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Putting People First

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July 2011
7 July 2011

Report: Behaviour Change and Energy Use

Behaviour Change and Energy Use
The Behavioural Insight Team of David Cameron’s Cabinet Office – widely known as the ‘nudge unit‘, has published the report, Behaviour Change and Energy Use, setting out how we can use behavioural insights to help people save energy and money. The report launches a series of trials and changes to (UK) government policy which will make it easier for individuals to green their homes and use less energy.

“This paper shows how government can make it easier for people to use energy more efficiently. It sets out a range of trials to test different ways of applying behavioural insights to overcome barriers to being more energy efficient. This research will help to ensure that government policy on energy efficiency will be as effective as possible in motivating behavioural change.

Chapter 1 sets out how we can encourage people to green their homes and be more energy efficient.
Chapter 2 focuses on how we can use information more effectively to encourage people to be more energy efficient. In particular, it explores how we can draw upon the fact that people are influenced by what those around them are doing (social norms), and are more likely to be influenced by information which is novel, accessible and of relevance to the individual in question.
Chapter 3 demonstrates how the Government has already done a great deal to achieve energy efficiency savings of its own. The Government set itself a target to reduce emissions from departments by 10% in just one year. The application of behavioural insights has helped the Government to surpass this objective, for example through changes to the default settings of heating and lighting systems. This chapter also recognises the work done by UK businesses, non-governmental organisations and other organisations, and sets out a new Responsibility Deal, whose aim is to encourage organisations to make public commitments to reduce energy use.

Taken together, these trials and reforms show how the Government is drawing on new evidence to encourage positive behaviours in ways that do not require a new legislative initiative or spending programme. We will evaluate their impact, and ensure that lessons learnt inform future policy.”

(via Dan Lockton)

7 July 2011

Web 3.0 is all about social personalisation

Social media
Forget Web 2.0. During a panel on social media at the recent Wharton Global Alumni Forum, industry experts argued that we are now in a “third wave” of disruption in the tech sector. While the post-bubble era was about user-generated content, they say the future will be centered on filtering the immense amount of data available on the web and helping users find information from the people they care about most — their friends.

“Web 2.0 was centered on user-generated content, where anyone could be a publisher. We’re now in the third wave — I call it a social wave,” said Travis Katz, [founder and CEO of travel recommendations site Gogobot and] a former MySpace executive who served on a Forum panel titled “New Directions for Social Media.” Also on the panel were Ethan Beard, Facebook’s director of platform partnerships; Wharton Digital Press executive editor Shannon Berning; entrepreneur and Lotus 1-2-3 designer Mitch Kapor; and Bryan Srabian, director of social media for the San Francisco Giants.

The web has grown to the point where “there’s too much information,” according to Katz. “Finding ways to filter out information and find what’s relevant to you is getting harder and harder. The model of Google doesn’t work at scale — especially when it comes to things where taste matters.”

Katz predicted that the future of the Internet “is one where every page is going to be personalized.

Read article

6 July 2011

How computers can cure cultural diabetes

Peter Lunenfeld
Peter Lunenfeld (wikipedia), professor in the Design | Media Arts department at UCLA, argues in a New Scientist op-ed piece for the importance of what he calls “meaningful uploading”, which is still difficult for most people since “for the past half-century, much of the world’s media culture has been defined by a single medium – television – and television is defined by downloading.”

“What counts as meaningful uploading? My definition revolves around the concept of “stickiness” – creations and experiences to which others adhere. Tweets about celebrity gaffes are not sticky but rather little Teflon balls of meaninglessness. In contrast, applications like tumblr.com, which allow users to combine pictures, words and other media in creative ways and then share them, have the potential to add stickiness by amusing, entertaining and enlightening others – and engendering more of the same. The explosion of apps for mobile phones and tablets means that even people with limited programming skills can now create sticky things.”

Read article

6 July 2011

Alone together

Sherry Turkle
MIT technology and society specialist Professor Sherry Turkle presents – during a June 1 talk at the RSA in London – the results of a fifteen year exploration of the colossal impact technology has had on our lives and communities.

Thirty years ago we asked what we would use computers for. Now the question is what we don’t use them for. Now, through technology, we create, navigate and carry out our emotional lives. We shape our buildings, Winston Churchill argued, then they shape us. The same is true of our digital technologies. Technology has become the architect of our intimacies.

Online, we face a moment of temptation. Drawn by the illusion of companionship without the demands of intimacy, we conduct “risk free” affairs on Second Life and confuse the scattershot postings on a Facebook wall with authentic communication. And now, we are promised “sociable robots” that will marry companionship with convenience. Technology promises to let us do anything from anywhere with anyone. But it also drains us as we try to do everything everywhere.

We begin to feel overwhelmed and depleted by the lives technology makes possible. We may be free to work from anywhere, but we are also prone to being lonely everywhere. In a surprising twist, relentless connection leads to a new solitude. We turn to new technology to fill the void, but as technology ramps up, our emotional lives ramp down.

MIT technology and society specialist Professor Sherry Turkle has spent fifteen-years exploring our lives on the digital terrain. Based on interviews with hundreds of children and adults, she visits the RSA to describe new, unsettling relationships between friends, lovers, parents and children, and new instabilities in how we understand privacy and community, intimacy and solitude.

Chair: Aleks Krotoski, academic, journalist and host of the Guardian’s Tech Weekly.

Video (20 min): vimeoyoutubedownload (mp4)
Audio (64 min): download mp3

6 July 2011

The iPad as support for people with disabilities

ZoomText Magnifier/Reader
The Apple tablet is helping people with disabilities by reading e-mails, voicing directions, and zooming in on text.

“Apple has added features that make the iPhone and iPad easily accessible, not only to visually impaired people but also to those with hearing loss and other challenges. The iPhone 4 and the iPad 2, for example, come with VoiceOver, a screen reader for those who can’t read print, as well as FaceTime, video-calling software for people who communicate using sign language. Apple has said that iOS 5—due later this year—will contain improvements to VoiceOver and LED flash and custom vibration settings to let users see and feel when someone is calling.

More such devices as the iPad and iPhone will make their way into the workplace to assist people with physical challenges in the next five years. Disability and aging go hand-in-hand: As baby boomers work past age 65, companies will increasingly face this issue. […]

“Boomers will demand products, services, and workplaces that adapt to their needs and desires,” says Rich Donovan, chief investment officer at WingSail Capital. Crossover technology such as the iPad, which works well both for people with disabilities and the broader consumer market, are the “holy grail” of business and disability efforts and will drive growth in disability-related capital spending, he says.”

Read article

4 July 2011

For ebook devotees, reading is a whole new experience

eReaders
Matt Frassica asks — in The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal (republished in USA Today) — what the increasing popularity of e-reader devices means for the experience of reading. Do we read differently when we can get (almost) any book ever published, whenever we want?

Read article

2 July 2011

Help us say no to Italian internet censorship

AGCOM
AGCOM, Italy’s independent and autonomous Communications Authority is about to decide (on July 6) to controversially appoint itself – without any further Parliament approval needed – to take on the powers to order the removal of any online content in case of presumed copyright violation. It can black out foreign sites and take down Italian ones within 48 hours. No further court decision is required for these actions to take effect.

The deliberation 668/2010 of the Italian Authority for Communications Guarantees (AGCOM) in matter of online copyright entitles AGCOM to remove contents from web pages or to block the access to foreign web sites for Italian users in case of copyright violation, all within 48 hours. The Authority would be free to decide following an administrative procedure, this means that judicial proceedings won’t be required and AGCOM will operate with complete independence from the judiciary system.

No distinction among public web sites, blogs, private pages, web portals. Any web page would be under AGCOM’s control and would be subjected only to the Authority’s censorship rules, bypassing the judges’ pronouncement required until now. A simple report by the copyright owners will be sufficient for proceeding to the removal of the contents or, in case of a foreign web site, to the IP address blockage denying the access to all Italian users.

Some international attention would be very helpful here.

in English:
Background article
Avaaz campaign website

More background in Italian here:
L’Espresso
– La Repubblica: 1 July
– Il Sole 24 Ore: 1 July | 3 July
– La Stampa: 26 June | 29 June | 30 June | 30 June | 1 July | Comment by Berckman Center Fellow Juan Carlos De Martin

2 July 2011

The Encyclopedia of Human Computer Interaction (HCI)

Interactive UX
Donald Norman alerts us – with strong recommendation – to check out the Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction now being assembled by Mads Soegaard and the team at Interaction-Design.org. A

Seven chapters – Action Research, Bifocal Display, Data Visualization for Human Perception, Human Computer Interaction (HCI), Interaction Design, User Experience and Experience Design, and Visual Representation – are already online (all with highly qualified authorities as authors) and 49 more are to come soon.

All content is available free, for downloading, reading on line, and even excerpting (don’t forget to give proper credit and citation), all under a Creative Commons copyright agreement.

Citation: Soegaard, Mads (Ed). Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction. http://www.interaction-design.org/encyclopedia/

2 July 2011

How print design is the future of interaction

Mike Kruzeniski
Mike Kruzeniski is Creative Director at Microsoft, in the Windows Phone design studio, currently leading the Windows Phone Apps Design team. Kruzeniski gave a talk at SXSW Interactive, entitled “How Print Design is the Future of Interaction,” about how the history of print design is becoming an important influence in the evolution of interaction design.

As a craft, design for printed media has a rich history. Several generations of designers have pushed its boundaries in countless directions. It has been shaped over several hundred years as both a functional and aesthetic discipline, with a deep foundation of principles, practices, theories, and professional dialogue.

In comparison, Interaction and UI Design is still a relatively young field. Its history has largely been driven by technology and functional goals. The dialogue around it has been centered on usability, which has been its purpose in the context of technological advancement. The visual language of UI has evolved from that standpoint: that it should evoke the familiar, analog experience of tools, buttons, knobs, and dials. That foundation has led to a very specific visual language in interactive experiences.

In the past ten years however, the relevant technologies that support the design of Interfaces – displays, processing speeds, and rendering engines – have matured to a point that they provide a more capable canvas for design. Meanwhile, our culture has become visibly more comfortable with the technologies that surround it. These combination of trends are creating an important inflection point for designers. The aesthetic experience of the digital surface can now be considered and explored in a more sophisticated manner.

Read talk crib
View slides

1 July 2011

Experientia teams with Innovhub, to make its services available to Milan SMEs at 50% of the cost

Innovhub
Innovhub, the innovation agency of the Milan Chamber of Commerce, has selected the international user experience design consultancy Experientia to help Milan-based SMEs to innovate, using the most advanced processes in web and industrial design.

The goal of Innovhub is to promote innovation and competitiveness for Milan-based small-to-medium sized enterprises, by encouraging innovative processes and business culture, and by promoting the development of services which support business innovation. Innovhub has carefully selected a group of collaborators with a high level of excellence in innovation services, and are offering Milan SMEs access to these companies at 50% of the cost (the remainder being paid for by Innovhub itself).

Innovhub selected Experientia – because of its reputation as a leading UX consultancy – to collaborate in the category “Innovation of products and processes through user interaction (Living labs)”.

Experientia will provide services aimed at the development of new products, services and interfaces, with a user-centred approach. It is the only company currently collaborating with Innovhub from the user experience design field.

Experientia is an international company, based in Italy, and it welcomes this exciting opportunity to work more closely with Italian businesses. User Experience Design is a relatively new concept in Italy, and one of Experientia’s goals when it was founded nearly six years ago was to increase the perception in the Italian market of the importance of a user-centred design approach as a key element, and not an accessory, for sustainable growth.

Milan-based SMEs interested in the opportunity, or in finding out more about how Experientia can help them to innovate their products, services and processes should contact president Michele Visciòla on +39 011 812 9687.

For more on Experientia, browse our services and our recent projects.