily activities affect the environment. Previous studies have shown that feedback technology is one of the most effective strategies in reducing electricity usage in the home. In this position paper, we expand the notion of feedback systems to a broad range of human behaviors that have an impact on the environment. In particular, we enumerate five areas of consumption: electricity, water, personal transportation, product purchases, and garbage disposal. For each, we outline their effect on the environment and review and propose methods for automatically sensing them to enable new types of feedback systems.

Broadening human horizons through green IT
Bill Tomlinson
University of California, Irvine
Environmental concerns such as global climatic disruption occur over long time periods, large distances, and vast scales of complexity. Unassisted, humans are not well equipped to deal with problems on such broad scales. Throughout history, technological innovations have enabled human cultures to engage with broader suites of problems than we would otherwise be able to address. In particular, information technology (IT) involves tools and techniques for dealing with vast bodies of information across wide ranges of time, space, and complexity, and is thus well suited for addressing environmental concerns. While IT carries with it a number of significant environmental challenges (e.g., power consumption, ewaste), the opportunities for improving the sustainability of human civilizations that are enabled by IT are significantly greater than these drawbacks. This paper presents the idea of “extended human-centered computing” – that computing should focus on humans not only to satisfy their immediate needs and desires, but also to extend their horizons with regard to environmental sustainability and other broad scale concerns.

10 January 2010

Design for sustainable behaviour (part 1)

Design with Intent Toolkit
Dan Lockton, a Ph.D. researcher at Brunel University (UK), has together with professors David Harrison and Neville Stanton, recently published a range of papers on the topic of design for sustainable behaviour (the list also contains one blog post):

Design for Sustainable Behaviour: investigating design methods for influencing user behaviour
October 2009
This research aims to develop a design tool for product and service innovation which influences users towards more sustainable behaviour, reducing resource use and leading to a lower carbon footprint for everyday activities. The paper briefly explains the reasoning behind the tool and its structure, and presents an example application to water conservation with concept ideas generated by design students.

Choice architecture and design with intent
June 2009
Motivation – Choice architecture (Thaler & Sunstein, 2008) is a phrase of the moment among politicians and economists seeking to influence public behaviour, but the relevance of the concept to designers has received little attention. This paper places choice architecture within the context of Design with Intent—design intended to influence user behaviour. Research approach – The concepts are introduced and choice architecture is deconstructed. Findings/Design – Affordances and Simon’s behavioural model (1955) help understand choice architecture in more detail. Research limitations/Implications – This is only a very brief, limited foray into what choice architecture is. Originality/Value – User behaviour can be a major determinant of product efficiency: user decisions can contribute significantly to environmental impacts. Understanding the reasons behind them, a range of design techniques can be identified to help users towards more efficient interactions. Take away message – The intended outcome is a useful design method for helping users use things more efficiently.

‘Smart meters’: some thoughts from a design point of view
June 2009
Lockton’s response to the three most design-related questions in the smart meter consultation by the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change

Design for behaviour change: The design with intent toolkit v.0.9 [poster]
April 2009
The Design with Intent Toolkit aims to help designers faced with ‘design for behaviour change’ briefs. The poster* features 12 design patterns which recur across design fields (interaction, products, architecture), and there are also 35 more detailed here on the website.
>> See also these blog posts on what is happening with the toolkit: part 1 and part 2

Influencing interaction: Development of the design with intent method
April 2009
Persuasive Technology has the potential to influence user behavior for social benefit, e.g. to reduce environmental impact, but designers are lacking guidance choosing among design techniques for influencing interaction. The Design with Intent Method, a ‘suggestion tool’ addressing this problem, is introduced in this paper, and applied to the briefs of reducing unnecessary household lighting use, and improving the efficiency of printing, primarily to evaluate the method’s usability and guide the direction of its development. The trial demonstrates that the DwI Method is quick to apply and leads to a range of relevant design concepts. With development, the DwI Method could be a useful tool for designers working on influencing user behavior.

Design with intent: Persuasive technology in a wider context
June 2008
Persuasive technology can be considered part of a wider field of ‘Design with Intent’ (DwI) – design intended to result in certain user behaviour. This paper gives a very brief review of approaches to DwI from different disciplines, and looks at how persuasive technology sits within this space.

Making the user more efficient: Design for sustainable behaviour
May 2008
User behaviour is a significant determinant of a product’s environmental impact; while engineering advances permit increased efficiency of product operation, the user’s decisions and habits ultimately have a major effect on the energy or other resources used by the product. There is thus a need to change users’ behaviour. A range of design techniques developed in diverse contexts suggest opportunities for engineers, designers and other stakeholders working in the field of sustainable innovation to affect users’ behaviour at the point of interaction with the product or system, in effect ‘making the user more efficient’. Approaches to changing users’ behaviour from a number of fields are reviewed and discussed, including: strategic design of affordances and behaviour-shaping constraints to control or affect energyor other resource-using interactions; the use of different kinds of feedback and persuasive technology techniques to encourage or guide users to reduce their environmental impact; and context-based systems which use feedback to adjust their behaviour to run at optimum efficiency and reduce the opportunity for user-affected inefficiency. Example implementations in the sustainable engineering and ecodesign field are suggested and discussed.

10 January 2010

The false question of attention economics

/message
A few posts have emerged recently that recapitulate the well-worn arguments of attention scarcity and information overload in the real-time social web, so Stowe Boyd wrote a “short and sweet counter argument from a cognitive science/anthropology angle”.

“The framing of the argument includes the unspoken premise that once upon a time in some hypothetical past attention wasn’t scarce, we didn’t suffer from too much information, and we had all the time in the world to reason about the world, our place in it, and therefore to make wise and grounded decisions.

But my reading of human history suggests the opposite. In the pre-industrial world, business people and governments still suffered from incomplete information, and the pace of life always seemed faster than what had gone on in earlier times. […]

There is no golden past that we have fallen from, and it is unlikely that we are going to hit finite human limits that will stop us from a larger and deeper understanding of the world in the decades ahead, because we are constantly extending culture to help reformulate how we perceive the world and our place in it.”

Read full story

9 January 2010

The Internet is Africa’s “Gutenberg moment”

Muhtar Bakar
Publishing Perspectives reports on a recent panel discussion on the African publishing industry at this year’s African Literature Week (16 – 21 November) in Oslo, Norway.

[Muhtar] Bakare launched Kachifo [an independent literary publishing house in Lagos, Nigeria] in 2004, after a successful career in banking. The business started out publishing an online magazine, Farafina. In a paper he delivered in 2006 at the biennial conference of the African Studies Association of the UK (ASAUK), Bakare commented on the decision to launch online: “It proved to be a useful strategy… Start-up costs were low and we had an immediate global reach. Which would prove useful later on, in commissioning new articles or titles, and in contracting out editorial work.”

Five years later, Bakare is still a confident believer in the power of the internet to revolutionize the African publishing industry. “The internet is our own Gutenberg moment,” he told the Oslo audience. “The internet is going to democratize knowledge in Africa.”

Read full story

(via @jranck)

9 January 2010

Greenpeace guide to greener electronics

E-waste in China
Greenpeace’s Guide to Greener Electronics provides an evaluation of “the 18 top manufacturers of personal computers, mobile phones, TVs and games consoles according to their policies on toxic chemicals, recycling and climate change.”

Here are the scores:

  • 7.3Nokia — Remains in first place with good scores on toxics use reduction, but loses points on energy.
  • 6.9Sony Ericsson — Moves up with top marks on toxics elimination but weak on recycling.
  • 5.3Toshiba — Good score on toxics elimination but needs to meet upcoming phase out commitment by March 2010.
  • 5.3Philips — Loses points for failing to lobby for phase out of hazardous substance in legislation.
  • 5.1Apple — Continues to improve, scoring best on eliminating toxic chemicals and e-waste criteria.
  • 5.1LG Electronics — LG score improves, but is still penalized for postponing date for toxics phase out.
  • 5.1Sony — Maintains overall score with better energy total, but needs to lobby for stronger chemicals legislation.
  • 5.1Motorola — Slightly reduced score, due to lack of lobbying for stronger chemicals legislation.
  • 5.1Samsung — Big drop due to penalty point for failing to meet commitment to phase out hazardous substances.
  • 4.9Panasonic — Score unchanged, strongest on energy but poor on e-waste and recycling.
  • 4.7HP — Improved position thanks to clear support for global emissions reductions, but needs to lobby for improved chemical legislation.
  • 4.5Acer — Score unchanged but Acer is lobbying for stronger chemicals legislation.
  • 4.5Sharp — Loses points due to poor information on toxics elimination and fails to support stronger chemicals legislation.
  • 3.9Dell — Reduced score on energy criteria and penalty point for delaying toxics phase out till 2011.
  • 3.5Fujitsu — Improved score due to support for global carbon emission reductions and cutting its own emissions.
  • 2.5Lenovo — Score unchanged, with penalty point for indefinite delay on toxics phase out.
  • 2.4Microsoft — Reduced score, fails to support strong chemicals legislation.
  • 1.4Nintendo — Nintendo remains in last place with the same score.

Interestingly, Samsung (disclosure: Experientia client) actually dropped substantially, compared with the previous three ratings (September 2009, July 2009 and March 2009), and this despite Samsung’s “Eco-Management 2013” plan (see also here) that establishes a set of goals to make Samsung a leading eco-friendly company by 2013. The plan aims to develop new, environmentally friendly products while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions in their production.

Greenpeace’s argumentation:

Samsung drops down the ranking from 2nd place to joint 7th (tied with Sony and Motorola), as a result of a penalty point imposed for backtracking on its commitment to eliminate brominated flame retardants (BFRs) in new models of all products by January 2010 and PVC by end of 2010. Its new timeline for removing BFRs and PVC in new models of notebooks is 1 January 2011 but there is now no time line for removing these substances in TVs and household appliances. It also loses points for failing to show support for improvements to the revised EU RoHS Directive (Restriction of Hazardous Substances in electronics); specifically, a methodology for further restrictions of hazardous substances, and an immediate ban on BFRs, chlorinated flame retardants (CFRs) and PVC vinyl plastic.

Samsung apparently still has some work to to, but working with the company recently, we know that they can be incredibly quick. So we wouldn’t be surprised to see them move to the top three again in the next survey.

8 January 2010

Irish initiative to help SME’s meet unmet market needs

InterTradeIreland
A new pilot programme from InterTradeIreland is aimed at assisting small and medium-sized firms, initially in the civil security sector, to innovate and meet identified but as yet unmet market needs, using ethnographic research and user-centred design approaches. The Irish Times reports.

“The Innovation Connections Programme takes a strong innovative approach in itself and reverses conventional processes. Instead of helping companies to develop existing products or services or develop new ones that it believes there may be a market for, it begins with identifying what the unmet market needs might be and establishes if there is value in companies seeking to meet them. […]

But there is a lot more to establishing what unmet market needs might be than standard market research. “Understanding user needs is not the same as conducting market research,” says Sadhbh McCarthy [of the Centre for Irish and European Security (CIES) which is collaborating on the project]. “While traditional market research involving focus groups and questionnaires and so on is useful, to test product or service concepts with potential customers, user-centred research is better for determining what needs are not being met with current solutions, identifying what real needs customers and consumers will have in the future and identifying their expectations of solutions to meet those needs.”

[Sean] McNulty [of Innovator, the consultancy operating the programme on behalf of InterTradeIreland]. describes this as ethnographic research. “What we do is find out what the problems are with current solutions,” he says.

“Market research tells us what market need is but it also tells your competitors the same thing. Ethnographic research tells us what the market needs are that are not being met or are unknown at the moment. In many cases the end user isn’t able to tell you what they need because they don’t know it but this form of research is able to identify it.”

If the pilot is successful, the programme will be rolled out progressively to other sectors throughout Ireland.

Read full story

8 January 2010

Experientia article on emerging markets research in Interfaces Magazine

Interfaces
The latest issue of Interfaces Magazine, a quarterly magazine published by Interaction, the specialist HCI group of the British Computer Society (BCS), contains a lengthy article on an emerging market research project Experientia conducted for Vodafone Global. Many, many thanks to Anxo Cereijo-Roibas of Vodafone, and Erin O’Loughlin and Laura Polazzi of Experientia.

Engaging developing markets
Anxo Cereijo-Roibás, Mark Vanderbeeken, Neil Clavin & Jan-Christoph Zoels
Developing markets are one of the fastest growing areas of mobile phone use in the world. Pictures abound online of the intrigu- ing juxtaposition between traditional social practices and latest communications tech- nology – a hennaed Indian hand holding a mobile phone, an Egyptian man engaged in a lively cellular conversation standing near his camel. But in reality, these iconic scenes that say so much about the ubiquity of useful technology provide little information about the people behind the handset – who are they? What does having a phone mean for them? How does it change their daily life and how could we make it even more useful for them?

Make sure to also check these articles:

Ten things you might want to know before building for mobile
Ken Banks & Joel Selanikio
Progress in the social mobile field will come only when we think more about best design practices rather than obsessing over details on the ground. Social mobile tools are those built specifically for use by organisations working for positive social and environmental change, often in the developing world. Over years of creating some of the most widely used mobile appli- cations in the public space, we’ve made a lot of mistakes, and we’ve learned a lot. We think that successful mobile projects – those aimed at developing countries in particular – have a better chance of suc- ceeding if these [ten] points are considered from the outset.

Access all areas – Do we really mean it?
Andy Dearden
Last month I changed my electricity and gas supplier.Working through a web-based sign up form, automated credit refer- ence checking, electronic billing via email, direct-debit banking, and the fact that the gas & electricity will continue to arrive through the same ‘pipes’, I suspect that
I was the only human being involved in actually executing the necessary changes. This reduction in the amount of labour involved, and the availability of the on-line comparison sites that enable what econo- mists might regard as (an approximation of) a ‘perfect market’, mean that I pay less for my household energy than I would oth- erwise. Indeed, I pay less for my household energy than my father and most of the people in his generation.

Download magazine

8 January 2010

A Creative Commons inspired barter market in Turin, Italy

Senza Moneta
Two articles from today’s La Stampa newspaper (translation by Mark Vanderbeeken, Experientia):

Bargains without money
Luca Indemni – Fabrizio Vespa

“Leave your wallet at home” – that could be the slogan of the Gifts Without Money (“Regali Senza Moneta”) initiative organised by the ManaMana’ association in collaboration with the local San Salvario development agency and about fifteen other local associations. It will all take place this Sunday from 10am to 6pm in Piazza Madama Cristina, Turin, Italy.

Even though there are now a huge number of ideas on how to best face the economic crisis, this initiative is of another level altogether, as the event goes beyond the narrow idea of barter and promotes the concept of a real exchange. Scheduled immediately after the Christmas holidays, the initiative provides people with an opportunity to free themselves of less wanted gifts, bringing them to the market and putting them back in circulation. “Our market is not a real market,” explains Filippo Dionisio, President of ManaMana’ – in the sense that money is banned. We want to go beyond the commercial concept of barter, which is often seen as a precursor to money, and to affirm instead the value of exchange, where such exchange can also be immaterial and cover connections and relationships between people.” That’s why the “SenzaMoneta” event should be seen first of all as a meeting between people, where goods, products and also knowledge can be exchanged without any money passing hands, thereby also limiting any possible waste.

How does it work – Those wanting to particpate in the event have to bring something that can be exchanged, which can also include a skill or a knowledge service. Stalls are available and these can be booked by sending a mail to senzamoneta(at)manamana.it. “During recent SenzaMoneta events that we organised in the city,” continues Donisie, “we have seen some really fun things: dinner invitations in exchange for objects, or a live one-hour long music performance in exchange for a one hour plumber intervention. The whole idea is to go beyond the idea of the financial value of things, but rather exchange them with whatever our free immagination can come up with.”

Objects and services – On the covered Madama Cristina market, you can also find a range of services, such as the Bicycle Office, where you can get small bike repairs done, an initiative devoted to the recycling and reuse of PC’s, a special exchange zone for children, a Creative Commons based music exchange, as well as stalls with zero-kilometre food such as polenta and hot wine. “Our objective,” concludes the event organiser, “is to provide more space to people’s time and to demonstrate that one can do many things without adhering to a logic of ‘consumption at all costs’ and without thinking about money.” More information on www.manamana.it

A show room to recycle unwanted gifts

Exchange, barter and ‘do-it-yourself’ make you save money, but not just that. “When you are in a situation where you can’t use money,” explains Daniela Calisi of the ManaMana’ association, “you have to put yourself at stake, relate to the other and create a connection with him or her.” Therefore, the exchange is both an invitation to more enlightened consumption, but also a social opportunity to create connections with other city inhabitants. That’s at least the idea behind the SenzaMoneta markets that ManaMana organises every 3-4 months in the city.

During the remainder of the year, the no-cost supporters can also find tools online for exchange and barter.

Interesting proposals and offers can be found on www.bakeca.it, in the section “varie-regali-baratto” (“various gifts and barter”), or one can become a member of the group Freecycle, a platform dedicated to all those who prefer to recycle an object, rather than throw it away. These sites cover everything, from a piano seat to an old door, as long as they are in good condition. Be aware though that all things on offer on the Freecycle site are available for free.

Other interesting solutions, mostly connected to clothing exchange, are the so-called “swapping parties”, which are not just about meeting people and having fun, but also about exchanging and bartering clothes and accessories, events that often taken place when the seasons are about to change. So if you want to completely redo your wardrobe without spending money, the only thing you have to do is organise such a party, as Anna and Genny Colombotto Rosso have been doing for some time now in Turin. You can find valuable suggestions on the greenMe site under “consumare” and “riciclo e riuso”.

The swapping parties tend to be organised by and for women, without garments for men, even though these could provide some interesing gift ideas. Often the parties come with a small buffet that – always in the same spirit – are based on people bringing some food from their homes. What is crucial is that participants bring along some cleanly washed clothing in good condition. Also important is to have a space in the party home where the clothing can be shown, possibly organised by size, so that active participation is guaranteed. Finally, to create a smooth process, it is good to have some kind of rule on who can start. Once the garment has been fitted and chosen, it is removed from the “show room”. Whatever is not exchanged at the end of the party, is donated to a used clothing outlet or a non profit organisation, such as the San Vincenzo of Via Nizza, where they can make good use of such garments and assure their longer life.

And for those who can’t wait for the next swapping party, there is always the Internet. Check swapstyle and barattopoli.

7 January 2010

Mobile experts on 2020 trends

Mobile trends 2020
Rudy De Waele, co-founder of dotopen, invited a number of mobile experts — including Howard Rheingold, Douglas Rushkoff, Katrin Verclas, Willem Boijens, Fabien Girardin, Timo Arnal and Nicolas Nova — to write down their five most significant trends for the coming decade.

Read full story


7 January 2010

Kenya: Taking money out of banks’ hands – with cellphones

mPESA
Since cellphones became widely used in Kenya five years ago, they’ve become the bank card du jour. The Christian Science Monitor reports.

“[In Kenya] with a mobile phone, one can pay electricity and water bills, pay for goods at the supermarket, buy airline or bus tickets, withdraw money from an ATM, monitor stocks, and even check bank account balances. […]

While ordinary Kenyans are quite happy about the hassles the service has spared them, such as long lines, local banks are not amused. […]

Safaricom recently extended M-PESA services to Britain, allowing Kenyans there to send money to relatives back home. Plans are said to be under way to take it to the United States, too.”

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7 January 2010

In praise of design-hacking

Windmill hack
The Design & Society group within the UK’s Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) has published a pamphlet by Scott Burnham, entitled “Finding the truth in systems: in praise of design-hacking”.

In this pamphlet, writer Scott Burnham traces the phenomenon of hacking from one originally associated with audacious breaches of private electronic systems, through to one which increasingly invokes a broader range of stunts and sabotages of convention and asks: is design-hacking merely another post-modern phase in the history of design, or does it reveal a civic ingenuity and resourcefulness that decades of industrially-fed consumerism has masked?

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7 January 2010

How the mobile Internet could change everything

Mobile in Iran
The ubiquity of mobile phones and the growth of the internet will converge in the next decade. Luke Allnutt of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty thinks this is good news for the developing world.

“While the defining technological shifts of the 2000s were the ubiquity of mobile phones and the growth of the Internet, in the next decade these two trends will converge: the rise and rise of the mobile Internet. It is a shift that will present great opportunities for prosperity and democratization, but also grave possibilities for tyrants and extremists.”

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7 January 2010

Will the new mobile era change the world for the better? MIT says “yes”

New mobile era
At MIT teams of the Media Lab’s Next Billion Network – our next generation of tech movers and shakers – are exploring new ways to harness the increasingly ubiquitous cellphone to help people in developing nations to raise their incomes, learn to read, get where they’re going, and diagnose their health. Casey Kazan of The Daily Galaxy reports.

“Improving the delivery of health care in rural areas has been one major focus of these research efforts. Patients in a remote village, for example, now may have to spend a whole day or more traveling to the nearest clinic in order to be tested, diagnosed and receive treatment or a prescription drug for their health problems. But a new open-source software system developed by students who formed a nonprofit company called Moca could provide a faster way.

Using a menu of questions downloaded to a cellphone – and, if necessary, a picture taken with the phone’s built in camera – a patient can transmit enough information to a doctor or nurse in a remote location to get a preliminary diagnosis, and to find out whether the condition warrants a trip to the clinic or not. “

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