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Putting People First

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November 2010
30 November 2010

Understanding communities through ethnography

Tricia Wang
Digital marketing expert Dhiren Shingadia interviewed ethnographer and technology researcher Tricia Wang to learn how ethnography can provide new insights for companies seeking to understand communities.

“My primary output is analysis of how new technology users are living at the intersection of macro processes. Examples of questions that I ask are: What does the future of the internet look like? What happens when the next 300 million migrants with digital tools are able to get online? How will the state, the world, and technological infrastructures accommodate such a massive change in scale? How do we design and market to this group?

I hang out with people and spend a lot of time trying to see the world through their eyes. I make long and deep observations of how everyday life is achieved and negotiated. I then interpret my observations and contextualize my analysis in relation to past, current and future socioeconomic, technological and cultural developments.

By answering these questions I am able to provide context and explanations for why people engage or don’t engage with certain technologies, to explain how this all interfaces with historical and present day life, and how designers, engineers, and organizers can meet the daily needs of both low-income/marginalized users and the burgeoning middle class.”

Read interview

(via FutureLab)

30 November 2010

The Absent Peer – non-users in social interaction design

The Absent Peer
Sebastian Greger, social interaction designer, internet sociologist and post-graduate student at the Media Lab of the Aalto University School of Art and Design in Helsinki, has published his Master’s research that aims to provide a framework for the consideration of non-users in the context of social interaction design, in particular for the design of social network sites.

Abstract

This thesis aims to provide a framework for the consideration of non-users in the context of social interaction design (SxD), in particular for the design of social network sites (SNSs). It is based on the sociological perspective of symbolic interactionism.

Positioning social interaction design as a practice within the discipline of interaction design, its goals are defined through a discussion on user value and worth-centred design. Existing research on the non-use of technologies is being reviewed and contextualised with SxD, coming to the conclusion that non-use is not a pathological state that needs to be corrected but a form of use that has to be accommodated by an SNS.

The empirical research, presented as a diagnosis of the times, employs auto- ethnographic observations that are analysed applying an inductive Grounded Theory process. The emergent theory of “The Absent Peer” consists of two core concepts, presenting the network aspect and the sociality aspect that influence SNS concepts. Herein, the focus of the work is on the discovery of the impact of non-use rather than on its reasons.

The theory is then set into relation with the practice of interaction design and a worth-centred model of value in HCI. Building on the insights from the study, this discussion presents the conceptual considerations required in order to create valuable SNS concepts that acknowledge non-use as a permanent and complex phenomenon of social reality.

Read research summary
Download master’s thesis

30 November 2010

Interview with Motorola UX designer Hwang Sung-gul

Hwang Sung-gul
The Korean partner newspaper of the International Herald Tribune today published an interview with Hwang Sung-gul, the creative designer of mobile devices at Motorola Korea, about the thinking and work that goes into designing a mobile phone.

Gul, whom I had the great pleasure of meeting a few weeks ago, is also in charge of Motorola’s Consumer eXperience Design (CXD) center in Seoul, Korea.

“It’s the only CXD that exports its design – its own intellectual property – to other countries like the U.S., China, and Europe. Our excellence in design comes from adopting the strengths of American-style design – which tends to be strategic – with those of European-style design, which tends to be more story-oriented. We engage in what we call “cyclical procedures,” which is shuttling between those two approaches.”

Read interview

30 November 2010

Collaborative design strategies for community technology

 
Organizations designing for marginalized populations have many design approaches to inform their efforts to enact lasting change. Some are adapted from first-world commercial processes, and others were actively developed in the field by teams directly involved in empowering communities lacking access to many modern technologies. A few of the approaches born from particularly successful or educational projects have influenced wide movements and inform many successful projects.

This comparison focuses on three “brand-name” approaches to designing for communities lacking access to first-world commercial technology solutions. Human-centered design is an approach the business world has used for decades to inform their design process. Appropriate technology focuses on a set of guidelines for technological innovation that holds paramount the need for solutions to be relevant to and affordably produced and maintained wholly by the local population. Participatory technology design is a specific application of the participatory design philosophy, which emphasizes the active involvement of all stakeholders in the design process of technological solutions.

Read article

29 November 2010

The experience design of a Japanese zoo

Tamio Fukuda
A couple of weeks ago the Design Center Busan (in Busan, South Korea) organised its first International Design Congress. The speakers featured not only the writer of this post (Mark Vanderbeeken – as reported here), but also the highly esteemed Professor Tamio Fukuda, of the Graduate School of Science and Technology at the Kyoto Institute of Technology, Japan.

Fukuda, whose work is focused on product design, design management and experience design, is also known for his historic collaboration with Samsung Electronics, when Samsung chairman Lee Kun Hee dispatched him in 1993 as his design adviser to assess the state of Samsung design. Fukuda has been visiting Korea many times and has made many friends in the country.

At the Busan conference, Fukuda talked about the “experiential value design” of Japan’s Asahiyama Zoo. He considers the success story of the zoo, based on experiential and emotional values, offers a best practice model to future design development.

“I myself define the term “experiential value design” as the act of offering products, services and human environments consistently in line with the concept of experiential value⎯in other words, the systematic act of offering thrilling and delightful experiences through diverse products and systems.

The ultimate goal of experiential value design is to induce emotions⎯experiences that appeal to all five senses⎯through the power of design. If we succeed in deeply impressing people with our design, we will be able to succeed not only in business, but also in creating a new culture. In the advanced information-oriented and knowledge-based society, designers are expected to fulfill greater roles than ever before. In this context, the concept of experiential value design will be key to future design development.”

He granted me the permission to post his notes on this site.

Download Fukuda presentation

27 November 2010

Korea’s smartphone era

Koreana
The autumn issue of Koreana, the quarterly devoted to Korean art and culture, contains a special feature on Korea’s smartphone era.

The articles come in a range of other languages, including Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Russian and Spanish.

Mobile phones in Korea: between dynamism and anxiety
by Kim Chanho, Professor, Sungkonghoe University
Statistics indicate that Koreans spend the most amount of time on their mobile phones, as compared to the people in other countries, which includes double the time of users in Germany. What are the factors behind this zealous passion for mobile phones in Korea, where the ubiquity of wireless communication contributes to a unique dynamism of Korean society?

Korea’s mobile phone industry
by Cho Hyung Rae, Assistant Editor, The Chosun Ilbo
Early on, the mobile phone industry in Korea basically imported parts from foreign suppliers, and assembled them into finished products. But, over the past 20 years, the mobile phone has become the face of Korean industry, with cutting-edge technology. The industry is now preparing for a new leap into the popular smartphone market.

Korea’s innovative mobile phone technology
by Kim Dong-suk, Mobile Division Chief, Electronic Times
Innovation and technology resources, as well as the tech-savvy nature of Korean consumers who are eager to be at the forefront of market trends, have combined to fuel the remarkable development of Korea’s mobile phone industry. Indeed, this favorable environment has enabled Korean mobile phone makers to vault into the upper echelon of the global telecom market.

26 November 2010

Digital U – a series on how social media is affecting social change

Digital U
Digital U (Youtube) is the the first television/web series to examine how the internet and social media is changing the world around us.

Digital U is an eight-part series that looks at transparency, crowdsourcing, privacy and security – with powerful examples that demonstrate how the internet is changing the way we live, work, play, consume and communicate.

The team, which includes Lisa Campbell Salazar of Mobile Revolutions (featured before on this blog), interviewed a range of digital strategists including Dorothy Engelman, Mitch Joel (president, Twist Image and author of “Six Pixels of Separation”), Ryan Taylor (goldsmith, The Fair Trade Jewellery Co.), Craig Heintzman (development associate, World Wide Web Foundation), Deanna Zandt (media technologist and author of “Share This!”), Ryan Coleman (facilitator & information designer), Donnie Claudino (marketing manager, TechSoup Canada), Meghan Warby (senior consultant, Argyle Comm.), Don Tapscott (chairman of nGenera Insight), Lisa Torjman (associate, SiG@MaRS), Beka Economopoulos (vice oresident, Fission Strategy), Sarah Prevette (founder & CEO, Sprouter), Jason Mogus (CEO, Communicopia), Sacha Chua (enterprise 2.0 consultant, IBM), Christopher Berry (group marketing science director, Critical Mass), Tamera Kremer (founder and chief strategist, Wildfire Strategic Marketing), Phillip Djwa (principal, Agentic Communications), Roz Lemieux (partner, Fission Strategy), Monica Hamburg (writer & social media evangelist), Marco Campana (online capacity, Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants), Samer Rabadi (senior campaign manager, Care2.com), Sam Dorman (technology strategist), and Will Pate (social media consultant and host of CommandN).

Episode 1 – Online Activism: An Overview
With social tools like Twitter and Facebook, and thousands of sites devoted to issues and causes –– like minded individuals are hooking up about everything – and it’s revolutionizing how activists organize. Individuals can organize large scale events with virtually no cost, to create awareness and engage others for their cause.

Episode 2 – Transparency: Tell No Lies
Controlling and spinning a message has driven public relations for decades. The motto has been– it’s better to conceal than to reveal. But the internet has allowed us to access any and all information surrounding institutions and government. Not only can individuals share and discuss products and policies, but concerned citizens can use accountability sites to report neighborhood problems.

Episode 3 – The Power of the Citizen: Politics 2.0
Social media has forever changed democracy. Citizens are now being engaged like never before, as a dialogue in now emerging between politician and voter. People can now actively participate in their society, as governments have begun giving them the opportunity to brainstorm ideas to create change initiatives in their communities. And this concept of active citizenship is only the beginning of this democracy make-over.

Episode 4 – The Power of the Consumers: Consumers Pumping Up the Volume
The power is back in the hands of the consumers. With networking sites, blogs and forums, customers can share their opinions on virtually any purchase. But the conversation isn’t just one ended, consumers have begun to demand a conversation with the companies themselves. The digital space has finally given consumers the power to stand up and be heard.

Episode 5 – Twitter and Micro-messaging
Twitter is the “hot” micro-messaging tool, and it’s bringing people together faster than we ever could have imagined. Events like Ho Ho Ho TO proved micro-messaging’s success and its capacity for social change. But micro-messaging doesn’t always need to connect people over serious issues. It has made creating events, and coming together virtually effortless. The world is flattening in not only a geographical way, but a social way too.

Episode 6 – Crowdsourcing: The Wisdom of the Masses
Crowdsourcing is all about taping into the power of your consumers, acknowledging that many customers interested in an organization or a company are also going to be extremely knowledgeable about your products. Crowdsourcing also gives companies the opportunity to test products before they hit the mass market. From designing their own t-shirts, to measuring craters on Mars for NASA, this ability to harness our collective talents all over the world is one of the most powerful tool to bring about social change.

Episode 7 – A Virtual Printing Press
Self-publishing has become easier then ever before, and simple tools like blogs, Youtube and Twitter, your message can reach the over 1.5 billion people online. Anyone can publish online and for free, which means that content is diverse, unique and frequently controversial. Citizen journalism has also taken to the internet, as everyday citizens take to the streets and have begun conducting their own interviews and asking their own questions that haven’t always been addressed by the mainstream media.

Episode 8 – A Loss of Privacy?
The internet has closed the geographical gap and put information right at our fingertips – but its also important for all users to remember that anything they put on the web, can be difficult to remove, and accessible by almost anyone. Any profile or account you create online can be searched by employers, potential spouses, friends, family and strangers – which not only puts your reputation at risk, but also your safety. As a user you need to be aware and beware of the digital crumbs you can leave behind.

> Press release

26 November 2010

The public square goes mobile

The public square goes mobile
Allison Arieff writes in the New York Times Opinionator blog extensively on how citizens harness technology to offer up solutions to problems in their communities.

“What if there were a way to transform complaints into something positive and productive? What if we reframed the exchange to be less about adversity and more about cooperation and action? What if citizens were encouraged to offer their thoughts on how things from transit systems to city parks might be improved — as opposed to simply airing their grievances about all that was wrong with them?”

The article highlights the Give a Minute! initiative, created by Jake Barton’s media design firm Local Projects and launched recently in Chicago. Interestingly, it is quite different from conventional crowdsourcing:

At first glance, the endeavor does feel like just another version of the often-overrated concept of crowd-sourcing, which aspires to gather together the collective brilliance of those most qualified to solve complex problems but rarely does. Give a Minute did spring from an open exploration into existing open-source and crowd-sourcing platforms, but realized the general emphasis on finding the most revolutionary idea amidst the multitudes wasn’t quite right. Says Barton, “At meetings, Carol would say, ‘What are the experts not figuring out? What are these new silver bullets that trained professionals aren’t coming up with?’ It’s not about inventing new ideas but having those ideas phrased and framed by the public so it doesn’t feel like [the solution] is being dropped down from above.”

“It’s about people in a specific neighborhood saying let’s put in a garden here,” Barton continues. “I’d say it’s a more nuanced approach to crowd-sourcing, less the winner-takes-all model but rather getting a group to rally around something specific. The entire process is designed for maximum participation to some kind of constructive end. The basic idea was to reinvent public participation for the 21st century.”

Read article

26 November 2010

Car or computer? How transport is becoming more connected

Fiat's eco:Drive
The amount of data that can now be collected about how drivers use their cars is unprecedented, reports the BBC, and the impact of so much information is potentially huge.

The article highlights the innovative role of Fiat, which has been compiling data from the Blue&Me navigation systems installed on many of its cars over a six-month period – the largest such data harvest done by a major carmaker.

“It is not hard to see a future where the on-board computers get ever more sophisticated – such as personal profiles for a car, so the car’s settings are individualised for each family member.

The computer would adjust the seats, music, the suspension between sports and comfort mode, depending on which family member was using the car.

All while telling each one how to be a better – and more fuel-efficient – driver. [...]

Increased data collection also tells us a lot about different drivers and how they use the cars. [...]

Carmakers are bracing for a world where not only are cars collecting data about you, but they are sharing it with each other.”

Read article

26 November 2010

The iPhone experience in Samsung’s and LG’s backyard

iPhone in Korea
Sunday marks the one-year anniversary of Apple’s iPhone debut in Korea. Prolonged regulatory bickering had been long delayed its release, coming more than a year after its release in the U.S. and other countries. But late as it was, the iPhone’s impact was bigger than most market observers ever expected.

In fact, according to this Korean newspapers article, it changed people’s lives.

“The iPhone has influenced how people live, work, as well as socialize and entertain. [...] Seventy-seven percent of [Korea's] iPhone users are in their 20s and 30s, while 16 percent are in their 40s and 4 percent are teenagers, KT says. Sixty-one percent of iPhone users are men, and 69 percent live in a metropolitan area.” [...]

“Changes in the market and society can either occur from within or outside,” said Kang Jeong-su, a researcher at Yonsei University’s communications lab. “The iPhone is a humongous shock that came externally.”

Recent personal experience can confirm the impression of iPhone pervasiveness in South Korea. Many observations on Seoul streets, in restaurants and public transport seem to indicate that every other resident of Seoul carries the device. Public service announcements in the Seoul metro about new mobile transportation services are shown on an iPhone, rather than a locally made smartphone. Even Samsung designers and Buddhist monks cannot resist.

The article also discusses the impact on Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics:

“Samsung Electronics put up a fierce fight by releasing the Galaxy S – its latest smartphone powered by Google’s Android operating system – in the summer, while LG Electronics rolled out Optimus – also Android-based – in late May.

Samsung managed to get fairly good reviews for its smartphone, but LG’s story hasn’t been a happy one. LG ended up posting a record quarterly operating loss in the third quarter because of its late entry into the smartphone party. Nam Yong, LG Electronics’ chief executive, resigned in September to take responsibility.”

Read article

25 November 2010

Experientia’s framework for behavioural change towards sustainable lifestyles

Canvas8
Experientia partner Mark Vanderbeeken recently became one of Canvas8’s newest Thought Leaders, lending his insights and knowledge to the site’s growing archives of articles and interviews on cultural global trends.

Canvas8 draws on the knowledge of recognised industry thought leaders to offer expert insight into attitudes and behaviour. They encourage a deeper understanding of people so brands and agency planners can more effectively engage with their audience. This people-centred focus is a strong fit with Experientia’s own motto of Putting People First.

Mark’s first contribution, co-written with Experientia team member Erin O’Loughlin, was a reflection on designing for sustainability-focused behavioural change. This is a vital issue, which needs to be addressed at a multitude of levels, from a national outlook of global cooperation, to action by communities and individuals.

The article (which was originally published on the Canvas8 site and is now reproduced below) outlines Experientia’s behavioural change framework, which has been developed over the course of our work in Helsinki’s Jätkäsaari area, as part of a team constructing a low-to-no carbon emissions building block called Low2No. It identifies some of the barriers to changing to more sustainable behaviours, and some of the ways that change can be promoted and supported, in particular, by the construction of new social values and norms that value sustainability over a consumption-driven economy.

*****

Sustainable change: discovering motivations and building a community of values
Mark Vanderbeeken and Erin O’Loughlin
Conceptual input by Jan-Christoph Zoels and Irene Cassarino

 

Business has been told for years that the perfect product or service should fit people’s contexts, behaviours and attitudes. The designer’s own feelings about what might make a product or service attractive should always be informed by a solid understanding of the target market, and their contextual wants and needs.

Although too many businesses still aren’t catching on to this idea, current design thinking is moving people-centred design even further: the concept of design for behavioural change, particularly with regards to health and sustainability, sees the understanding of people as a first step in changing them. Can we use design to change people rather than adapt to existing desires and behaviours? Is it ethical? Is it desirable? Is it possible?

In the midst of a worsening climate crisis, design for behavioural change is a vital issue. We know that individually and collectively, we urgently need to start consuming less. In fact, we know that individual behavioural change could reduce personal carbon impact by as much as 15% by 2020 (see Smart2020 report). Yet not only is it difficult to know which actions are the most effective, it’s also often difficult to carry them out – whether due to lack of time, lack of commitment, lack of tools, infrastructure and services, or even the feeling of being one person toiling against the mainstream, which neutralises our good behaviour. This is where design can play a huge role in helping people and communities to comply with the existing desire to be more sustainable.
 

Not forcing change – tapping into motivations

If changing people’s behaviour through design sounds somewhat sinister, don’t worry. We’re not talking about 1984-style attempts to make people act against their natural instinct. The aim is not to constrain people’s autonomy and freedom of choice, but rather to tap into those motivations that might make changing behaviour worth it to them as individuals. Of course, we are all motivated by different things. Just look at the 2007 study on ‘nudging’ people to change their behaviour through comparative electricity bills.

The study was carried out in 80,000 Californian households, half of which received feedback on whether they were using more or less electricity than their neighbours. The results showed that people who got the feedback cut electricity usage by a modest average of two per cent. But looking closer, the researchers found something interesting – homeowners who identified themselves as politically republican only cut usage by an average of around 0.4 per cent. Those republican households who showed no practical interest in the environment actually increased their consumption by 0.75 per cent.

This doesn’t mean that those people can’t be convinced to cut back on their energy use – but it won’t be comparative billing that convinces them. Feedback has to be tailored, and changing our behaviours has to bring us a result that we want – and while people may not always want to ‘be green’, non-green motivations, such as saving money, could also lead to more sustainable behaviours. It also highlights another important aspect of behavioural change: the groups and communities that we identify with can have a big impact on our likelihood of responding to certain triggers and stimulus. So, designing tools and services for behavioural change needs to start from a triple bottom line approach, which considers the environmental, economic and social dimensions of sustainable decisions.
 

Conflicting desires

What people really want can be complicated and is of course defined by much more than our personal values. As we will discuss, physical, cultural and social factors also come into play. Often, what we want as a long-term goal, and what we want to do right now can be in conflict. Take the desire to stay trim and fit – a longer term personal value – which wavers as we walk past our favourite restaurant; or the desire to live a more sustainable life, compared to the inconvenience of walking three blocks to recycle rubbish into the right bins. Solutions need to understand the entire context of our behaviour, use the right tools to gently remind us of the benefits whilst overcoming the barriers, and then trigger the right behaviour. An elegant example of a behavioural change solution comes from Paris, where a new fountain offers locals sparkling water on tap – after discovering that aversion to still tap water was one of the main reasons many French people were buying bottled water despite concerns about the waste. A municipality in Italy is doing the same thing along its coastal walkways, in an attempt to cut down on discarded bottles. This, in turn, steps into the realm of creating products, services and public infrastructure that support sustainability – the more we build a world that supports sustainable behaviours, the easier it will be for people to change, irrespective of their values.
 

“I want to behave sustainably, but not right now”

Of course, offering us free, fizzy tap water might be a quick fix for plastic bottle consumption, but getting people to change their behaviours, and making that change last over time, is not always so simple – even when they know they should. First there is the issue of self-perception. Dirk Dobbs, in his article ‘The climate is changing, why aren’t we?’ says people often overestimate their own abilities and therefore don’t think they need to change, and have a general tendency to discount the seriousness of risks, especially if they occur far in the future.

At Experientia we’ve encountered both mentalities as barriers to more sustainable behaviour in different research projects. In one, we asked people to comment on their energy consumption use. The majority of our participants stated that they believed they used less energy than average. Obviously, statistically speaking, this can’t be true. In another project, we identified a kind of ‘on hold’ mentality, in which people are aware of the issues, want to change, and even know some basic information on what actions they could take – but put off making the changes to a “more convenient time”, perhaps waiting until they own a house to install new insulation, or get married to buy more sustainable appliances, or a new job to think about alternative ways to travel to work.
 

There is a whole world beyond the personal

As mentioned above, however, individual motivations don’t spring from nothing – they are formed by our physical environment, our culture, our social groups, our political leanings, our government’s stance and policies, and the practical tools we have at our disposal, among other things. Any attempt at behavioural change has to take action across these different areas. In Experientia’s work in Helsinki’s Jätkäsaari area, as part of a team constructing a low-to-no carbon emissions building block called Low2No, we have been working on a behavioural change framework that identifies the interplay of forces that impact our likelihood of complying with behavioural change efforts.

  • Physical considerations and constraints
    Such as the spaces in which we live, heating needs, transport infrastructure, light conditions, water and food supplies, and available technology, including the tools and interfaces which give us the information we need to make informed decisions.
     
  • Personal factors
    These include our individual green values, current consumption behaviours, transport behaviours and our levels of self-awareness regarding our own impact on climate and the available options to modify it.
     
  • Social environment
    Such as community identity, values, beliefs, memories, needs, and habits. How widely are green values shared in the community? Are people aware of pollution conditions and the associated risks? Is there a collective knowledge base about the behavioural impact on climate and the options to modify it?
     
  • Cultural context
    Finally, consider issues such as the level of commitment of public administrations and businesses to green values, the number and quality of public/private incentives for sustainable behaviours and continuous improvement and maintenance programmes, affects the likelihood of us taking personal action.

 

A framework for bottom-up change

Of course, the government has a major role to play in creating the conditions for these frameworks to thrive. Legislation will need to play a strong role in behavioural change towards sustainability. We have already seen the limits of self-governing regulatory bodies and voluntary standards in the past – Norwegian businesses only started allowing women into their boardrooms once this became mandatory, despite ten years of promises from the companies involved.

Governments will mandate change because they need to meet targets set by various international bodies and agreements. However, for change to be sustained in the long-term, it also needs to be bottom-up, and not just top-down, rising from a grassroots commitment to change, which in turn brings pressure to bear on political bodies to change at national level.

Design can support and nurture the development of this grassroots movement, through concepts that work in the four contexts described above. Our Low2No framework also defines four different kinds of actions that need to take place: Engagement and Awareness, Community Actions, Self Assessment and Leading by Example.

  • Engagement and Awareness
    As people’s awareness of climate issues are raised, they need meaningful and contextual information to help them respond. What is the difference in real terms between an A and an A++ appliance? How could this information be presented to people so that the benefits are clear? This also involves providing people with tools for evaluation, so that they are empowered to make better choices. Engagement with a new behaviour is more likely to be sustained long-term if it is easier and more convenient than previous patterns – for example, making it easier to recycle technological waste products or systems that automatically reuse grey water in gardens without any extra effort.
     
  • Community Actions
    We are social animals and our neighbours’ or peers’ behaviour will impact us strongly. We are already starting to see social reputation being used to enforce or “proof” behaviour. Comparative billing is just one example of this. How else might people’s behaviours start to change if they knew exactly what keeping up with the Joneses meant in terms of consumption?

    However, we need to go beyond the passive concept of social proofing, to help communities to build a sense of shared values, of people who have the same goals and work together. One person working alone may find it hard to sustain their commitment to a new activity – but once it becomes a social activity, family, neighbours and peers become a force of encouragement and support, with common interests. This means creating a pool of shared knowledge, accessible to all members of the community, and putting support mechanisms and networks in place to encourage compliance. This opportunity to focus sustainability efforts through the lens of community involvement also has lifestyle implications – it reframes the paradigm of urban living from one in which we live in our own households and don’t know the neighbours, to a social network in which we know exactly what our joint energy consumption is, and metaphorically (or even actually) stop on the stairs to exchange tips.
     

  • Self Assessment
    In order to translate understanding into action, people need to be able to see the real impact of their individual or group actions. Targets can help make information measurable and actionable, and simulating the impact of different alternatives can help people decide on the best course to take. Monitoring and immediate feedback can help people to see patterns in their own behaviour, showing when they are more or less compliant with their goals, and perhaps helping them to identify why. Success should be tied to rewards, from emotional satisfaction, such as having achieved the goal of using less than the average, to more tangible benefits such as financial savings or a bonus. At a community level, the ability to evaluate joint consumption and carbon emissions is an important tool for highlighting the need for further action, and the opportunity to reward sustained change.
     
  • Leading by Example
    Encouraging individuals to change is vital, but the impact has to occur at community, regional and national level. Governments and local authorities need to show their commitment to sustainable causes by facilitating open dialogue between public and private sectors, and offering public incentives to sustain change, for individuals, communities and small and big businesses alike. Positive feedback loops are needed to constantly refine processes and policies. More importantly, governments need to model the behaviours they are hoping to encourage in their populations. Change at this level can only occur once governments start to feel the pressure from their voters, and to believe that sustainability is a challenge we can no longer afford to procrastinate around.

 

A virtuous circle

The ultimate aim of behavioural change for sustainability has to be to make our lives better. If designers and policy makers can find a way to link more sustainable behaviours with a higher quality of life, then we have the problem cracked. If we can provide a context in which we can link personal satisfaction and self-actualisation with a lower rate of consumption, and a more sustainable lifestyle, then we can create a society in which wealth means not having more, but living better. To do this, people must be offered the right tools and information to effect change, as well as the conditions to create new tools and new values, and to communicate these to others. In the end, change becomes a self-reinforcing loop, in which design influences people to behave more sustainably, and people’s desire to act ‘green’ drives design and public policy.

24 November 2010

Governments benefit from embracing new technologies to engage with citizens

Kelly Dempski
Governments around the world must continue to embrace social media and other new technologies because besides empowering citizens new technologies bring in a “myriad of benefits” for the public sector as well, argues Kelly Dempski of Accenture Technology Labs on eGov Monitor.

For the government, he claims, this new paradigm offers a myriad benefits. For example:
– Reduced cost per engagement
– More opportunities for people to help each other
– More directed mouthpiece to the citizens
– More direct connection with the community and their interests
– More knowledge about who they’re talking to
– Multimedia sharing
– Opportunity for citizens to develop mashups and other applications to support the government’s efforts

Read article

24 November 2010

Evaluating Nordic Living Labs

ENoLL Nordic
Over the past decade, Living Labs have become an established part of local and regional innovation systems, using a variety of methods and tools, and focusing on a wide array of domains and themes.

However, the experimental, learning-by-doing set up of Living Labs within various application domains and the disconnection between individual Living Labs, has lead to a wide variation of approaches, results and impacts of Living Lab activities. Furthermore, the economic logic and business models for Living Labs remain underdeveloped. Therefore, as this innovation instrument matures, it is paramount to ensure that its main strength in terms of local applicability does not turn into a significant weakness in terms of the relevance, validity and robustness of Living Lab test results.

Reflecting these concerns, the ENoLL Nordic project primarily aimed at benchmarking and harmonizing best practices for setting up and conducting individual Living Lab research.

Download report

24 November 2010

Mobile user experience trends on the horizon

UX Magazine
Marek Pawlowski, the founder of MEX, explores in UX Magazine several future trends he expects to be of significance for UX practitioners as the balance of user expectations tilts ever further towards mobile scenarios.

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24 November 2010

“The greenest product is the one that already exists.”

Zipcars
David Wigder, Vice President of Business Development at RecycleBank, explores on Marketing Green the rise of the peer-to-peer green economy, and in particular the three emerging peer-to-peer models that can facilitate greener transactions:

“Online models challenge the notion of permanent ownership, and with it the environmental impact that it brings. Instead, ownership is viewed as a temporary or altogether unnecessary condition required for realizing product benefits. Products such as cars, beds, clothes, lawnmowers and drills often lay idle and available for use if only those that are in need connect with those that have. Collectively, many have dubbed such transactions ‘collaborative’ consumption because they require the involvement of a community network to make them liquid.”

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(via FutureLab)

23 November 2010

The Morrow Project and futurism at Intel

The Morrow Project
Intel’s Chief Futurist, Brian David Johnson, is a big advocate of using science fiction narratives as a jumping off point for a discussion between management and engineering about the future of Intel’s business, reports BoingBoing today (see also video).

Intel Germany’s Morrow Project (“Uber Morgen“) has commissioned four writers — Douglas Rushkoff, Ray Hammond, Scarlett Thomas and Markus Heitz — to produce science fictional pieces on the future that the company can use in its own planning. Intel has also released free ebooks and podcasts of the works in German and English.

“The Morrow-Project” is a unique literary project which shows the important effects that contemporary research will have on our future and the relevance that this research has for each of us. Research currently being conducted by Intel in the fields of photonics, robotics, telematics, dynamic physical rendering and intelligent sensors served as the basis to inspire four bestselling authors. The results are four short stories which paint amusing, thought-provoking and hopeful pictures of our future.

The stories
– All in one (podcast | pdf)
Last Day of Work – by Douglas Rushkoff (podcast)
The Mercy Dash – by Ray Hammond (podcast)
The Drop – by Scarlett Thomas (podcast)
The Blink of an Eye – by Markus Heitz (podcast)

22 November 2010

Video message by Experientia’s Michele Visciola at World Usability Day 2010 in Japan

WUD Japan
Experientia president Michele Visciola was invited to send a video message to the World Usability Day 2010 event in Tokyo, Japan.

Michele, who is also European Regional Coordinator for the Usability Professional’s Association, spoke on the event’s theme of communication, and the relationship between communication and usability in research and design activities.

In this short video (with Japanese subtitles), Michele explains how both communication and usability practices boil down to gaining the trust of the customer.

22 November 2010

Invading Cyprus with user-centred design

Schedia
A group of young designers are making their mark on Nicosia’s urban scene by creatively redesigning “misused public spaces”.

“Our goal is to give solutions on how these spaces could be used,” said designer Marina Hadjilouca, one of the founders and designers of Schedia, organisers of this weekend’s Urban Invaders event.

Schedia was set up in December 2009 and focuses on user-centred designs, exploring how methods used within this area of design can improve urban regeneration, such as the transformation of the old town of Nicosia, as well as public and private places like libraries. This type of design is centred on the user, researching its characteristics and providing solutions that meet their needs, wishes and expectations. The process covers each stage of design, starting from the research involving the public to the outline of the idea and the development of the space.

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22 November 2010

Can the developed world learn from Kenya’s experience with the mobile wallet?

m-pesa
Using your mobile phone to do your banking and to buy goods and services is becoming more common, with the rise of the smartphone.

In developing world countries like Kenya, the technology to do this has been around for several years – and you do not need a bank account to use it.

M-Pesa launched in 2007, and there are now nearly 100 services like it around the world, mainly in developing countries.

Can the developed world learn from Kenya’s experience with the mobile wallet?

The BBC’s Fiona Graham finds out.

Watch video

21 November 2010

Growing up digital, wired for distraction

Growing up digital
Matt Richtel reflects in a long New York Times article on the impact of growing up digital. The constant stream of stimuli offered by new technology, he says, poses a profound new challenge to focusing and learning.

“Students have always faced distractions and time-wasters. But computers and cellphones, and the constant stream of stimuli they offer, pose a profound new challenge to focusing and learning.

Researchers say the lure of these technologies, while it affects adults too, is particularly powerful for young people. The risk, they say, is that developing brains can become more easily habituated than adult brains to constantly switching tasks — and less able to sustain attention.”

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