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Putting People First

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April 2010
11 April 2010

Your life in 2020

2020
Forbes Magazine, in collaboration with Frog Design, has been looking at what the future in 2020 might look like in a range of areas: computer, choice, classroom, commute, home, job, diet, health and reputation.

Some articles are clearly more inspired (and less technology and US-centered) than others. Many scenarios are far too optimistic, and I miss some broader socio-economic and environmental analysis. What could be the real consequences of privacy concerns, crime, cultural differences, war, climate change, overpopulation or poverty in all this?

Here is for instance a quote from one of the scenarios (about social networking in 2020) that, when thinking about it, would open up a huge range of privacy and security problems, none of which are acknowledged or addressed:

“The virtual display could be used to illustrate relationships between a group of people. A husband and wife might be linked by a thin glowing tether. Flowchart arrows could indicate if one person is another’s boss. Even former friends–people who were once connected but severed ties–could be identified with broken chains or angry lightning bolts.”

This lack of broader contextualisation makes the whole exercise somewhat naive and superficial. That said, here are my preferred pieces (with Steve McCallion’s one – addressing some of the issues mentioned above – my personal number one):

Your life in 2020
by John Maeda, president of RISD
In 2020 we might just regain some of the humanity that was lost in 2010.

“So, what will take technology’s place? It begins with art, design and you: Products and culture that are made by many individuals, made by hand, made well, made by people we trust, and made to capture some of the nuances and imperfections that we treasure in the physical world. It may just feel like we’ve regained some of what we’ve lost in 2010.”

Your computer in 2020
by Mark Rolston, chief creative officer at Frog Design
Traditional computers are disappearing; human beings themselves are becoming information augmented

“When computing becomes deeply integrated into our knowing, our thinking, our decision processes, our bodies and even our consciousness, we are forever changed. We are becoming augmented. Our first and second lives will be forever entwined.”

Transportation in 2020
by Steve McCallion, executive creative director at Ziba Design
In 10 years, your commute will be short, cheap and, dare we say, fun.

“In 2020 a new generation will emerge from a period of frugality into one of resourcefulness and resilience. Americans will start searching for transportation solutions that are smarter, healthier, slower and more social.”

The classroom in 2020
by George Kembel, cofounder and executive director of Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design
The next decade will bring an end to school as we know it.

“In 2020 we will see an end to the classroom as we know it. The lone professor will be replaced by a team of coaches from vastly different fields. Tidy lectures will be supplanted by messy real-world challenges. Instead of parking themselves in a lecture hall for hours, students will work in collaborative spaces, where future doctors, lawyers, business leaders, engineers, journalists and artists learn to integrate their different approaches to problem solving and innovate together.”

Reputation in 2020
by David Ewait, Fortune Magazine
Social networks change the way we look at the world and introduce new economic incentives.

“Web-based social networks are cutting-edge technology in 2010. By the year 2020 they’ll be so commonplace–and so deeply embedded in our lives–that we’ll navigate them in the real world, in real time, using displays that splash details over our own field of vision. We’ll even use the social capital that results from these networks as a form of currency.”

But if you understand French, it is useful to compare these insights with the five videos broadcast on the France 5 channel: vivre en 2040.

11 April 2010

Designing navigation systems for developing communities

Raaya Design
How do people in developing communities give and take directions? The people from Raaya Design report.

“During some research in these communities in India and Peru we gathered some interesting insights around how people give and take directions. Most people rely on word-of-mouth direction and recommendations. People in villages and small towns practice a herd mentality and prefer to use suppliers, places of worship, entertainment hubs and means of transportation to get to these places – recommended by friends and family. Many users remember directions and landmarks with reference to people who first acquainted them with it.

How can navigation systems adapt to best practices of these communities and align technology with current user experiences?”

Read article

(via Nokia’s Ideas Project)

11 April 2010

Toolkit for influencing behaviour through design

Design with Intent toolkit
UK researcher Dan Lockton announces that his new Design with Intent toolkit is ready:

Officially titled Design with Intent: 101 Patterns for Influencing Behaviour Through Design, it’s in the form of 101 simple cards, each illustrating a particular ‘gambit‘ for influencing people’s interactions with products, services, environments, and each other, via the design of systems. They’re loosely grouped according to eight ‘lenses‘ bringing different disciplinary perspectives on behaviour change.

The intention is that the cards (download them here) are useful at the idea generation stage of the design process, helping designers, clients and – perhaps most importantly – potential users themselves explore behaviour change concepts from a number of disciplines, and think about how they might relate to the problem at hand. Judging by the impact of earlier iterations, the cards could also be useful in stakeholder workshops, and design / technology / computer science education.

11 April 2010

The triumph of the ordinary cellphone

Ghana girl calling
What if, globally speaking, the iPad is not the next big thing? What if the next big thing is small, cheap and not American? A good reflection by Anand Giridharadas in the New York Times.

“Forgotten in the American tumult is a global flowering of innovation on the simple cellphone. From Brazil to India to South Korea and even Afghanistan, people are seeking work via text message; borrowing and lending money and receiving salaries on cellphones; employing their phones variously as flashlights, televisions and radios. [...]

Not for the first time, the United States and much of the world are moving in different ways. American innovators, building for an ever-expanding bandwidth network, are heading toward fancier, costlier, more network-hungry and status-giving devices; meanwhile, their counterparts in developing nations are innovating to find ever more uses for cheap, basic cellphones.”

Read article

6 April 2010

€60m low carbon building project in Helsinki

Low2No launch
Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund and development partners, SRV and VVO today announce a €60m investment for a low carbon housing and commercial building complex in Helsinki.

Work on the development will begin immediately, with completion scheduled for the end of 2012. Through the project, Sitra aims to generate research and evidence that will inform the policy, innovation and practices that will drive future low – and no – carbon development in the built environment.

The announcement follows Sitra’s Low2No competition that challenged five teams shortlisted from an initial 75 to design a building complex for Jätkäsaari, a reclaimed goods harbour to the west of central Helsinki.

The competition was won in September 2009 by an international team led by global design, engineering and planning firm, Arup, providing engineering and sustainability services. The team also includes Berlin-based Sauerbruch Hutton as lead architects and consumer behaviour-change strategists Experientia from Italy.

The building complex covers 22,000 square metres and will provide new residences, office and retail space. Emissions will be reduced through building design and performance, mobility systems and food production. The competition-winning design for the development centred on four objectives:

  • Building energy efficiency – better performing buildings will be designed, with an appropriate mix of end-uses and through the intelligent planning of the spaces between them. Energy demand management tools and techniques such as smart meters and behavioural change prompts will encourage residents to contribute reduce energy consumption.
     
  • Use of sustainable materials and methods – sustainably-sourced timber and materials which have a lower impact on the environment (in terms of toxicity and embodied carbon) will be used.
     
  • Encouraging the community to meet sustainability goals – by increasing their awareness and understanding of the impact of their energy and transport usage, food and consumer goods consumption.
     
  • Develop replicable and scalable solutions that can be adopted more broadly in transforming the built environment to low – and eventually – no carbon emissions. These objectives will be met by coupling solutions with an increased shift towards renewable energy production and new sustainable funding mechanisms.

“Finland has committed to reducing its CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050. With this project Sitra encourages cities and the real estate and building industry to tackle these ambitious goals in their projects. Sustainability is more than just energy efficiency. We seek new solutions for improving energy efficiency, new content for defining and understanding sustainability in building, as well as social innovations,” says Jukka Noponen, Executive Director of Sitra’s Energy Programme.

”Low2No City Block in Jätkäsaari is an important step towards sustainable development. The new marine districts, reclaimed harbour areas offer possibilities for a wide introduction of new solutions, says Deputy Mayor Hannu Penttilä who is responsible for urban planning at the City of Helsinki.

”SRV aims at differentiating as a forerunner in sustainable construction. Low2No is an excellent example of our long-term commitment and efforts. The project team contains top experts both internationally and from Finland. This is well in line with our SRV Approach, which allows us to always seek the best partners for each project, comments Timo Nieminen, Senior Executive Vice President and Deputy CEO of SRV Group.

“VVO Group has been persistent in pursuing the goals set for energy saving in existing building stock and new buildings. This development project in Jätkäsaari builds straightforward on our consistent work on this and will help in keeping VVO ahead in the forefront of this transition. The site location is excellent, offering us an opportunity to build cost-efficient rental apartments, subsidised by the state, in the vicinity of the city centre – and near the sea”, states Esa Kankainen, Project Development Manager at VVO.

“Defining implementable and replicable sustainable solutions is one of the great challenges of our times. We are thrilled that the transitional strategy defined by the Low2No vision has found an implementation framework to carry it into the world. Guided by a strong sense of a common mission the design and development team’s partnership is a real accomplishment. It is now our obligation to deliver on the promise we have captured, and this opportunity excites and motivates all of us to transform the notion of “business as usual” “, comments Marco Steinberg, Director of Strategic Design at Sitra.

“In 1990, Finland became the first country in the world to establish a carbon tax. This ambitious project provides us with a unique opportunity to show how urban design can influence inhabitants to live more sustainably, in balance with the environment. Our design approach will allow the community to become carbon negative within 10 years, providing decision makers, developers and planners across the world with an example of how future environmental challenges can be met”, comments Alejandro Gutierrez, consortium manager at Arup.

“Sustainable developments need a holistic approach within which architecture will play a leading part. As sustainable buildings are dependent upon the cooperation of their users to develop their full potential, they will need to seduce their inhabitants into a proactive role through the pleasure of space, light and material that they offer”, says Matthias Sauerbruch at Sauerbruch Hutton.

“People, their contexts, social networks, habits and beliefs are crucial tools for creating sustainable change in behaviour. We will therefore offer people ways to control their consumption and see the affects of their actions on the environment”, comments Jan-Christoph Zoels, project lead at Experientia.

 

MORE INFORMATION

For more information, please contact Experientia at +39 011 812 9687 or via email at info at experientia dot com.

 

NOTE TO EDITORS

Arup
Arup is the creative force behind many of the world’s prominent building, infrastructure and industrial projects. We offer a broad range of professional services that combine to make a positive difference to our clients and the communities in which we work.
We are truly global. From 90 offices in 35 countries our planners, designers, engineers and consultants deliver work across the world with flair and enthusiasm.
Founded in 1946 with an enduring set of values, our unique trust ownership fosters a distinctive culture, an intellectual independence and encourages truly collaborative working. This is reflected in everything we do, allowing us to contribute meaningful ideas, help shape agendas, and deliver results that frequently surpass the expectations of our clients.
We passionately strive to find a better way, to imagine and shape ideas and to deliver better solutions for our clients.
www.arup.com

Experientia
Experientia is an international experience design consultancy helping companies and organisations to innovate their products, services and processes by putting people and their experiences first. To design valuable user experiences, companies have to understand how users really live their lives, now and in the future, and to design new products and services that address these insights. Experientia’s approach is based on a thorough integration of a deep user and context understanding into its design and prototyping activities.
Experientia’s client roster features Italian and international clients, such as Alcatel-Lucent, Condé Nast, CVS Pharmacy, Ferrero, Fidelity International, Intesa SanPaolo bank, Kodak, Max Mara, Microsoft, Nokia, Research in Motion, Samsung, Swisscom, Tre Spade and Vodafone, as well as public institutions such as the Region of Piedmont, Italy and the Province of Limburg, Belgium.
www.experientia.com

Sauerbruch Hutton
Sauerbruch Hutton is a Berlin-based architectural practice with projects throughout Europe. The 80-strong practice was founded by Louisa Hutton and Matthias Sauerbruch in 1989. Their ability to combine architecture, urbanism and design with a culturally informed outlook on sustainability has been internationally recognised. Last year, Sauerbruch Hutton completed the Brandhorst Museum in Munich – a building that is exemplary of the architects’ insight into materiality, colour, innovative detailing and a contemporary approach to design that is both distinctive and timeless.
www.sauerbruchhutton.de

Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund
Competitiveness and well-being today require broad and far-reaching changes. Sitra gathers information about the future and enables necessary reforms together with a wide range of actors. The programmes and strategy processes of Sitra are designed to meet the challenges Finland is facing. Sitra is an independent public foundation, whose mission is to build successful Finland for tomorrow.
www.sitra.fi/en

SRV Group
SRV is an innovative construction company that provides end-to-end solutions and assumes customer-focused responsibility for the development, construction and commercialisation of projects. SRV operates in Finland in Helsinki Metropolitan Area, Turku, Tampere, Oulu, Jyväskylä, Lappeenranta, and Joensuu. SRV also operates in Russia and in the Baltic countries.
www.srv.fi/home

VVO
VVO is a publicly-listed company providing housing services. From VVO, you can rent an apartment, acquire right-of-occupancy or part-ownership housing or buy a dwelling outright. VVO develops, markets and manages its own dwellings. VVO has about 39,000 rental dwellings in about 50 different municipalities.
www.vvo.fi/en

6 April 2010

The Middle of Moore’s Law

Smart Things
Mike Kuniavsky has posted a pre-print draft of the first chapter of his new book Smart Things: Ubiquitous Computing User Experience Design (see also this earlier post).

The final book, he says, will be different and this is no substitute for it, but it’s a taste of what the book is about.

Read part 1 | part 2 | part 3 | part 4

6 April 2010

Natural user interfaces are not natural

Donald Norman
In his bimonthly column in the ACM CHI magazine, Interactions, Donald Norman argues that most gestures are neither natural nor easy to learn or remember.

“Gestures lack critical clues deemed essential for successful human-computer interaction. Because gestures are ephemeral, they do not leave behind any record of their path, which means that if one makes a gesture and either gets no response or the wrong response, there is little information available to help understand why. The requisite feedback is lacking. Moreover, a pure gestural system makes it difficult to discover the set of possibilities and the precise dynamics of execution. These problems can be overcome, of course, but only by adding conventional interface elements, such as menus, help systems, traces, tutorials, undo operations, and other forms of feedback and guides.” [...]

“Gestural systems are no different from any other form of interaction. They need to follow the basic rules of interaction design, which means well-defined modes of expression, a clear conceptual model of the way they interact with the system, their consequences, and means of navigating unintended consequences. As a result, means of providing feedback, explicit hints as to possible actions, and guides for how they are to be conducted are required.”

Read article

2 April 2010

The impact of the Internet on institutions in the future

Imagining the Internet
The latest Pew Research Center Internet & American Life Project report is out: “The Impact of the Internet on Institutions in the Future” surveys 895 tech experts on the way that technology will change institutions (government, business, nonprofits, schools) in the next ten years.

Technology experts and stakeholders say the internet will drive more change in businesses and government agencies by 2020, making them more responsive and efficient. But there are powerful bureaucratic forces that will push back against such transformation and probably draw out the timeline. Expect continuing tension in disruptive times.

Respondents included Clay Shirky, Esther Dyson, Doc Searls, Nicholas Carr, Susan Crawford, David Clark, Jamais Cascio, Peter Norvig, Craig Newmark, Hal Varian, Howard Rheingold, Andreas Kluth, Jeff Jarvis, Andy Oram, Kevin Werbach, David Sifry, Dan Gillmor, Marc Rotenberg, Stowe Boyd, John Pike, Andrew Nachison, Anthony Townsend, Ethan Zuckerman, Tom Wolzien, Stephen Downes, Rebecca MacKinnon, Jim Warren, Sandra Brahman, Barry Wellman, Seth Finkelstein, Jerry Berman, Tiffany Shlain, and Stewart Baker.

Consult survey

2 April 2010

Mobilizing markets

Innovations
The Winter 2009 issue of MIT’s Innovations Journal is focused on “Mobilizing Markets.” All contents are available online.

Prerequisite to Prosperity
Why Africa’s Future Depends on Better Governance
by Mohamed (Mo) Ibrahim

Harnessing the Mobile Revolution
by Thomas Kalil

Phone vs. Laptop: Which Is a More Effective Tool for Development?
by Iqbal Quadir and Nicholas Negroponte

Connecting a Nation
Roshan Brings Communications Services to Afghanistan
by Karim Khoja

From Operations to Applications
Advancing Innovation in Mobile Services (Innovations Case Discussion: Roshan)
by Al Hammond, Loretta Michaels

CellBazaar: A Market in Your Pocket
by Kamal Quadir, Naeem Mohaiemen

Can CellBazaar Survive without an Urban Marketvand Fulfill Its Development Potential?
(Innovations Case Discussion: CellBazaar)
by Kim Wilson

Mobilizing Money through Enabling Regulation
by David Porteous

Blurring Livelihoods and Lives
The Social Uses of Mobile Phones and Socioeconomic Development
by Jonathan Donner

The Case for mHealth in Developing Countries
by Patricia N. Mechael

A Doctor in Your Pocket
Health Hotlines in Developing Countries
by Gautam Ivatury, Jesse Moore, Alison Bloch

Large Companies, ICTs, and Economic Opportunity
by William J. Kramer, Beth Jenkins, Rob Katz

Download the entire journal

2 April 2010

Mobile-based livelihood services in Africa

Mobile-based livelihood services in Africa
“Mobile-based livelihood services in Africa: pilots and early deployments” is a new paper by Jonathan Donner, a researcher in the Technology for Emerging Markets Group at Microsoft Research India,

The paper describes a collection of initiatives delivering support via mobile phones to small enterprises, small farms, and the self-employed. Using a review of 26 examples of such services currently operational in Africa, the analysis identifies five functions of mobile livelihood services: Mediated Agricultural Extension, Market Information, Virtual Marketplaces, Financial Services, and Direct Livelihood Support. It discusses the current reliance of such systems on the SMS channel, and considers their role in supporting vs. transforming existing market structures.

It was published in Communication technologies in Latin America and Africa: A multidisciplinary perspective (pp. 37-58), edited by Mireia Fernández-Ardèvol and Adela Ros.

Download chapter (all other papers are also online)

There is a also a youtube video of Donner’s paper presentation at the original conference in Barceona.

2 April 2010

Co-creation: not just another focus group

Twist
To launch Twist, a new men’s fragrance in its global Axe brand, Unilever turned to a preapproved crowd of eager young amateurs for help. Venessa Wong reports in Business Week.

“In July 2008, Unilever executives convened 16 regular young men and women from around the world at a meeting in New York. Why? To tap them for ideas for a new global fragrance for Axe, a brand of men’s body spray, antiperspirant, and shower gel. The company had previously experimented with consumer-driven product development for local launches, but never for one on such a large scale.”

Read article

> Related article

1 April 2010

Jan Chipchase (Nokia) guest blogging for CGAP

Ahmedabad
The title might be a bit cryptic for some readers, but Jan Chipchase is a well-known user researcher/anthropologist at Nokia. He spent a decade exploring the intersection of technology, people and culture for Nokia, and specializes in turning insights into opportunities.

CGAP is an independent policy and research center dedicated to advancing financial access for the world’s poor, housed at the World Bank.

His first post, which obviously deals with the topic of mobile banking in emerging markets, is just an introduction, but we will surely follow his contributions.