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June 2010
15 June 2010

Improving patient safety by user-driven design

PSIP
In his talk “‘Improving patient safety by user-driven design of decision support” at the IIT Institute of Design, Christian Nøhr of Aalborg University described the ethnographic and participatory work conducted with doctors, nurses and patients in Denmark, as part of the PSIP European research project.

Christian Nøhr presents the participatory design games approach for Patient Safety through Intelligent Procedures (PSIP), a 5-country European Union project including Denmark. In this technology R & D project, the Danish team created video-ethnography documentation of interactions between doctors, nurses and patients regarding medication prescriptions and medication taking. Video clips were then used as material in design process in participatory workshops for rapid prototyping to support ‘collective intelligence’ for design of support for the complexity of medical work practices.

Christian Nøhr, M.Sc. Ph.D. Professor of health informatics and technology assessment at Department of Development and Planning, Aalborg University, Denmark. Director of he Virtual Centre for Health Informatics (V-CHI). Christian has worked with health care informatics for more than 25 years. His main research field is technology assessment and evaluation studies, organizational change, design and implementation of information systems in health care. He has been project manager of several national research projects, and participated in a number of European projects. He is currently a member of the E-health Observatory – an ongoing project, which monitors the development and implementation process of E-Health systems in Denmark.

Watch video [69:49]

14 June 2010

UX leadership

UX leadership
Will Evans (Director, Experience Design for Semantic Foundry) and Daniel Szuc (Principal Usability Consultant at Apogee) have created UX Leadership, a new publication and forum to discuss leadership in the context of the UX community, and “to start a user experience revolution”.

Their vision:

“We believe that the world faces great challenges: lack of information access; health care; sustainability and global poverty. User experience professionals practicing the disciplines of information architecture, interaction design, usability analysis and accessibility, are positioned to face these great challenges.

At its best, user experience design involves more than form and content and behavior, crafted in a meaningful context that leaves an impact over time. The highest aspirations of our profession will only be achieved when leadership and excellence are joined. Our profession as a whole must demonstrate the understanding and perspectives that can only come from the intertwingling of many different backgrounds, cultures and experiences.”

(via Konigi)

14 June 2010

Some CHI papers that we like

CHI 2010
Here are some of the CHI 2010 papers we like:

On cross-cultural HCI

Postcolonial computing: a lens on design and development
Lilly Irani, Janet Vertesi and Paul Dourish, Department of Informatics, University of California, Irvine;
Kavita Philip, Department of Women’s Studies, University of California, Irvine;
Rebecca E. Grinter, GVU Center and School of Interactive Computing College of Computing Georgia Institute of Technology

As our technologies travel to new cultural contexts and our designs and methods engage new constituencies, both our design and analytical practices face significant challenges. We offer postcolonial computing as an analytical orientation to better understand these challenges. This analytic orientation inspires four key shifts in our approach to HCI4D efforts: generative models of culture, development as a historical program, uneven economic relations, and cultural epistemologies. Then, through reconsideration of the practices of engagement, articulation and translation in other contexts, we offer designers and researchers ways of understanding use and design practice to respond to global connectivity and movement.

After access – challenges facing mobile-only Internet users in the developing world
Shikoh Gitau, Gary Marsden, Hasso Plattner ICT4D Research School, University of Cape Town, South Africa;
Jonathan Donner, Microsoft Research India

This study reports results of an ethnographic action research study, exploring mobile-centric internet use. Over the course of 13 weeks, eight women, each a member of a livelihoods collective in urban Cape Town, South Africa, received training to make use of the data (internet) features on the phones they already owned. None of the women had previous exposure to PCs or the internet. Activities focused on social networking, entertainment, information search, and, in particular, job searches. Results of the exercise reveal both the promise of, and barriers to, mobile internet use by a potentially large community of first-time, mobile-centric users. Discussion focuses on the importance of self-expression and identity management in the refinement of online and offline presences, and considers these forces relative to issues of gender and socioeconomic status.

On micro-blogging and social networking

Tune in, tweet on, twit out: information snacking on Twitter
Elizabeth Churchill of the Internet Experiences Group of Yahoo! Research;
Andrew L. Brooks of the School of Information University of California, Berkeley

Microblogging via services such as Twitter is changing the way we share and access information. We report findings from three studies that explored everyday information seeking and sharing activities: local news consumption, shopping, and recommendation making by concierges in the hotel industry. Although our focus was not Twitter per se, the service is increasingly seen as having value for solving specific situational information needs. Through examples we illustrate how Twitter has evolved from a service for sharing personal status messages to being used as a source for pursuing one-off, disposable information requests.

Media, conversations, and shadows
David A. Shamma, Lyndon Kennedy, and Elizabeth F. Churchill of the Internet Experiences Group of Yahoo! Research

This article proposes that microblogged messages that relate to a live event can be examined as indirect annotation on a media object that might not exist. From a collection of Twitter posts around two political events, we have begun to discover techniques for identifying how microblog posts relate to the matching media event. Further, we identify the relationship between the media event itself and the conversational shadow cast from the online community.

Sensemaking with tweeting: exploiting microblogging for knowledge workers
Bongwon Suh, Lichan Hong, Gregorio Convertino, Ed H. Chi, Palo Alto Research Center;
Michael Bernstein, MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory

Just because the rules surrounding microblogging services are simple does not mean that tools support for them should be simple too. Microblogging generates volumes of interesting social content, but there is a lack of frameworks and tools that allow us to exploit such information and enhance knowledge workers’ sensemaking. Beyond adoption, we believe that new promising research directions on microblogging include designing and evaluating tools that extract and exploit social information. In this paper, we discuss a number of ways to exploit microblogging in support of two recurrent sensemaking tasks: (1) when a user is seeking information (information foraging and active exploration) and (2) when information is delivered to the user (awareness and passive monitoring).

What do people ask their social networks, and why? A survey study of status message Q&A behavior
Meredith Ringel Morris, Microsoft Research Redmond;
Jaime Teevan, Microsoft Research Redmond;
Katrina Panovich, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

People often turn to their friends, families, and colleagues when they have questions. The recent, rapid rise of online social networking tools has made doing this on a large scale easy and efficient. In this paper we explore the phenomenon of using social network status messages to ask questions. We conducted a survey of 624 people, asking them to share the questions they have asked and answered of their online social networks. We present detailed data on the frequency of this type of question asking, the types of questions asked, and respondents’ motivations for asking their social networks rather than using more traditional search tools like Web search engines. We report on the perceived speed and quality of the answers received, as well as what motivates people to respond to questions seen in their friends‟ status messages. We then discuss the implications of our findings for the design of next-generation search tools.

On energy use

Home, habits, and energy: examining domestic interactions and energy consumption
James Pierce, Computer Science Laboratory Palo Alto Research Center and HCI Institute Carnegie Mellon University;
Diane J. Schiano, Computer Science Laboratory Palo Alto Research Center and SAMA Group Yahoo!, Inc.;
Eric Paulos, HCI Institute Carnegie Mellon University

This paper presents findings from a qualitative study of people’s everyday interactions with energy-consuming products and systems in the home. Initial results from a large online survey are also considered. This research focuses not only on “conservation behavior” but importantly investigates interactions with technology that may be characterized as “normal consumption” or “over-consumption.” A novel vocabulary for analyzing and designing energy-conserving interactions is proposed based on our findings, including: cutting, trimming, switching, upgrading, and shifting. Using the proposed vocabulary, and informed by theoretical developments from various literatures, this paper demonstrates ways in which everyday interactions with technology in the home are performed without conscious consideration of energy consumption but rather are unconscious, habitual, and irrational. Implications for the design of energy-conserving interactions with technology and broader challenges for HCI research are proposed.

Studying always-on electricity feedback in the home
Yann Riche, Riche Design Seattle;
Jonathan Dodge and Ronald A. Metoyer, Oregon State University, School of EECS

The recent emphasis on sustainability has made consumers more aware of their responsibility for saving resources, in particular, electricity. Consumers can better understand how to save electricity by gaining awareness of their consumption beyond the typical monthly bill. We conducted a study to understand consumers’ awareness of energy consumption in the home and to determine their requirements for an interactive, always-on interface for exploring data to gain awareness of home energy consumption. In this paper, we describe a three-stage approach to supporting electricity conservation routines: raise awareness, inform complex changes, and maintain sustainable routines. We then present the findings from our study to support design implications for energy consumption feedback interfaces.

The design of eco-feedback technology
Jon Froehlich and James Landay, Computer Science and Engineering, DUB Institute, University of Washington;
Leah Findlater, The Information School, DUB Institute, University of Washington

Eco-feedback technology provides feedback on individual or group behaviors with a goal of reducing environmental impact. The history of eco-feedback extends back more than 40 years to the origins of environmental psychology. Despite its stated purpose, few HCI eco-feedback studies have attempted to measure behavior change. This leads to two overarching questions: (1) what can HCI learn from environmental psychology and (2) what role should HCI have in designing and evaluating eco-feedback technology? To help answer these questions, this paper conducts a comparative survey of eco-feedback technology, including 89 papers from environmental psychology and 44 papers from the HCI and UbiComp literature. We also provide an overview of predominant models of proenvironmental behaviors and a summary of key motivation techniques to promote this behavior.

14 June 2010

Engineering a brighter future

Loops
Alice Rawsthorn, design critic of The New York Times, reports on Loops, an experimental project created by Participle, the British social design group, that aims to help young people to become more confident, ambitious and resourceful.

“[Hilary] Cottam [, co-founder of Participle,] and her colleagues are at the forefront of the increasingly influential discipline of social design, whereby designers collaborate with specialists from other fields, like ethnographers, psychologists and anthropologists, to try to develop more efficient, inspiring and cost-effective ways of dealing with social problems.

Rather than using design to produce visible things, such as objects or images, social designers apply the principles of design thinking to address social, political and humanitarian crises. They also use their instinctive flair for identifying the causes of problems and inventing ingenious ways of solving them, as well as their ability to “sell” those solutions clearly and persuasively.”

Read article

13 June 2010

Book: Screen Future

Screen Future
Screen Future
The Future of Entertainment, Computing, and the Devices We Love
By Brian David Johnson

June 30th 2010 will see the publication of the book, Screen Future: The Future of Entertainment, Computing and the Devices We Love, by Brian David Johnson, customer experience architect at Intel.

Screen Future is a technical book about people, technology, and the economics that are shaping and the evolution of entertainment. Blending social and computer sciences, the book provides a vision for what happens after convergence and what we need to do to get there.

Screen Future explores the big unanswered questions: What do consumers really want? What are the real world implications for bringing about the future of TV across multiple platforms? As the experience of watching television permeates all of consumer electronics devices how will it be delivered and paid for? Pulling from global consumer research, Screen Future explores in concrete terms what real people actually want from the future of TVs and how the entertainment and technology industries might bring this vision to market in ways that work for all involved.

- Table of contents (pdf)
- Blog post by the author
- Book review on Dealerscope

13 June 2010

William J. Mitchell (MIT) passed away

William J. Mitchell
BoingBoing reports that Professor William J. Mitchell, pioneer of urban computing, has passed away.

Professor William J. Mitchell, director of MIT’s Design Laboratory and pioneering Smart Cities research group, died yesterday after a battle with cancer. Professor Mitchell was a brilliant and big thinker who wrote a series of seminal books, including Me++, City of Bits, and e-topia, about the intersection of humanity, networked intelligence, and the built environment. “Bill was a designer’s designer and visionary about the impact of new media on human experience,” says professor Ken Goldberg, director of UC Berkeley’s Center for New Media, to which Mitchell was an advisor. “He was incredibly prolific and will leave a lasting impact on generations of designers and thinkers.”

Read MIT News obituary

12 June 2010

Closing the digital frontier

The digital frontier
The era of the Web browser’s dominance is coming to a close. And the Internet’s founding ideology—that information wants to be free, and that attempts to constrain it are not only hopeless but immoral— suddenly seems naive and stale in the new age of apps, smart phones, and pricing plans. What will this mean for the future of the media—and of the Web itself? Michael Hirschorn reflects on this in latest issue of The Atlantic Magazine:

“The shift of the digital frontier from the Web, where the browser ruled supreme, to the smart phone, where the app and the pricing plan now hold sway, signals a radical shift from openness to a degree of closed-ness that would have been remarkable even before 1995.”

Read article

12 June 2010

The defense of computers, the Internet and our brains

Bits and brains
There is a lively discussion and some concern that computers, the Internet and multitasking are extracting a mental price, writes Nick Bilton in the New York Times’ “Bits” blog. Yet, Bilton says, “there are some who argue that not only are our brains just fine on the Internet, but they are indeed better off for it.”

“Research shows that each medium offers its own positive attributes: Neuroscience has shown that playing video games stimulates areas of our brains that control working memory, hand and eye coordination and attention and can stimulate and vastly improve our cognitive skills. Reading on the other hand promotes deep thought and exercises areas of the brain responsible for reflection, reasoning and critical analysis. And auditory storytelling stimulates areas of the brain involved with creativity, contextual thinking and executive function.

It could be argued that the Web, which is the ultimate library of words, video, images, interactivity, sharing and conversation, is the quintessential place to learn.”

Read article

12 June 2010

Using stories for a better user experience

Storytelling
Whitney Quesenbery and Kevin Brooks, authors of the book “Storytelling for User Experience: Crafting Stories for Better Design”, describe how storytelling can help you collect, analyze and share user research information.

“Stories can help you collect, analyze and share qualitative information from user research and usability, spark design imagination and keep in touch with your audience. Storytelling and story listening are not a new methodology, but something you can add to your current practice to deepen and richen your understanding of users and their experience.

Three places where stories are a good fit are:

  • Collecting stories from your audience to create a richer picture of how, when and why they use your products and documentation.
  • Adding stories to personas to share your audience analysis, blending facts and information to make an emotional connection.
  • Using stories for more naturalistic usability testing (planning those stories, or gathering them on the spot).”

Read articles: WritersUA | Johnny Holland

11 June 2010

Poor user experience with smart meters a risk for energy suppliers

Smart meters
Smart meters represent a fork in the road for energy suppliers; engage with customers now and build value-added experiences that re-energise the supplier-consumer relationship, or do nothing and run the risk of third parties exploiting customer data and further eroding brand loyalty.

This white paper on smart meters by Foolproof explores potential applications of smart meters, and the opportunities this rich data source could create beyond basic energy consumption monitoring. A number of scenarios were presented to typical UK energy consumers to explore their potential impact.

The implications being that energy suppliers need to think and act now about how they will use smart meter data to strengthen and deepen customer relationships using the clues in this report. To do this, supply companies need to quickly promote customer experience to being a senior discipline.

Read article

11 June 2010

Clay Shirky’s Cognitive Surplus

Cognitive Surplus
Clay Shirky’s second book, The Cognitive Surplus, “picks up where his stellar debut, Here Comes Everybody left off,” writes Cory Doctorow in his Boing Boing book review, “explaining how the net’s lowered costs for group activity allow us to be creative and even generous in ways that we never anticipated and haven’t yet fully taken account of.”

“Shirky’s hypothesis is that a lot of the 20th century stuff we used to take for granted — most people didn’t want to create media, people didn’t value homemade and amateur productions, no one would pitch in to create something for others to enjoy unless they were being paid — weren’t immutable laws of nature, but accidents of history. The Internet has undone those accidents, by making it possible for more people to make and do cool stuff, especially together.”

Read book review

11 June 2010

Recognising the nuances of privacy

Open
This weekend the new issue of OPEN will be launched at the Berlin Biennial. “Privacy” is the main theme, and the focus is “not so much on deploring the loss of privacy but on taking the present situation of ‘post-privacy’ for what it is and trying to gain insight into what is on the horizon in terms of new subjectivities and power constructions.”

Martijn de Waal contributed to this issue with the article: “New Use of Cellular Networks – The Necessity of Recognizing the Nuances of Privacy”.

According to media researcher Martijn de Waal, it is time to rethink our ideas of privacy. The growing use of cellular networks is generating data that plays an important role in civil society projects. To be able to continue using such data in a meaningful and fair way, people must become aware of the fact that privacy is not only a question of either private or public, but includes many New gradations in between.

Read article (alternate link)

Some other articles are also available online.

11 June 2010

The anti-web movement is gathering pace

anti-web
After 15 years as the net’s publishing platform of choice, a movement is growing that wants to put the web back in its box.

“After the desktop OS and browser wars of the late 90s settled down in to uniform web standards, many of us had thought the web, which runs through my veins, would become the mobile platform of choice in the same way. But, the rise of the revenue-making app store sales channel has coincided with publishers’ realisation that, if there are precious few ways of monetising content on the desktop web, then little would be different on the handset or tablet flavour.

Many publishers now seem frustrated with the lack of profit and the loss of character that comes with formulaic, template-driven pages. It’s the first big challenge to the web orthodoxy we have enjoyed for nearly two decades…”

Read article

9 June 2010

Positive user experiences at Google

I/O
John Zeratsky, senior designer at YouTube, and Matt Shobe, staff user experience designer at Google, gave a talk at Google I/O, the annual web developer conference, on “creating positive user experiences”.

“Good user experience isn’t just about good design. Learn how to create a positive user experience by being fast, open, engaged, surprising, polite, and, well… being yourself. Chock full of examples from the web and beyond, this talk is a practical introduction for developers who are passionate about user experience but may not have a background in design.”

John Zeratsky is a senior designer at YouTube. Prior to that he was a user experience lead at Google, focused on the company’s suite of advertising products for agencies. From 2005 through 2007, he helped create FeedBurner, which was acquired by Google in June 2007.

Matt Shobe is a staff user experience designer at Google whose work centers on services for publishers. Prior to Google, Matt was a co-founder of FeedBurner and led user experience design efforts there and on two prior startups with the same team.

Watch video

(via InfoDesign)

9 June 2010

Handbook of Global User Research

Handbook of Global User Research
Handbook of Global User Research
by Robert Schumacher (editor)
Morgan Kaufmann
October, 2009
336 pages

User research is global – yet despite its pervasiveness, practitioners are not all well equipped to work globally. What may have worked in Nigeria may not be accepted in Russia, may be done differently in Brazil, may partly work in China, and may completely fail in Kuwait. And what often goes less noticed, but can be equally vexing are technical, logistical and planning issues such as hiring qualified translators, payment procedures, travel issues, setting up facilities and finding test participants.

The Handbook of Global User Research is the first book to focus on global user research. The book collects insight from UX professionals from over 20 countries and, following a typical project timeline, presents practical insights into the preparation, fieldwork, analysis and reporting, and overall project management for global user research projects. Any user experience professional that works on global projects — including those new to the field, UX veterans who need information on this expanding aspect of user research, and students — will need this book to do their job effectively.

(via InfoDesign)

8 June 2010

Design Everything, a futures conference

FutureEverything
I finally had a chance to listen to the two excellent keynotes of Design Everything, the futures conference that took place last month in Manchester, UK.

Keynote: Ben Cerveny
Ben Cerveny‘s keynote explored how, as newly-emerging urban-scale technology infrastructures are implemented, citizens will begin to gain the ability to affect their environment in new ways, using city services the way they would use a digital application in an online environment. Through collaborative interaction with such tools, users of public spaces can configure them for specific temporary functions and even begin to ‘perform’ space together.”

Keynote: Keri Facer
In her keynote, Keri Facer explored the scenarios emerging from the Beyond Current Horizons programme and ask how, as a society, we can learn together as communities to respond to the profound environmental, demographic and technological opportunities challenges we face over the coming two decades.

8 June 2010

A sense of place, a world of Augmented Reality

Sicily
Architectural historian Mitchell Schwarzer has published a two-part essay that explores how technology — especially the real-time, mediating imageries of augmented reality — influences how we perceive and inhabit place.

“We’re in the first stage of a transformation of our sense of place,” he writes, “as momentous as that which occurred a couple of centuries ago, when products from smoke-stacked factories forged modern society.” Today, he argues, the “convergence of mobile phone, camera, wireless Internet and satellite communication — the key ingredients of the digital handheld — accelerates the reconstitution of place from real, occupied space to a collage of here and there, past and present.”

Mitchell Schwarzer is Professor of Visual Studies at California College of the Arts and a historian of architecture, landscape and urbanism.

Read article: Part 1 | Part 2

8 June 2010

From industrial design to user experience

Baskinger
Mark Baskinger, associate professor at the School of Design of Carnegie Mellon University, reflects in UX Magazine on the heritage and evolving role of experience-driven design. Experience-driven design, he says, has made “experience” the new hot buzzword. But is it really new?

“In this article, I want to share some thoughts about user experience design, UX practice today, and its parallels to industrial design practice. In efforts to continue the conversation about the true fit of UX as a growing specialization, I will attempt to position it within the landscape of established design disciplines. I will also to raise questions and considerations to entertain as UX emerges from its software-related origins and grows into strategic leadership across design disciplines. This is neither a manifesto nor a hard-lined stance on UX; rather just some ideas to help carry the collective discussion forward.”

Read article

8 June 2010

Rapid prototyping at UNICEF

UNICEF
On 10-11 May, UNICEF New York organised the Design Days, where they invited designers and engineers who have worked with UNICEF to discuss the organisation, the (rapid prototyping) design process, and recommendations for future design collaborations.

They have now produced a video that is a synopsis of the projects, themes and trouble-shooting expressed at the event.

“We have edited down a conversation between UNICEF sponsored rapid design prototypers to profile what they have created in order to respond to and alleviate actual needs of families and children. This video is intended to help make transparent the iterative process that development must undergo in order to create a new device that can respond to global concerns. Also touched on are ways for the organization to make the process of creating prototypes more streamlined, and to take what is developed and make it open source in order to create a sustainable and beneficial outcome to those that need it.”

Watch video

7 June 2010

Keynotes from The Web and Beyond

TWAB
Keynote videos from The Web and Beyond, the bi-annual daylong conference organised by Chi Nederland and IOP-MMI for the user experience and interaction design community, are available on Vimeo:

Michael Meyer
CEO, Adaptive Path
Proximus Maximus: design imperatives from the Roman Empire to the NASA Space Program and beyond
Michael Meyer frames the business and organizational imperatives for the new millennium by reviewing the lessons of history from the Roman times to the NASA Space Program.
Presentation abstract and speaker bio

Josephine Green
Specialist in social foresight for strategy and innovation
Engaging with the future differently – from pyramids to pancakes
Within a new worldview emerging from chaos and complexity, networks and systems thinking, what are the ways to decentralise and distribute innovation, strategy and design?
Presentation abstract and speaker bio