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Putting People First

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July 2010
12 July 2010

Worries about over-sharing location from mobiles

Friends using Foursquare
Experiments like ‘Please Rob Me’ indicate that what people reveal via location-sharing apps could potentially be harmful to them – and survey finds concerns among users.

“More than half of people with geolocation-capable mobile devices worry about “loss of privacy” from using their location-sharing features, a survey has found – even though location-sharing apps such as FourSquare and Gowalla have millions of users checking in every day.

Among UK respondents, 52% said they were “very or extremely concerned” about loss of privacy from using location-sharing applications – even though the same proportion said that they geotag photos, indicating where they were taken, when uploading them to the internet.

The survey, commissioned by security company Webroot, interviewed 1,500 owners of devices with geolocation capabilities, including 624 people in the UK.”

Read article

12 July 2010

Most smartphones are underused

Smartphones
As smartphones increasingly penetrate the market, with nearly a quarter of mobile users owning one, data consumption is becoming more stratified: the heaviest users most frequently use their phones’ advanced features while many people hardly touch them, according to a Nielsen report.

Read article

12 July 2010

Smart gadgets may anticipate our needs

 
Devices could monitor people’s health and step in when needed to help them get better, experts say.

“Within a decade or two, researchers at Silicon Valley companies and elsewhere predict, consumer gadgets will be functioning like hyper-attentive butlers, anticipating and fulfilling people’s needs without having to be told. Life would not only be more convenient, it might even last longer: Devices could monitor people’s health and step in when needed to help them get better. [...]

The technology propelling this new generation of personal assistants is a combination of sophisticated sensors and carefully tailored computer software. As envisioned, the machines would adjust their own actions to the preferences and needs of an individual, by analyzing data on the person’s past actions and monitoring current behavior with cameras, audio recorders and other sensors.”

Read article

9 July 2010

Danah Boyd: smartest “tech” academic

Danah Boyd
The smartest “tech” academic according to Fortune Magazine (“The smartest people in tech”) is Danah Boyd, Social Media Researcher, Microsoft Research.

“She is the reigning expert on how young people use the Internet, and she’s writing a book on the subject. Boyd’s research is the real deal, a potent blend of theory and ethnographic data. And she has real tech street cred too, courtesy of a degree in computer science from Brown.”

Other design researchers featured on the list are two people who got the designation “designer runner-up”: Jan Chipchase, Executive Creative Director Of Global Insights, Frog Design, and Indrani Medhi, Associate Researcher, Technology For Emerging Markets Group, Microsoft Research India.

Congratulations to all.

8 July 2010

Video interviews with Dan Ariely and Clay Shirky

Big Think
Big Think is an online think tank, founded in 2007, that presents video interviews with major intellectuals from a wide range of fields.

Recent interviews that caught my attention are with Dan Ariely and Clay Shirky.

Dan Ariely [39:14]
Professor of Behavioral Economics, Duke University and author of “Predictably Irrational”
Dan Ariely is the author of Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions and is the James B. Duke Professor of Behavioral Economics at Duke University, where he holds appointments at the Fuqua School of Business, the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, and the department of Economics.
In addition, Dan is a visiting professor in MIT’s Program in Media Arts and Sciences. He is currently working on a new book titled Dining Without Crumbs: The Art of Eating Over the Sink.

Clay Shirky [38:16]
Professor of Interactive Telecommunications, New York University
Clay Shirky is a writer, consultant and teacher on the social and economic effects of Internet technologies. He is an adjunct professor at New York University’s graduate Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP). His courses address, among other things, the interrelated effects of the topology of social networks and technological networks, how our networks shape culture and vice-versa. He has written and been interviewed extensively about the Internet since 1996. His columns and writings have appeared in Business 2.0, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Harvard Business Review and Wired.

8 July 2010

Towards a read/write urbanism

311 signs
Adam Greenfield, Nokia’s head of design direction for service and user-interface design, is the author of this week’s Urban Omnibus feature.

In the piece, he uses software design as a base to talk about the ways citizens call out trouble spots in the urban landscape and how we might redesign the performance of that landscape itself.

Read article

8 July 2010

Sensemaking

Sensemaking
Jon Kolko was one of the speakers yesterday at the Design Research Society conference in Montreal, Canada.

His presentation addressed Sensemaking – the manner in which we make meaning during the design process, and arrive at insights and new design ideas.

- Sensemaking and framing: a theoretical reflection on perspective in design synthesis (paper)
- Presentation (on Mac, use Acrobat, not Preview)

7 July 2010

Habitar – Bending the urban frame

Habitar
Today I received the catalogue of the Habitar exhibition, organised by LABoral Art and Industrial Creation Centre, an exhibition centre for art, science, technology and advanced visual industries in Asturias, Spain, and curated by José Luis de Vicente with Fabien Girardin as conceptual advisor.

“Utopian and radical architects in the 1960s predicted that cities in the future would not only be made of brick and mortar, but also defined by bits and flows of information. The urban dweller would become a nomad who inhabits a space in constant flux, mutating in real time. Their vision has taken on new meaning in an age when information networks rule over many of the city’s functions, and define our experiences as much as the physical infrastructures, while mobile technologies transform our sense of time and of space.

This new urban landscape is no longer predicated solely on architecture and urbanism. These disciplines now embrace emerging methodologies that bend the physical with new measures, representations and maps of urban dynamics such as traffic or mobile phone flows. Representations of usage patterns and mapping the life of the city amplify our collective awareness of the urban environment as a living organism. These soft and invisible architectures fashion sentient and reactive environments.

Habitar is a walk through new emerging scenarios in the city. It is a catalogue of ideas and images from artists, design and architecture studios, and hybrid research centres. Together they come up with a series of potential tools, solutions and languages to negotiate everyday life in the new urban situation.”

The exhibition shows projects by Timo Arnall, Julian Bleecker, Ángel Borrego – Office for Strategic Spaces, Nerea Calvillo, Citilab-Cornellà, Pedro Miguel Cruz, Dan Hill, IaaC – Instituto de Arquitectura Avanzada de Cataluña, kawamura-ganjavian + Maki Portilla Kawamura + Tanadori Yamaguchi, Aaron Koblin, Philippe Rahm architectes, Marina Rocarols, Enrique Soriano, Pep Tornabell, Theodore Molloy, Semiconductor, SENSEable City Lab, and Mark Shepard.

The catalogue contains essays written by Benjamin Weil, José Louis de Vicente and Fabien Girardin, Molly Wright Steenson, Bryan Boyer, Usman Haque, Anne Galloway, Nicolas Nova, and José Pérez de Lama.

Download catalogue

2 July 2010

More videos from The Web And Beyond

TWAB
All presentations from The Web and Beyond (TWAB) can now be viewed online.

TWAB is the bi-annual daylong conference organised by Chi Nederland and IOP-MMI for the user experience and interaction design community.

Here are some we like:

People as content [video | abstract + bio]
Anton Nijholt, University of Twente
Anton looks deeper into non-cooperative behaviour and its many uses from both the point of view of a smart environment, and that of human partners, users, or inhabitants of smart environments.

Playing well with others: design for augmented reality [video | abstract + bio]
Joe Lamantia
Joe reviews interaction design patterns common to augmented reality, suggest tools to improve the ‘social maturity’ of AR, and shares design principles for creating genuinely social augmented experiences.

Proximity wormholes: how the social web enables intimacy at scale [video | abstract + bio]
Lee Bryant, Headshift
Lee shows how proximity changes in the social web, and how we can adapt and cope with these changes, given that our own cognitive powers evolve more slowly than the tools we use to connect and communicate.

Social 3.0 [video | abstract + bio]
Steven Pemberton, CWI/W3C
Steven introduces new technologies that would allow us to arrange our social networks in different ways so that the data belongs to us. He’ll discuss how they affect our interactions online and how we can adopt such technologies.

The human interface (Why products are people, too) [video | abstract + bio]
Christopher Fahey, Behavior
Chris explores diverse areas of non-digital human experience (language, storytelling, neurology and sociology) to frame and showcase some of the most exciting current and emerging user experience design practices on the web and other media.

UX research methods for ubiquitous computing [video | abstract + bio]
Stijn Nieuwendijk, valsplat
Ubiquitous computing challenges the field of usability research. Stijn talks about the evolution of the classic usability set-up and show new user experience research methods that valsplat is experimenting with.

2 July 2010

Intel launches new interaction and experience research division

Genevieve Bell
At the Intel Labs’ annual Research at Intel media event, Intel Corporation Chief Technology Officer Justin Rattner announced (video) a new research division, called Interaction and Experience Research (IXR), that is focused on defining new user experiences and new computing platforms. The innovations coming out of the labs are expected to help re-imagine how we will all experience computing in the future.

Enabled by Moore’s Law and the performance advancements now available across a continuum of computing devices including the traditional PC, the company’s engagement and experience with technology, according to Rattner, will become much more personal and social through individual user contexts informed by sensors, augmented by cloud intelligence, and driven by more natural interfaces such as touch, gesture and voice.

Rattner said the new division will be led by [anthropologist and] Intel Fellow Genevieve Bell, who has been one of the leading user-centered design advocates at Intel for more than a decade.

“Intel now touches more things in people’s lives than just the PC,” said Bell. “Intel chips and the Internet are now in televisions, set-tops, handhelds, automobiles, signage and more. IXR will build on 15 years of research into the ways in which people use, re-use and resist new information and communication technologies. Social science, design and human-computer interaction researchers will continue that mission – asking questions about what people will value, what will fit into their lives and what they love about the things they already have. These insights will be married with a strong focus on technological research into the next generation of user interfaces, user interactions and changes in media content and consumption patterns.”

- Read press release
- Backgrounder on Genevieve Bell (TG Daily)
- Backgrounder on this new development (Ars Technica)

2 July 2010

Smart meters not smart enough for consumers

Cisco home energy control
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy on Tuesday released results of a survey finding that energy use feedback tools are more important than smart meters in reducing consumers’ energy use.

Analyzing 57 residential feedback programs since 1974, the ACEEE concluded that “smart meters” are not smart enough to slash residential power use and significantly reduce consumer electric bills. No utilities, they said, have sufficient end-user tools, such as more detailed billing or giving real-time feedback through Web pages or in-home displays.

Programs that give people more control over their household electricity use and help them reduce waste can ultimately cut consumption 4 percent to 12 percent, according to the ACEEE, which said the [USA] savings could add up to $35 billion over 20 years.

Read article

2 July 2010

Glen Cove conference on strategic design and public policy

UN
Ever keen to expand the boundaries of their practices, design professionals have been moving in the direction of public policy for some years, writes Lucy Kimbell (blog).

But what designers, or multi-disciplinary teams using “design” approaches, can also bring to such projects is a set of assumptions about knowledge, that can have important consequences for how they, and the communities they claim to serve, understand the work they are doing and what happens within it. Social scientists (who have a lot to say about these assumptions and the nature of research) have come together with designers to discuss such matters for several years at conferences such as the Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conferences (EPIC), the Participatory Design Conferences, and the anthrodesign discussion list as well as many other fora. But it is rare to bring these two professions/disciplines together with policymakers, who have different kinds of investments in the design of social action.

The Glen Cove Conference on Strategic Design and Public Policy held in Glen Cove, NY, on 9-11 June, was an event which did so. Initiated by Derek Miller and Lisa Rudnick of the UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), and co-organized by Lucy Kimbell (based at Said Business School) and Gerry Philipsen (Center for Local Strategies Research, University of Washington), this event was conceived of as a small workshop which would bring together – for the first time – three groups:

  • policymakers concerned with security in intrastate contexts and post-conflict situations, whose work is typically structured by intergovernmental and national policy goals;
  • social science researchers, in particular ethnographers of communication who pay special attention to the construction of local knowledge, for example, how “security” is understood in communities in which the UN has a mandate to do increase it and having decided to help disarm ex-combatants; and
  • designers and managers involved in designing services shaped by policy concerns about politics, exclusion and access.

Read conference report

(Read also this report by Aditya Dev Sood of CKS)

1 July 2010

Beyond findability

Beyond findability
The Spring 2010 issue of the Journal of Information Architecture is now available.

In one of the articles “Beyond Findability“, Luigi Spagnolo, Davide Bolchini, Paolo Paolini and Nicoletta Di Blas introduce Search-Enhanced Information Architecture (SEE-IA), a coherent set of information architecture design strategies.

This paper details a way to extend classic information architecture for web-based applications. The goal is to enhance traditional user experiences, mainly based on navigation or search, to new ones (also relevant for stakeholders’ requirements). Examples are sense making, at a glance understanding, playful exploration, serendipitous browsing, and brand communication. These new experiences are often unmet by current information architecture solutions, which may be stiff and difficult to scale, especially in the case of large or very large websites. A heavy reliance upon search engines seems not to offer a viable solution: it supports, in fact, a limited range of user experiences. We propose to transform (parts of) websites into Rich Internet Applications (RIAs), based, beside other features, upon interaction-rich interfaces and semantic browsing across content. We introduce SEE-IA (SEarch-Enhanced Information Architecture), a coherent set of information architecture design strategies, which innovatively blend and extend IA and search paradigms. The key ingredients of SEE-IA are a seamless combination of structured hypertext-based information architectures, faceted search paradigms, and RIA-enabled visualization techniques. The paper elucidates and codifies these design strategies and their underlying principles, identifying also how they support a set of requirements which are often neglected by most current design approaches. A real case study of a complex RIA designed for a major institutional client in Italy is used to vividly showcase the design strategies and to provide ready-to-use examples that can be transferred to other IA contexts and domains.

Authors Luigi Spagnolo, Paolo Paolini and Nicoletta Di Blas come from the HOC Lab (Hypermedia Open Centre Laboratory) of the Electronic and Information Department of the Politecnico di Milano, whereas Davide Bolchini is based at the School of Informatics of Indiana University – IUPUI.

Read article (pdf version)

1 July 2010

A Transumer Manifesto

For rent
From cars to designer clothes to children’s toys, there’s a growing trend towards “transumerism” and “collaborative consumption,” which emphasize sharing, renting and experiencing over owning, writes Simon Smith in a blog post that was republished on Shareable. Is it just a fad? Or is this a significant trend that will reshape our approach to goods and commerce?

“What the trend should increasingly bring, however, are options, and perhaps a growing consciousness of ownership’s costs. Will I ever buy a car again? I can’t say for sure, but right now, I hope not. I’ve become far too accustomed to the freedom of not owning one.”

Read article

1 July 2010

Kuniavsky designing read-write web-created things

Mike Kuniavsky
This fast approaching era of desktop manufacturing via advanced MakerBots and other 3D printers is in part why ThingM co-founder Mike Kuniavsky runs an annual conference called Sketching in Hardware. The event aims to “bring together a small group of people from technology, education, art and design worlds to talk about how to make creating electronics as easy as drawing with a pencil.”

Thanks to ReadWriteWeb reader Droom Zacht, who recognizes Kuniavsky’s Orange Cone blog feed as “a milestone of the Internet of Things,” Deane Rimerman of ReadWriteWeb decided to more fully investigate Kuniavsky’s work.

Read article

1 July 2010

The cities we need

The Cities We Need
The Grattan Institute, an Australian independent public policy think-tank, has published a new report, entitled “The Cities We Need“, that aims to set an agenda for thinking about the future of Australia’s cities. It asks how cities meet the individual needs of their residents, both material and psychological, and identifies emerging challenges to meeting these needs.

Abstract

The most important characteristic of a city is whether it meets the needs of its residents, both material and psychological. Despite the fact that these needs are central to our lives, they are often at the periphery of conversations about the future of Australian cities. With these criteria in mind, it is clear that while our cities operate well, there is much room for improvement.

We do not propose a set of solutions or prescriptions. Instead we argue that we need to realise that cities are complex systems, and lay out ten questions about our urban future that we must get serious about. As we manage growth and change in Australian cities, how bold are we prepared to be to get the cities we really need?

1 July 2010

Why social experience is the future of online content

Friends and laptop
“For all of the attention on social networking, there are few social media experiences that match the fun of hanging out together with friends in person,” writes Jon Goldman, CEO of the multiuser content-sharing platform Qlipso, on Mashable.

“The old debate about what is more valuable — content or distribution — doesn’t capture the whole picture because it’s the user experience that counts. It’s pretty clear now that social interaction is a key factor in driving “stickiness.” We want to socialize, interact and engage around content.

So why has this type of interaction been missing from most digital media experiences? One way to look at this is through the lens of the music industry.”

Read article

1 July 2010

Design research at LIFT conference

LIFT
At the beginning of May, frog design partnered with the Lift conference in Geneva to conduct design research on the conference itself to understand what was working well and not so well about the conference.

The organisers wanted to see if a design research approach based on real-time observation and interviewing of attendees could provide better and richer feedback, allowing them to further improve the already highly regarded event.

The Lift organisers have now decided to make the findings public.

View research results

1 July 2010

The product of a healthy relationship

Design blueprint
The relationship between researchers and product designers can be a rocky one. Paul Golden looks at how market research can make sure it promotes creative thinking rather than obstructs it.

“When handled properly, [the initial exploratory phase of the research process] allows planners and developers to identify potential design territories on which to focus development of more finished (and expensive) prototypes, while providing clues as to the type of stimulus that needs to be developed for these subsequent stages – for example, the context in which consumers need to be exposed to the concepts, the level of finish required and the need for working or non-working models.”

Read article