counter

Putting People First

Daily insights on user experience, experience design and people-centred innovation
Audience Business Culture Design Locations Media Methods Services Social Issues

Children


Disabled


Elderly


Gender


Teens


Advertising


Branding


Business


Innovation


Marketing


Mechatronics


Technology


Architecture


Art


Creativity


Culture


Identity


Mobility


Museum


Co-creation


Design


Experience design


Interaction design


Presence


Service design


Ubiquitous computing


Africa


Americas


Asia


Australia


Europe


Italy


Turin


Blogging


Book


Conference


Media


Mobile phone


Play


Virtual world


Ethnography


Foresight


Prototype


Scenarios


Usability


User experience


User research


Education


Financial services


Healthcare


Public services


Research


Tourism


Urban development


Communications


Digital divide


Emerging markets


Participation


Social change


Sustainability


February 2013
13 February 2013

The “intentional fallacy” and the “affective fallacy” of interaction design

 

How seriously should we (as researchers, practitioners, users, and members of society) seek to understand and factor in the intentions of the designers who made them and the felt experiences of those who use them? Such intentions and felt experiences may include cognitive states, affective states, assumptions and values, predispositions, aspirations, and so forth.

The alternative view dispenses with such subjective qualities and seeks meaning only in the qualities of the artifact itself.

In short, an unusual post on applying literary theory to interaction design.

10 February 2013

Interview with Michael Griffiths, Director of Ethnographic Research, Ogilvy & Mather China

griffiths-book

Michael B Griffiths is Director of Ethnography at Ogilvy & Mather, Greater China, Associate Research Fellow, White Rose East Asia Centre, and External Research Associate, Centre for International Business, University of Leeds, UK. He is also the author of the recent book Consumers and Individuals in China: Standing Out, Fitting In.

Book abstract:

Breaking new ground in the study of Chinese urban society, this book applies critical discourse analysis to ethnographic data gathered in Anshan, a third-tier city and market in northeast China. The book confronts the – still widespread – notion that Chinese consumers are not “real” individuals, and in doing so represents an ambitious attempt to give a new twist to the structure versus agency debates in social theory. To this end, Michael B. Griffiths shows how claims to virtues such as authenticity, knowledge, civility, sociable character, moral proprietary and self-cultivation emerge from and give shape to social interaction. Data material for this path-breaking analysis is drawn from informants as diverse as consumerist youths, dissident intellectuals, enterprising farmers, retired Party cadres, the rural migrant staff of an inner-city restaurant, the urban families dependent on a machine-repair workshop, and a range of white-collar professionals.

Consumers and Individuals in China: Standing out, fitting in, will appeal to sociologists, anthropologists, and cultural studies scholars, China Studies generalists, and professionals working at the intersection of culture and business in China. The vivid descriptions of living and doing fieldwork in China also mean that those travelling there will find the book stimulating and useful

Shanghaiist interviewed Michael Griffiths (part one | part two) about his book and insights:

Chinese people – and this is what my research seeks to show – like people everywhere, take up positions in relation to dominant cultural narratives or discourses.

This doesn’t mean that all those things about Confucianism (for example) are not true or relevant, it just means that – in terms of what individual people do on the ground in an everyday way – it’s intensely more complicated than that.
So that’s the sort of broader background to my book. The real value of the research is the way I set out to show that. It’s a systematic analysis; basically its structural anthropology though in a postmodern way. It’s about looking at the different ways that people position themselves through their speaking and acting, and disaggregating that into, let’s say, the most reducible … I’m tempted to say elements but that’s not right… discourses. Discourses are simply systems of meaning that have a certain internal integrity whilst also being connected to everything else.”

The first part of the interview is more general, while the second part strongly focused on cultural context of the advertising industry in China.

9 February 2013

UK Report: Notions of identity will be transformed in the next decade

changingidentities

Hyper-connectivity – where people are constantly connected to social networks and streams of information – will have a transforming effect on how we see ourselves and others in the next decade, according to a new report published by the UK Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser Sir John Beddington.

The Foresight study Changing Identities in the UK – the Next Ten Years looks at a range of areas affected by identity including social inclusion and mobility, education and skills, crime and mental health. It shows that traditional ideas of identity will become less meaningful as boundaries between people’s public and private identities disappear, with wide ramifications for policy-makers.

Reading the (long) executive summary, it all seems rather optimistic to me, as the grinding impact of a slow-growth economy in the UK as well as the increasing “under-the-rader” control systems of corporations and governments through the unleashing of algorithms on big data sets, don’t seem to be valued enough in this report.

Key findings (summary)
Rather than having a single identity, people have several overlapping identities, which shift in emphasis in different life stages and environments. These are changing in three important ways:

  • Hyper-connectivity: Sixty per cent of internet users in the UK are now members of a social network site, increasing from only 17% in 2007. The UK is now a virtual environment as well as a real place, and increasingly UK citizens are globally networked individuals. Events which occur elsewhere in the world can have a real and immediate impact in the UK. People have become accustomed to switching seamlessly between the internet and the physical world, and use social media to conduct their lives in a way which dissolves the divide between online and offline identities. The internet has not produced a new kind of identity. Rather, it has been instrumental in raising awareness that identities are more multiple, culturally contingent and contextual than had previously been understood.
     
  • Increasing social plurality: As the large UK post-war cohort reach old-age, the number of over-75 year olds will increase by over a million, from 5.1 million in 2012 to 6.6 million in 2022, a rise of more than 20%. The Report identifies a shift in attitudes, with the emergence of new transitional life stages being defined by attitudes and roles, rather than age. Traditional life stages, for example between adolescence and adulthood, or middle-age and old-age, are being delayed or blurred together.
     
  • Blurring of public and private identities: People are now more willing to place personal information into public domains, such as on the internet, and attitudes towards privacy are changing, especially among younger people. These changes are blurring the boundaries between social and work identities. The widespread use of mobile technology could, in time, allow social media to be linked with spatial tracking and even facial recognition technologies. This would allow people to draw on personal information about a stranger in a public place, changing the nature of what it means to be anonymous in public spaces.

The Report goes on to question what identity means today. It finds that:

  • Identities are controlled both by individuals and by others: People can choose to present certain aspects of their identities, or to disclose particular personal information. Identities can also be imposed by others. Even if a person does not create their own online accounts, their families and friends may discuss them or post photographs online.
     
  • People have many overlapping identities: Understanding which of a person’s identities are most relevant in a given situation depends on the context. Identities are, therefore, culturally contingent and highly contextual, but can also be strongly linked to behaviours.
     
  • People express their identities in different ways: One of the most significant observations of the impact of online identities is the way that some people can feel that they have achieved their ‘true’ identity for first time online. For example, some people may socialise more successfully and express themselves more freely online.
     
  • Identities have value: People’s identities have personal, psychological, social, and commercial value. The growth in the collection and use of personal data can have benefits for individuals, organisations and government, by offering greater insights through data analysis, and the development of more targeted and more effective services. Identities can unify people and can be regarded as a valuable resource for promoting positive social interaction. However, this growth in the amount of available data also has the potential for criminal exploitation or misuse. Trust is fundamental to achieving positive relationships between people and commercial organisations, and between citizens and the state, but surveys show that people are less willing to trust in authority than in the past.

Finally, the Report provides some recommendations for policy makers, particularly in six key areas:

  • Crime prevention and criminal justice: The growing quantity of personal and financial data online, as facial recognition technology, ‘big data’ and social media together begin to connect information about individuals, means that there will be more opportunities for criminal exploitation and cybercrime. However, there are also opportunities for enhanced crime prevention, intelligence gathering, and crime detection. The foundation of English law is a liberal society where social identity is, as far as possible, a personally defined and freely chosen individual possession, and so the legal system will need to continue to ensure that people’s online and offline identities are protected.
     
  • Health, environment and wellbeing: The implications of changing identities for the built environment, transport, infrastructure, and mitigating the effects of climate change will need to be considered by policy makers. The development and application of biomedical technologies, such as drugs to improve memory and cognition, and developments in reproductive technologies, could have the potential to transform the way that people relate to themselves, each other, and their environment. However, there are complex ethical and practical implications for government in regulating and responding to these technologies.
     
  • Skills, employment and education: A critical issue for the future will be to ensure that individuals have the knowledge, understanding, and technological literacy to enable them to take control of their own online identities, and to be aware of their online presence and how it could be used by others.
     
  • Radicalisation and extremism: The trends towards greater social plurality, declining trust in authority, and increasing take-up of new technologies may all pose challenges for policy makers seeking to manage radicalisation and extremism.
     
  • Social mobility: Perceptions of unfairness in access to opportunities, rather than actual inequality, may in turn reinforce certain kinds of social identities and increase the potential for collective action. However, as access to the internet and hyper-connectivity increase, information and education may become more freely available and shared, enhancing life opportunities for many individuals.
     
  • Social integration: Greater social plurality, demographic trends, and the gradual reduction in importance of some traditional aspects of identity, suggest that communities in the UK are likely to become less cohesive over the next 10 years. However, hyper-connectivity can also create or strengthen new group identities. Policy makers will need to consider indirect as well as direct implications of policy for communities and people’s sense of belonging. There are opportunities for policy to support social integration and acknowledge new forms of community as they develop.

(via @urukwavu)

7 February 2013

Book: Beyond Smart Cities

bsc_cover_sm

(Wow, it covers Turin!)

Beyond Smart Cities: How Cities Network, Learn and Innovate
Tim Campbell
Routledge, 2012

The promise of competitiveness and economic growth in so-called smart cities emphasizes highly educated talent, high tech industries and pervasive electronic connections. But to really achieve smart cities — that is to create the conditions of continuous learning and innovation — this book argues that there is a need to understand what is below the surface and to examine the mechanisms which affect the way cities learn and then connect together.

This book draws on quantitative and qualitative data with concrete case studies to show how networks already operating in cities are used to foster and strengthen connections in order to achieve breakthroughs in learning and innovation. Going beyond smart cities means understanding how cities construct, convert and manipulate relationships that grow in urban environments. The eight cities discussed in this book — Amman, Barcelona, Bilbao, Charlotte, Curitiba, Portland, Seattle, and Turin — illuminate a blind spot in the literature. Each of these cities has achieved important transformations, and learning has played a key role, one that has been largely ignored in academic circles and practice concerning competitiveness and innovation.

With Forewords by Dr Joan Clos, Executive Director, UN-Habitat, and Wim Elfrink, Executive Vice President and Chief Globalization Officer, Cisco

CONTENTS
1- Overview
2- The Slow Emergence of Learning Cities in an Urbanizing World
3- Cities as Collective Learners: What Do We Know?
4- A Gamut of Learning Types
5- Light on a Shadow Economy: City Learning in 53 Cities
6- Informal Learners—Turin, Portland and Charlotte
7- Technical Learning: Curitiba and City Think Tanks
8- Corporate Styles: Bilbao, Seattle and Others
9- Clouds of Trust in Style
10- Taking Stock: Why Some Cities Learn and Others Do Not
11- Turning the Learning World Upside Down— Pathways Forward in Policy and Research

THE AUTHOR
Tim Campbell has worked for more than 35 years in urban development with experience in scores of countries and hundreds of cities in Latin America, South and East Asia, Eastern Europe, and Africa. His areas of expertise include strategic urban planning, city development strategies, decentralization, urban policy, and social and poverty impact of urban development. He is chairman of the Urban Age Institute, which fosters leadership and innovation between and among cities in areas of strategic urban planning, urban policy and management, sustainable environmental planning, and poverty reduction. Campbell retired from the World Bank in December 2005 after more than 17 years working in various capacities in the urban sector. Before joining the Bank, he worked for over 13 years as a private consultant and university professor. His consulting clients included private sector firms, governments, and international organizations. He taught at Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley. He lived in rural and small town Costa Rica for two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

7 February 2013

Small, local, open and connected: resilient systems and sustainable qualities

resilient

How do we design a resilient socio-technical system, asks Ezio Manzini in Design Observer.

“Let’s look to natural systems; their tolerance of breakdowns and their adaptation capacity (that is, their capability of sustaining over time) may give us direction.

As a matter of fact, it is easy to observe that lasting natural systems result from a multiplicity of largely independent systems and are based on a variety of living strategies. In short, they are diverse and complex. These diversities and complexities are the basis of their resilience – that is, of their adaptability to changes in their contexts.

Given that, it should be reasonable to conceive and realize something similar for man-made systems. The socio-technical systems that, integrated with natural ones, constitute our living environment should be made of a variety of interconnected, but (largely) self-standing elements. This mesh of distributed systems, similarly to natural ones, would be intrinsically capable of adapting and lasting through time because even if one of its components breaks, given its multiplicity and diversity, the whole system doesn’t collapse.”

7 February 2013

Book: Orchestrating Human-Centered Design

ohcd

Orchestrating Human-Centered Design
Guy Boy
Springer, 2013

The time has come to move into a more humanistic approach of technology and to understand where our world is moving to in the early twenty-first century. The design and development of our future products needs to be orchestrated, whether they be conceptual, technical or organizational. Orchestrating Human-Centered Design presents an Orchestra model that attempts to articulate technology, organizations and people. Human-centered design (HCD) should not be limited to local/short-term/linear engineering, but actively focus on global/long-term/non-linear design, and constantly identify emergent properties from the use of artifacts.

Orchestrating Human-Centered Design results from incremental syntheses of courses the author has given at the Florida Institute of Technology in the HCD PhD program. It is focused on technological and philosophical concepts that high-level managers, technicians and all those interested in the design of artifacts should consider. Our growing software -intensive world imposes better knowledge on cognitive engineering, life-critical systems, complexity analysis, organizational design and management, modeling and simulation, and advanced interaction media, and this well-constructed and informative book provides a road map for this.

(via Fabio Sergio)

7 February 2013

Recent studies on the impact of tablet use in schools – an overview

 

2012

One-to-one Tablets in Secondary Schools: An Evaluation Study
(see also here and here)
Dr Barbie Clarke and Siv Svanaes, Family Kids and Youth, UK, 2012
Research was carried out between September 2011 and July 2012 and included a literature review, a review of global evaluation studies, and an evaluation of three secondary schools in Belfast, Kent and Essex that had chosen to give pupils one-to-one tablets in September 2011.

iPad Scotland Evaluation Study
(see also here)
Kevin Burden, Paul Hopkins, Dr Trevor Male, Dr Stewart Martin, Christine Trala, University of Hull, UK, 2012
Case study of mobile technology adoption from eight individual educational locations in Scotland that differ significantly in terms of demographics, infrastructure, the approach of the Local Authority and readiness to implement the use of tablet technology for learning and teaching.

Learning is Personal, Stories of Android Tablet Use in the 5th Grade
(see also here)
Marie Bjerede and Tzaddi Bondi, Learning Untethered, USA, 2012
Project explored the differences in student performance using tablets for writing versus using the more traditional netbooks, as well as the appropriateness of Android devices as an alternative to the popular iOS devices.

The iPad as a Tool for Education – A study on the introduction of iPads at Longfield Academy, Kent
Jan Webb, NAACE, UK, 2012
Research on how the use of tablets in a Kent school impacts teaching and learning.

Decoding Learning: The proof, promise and potential of digital education
Rosemary Luckin, Brett Bligh, Andrew Manches, Shaaron Ainsworth, Charles Crook, Richard Noss, NESTA, UK, 2012
Nesta commissioned the London Knowledge Lab (LKL) and Learning Sciences Research Institute (LSRI), University of Nottingham, to analyse how technology has been used in the UK education systems and lessons from around the world, in order to set a clear framework for better understanding the impact on learning experiences.

23 Monate #iPadKAS: Review 2012 und Perspektiven (in German)
A.J. Spang, Kaiserin Augusta Schule, Cologne, Germany, 2012
Report on a 23 month iPad program in a German school.

iPad Trial – Is the iPad suitable as a learning tool in schools?
Smart Classrooms, Department of Education and Training, Queensland Government, Australia, 2012
A study in two schools on the use of the iPad, as part of the Queensland Department of Education and Training’s technology initiatives.

2011

Beyond Textbooks: Year One Report
Virgina Department of Education, USA, 2011
Findings on the implications of introducing traditional textbook alternatives into fifteen pilot classrooms

What do Students Think of Using iPads in Class? Pilot Survey Results
Sam Gliksman, School Director at Los Angeles High School and editor of iPadsInEducation, USA, 2011
Results of survey of 126 students.

“There’s an App for That”: A Study Using iPads in a United States History Classroom
Emily R. Carcia, USA, 2011
Study investigates the effect of Apple iPads on achievement in an eleventh grade U.S. history classroom. Spefically, the research explored the impact of the Explore 9/11 application on student achievement.

How are students actually using IT? An ethnographic study
Christopher Cooley, Thomas M. Malaby and David Stack, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, USA, 2011
An anthropological ethnographic analysis of student practices relating to the use of information technology on the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) campus.

2011 Horizon Report for K12 Education
Larry Johnson, Leslie Conery and Keith Krueger, New Media Consortium, USA, 2011
The NMC Horizon Report series is a research venture that identifies and describes emerging technologies likely to have a large impact over the coming five years in education around the globe.

2010

The Technology Factor: Nine Keys to Student Achievement and Cost-Effectiveness
Thomas W. Greaves, Jeanne Hayes, Leslie Wilson, Michael Gielniak, and R. Peterson, Project RED, Pearson Foundation, USA, 2010
A detailed report looking at the use of technology in the education sector. The report examines 997 schools and produces outputs for 11 diverse education success measures and 22 categories of independent variables (with many subcategories).

Looking to the future: M-learning with the iPad
Karen Melhuish and Garry Falloon, New Zealand, 2010
Paper explores the potential affordances and limitations of the Apple iPad in the wider context of emergent mobile learning theory, and the social and economic drivers that fuel technology development.

The Effects of Tablets on Pedagogy
Jeremy Vrtis, National-Louis University, USA, 2010
The study examines the effects tablet computers have on the pedagogy of instructors, and students’ perspectives of the instructional uses of the tablet.

7 February 2013

Study on the introduction of iPads in UK secondary school

naace

Naace, the UK’s educational ICT association, published a report last year (July 2012), entitled “The iPad as a Tool for Education – A study on the introduction of iPads at Longfield Academy, Kent“.

“After a successful implementation at Longfield Academy in Kent and two terms of embedded use, the research shows some incredibly positive impacts on teaching and learning. The report outlines the conclusions of one of the most extensive studies so far undertaken into the use of tablets for learning. As one teacher put it, “The iPads have revolutionised teaching”, with appropriate use of iPads helping to enhance learning across the curriculum and encouraging collaborative learning. Whilst it’s early days for evaluating the impact on achievement, there are significant gains in quality and standard of pupil work and progress and potential for extending use even further. As more schools across the country consider adopting the use of tablets in classrooms, the messages from this research will be incredibly helpful for those who are deciding on their next steps.”

5 February 2013

Designing for the human brain

 

Sarah Rotman Epps of Forrester thinks the challenge ahead for wearables is in designing for the human brain.

“No, I’m not talking about sensors implanted in your brain (although that’s certainly possible, and already happening in research and medical settings). I’m talking about designing for the nuanced way our brains process the experience of wearing a device.”

Her recommendations:
– Support rather than distract from goal-oriented behavior
– Increase self-awareness, but not to the point of self-consciousness

3 February 2013

Talking, walking objects

simon

The future is rich with sensor-based, animated devices to give us affirmation, coach us and just plain keep us company. Smart Design’s Carla Diana gives a good overview in this opinion piece for the New York Times.

“As products become smarter, their behaviors will mean they essentially have continuing conversations with us, whether they include verbal exchanges or not. Just like we read subtle cues from our pets (we see a dog’s ears and believe that he feels sad, guilty or excited), we’ll read emotion from our products, perceiving nuances of dialogue and a sense that the object is “alive.” [...]

With this throng of sentient objects in our lives, we’ll have to negotiate a whole new set of relationships. Will we adore our new products as if they were pets, doting on them and anticipating their greetings? Or will all this lively communication create an annoying cacophony of gadgets? My hope is for the former, but it will depend on the designers’ ability to devise interactions that consider emotional value as important as any other product attribute.”

3 February 2013

Nicholas Carr on taking Clay Shirky’s ‘cognitive surplus’ idea to its logical, fascistic extreme

bigdata

Max Levchin [one of the Silicon Valley elite—computer scientist, cofounder of PayPal, buddy of Peter Thiel, Yahoo director, restless entrepreneur, big thinker, venture capitalist, angel] gave the keynote Iat DLD13 in Munich recently, where he argues that “the next big wave of opportunities exists in centralized processing of data gathered from primarily analog systems” (think Über, neighborhood security, therapists, the human mind).

Yes, this approach has risks, but, he says, “as a species, we simply must take these risks, to continue advancing, to use all available resources to their maximum”. “The way to deal with risk is of course some form of insurance. Modeling loss from observed past events is hardly news, but dynamically changing the price of the service to reflect individual risk is a big deal. My expectation is that next decade we will see an explosion of insurance and insurance-like products and services — leveraging those very same network effects of data, providing truly dynamic resource pricing and allocation.”

In conclusion, Levchin believes “that in the next decades we will see huge number of inherently analog processes captured digitally. Opportunities to build businesses that process this data and improve lives will abound.”

The Big Brother consequences of this efficiency madhouse are obvious and Nicholas Carr couldn’t take it anymore:

“Levchin refers to “humans” as “analog resources,” a category we share with “cars, houses, etc.” The tragedy of analog resources is that they’re horribly underutilized. They spend a great deal of their time in idleness. Look out into the analog world, and you see a wasteland of inefficiency. But computers can fix that. If we can place sensors and other data-monitoring devices on all analog resources, including ourselves, then we can begin to track them, analyze them, and “rationalize their use.” [...]

This is Clay Shirky’s “cognitive surplus” idea taken to its logical, fascistic extreme.” [...]

This is the nightmare world of Big Data, where the moment-by-moment behavior of human beings — analog resources — is tracked by sensors and engineered by central authorities to create optimal statistical outcomes. We might dismiss it as a warped science fiction fantasy if it weren’t also the utopian dream of the Max Levchins of the world. They have lots of money and they smell even more. [...]

It’s the ultimate win-win: you get filthy rich by purifying the tribe.”

Evgeny Morozov is worried as well about the marketing dangers of the Big Data craze.

So, asks GigaOm’s Mathew Ingram in his summary of the debate, “is the world of big data one in which information about us allows us to personalize services and benefit from that personalization, or is it one in which our data is used against us by companies and governments?”

“The common thread in both of these dystopian visions is a world in which our data is transmitted without our knowledge, and/or used against us in some way. Where Levchin seems to see an efficient exchange of data between user and service, one with benefits for both — and presumably a level (and secure) playing field in terms of who has access to it — Carr and Morozov see companies and governments misusing this data for their own nefarious purposes, while we remain powerless.

What makes it difficult to argue with either one is that we’ve already seen the building blocks of this potential future emerge, whether it’s Facebook playing fast and loose with the privacy settings of a billion people, or companies aggregating information and creating profiles of us and our activities and desires. What happens when the sensor-filled future that Levchin imagines becomes a reality? Who will be in control of all that information?”

3 February 2013

Redesigning public services so they can actually help people

yamfarmer

Although I don’t agree with the implicit meaning of this Fast Company title (i.e. that public services currently do not help people – whereas the real issue is the degree of impact), I am always excited to hear the latest updates on Reboot, a design agency that focuses on service design in international development, particularly if it is through an interview with Reboot principal Panthea Lee.

“Plenty of thought goes into good industrial design and good interaction design. We do the same for public and social services. In our view, service design is a multidisciplinary approach to creating more useful, effective, and efficient services.

In the space of international development, we find designers particularly well suited to the task of creating good services because they are highly analytical systems thinkers.

Services are more than just pulling a lever to get a result. Services are a complex series of interlocking relationships and institutions, and each one is different. Their design requires deep empathy for users and a nuanced understanding of context. And you’ll never get it right on the first go–they require significant testing and refining until they’re right.”

3 February 2013

Social Innovation Europe Magazine interviews Ezio Manzini

Ezio_Interview

For more than two decades Ezio Manzini has been working in the field of design for sustainability. Recently, he focused his interests on social innovation –he started, and currently coordinates, DESIS, an international network on design for social innovation and sustainability.

Throughout his professional life he worked at the Politecnico di Milano. Parallel to this, he has collaborated with several international schools, such as: Domus Academy (in the 90s), Hong Kong Polytechnic University (in 2000) and, currently, Tongji University (Shanghai), Jiangnan University (Wuxi), COPPE-UFRJ (Rio de Janeiro), and Parsons (New York).

Recent books include:

In 2012 he co-promoted Public & Collaborative NYC — a program of activities, developed by Parsons DESIS Lab and the Public Policy Lab in New York, to explore how public services can be improved by incorporating greater citizen collaboration in service design and implementation.

During the lengthy interview Manzini delves deeper into the essence of social innovation, and specifically what designers can do to support it:

“All the social innovation processes are design processes. And all the involved actors, adopting a design approach, are (consciously or not) designers.

If we take all of that as given, then the question is: if all the social innovation actors—“ordinary people” included—are de-facto designers, what is the role of the design experts and of their design community?

To make a long story short, we could say that the design experts’ role is is to use their expertise (that is, their specific design knowledge) to empower the other social actors’ design capabilities.” [...]

“It comes, in conclusion, that design for social innovation is what the design experts can do to trigger and support a more effective co-design processes.”

Also of interest is Manzini’s reflection on the role of public services, the State, and the European Union.

Luca De Biase alerts us also to an older interview with Manzini on Shareable.

2 February 2013

Dan Hill’s critique of the smart cities movement

fabrica

Dan Hill (of CityofSound, ARUP, Sitra and now Fabrica fame) is not only extremely prolific, but his writing is also very much to the point.

His latest Smart City (or better “Smart Citizen”) manifesto is a case in point. Weighing in at 10,000 words, it is a “cleaned up” and “stitched together” version of two separate pieces he wrote for the London School of Economics and Volume magazine, which he is now sharing on his CityofSound blog as “one single critique of the smart cities movement”.

The goal, he says, is entirely constructive, and to shift the debate in a more meaningful direction, oriented towards the raison d’etre of our cities: citizens, and the way that they can create urban culture with technology.

The essay surveys three types of activities, and scenarios, demonstrating active citizens, noting some issues along the way, and then critiques the opposite—the production of passive citizens—before asking a couple of questions and suggesting some key shifts in attitude required to positively work with the grain of today’s cultures, rather than misinterpret it.

“The promise of smart sustainable cities is predicated on the dynamics of social media alloyed to the Big Data generated by an urban infrastructure strewn with sensors. Feedback loops are supposed to engage citizens and enable behaviour change, just as real-time control systems tune infrastructure to become more energy efficient. Social media dynamics enable both self-organisation and efficient ecosystems, and reduce the need for traditional governance, and its associated costs.

Yet is there a tension between the emergent urbanism of social media and the centralising tendencies of urban control systems? Between the individualist biases inherent within social media and the need for a broader civic empathy to address urban sustainability? Between the primary drivers of urban life and the secondary drivers of infrastructural efficiency?

And in terms of engaging citizens, we can certainly see evidence of increased interest in using social media for urban activism, from crowdfunding platforms to Occupy Everywhere and the Arab Spring. Yet does it produce any more coherence or direction for the new cultures of decision-making required in our cities, or simply side-step the question of urban governance altogether? And what if the smart city vision actually means that governance becomes ever more passive, as it outsources operations to algorithms or is side-stepped by social media, whilst citizens also become passive in response to their infrastructure becoming active? Or might they be too distracted to notice as they’re all trying to crowd-fund a park bench?”

Bruce Sterling’s reaction:

“*After reading this I feel that I understand myself better: I like *other people’s* cities. I like cities where I’m not an eager, engaged, canny urban participant, where I’m not “smart” and certainly not a “citizen,” and where the infrastructures and the policies are mysterious to me. Preferably, even the explanations should be in a language I can’t read.

*So I’m maximizing my “inefficiency.” I do it because it’s so enlivening and stimulating, and I can’t be the only one with that approach to urbanism. Presumably there’s some kind of class of us: flaneuring, deriving, situationist smart-city dropouts. A really “smart city” would probably build zones of some kind for us: the maximum-inefficiency anti-smart bohemias.”

2 February 2013

Launch of Global Ethnographic, a free online journal

globalethnographic

Global Ethnographic is a brand new, general interest, peer reviewed web journal featuring the field research and perspectives shaping our social world.

Free and exclusively online, Global Ethnographic is multi-media driven and cross-disciplinary, bringing you the scholarly conversations on daily life as it is lived and experienced around the world.

With embedded links and footnotes in full text articles, video, maps, and other dynamic content, libraries of research are now a click away as you read.

Global Ethnographic is a project from the Organization for Intra-Cultural Development.

2 February 2013

The four waves of user-centered design

four-waves-of-ux-small

Dr. William Gribbons is director of the Master of Science in Human Factors in Information Design and founder and senior consultant of the Design and Usability Center at Bentley University.

An article for UX Magazine describes what he considers to be the four waves of user-centered design.