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Putting People First

Daily insights on user experience, experience design and people-centred innovation
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January 2012
25 January 2012

Inclusive Design – a people centered strategy for innovation

customer_needs

The Norwegian Design Council has published a new resource site about inclusive design, to inform and communicate how this approach can be used as a strategy for innovation and development of more user-friendly products and services for the mainstream market.

Note also that the Council will be organising the European Business Workshops on Inclusive Design 2012 on 7-8 June in Oslo, Norway. The two-day sessions are conceived as inspiring, method-based workshops for business organisations and designers.

25 January 2012

The ethnography of robots

sgeiger

Heather Ford spoke with Stuart Geiger, PhD student at the UC Berkeley School of Information, about his emerging ideas about the ethnography of robots. “Not the ethnography of robotics (e.g. examining the humans who design, build, program, and otherwise interact with robots, which I and others have been doing),” wrote Geiger, “but the ways in which bots themselves relate to the world”. Geiger believes that constructing and relating an emic account of the non-human should be the ultimate challenge for ethnography but that he’s getting an absurd amount of pushback from it.” He explains why in this fascinating account of what it means to study the culture of robots.

Read interview

25 January 2012

Does corporate ethnography suck?

samladner

In this first piece, Sam Ladner examines the different temporal conceptions of ethnographic fieldwork in industry and academia:

“Academics frequently criticize corporate ethnography simply as “too short.” But this is just as shallow an insight as is the idea that culture=consumerism. Academics, of all people, should know that culture drives practice. The rapid pace of contemporary corporate life clearly and reasonably demands shorter time horizons for any research project. It is more than obvious that time differs in academia.”

Read article

Sam Ladner’s post lead to an extensive discussion on anthrodesign, with contributions by such people as Uday Dandavate, Tricia Wang and Melissa Cefkin.

In Part 2, Sam will discuss how corporate ethnographers can avoid compromising research.

25 January 2012

State of Interaction Design: Diverging, by David Malouf

dublin_city_gpo

In anticipation of the upcoming IxDA Interaction12 Conference taking place in Dublin, Ireland February 1–4, Core77 is bringing us a preview of this year’s event, including this guest post by David Malouf, professor of Interaction Design in the Industrial Design Department at the Savannah College of Art and Design.

“In the last year IxD, as a community of practice, has faced its strongest challenge to date. We have shifted from converging and assimilating to a community that is ever rapidly diverging.

The divergence is happening along the lines of the gravitational interests from where interaction design was born or where the slippery slope of our primary interest takes us. The divergence is also because the level of complexity of our problem sets have grown so vast that no single group can or should keep track of all of it. We have split basically along our primary lines of interest: Engineering, Individuals (psychology), Culture (anthropology) and Art.”

Read article

Note that Experientia partner Jan-Christoph Zoels will be attending Interaction12 as well.

25 January 2012

The shift from watching TV to experiencing TV

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As more and more devices in your home get connected to the Internet, the user experience becomes increasingly important.

The people at ReadWriteWeb announce that over the coming months they will be exploring the world of User Experience design, by interviewing UX experts and reviewing products that get it right – and some that get it wrong. They will start by looking at how the user experience of televisions is becoming more interactive and what this will mean to your TV consumption habits.

We look forward to it.

25 January 2012

The city as interface. Digital media and the urban public sphere

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On 23 January 2012, Martijn de Waal defended his Ph.D. thesis ‘The city as interface’ at the Philosophy Department of the University of Groningen.

Abstract:

The main concern of the study ‘The City as Interface’ is the future of the urban public sphere. It investigates various scenarios that describe how the rise of digital and mobile media technologies, such as the mobile phone, GPS-navigation, and the usage of social networks through smartphones, change the way the urban public sphere functions.

Most studies on the urban public sphere have so far theorized it as a spatial construct, a physical place for encounter and social interaction. Yet, such a purely spatial approach has become problematic now that new media technologies, from the mobile phone to urban sensor networks, have started to play an important role in the experience and organization of everyday urban life. The experience of the city has become extended by media technologies that bring absent others or distant (either in time and space) contexts into the here-and-now. The infrastructure of these new technologies and the way they are programmed now co-shape urban life, just like the physical infrastructures and the spatial programming of urban planning have always done.

This may lead to two different (non-exclusive) scenarios that enforce a broader trend in which people sort themselves out geographically, that is: people are more and more keeping in touch with people who share a similar identity or particular goal. Citizens may use digital media as ‘filters’ that allows them to find the spaces where they are likely to meet people who are similar to them. Institutions may use these same technologies to target particular audiences and make places more attractive to them, or even to exclude access to those who do not belong.

A second scenario also builds upon a broader geographic trend that has been called ‘Living Together Apart.’ This is a development in which various urban publics live in and use the same geographic areas, but do not interact much. An example is found in the former working class turned migrant quarters near European inner cities that have become gentrified over the last decades. Local working class people, young professionals and migrants share the same neighborhood. A Turkish coffee house might be located next to a designer coffee bar. They are geographically close, but are separated by a large symbolic distance. The filtering mechanisms of mobile media could enforce this scenario. The chaotic experience of all those different worlds on top of each other becomes ‘navigable’ and ‘inhabitable’ through the use of urban media that help users locate those microvariations in space that are relevant to them.

That, however, is only one part of my findings. Urban media also have the affordance to create a public sphere in new ways. Urban media can create a new type of platform that can bring forth collective issues around which publics can organize. Data from various sensor networks can be mapped to, for instance, show the air quality or energy use of a city. These mappings can become a condensation point around which publics start to organize themselves. In addition, the use of urban media can be used to make individual contributions to such communal issues visible. This could mean that it becomes easier to turn resources into a ‘commons’, a communally used and managed resource. First examples of these are the bike and car sharing schemes that have sprung up in various cities around the world. There is a chance that the communal use and management of these practical collective issues could lead to the formation of publics around these issues that bring together people from various backgrounds. I have shown how ‘open data’ initiatives could perhaps play a similar role. These too could create new platforms on which urban publics can form.

At the same time I have also argued that the introduction of a new platform by itself is not enough for a public realm to come into being. To function as a public realm, platforms need a program that provide one or more functions that will attract citizens from various backgrounds. This is true for physical spaces as well as for urban media platforms. Studies have shown that digital platforms can enhance the sense of a local community or public in a particular neighborhood, but that this does not happen by itself.

(via SmartMobs)

25 January 2012

The psychology of persuasion

agent31

All human societies are alive with the battle for influence. Every single day each of us is subject to innumerable persuasion attempts from corporations, interest groups, political parties and other organisations. Each trying to persuade us that their product, idea or innovation is what we should buy, believe in or vote for.

In our personal lives the same struggle is played out for the supremacy of viewpoints, ideals and actions. Whether it’s friends and family, work colleagues, potential employers or strangers, each of us has to work out how to bring others around to our own point of view. We all play the influence game, to greater or lesser degrees.

Psychologists have been studying how we try to influence each other for many years. In an 18 part blog series on PsyBlog, Jeremy Dean, researcher at University College London, has been covering some highlights of this research, which are collected below.

1. 3 Universal Goals to Influence People
Effective influence and persuasion isn’t just about patter, body language or other techniques, it’s also about understanding people’s motivations. Central to the art and science of persuasion is understanding three goals for which everyone is aiming.

2. The Persuasive Power of Swearing
Show your passion and people have one more emotional reason to come around to your point of view. But how can we convince others of our conviction? Light swearing at the start or end of a persuasive speech can help influence an audience.

3. Loudest Voice = Majority Opinion
Even if only one member of a group repeats their opinion, it is more likely to be seen by others as representative of the whole group.

4. Don’t Take No For An Answer
You ask someone for a favour and they say no. Where do you go from there? Dealing effectively with objections can be more powerful than other standard methods of persuasion.

5. The Influence of Fleeting Attraction
Friendship is a fantastic lever for persuasion and influence, a lever we happily push on every day. But how much does someone have to like us before we can start to influence them?

6. Caffeine Makes Us Easier to Persuade
Of all the effects caffeine has on our minds—enhanced attention, vigilance and cognition—perhaps least known is its tendency to make us more susceptible to persuasion.

7. Persuasion: The Right-Ear Advantage
If you want someone to comply with a random request for a cigarette, you should speak into their right ear.

8. Balanced Arguments Are More Persuasive
The instinct to paper over weaknesses in our argument is wrong—so long as we counter criticism.

9. The Battle Between Thoughts and Emotions in Persuasion
Nowadays people tend to use ‘I think’ and ‘I feel’ interchangeably. Does it make any difference whether what you say is couched in ‘thinking’ or ‘feeling’ terms?

10. Our Secret Attitude Changes
When you change your attitude about something, do you know why? Psychologists have argued that the inner workings of our minds are largely hidden away from us. One aspect of this is the surprising finding that people are often unaware when they have changed their attitudes.

11. Are Fast Talkers More Persuasive?
Beware the fast-talker, the person with the gift of the gab—the friendly salesman, the oily politician—running through the ‘facts’ faster than you can keep up.

12. Persuasion: The Sleeper Effect
Any time we receive a persuasive message before we find out who the source is, the sleeper effect can come into play.

13. Communicating Persuasively: Email or Face-to-Face?
Face-to-face communication is usually most persuasive but it’s not always possible to meet in person. How, then, do people react to persuasion attempts over email?

14. The Influence of Positive Framing
Do people really pay more attention to frightening messages? Actually emphasising the positive can be more persuasive than pointing out the negative.

15. The Illusion of Truth
Repetition is used everywhere: advertising, politics and the media. It seems too simplistic that just repeating a persuasive message should increase its effect, but that’s exactly what psychological research finds (again and again).

16. 9 Propaganda Techniques in Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11
Back in the Summer of 2004 Michael Moore brought out ‘Fahrenheit 9/11′, his personal view of how terrorist attacks in the US were used to pursue illegal wars. This article examines the psychological techniques of persuasion used in that film.

17. Persuasion: The Third-Person Effect
Attractive woman holding a bottle of beer? Hah! How stupid do they think we are? Many people say that persuasion attempts have little or no effect on them. Other people, oh sure, adverts, work on them. But not you and I, we’re too clever for that.

18. 20 Simple Steps to the Perfect Persuasive Message
Perfection is hard to achieve in any walk of life and persuasion is no different. It relies on many things going just right at the crucial moment; the perfect synchronisation of source, message and audience. But even if perfection is unlikely, we all need to know what to aim for.

25 January 2012

Business ethnography as a key strategy for international brands

The Brazilian Dream

Two interesting posts by Danish photographer and visual ethnographer Jacob Langvad Nilsson:

Business ethnography as a key strategy for international brands
When penetrating new markets, two critical mistakes seem to repeat themselves. The first mistake involves thinking that because it is already a big and recognizable brand, its potential consumers will be overwhelmingly impressed when the products becomes available in a new market. The second mistake is for the business to think that solely relying on macro-economic data and quantitative research methods will suffice to understand the aspirations and needs of its consumers.
If a brand builds its consumer insight on data derived from an endless list of questions, it will help little more than to re-affirm pre-conceived notions. Fortunately today, smart brand executives are becoming increasingly aware of the potential value in a more thorough use of ethnographic research. A meaningful market research today is build on immersive studies combining participant-observations with social behavior analyses to build a holistic understanding of the consumer based on patterns of behavior.

Business ethnography: the new middle-class consumer
What does a modern, informed teenager from São Paulo have in common with his New York counterpart? Probably more than with another teenager from his own country but from a smaller city like Manaus, the capital city of the state of Amazonas and Brazil’s seventh largest city. Ethnographic studies show that culture and consumer behavior across the world capitals are more comparable than within a country’s capital and its second- and third-tier cities. This does not suggest that the average, middle-class teenager from Manaus has everything in common with another from a place like Hyderabad (India), Chongqing (China), or Krasnoyarsk (Russia). However, it does imply that they are all witnessing an incredible economic development of their countries, and together, with the rest of their generation, they are in fact the driving force behind it.

25 January 2012

Book: Applying Anthropology in the Global Village

978-1-61132-086-2-frontcover

Applying Anthropology in the Global Village
Edited by Christina Wasson, Mary Odell Butler and Jacqueline Copeland-Carson
Left Coast Press – November 2011 – 326 pp.
Hardback (978-1-61132-085-5)
Paperback (978-1-61132-086-2)

The realities of the globalized world have revolutionized traditional concepts of culture, community, and identity—so how do applied social scientists use complicated, fluid new ideas such as translocality and ethnoscape to solve pressing human problems?

In this book, leading scholar/practitioners survey the development of different subfields over at least two decades, then offer concrete case studies to show how they have incorporated and refined new concepts and methods.

After an introduction synthesizing anthropological practice, key theoretical concepts, and ethnographic methods, chapters examine the arenas of public health, community development, finance, technology, transportation, gender, environment, immigration, aging, and child welfare.

An innovative guide to joining dynamic theoretical concepts with on-the-ground problem solving, this book will be of interest to practitioners from a wide range of disciplines who work on social change, as well as an excellent addition to graduate and undergraduate courses.

13 January 2012

Affective computing

affective_computing

Chapter twelve of the interaction-design.org resource is now available in preview. It deals with what HCI specialists call ‘affective computing’ and was written by Kristina Höök, professor in Human-Machine Interaction at Stockholm University.

As Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Interaction Design moved from designing and evaluating work-oriented applications towards dealing with leisure-oriented applications, such as games, social computing, art, and tools for creativity, we have had to consider e.g. what constitutes an experience, how to deal with users’ emotions, and understanding aesthetic practices and experiences.

The author describes three strands of affective computing: 1. Affective computing (based on cognition, and the most widely known); 2. Affective interaction (coming from a more culture-based angle); and 3. Technology as experience (arguably more art-based).

The different angles show projects that range from helping people with autism to creating text messages with emotion-related colours.

She finishes with a caution that with affective computing “we may easily cross the thin line from persuasion to coercion, creating for technological control of our behavior and bodies.” Her example is a parody fitness app ”I’m sorry, Dave, you shouldn’t eat that. Dave, you know I don’t like it when you eat donuts” just as you are about to grab a donut.”, but she could be talking about the XKCD take on Facebook suggestions as well.

(via Johnny Holland)

Read article

13 January 2012

Jan Chipchase gets asked critical questions and responds

imperialist_tendencies

During the Pop!Tech conference, well known design researcher Jan Chipchase gave a talk about his research work. In the panel session an audience member asked two questions relating to personal motivations of doing this kind of research and whether anyone has the moral right to extract knowledge from a community for corporate gain:

– What is it like working for BigCorps pillaging the intellect of people around the world for commercial gain?
– How do you sleep at night as the corporations you work for pump their worthless products into the world?

Read his answer

12 January 2012

Elizabeth Churchill on emotion

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Elizabeth Churchill, Principal Research Scientist at Yahoo! Research, was the speaker at the October 2011 Creative Mornings event in San Francisco.

In her talk she discussed how we hide, reveal and misinterpret emotion online and off.

Watch video (30 min)

12 January 2012

Tapping social networks for design research recruiting, by Jan Chipchase

janchipchase

Jan Chipchase thinks that 80 to 90% of current recruiting for design research/ethnographic studies (excluding focus groups) that is currently placed through recruiting agencies could from a skill and work-flow perspective, be carried out in-house through a clever use of social networks.

“For researchers this means learning new skills: maintaining an online identity that is a suitable interface for potential recruits; knowing how to gauge reach through which social networking sites, running and iterating an ad-campaign; effectively screening and knowing how to turn leads into participants. Whilst it is relatively early days the effectiveness of the platform and the low barriers to entry will mean that the change will be rapid. You are the agents of this change.”

Read article

2 January 2012

AI will change our relationship with tech

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Genevieve Bell, interaction and experience research director at Intel Labs, has published a guest post on the BBC website on how artificial intelligence will change our relationship with tech.

“I think in 2012 we will start to see signs of change in our relationships with devices.

Here I do not just mean more forms of new interfaces and new interactions. This is less about gesture and voice recognition and more about machines that are contextually and situationally aware.

And there is lots of serious technology in the works to make that happen – networking technology that knows when to switch networks to make sure your voice-over-IP call does not drop; cameras that know how to make you look your best, smart devices that actually learn about your likes and dislikes and make better choices to delight and surprise you.”

Read article

2 January 2012

More than money

morethanmoney

It’s increasingly clear that we live in collaborative times. Many of the most interesting innovations of recent years have at their heart ideas of sharing, bartering, lending, trading, renting, gifting, exchanging or swapping. These are age-old concepts being reinvented through network technologies and a cultural shift driven by the more civic minded millennial generation.

The report, with the subtitle “Platforms for exchange and reciprocity in public services”, was commissioned by NESTA and nef in an attempt to learn the lessons from the past and to provide a framework for understanding the many different approaches to complementary currencies and other platforms for reciprocal exchange.

An associated literature review brings together the existing evidence of impact, outcomes and cost that exist across reciprocal exchange systems. Time banks, complementary currencies and peer-to-peer platforms for collaborative consumption are all examples of these reciprocal exchange systems, and to structure this review we have created a typology of different types of systems to organise the evidence.