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Putting People First

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September 2012
16 September 2012

Luxury brands need luxury retail experiences, even in the online space

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Jonathan Ross, business development director at FACT-Finder, discusses the steps luxury brands can take to ensure a more rewarding online retail experience for consumers.

“A recent study by McKinsey and Altagamma, the Italian association of luxury brands, appears to finally dispel the idea that online shopping is the preserve of discounted brands and shoppers looking to pick up a bargain. As far as the luxury category was concerned, there was a nagging suspicion that shoppers needed to experience a tactile relationship with their potential purchases in a way that could never be achieved online.

The McKinsey study surveyed more than 300 luxury brands, 700 websites and more than 2.5m online comments, including those on social media platforms. Digital sales are expected to reach about €15bn in the luxury market by 2016, but the survey also found that use of the internet by consumers for research and price comparison meant that about 15% of total sales in the luxury goods industry are directly generated by digital media. As much as a fifth of store sales (a market worth in the region of €34bn) is said to be directly influenced by the online experience.”

> Financial Times article about the Digital Luxury Experience report

16 September 2012

PARC ethnographer on the power of observation

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In an article for GigaOM, Ellen Isaacs (personal site), a user experience designer and ethnographer for PARC, explains the benefits of using ethnography to develop better mobile products.

“Ethnographic studies likely save businesses far more time than they take. These observations and analysis can reveal insights that shift projects toward demonstrated problems. They also provide specific information about what features to include and how to design them to fit with people’s current practices. And perhaps most importantly, they can keep companies from developing a technology that solves the wrong problem or does it the wrong way. With benefits like this, it seems to me that companies don’t have time not to do ethnography.”

16 September 2012

Should we focus on user experience?

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This article by my compatriot Koen AT Claes claims that our current notion of UX design mistakenly focuses on experience, and that we should go one step further and focus on the memory of an experience instead

“Studies of behavioral economics have changed my entire perspective on UX design, causing me to question basic tenets. This has led to ponderings like: “Is it possible that trying to create ‘great experiences’ is pointless?” Nobel Prize-winning research seems to hint that it is.”

Via concrete examples, additional research sources, and some initial how-to tips, the author aims to illustrate why and how we should recalibrate our UX design processes.

14 September 2012

The age of data sharing (report)

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We live in an age of sharing. As consumers and online, we regularly share personal information, and generate new data through our browsing or purchasing history. Businesses and government are increasingly aware of the value of this information, which can result in better and cheaper services for customers, new sources of income for businesses and improved public services. But the question of who owns this information, and how it is collected, stored and used, is becoming a major consumer rights issue. It is crucial, therefore, that people are at the heart of any new settlement.

The Data Dialogue report (80 pages), released today by Demos UK, sets out the results of the largest ever poll of public attitudes on personal information and data-sharing. Based on a representative sample of 5,000 adults, the report finds a growing crisis in consumer confidence over how government and business handle personal data, and discomfort about the way in which personal information and data are currently being used.

The report argues that this loss of confidence could have a knock-on effect on the economy and on the quality of services available to consumers. However, it also finds that views about sharing change when people are given more control and choice about what data is shared, and when the benefit of sharing that data is made clear to them. It therefore suggests that consumers should be engaged in an honest dialogue about how data are collected and used, and be given meaningful choice and control over the information they share. That will be good for business and consumers alike.

11 September 2012

From design fiction to experiential futures

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In honor of its Ten-year Anniversary, the Association of Professional Futurists (yes, they exist!) launched its first publication, The Future of Futures.

Edited by Andrew Curry, the book (also available as ebook) is orrganized in sections of Past, Present, and Future, and contains essays and reviews by Tom Abeles, Marcus Barber, Peter Bishop, Christian Crews, Cindy Frewen, Tanja Hichert, Andy Hines, Oliver Markley, Jim Mathews, Riel Miller, Noah Raford, Wendy Schultz, Richard Slaughter, and Verne Wheelwright.

From Design Fiction to Experiential Futures is one of the book’s chapters, written by Noah Raford, and freely available on his website. It explores the role design fiction, experiential futures and visual media in foresight work, and includes several examples of good design fiction.

11 September 2012

Intel conversations about the future

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Intel dabbles in science fiction, titles ReadWriteWeb.

On Monday, they write, Intel debuted a book of science fiction stories. Dubbed Imaging the Future And Building It, the book includes a number of stories – from professional authors like Madeline Ashby and Karl Schroeder, plus more pedestrian efforts from analysts like Rob Enderle. But the most interesting bits come in the introduction – where Intel lays out its vision of the future.

Over the last few years, Intel futurist Rob Johnson explains, Intel has been running a “futurecasting lab,” where the company whiteboards what the future will look like. The effects-based models help guide Intel’s product development; Intel is working on its 2019 model right now.

In 2020, however, “something remarkable happens,” Johnson writes. “As we pass 2020, the size of meaningful computational power approaches zero.” In other words, with a microprocessor that small, you can put a computer in just about anything.

11 September 2012

The bling approach to the school of the future

 

Recently I have been exploring developments on the impact of new technologies on the future of education, particularly in high schools. The latest trend in education is all about tablets, of course.

My provisional assessment is that there is a lot of bling: shiny objects promoted all around us make us focus on the tools rather than on the didactic objectives.

With this post I want to open my reflections and initial analysis – in twelve hypotheses – to a wider audience. Comments are highly welcome (no registration needed). Italian readers might also be interested in the Scuolalvento blog for more discussion.

  1. A technology-first approach thrives. The dominant Silicon Valley driven ideology is one of technology fixing all problems – institutional, social, cultural, educational. By bringing in tablets and iPads in particular, we will be “more successful at engaging our students,” we will “better prepare them for the future,” learning will be “more collaborative, co-creative, hands-on, and ‘fun’,” and we can “open up the classroom to the outside world.” These assumptions are largely unquestioned, even though the discourse is not strong on educational and didactic objectives.
     
  2. There are dominant but untested preconceptions about schools, learning, teachers and students. The ideology above gets reinforced through the messages we get about schools (out-of-date, closed-off from the real world, stressed), learning (hierarchical, old-fashioned, boring), teachers (tied to an antiquated paradigm of learning, really looking forward to new tools), and students (digital natives, experts, but unfortunately without the right tools). Little is said about the value of existing and often quite interactive educational methods, or about the lack of technical skills of students (who are experts in Facebook, but often not on text editing a history paper or doing an advanced search in Google.).
     
  3. There is a boom of iPad and tablet deployments in schools in rich and less rich countries alike. From Italy to the USA, from Thailand to Belgium, from India to Russia. Little information about these deployments is available beyond short announcement texts on school websites and local newspapers.
     
  4. Little research has been done on educational impact. Although deployments have occurred for at least two years, there is a nearly total lack of serious research that evaluates them, particularly on their educational and didactic impact. This stands in strong contrast to the sizeable size of research done on e-learning.
     
  5. Governments are pushing hard. Government ministers and heads of institutions want to be seen as modern and ahead of the times. Funding a tablet deployment also creates better media coverage than increasing the budget for teacher training. Digitization finally allows for more quantitative data on the qualitative activity of learning, which is something governments, managers, and bureaucrats tend to like.
     
  6. There is a lot of money to be made. The spending on education is huge: not only by governments and institutions, but also by parents. No wonder that companies like Apple and Pearson (the publishers) are so active in the field. Even Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation recently unveiled Amplify, its new educational division “dedicated to reimagining K-12 education by creating digital products and services that empower students, teachers and parents in new ways”. (Listen to this WNYC broadcast).
     
  7. Apps, e-books and software are often of dubious quality. While these tools definitely enable interactive visual gimmicks (zooming, 3D panning, videos, clickable contents), these are often inserted for their seductive value rather than for their educational impact.
     
  8. Other digital tools are not part of the debate. Tablet deployments are often argued for as isolated interventions, with limited discussion on how this all relates to interactive whiteboards or simply the web. In fact, with all the smartphones and computers in the homes and hands of high school students, it is now entirely possible for the teacher to create a totally free, open source WordPress site that students can update on the fly. Moreover, they can be made highly interactive due to the large quantity of (free) online plugins available. It is an attractive zero-cost intervention, yet very few bring this into the digital education debate.
     
  9. Teacher training and resources are lacking. Teachers are literally left to their own devices. The tools to support them and their schools in deploying and effectively running these implementations are few and far between.
     
  10. Initiatives to support schools and teachers are rare and often quite local. Few governments have set up structures to support their schools and teachers with this new challenge (this Australian one is an exception), and initiatives are often driven by teachers (like this Belgian one), or independent associations that are anchored in civil society or local companies (e.g. this Italian example). These initiatives are local or regional at best, and little exchange takes place between them.
     
  11. We are facing a bubble. There is such a huge discrepancy between the hype and the reality that we could face a backlash. Schools and teachers are increasingly complaining. Results will be less impressive than expected. In view of all this, it is not impossible that many initiatives will soon be shelved.
     
  12. Valuable opportunities definitely exist for players big and small. The opportunity is both on:
    • people-centred training – What is it that schools and teachers really need? And how to present and convey it in a way that really helps them and creates lasting, positive behavioral change?
    • the creation of tools where educational and didactic qualities and impact are the central drivers in their development.

    There is not that much happening in these two areas, and I think this is where governments and consultants, tech companies and non-profit associations can really aspire to claim leadership, if they so desire.

11 September 2012

Peter Merholz on reframing “UX design”

 

Peter Merholz, a UX thinker and practitioner whom I have always held in high esteem, has written a well thought through blog post on reframing UX design.

The two central paragraph in his discourse are these ones:

“UX Designer is not a workflows-and-wireframes role. It’s a leadership role (though not necessarily a management role). It is a systems role — UX brings humanity to systems design and engineering. UX is a fundamentally synthetic role, not just coordinating these distinct activities, but helping realize a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts. And while a UX Designer uses design approaches, they are not for typical design outcomes.” [...]

“Most people calling themselves “UX Designers” are not. They are interaction designers and information architects. These are perfectly laudable practices in their own right, but if “UX Design” is going to contribute meaningfully in this connected world, it can no longer be bound up in the constituent disciplines from which it emerged, but instead must embrace a new mandate to ensure the delivery of great user experiences regardless of where those experiences take place.”

7 September 2012

Service design in tourism

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SDT2012 was the first international conference on service design thinking in the travel and tourism industry. For the first time, the conference brought together a community interested in the practical application of service design thinking within the travel and tourism industry.

The conference was the closing event of the project “Service Design in Tourism” funded by the European Union under the CIP Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme, and hosted by MCI – Management Center Innsbruck, Department of Tourism.

A free 142 page e-book with Case studies of applied research projects on mobile ethnography for tourism destinations.

Abstract

Tourism becomes more and more transparent through social media and tourism review websites. Nowadays, it’s the individual guest’s experience that makes or breaks the success of a tourism product. Thus, the focus in tourism shifts from mere marketing communications to meaningful experiences. Service design thinking can provide an in-depth and holistic understanding of customers required to cocreate meaningful experiences with guests.

The book provides an introduction into service design and tourism and presents seven case studies of European tourism destinations, which used the app myServiceFellow as a mobile ethnography research tool to gain genuine customer insights. The book reports lessons learned of these case studies, gives managerial implications and an outlook on future research fields for service design in tourism.

“Service Design and Tourism” is the written outcome of the research project “Service design as an approach to foster competitiveness and sustainability of European tourism” funded by the European Union under the CIP Competitiveness and Innovation Program.

6 September 2012

Ubicomp’s colonial impulse

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Paul Dourish and Scott Mainwaring, the founders of the Intel funded Social Computing Research Center at UC Irvine, presented yesterday a paper at Ubicomp 2012 with the short but bombshell title “Ubicomp’s Colonial Impulse” (pdf).

The abstract remains quite vague, and doesn’t much insight on what this colonial impulse is all about:

Ubiquitous computing has a grand vision. Even the name of the area identifies its universalizing scope. In this, it follows in a long tradition of projects that attempt to create new models and paradigms that unite disparate, distributed elements into a large conceptual whole. We link concerns in ubiquitous computing into a colonial intellectual tradition and identify the problems that arise in consequence, explore the locatedness of innovation, and discuss strategies for decolonizing ubicomp’s research methodology.

In essence the argument in the paper is centred around the idea of colonialism as a knowledge enterprise, or as I would word it, a global knowledge empire (Dourish is Scottish and has some affinity with one particularly powerful colonial empire).

Then they point out – and here we get to the more explosive subject matter that the title hints at – a series of considerations that undergird both systems of thought [i.e. colonialism and ubiquitous computing):

  • They share the notion that knowledge and the bases of innovation are unevenly distributed in the world, and that their goal is to assist the migration of knowledge from centers of power (be they colonial hubs or research laboratories) to places where it is lacking.
  • They share the related notion that progress in places where information, knowledge, or technology is lacking is something that should be undertaken by the knowledgeable or powerful on behalf of those others who are to be affected or changed by it.
  • They share a belief in universality: that knowledge and representations applied to any particular place or situation can just as easily apply to any other, and that knowledge schemes developed anywhere will work just as well anywhere else. So, for instance, the universal taxonomy of botanical life created at Kew, or the universal accounts of human needs and human activities common to modeling exercises in technology design, are both thought and intended to have power to speak to the details of settings anywhere.
  • They share a commitment to reductive representation and hence to quantification and statistical accounts of the world as a tool for comparison, evaluation, understanding, and prediction.
  • They share the idea that the present in centers of power models in embryo the future of other regions, such that the “developed” world is understood as the destiny of and model for the “developing”, or that the world at large is destined to become “like” the

In what follows, the authors examine these ideas in more depth. They “want to show how ubicomp’s research program, envisioned and portrayed since its founding as a program “for the twenty-first century” [i.e. "future-making"], nonetheless draws on a considerably older legacy. [They] then draw out some consequences of this approach, suggest some strategies for escaping it, and sketch the contours of an alternative approach to ubiquitous computing.”

The article is well argued, a delight to read, and was rightfully selected as one of Ubicomp 2012’s “Best Paper Nominees”. Most interestingly, the criticism is not limited to Ubicomp, but can be – as the authors point out – applied to all knowledge institutions and all tech companies active in Silicon Valley – and they point to Google as a good case in point (even adding also the IMF and the World Bank in their critical drag net).

Therefore their “contours of an alternative approach to ubiquitous computing” provide the outset of an alternative approach to the “Silicon Valley Empire”.

6 September 2012

The new face of digital populism: The Netherlands

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Ahead of next week’s Dutch election, the UK think tank Demos launched Populism in Europe: Netherlands, which analyses the rise of Geert Wilders’ Partij voor de Vrijheid, through an analysis of its Facebook fans.

Nationalist populist parties and movements are growing in support throughout Europe. These groups are known for their opposition to immigration, their ‘anti-establishment’ views and their concern for protecting national culture. Their rise in popularity has gone hand-in-hand with the advent of social media, and they are adept at using new technology to amplify their message, recruit and organise.

Geert Wilders and his Partij voor de Vrijheid (PVV) in the Netherlands are perhaps the best known of these new movements, enjoying steady growth since being founded in 2004. In the 2010 parliamentary election, the PVV won 24 seats, which made it the third largest party in the Netherlands, and gave it a keyrole in keeping the minority government of Mark Rutte in office. The PVV places strong emphasis on the need to address immigration and what it sees as a failed multicultural policy, with Wilders being well known for his often incendiary remarks about Islam. Recently, Wilders has been directing more of his attention toward the EU: opposing the deficit reduction plan, and Brussels more generally.

This report presents the results of a survey of Facebook fans of the PVV. It includes data on who they are, what they think, and what motivates them to shift from virtual to real-world activism. It also compares them with other similar parties in Western Europe, shedding light on their growing online support,and the relationship between their online and offline activities. This report is the fourth in a series of country specific briefings about the online supportof populist parties in 12 European countries, based on our survey of 13,000 Facebook fans of these groups.

The publication is part of the Demos investigation series into digital populism, which already launched previous reports on Hungary (January 2012) and Denmark (May 2012).

6 September 2012

Marko Ahtisaari, “Nokia’s visionary,” wants to “out-design Apple”

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Marko Athisaari, Nokia’s head of design, is pushing a general overall vision where advanced function is blended into unforgettable form¿post-industrial form. The dream, if not the exact language, is very familiar. Nokia is marketing its phone directly into the teeth of Apple’s strength: Design.

He talks a great game, and fondles an impressive product. But certainly Ahtisaari knows that by focusing on design, he is taking on the lofty emperors of design at Apple. And it can’t be lost on him that just as Apple is the world’s wealthiest company, Nokia is struggling for its life. But if Ahtisaari is intimidated, he’s not showing it. Asked about Apple, he says, “The best way you can show respect for competition is to do something meaningfully better.” And if all else fails, there’s always that hole in the ice.

Feature on Wired

6 September 2012

Intel annual ‘Mobile Etiquette’ study examines online sharing behaviors around the world

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According to a recent multi-country study commissioned by Intel Corporation and conducted by Ipsos Observer on “Mobile Etiquette,” the majority of adults and teens around the world are sharing information about themselves online and feel better connected to family and friends because of it. However, the survey also revealed a perception of “oversharing,” with at least six out of 10 adults and teens saying they believe other people divulge too much information about themselves online, with Japan being the only exception.

Intel’s 2012 “Mobile Etiquette” survey examined the current state of mobile etiquette and evaluated how adults and teens in eight countries share and consume information online, as well as how digital sharing impacts culture and relationships. The research was conducted in the United States in March and a follow-up study was conducted in Australia, Brazil, China (adults only), France, India, Indonesia and Japan from June to August.

“In today’s society, our mobile technology is making digital sharing ubiquitous with our everyday activities, as evidenced by the findings from Intel’s latest ‘Mobile Etiquette’ survey,” said Dr. Genevieve Bell, Intel Fellow and director of user interaction and experience at Intel Labs. “What is most interesting is not necessarily how widespread our use of mobile technology has become, but how similar our reasons are for sharing, regardless of region or culture. The ability to use mobile devices to easily share information about our lives is creating a sense of connection across borders that we’re continuing to see flourish.”

Press release
Article by The Register
Interactive data visualization

6 September 2012

Consumers say no to mobile apps that grab too much data

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A study by the Pew Research Center, released Wednesday, found that among Americans adults who use smartphone apps, half had decided not to install applications on their mobile phones because they demanded too much personal information. Nearly a third uninstalled an application after learning that it was collecting personal information “they didn’t wish to share.” And one in five turned off location tracking “because they were concerned that other individuals or companies could access that information.” A customer’s whereabouts can be extremely valuable to marketers trying to sell their wares, or government authorities trying to keep tabs on citizens’ movements.

The study seems to suggest a deepening awareness of digital privacy. And it contradicts a common perception that the generation of young Americans who have grown up in the Internet age blithely share their personal details.

Read article

4 September 2012

Ericsson on evolving TV and video-consumption habits

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Ericsson is publishing interesting research these days (and therefore gets featured on this blog).

Its latest TV and video ConsumerLab report found that mobile devices are an important part of the TV experience, with 67 percent using tablets, smartphones or laptops for their everyday TV viewing.

New technology and services have also empowered us to interact socially with our friends as we watch our favorite content. Today, live sports commentary among mates is huge. The same ConsumerLab report found that 62 percent of consumers use social media while watching TV. This is up 18 percent from last year.

4 September 2012

Africa embracing m-commerce

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In a new report from its ConsumerLab, Ericsson maps out the potential of transformation within m-commerce across the region of sub-Saharan Africa.

Based on in-depth, extensive interviews with mobile phone users in Ghana, South Africa, and Tanzania, the report has four key findings: that consumers are constantly looking for new ways to improve their personal budgets; the speed and convenience of m-commerce points to great potential in the market; current behaviors and social structures indicate that the use of mobile payment services will expand; and that consumers need more information about the functionality and security of m-commerce transactions.

Consumers tell Ericsson researchers that they use mobile payment services for person-to-person transfers and purchasing airtime on their mobile subscriptions, and that they like the convenience of accessing money everywhere and at anytime, regardless of service hours. In Tanzania, for example, 38% of subscribers send money person-to-person over the mobile phone.

Another conclusion of the report is that people who use m-commerce keep little separation between private and business accounts.

Experience leads to greater trust, and the report finds that 44% of non-users of m-commerce are very worried about the integrity of their account information in case of theft or loss of their phones.

Press release
Media kit

4 September 2012

MindLab, Denmark’s cross-ministerial innovation unit

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MindLab is a Danish cross-ministerial innovation unit which involves citizens and businesses in creating new solutions for society. It is also a physical space – a neutral zone for inspiring creativity, innovation and collaboration.

They work with the civil servants in three parent ministries: the Ministry of Business and Growth, the Ministry of Taxation and the Ministry of Employment. These three ministries cover broad policy areas that affect the daily lives of virtually all Danes. Entrepreneurship, climate change, digital self-service, citizen’s rights, emplyment services and workplace safety are some of the areas they address.

Working with user-centred innovation requires a systematic approach to what needs to be investigated plus a wide variety of methodologies. MindLab’s methodologies are anchored in design-centred thinking, qualitative research and policy development, with the aim of including the reality experienced by both the public and businesses into the development of new public-sector solutions.

Their work is based on a process model which consists of seven phases: project focus, learning about the users, analysis, idea and concept development, concept testing, the communication of results and impact measurement.

MindLab is instrumental in helping the ministry’s key decision-makers and employees view their efforts from the outside-in, to see them from a citizen’s perspective. They use this approach as a platform for co-creating better ideas.

MindBlog, MindLab’s blog, is very rich in content and worth delving into. The keywords are: citizen-centred innovation, anthropological methods, service design, public development, communication, idea and concept development, innovation strategy and cross-institutional collaboration.

4 September 2012

Gestural interaction with data

 

The Ericsson UX Lab has been prototyping and testing gestural interaction solutions with data:

“This spring we worked on how to visualise and interact with data. One issue that we focused a bit more on is that of interacting with a material indirectly, such as when you present data as a projection on a wall and want to interact with it. There are of course touch sensitive surfaces to project onto (or through), but we focused on a passive surface only acting as a screen. This lead us to start investigating more physical ways of interacting with the presentation in question.

During recent years we have seen a fantastic development when it comes to sensor technologies of all kinds, ranging from grass root DIY solutions such as Phidgets and Arduino to commercial products such as Microsoft Kinect. We decided to investigate two interaction solutions – One based on the Kinect and the other on a Phidget distance meter. These trials were done rather quickly and with the only aim to get a better understanding of what these technologies could provide us with and to reflect upon the possibilities they could bring to our future work.”

Read article

4 September 2012

Qualitative research, UX strategy and wicked problems

 

These are the topics of the latest update on UX Matters:

Strengths and Weaknesses of Quantitative and Qualitative Research
By Demetrius Madrigal and Bryan McClain
Both qualitative and quantitative methods of user research play important roles in product development. Data from quantitative research—such as market size, demographics, and user preferences—provides important information for business decisions. Qualitative research provides valuable data for use in the design of a product—including data about user needs, behavior patterns, and use cases. Each of these approaches has strengths and weaknesses, and each can benefit from our combining them with one another. This month, we’ll take a look at these two approaches to user research and discuss how and when to apply them.

UX Strategy: The Heart of User-Centered Design
By April McGee
Today, organizations interact with their customers through multiple digital channels such as call centers, mobile devices, applications, and Web sites. It is not enough to create a strategy for these channels from business, technology, and marketing perspectives. Rather, it is essential that an organization’s UX strategy be at the core of user-centered design. A UX strategy establishes goals for a cohesive user experience across all channels and touchpoints. The success of a UX strategy across multiple channels and offerings depends especially on identifying the business objectives of the channel leadership and relating them to the user experience, and understanding the overall ecosystem of the customer—in particular, what motivates them
Organizations must translate this information into a cross-channel user experience that meets the needs and aspirations of both its business and its customers.

Book Review: Wicked Problems: Problems Worth Solving (Author: John Kolko)
Review by Arun Joseph Martin, Calvin Chun-yu Chan, Erico Fileno, Noriko Osaka, and Yohan Creemers
In this “Handbook & Call to Action,” Kolko introduces the idea of wicked problems—large-scale social issues that plague humanity, like poverty and malnutrition—then describes the role of design in mitigating these problems. Kolko points out that traditional approaches cannot deal effectively with complex social and cultural problems. Such wicked problems always interconnect with other problems, are costly to solve, and often lack clear methods for understanding and evaluating them.
Kolko suggests that it is possible to mitigate wicked problems through what he calls social entrepreneurship—entrepreneurship that aims to create social capital by adding value to the community rather than focusing only on creating economic wealth.

3 September 2012

Curious Rituals – Gestural interaction in the digital everyday

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Curious Rituals is a research project conducted at Art Center College of Design (Pasadena) in July-August 2012 by Nicolas Nova (The Near Future Laboratory / HEAD-Genève), and Katherine Miyake, Nancy Kwon and Walton Chiu from the media design program.

This research project is about gestures, postures and digital rituals that typically emerged with the use of digital technologies (computers, mobile phones, sensors, robots, etc.): gestures such as recalibrating your smartphone doing an horizontal 8 sign with your hand, the swiping of wallet with RFID cards in public transports, etc. These practices can be seen as the results of a co-construction between technical/physical constraints, contextual variables, designers intents and people’s understanding. We can see them as an intriguing focus of interest to envision the future of material culture.

The aim of the project is to envision the future of gestures and rituals based on a documentation of current digital gestures, and the making of design fiction films that speculate about their evolution.

The Curious Rituals booklet (3.1 MB / 145 pages) describes the gestures and postures the team observed, introduced by an insightful essay by Dan Hill and followed by a design fiction by Julian Bleecker and the script of A Digital Tomorrow, the design fiction film the team produced.