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Putting People First

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March 2013
13 March 2013

Will mobile education arrive in the developing world

mobileed01

(As if it hasn’t already).

In developing countries, where smartphones and dependable cellular networks are still scarce, it’s been difficult to gauge the real impact of the mobile education movement. But with the combination of different factors — the advent of new technology, decreased pricing for data, a worldwide lust for mobile education, and a persisting patience for smaller screens and lower connection speeds in nations with little alternative — the landscape in developing countries may be at a tipping point.

By the way, make sure not to miss the mobile education image (here reproduced in small)!

12 March 2013

Book: Instruments de Design Management [French]

instruments

For French readers:

Instruments de design management – Théories et cas pratiques
Cabirio Cautela, Francesco Zurlo, Kamel Ben Youssef, Stéphane Magne
Préface : Gilles Rougon
Editeur : De Boeck
2012

Comment se développe un processus d’innovation guidé par le design (design driven) ? Existe-t-il des règles et des outils de design en mesure de booster l’innovation ? Comment se situe le design management par rapport aux disciplines qui traitent de l’innovation et de ses processus : le project management, le design stratégique, le métaprojet ?

Cet ouvrage veut répondre à toutes ces questions en cernant les frontières et les attributions du design management, dans une optique de gouvernance du processus d’innovation, et en définissant une variété de configurations de projets.

Le grand nombre d’instruments pratiques proposés – ainsi que la méthode RACE (Recherche, Analyse, Conceptualisation, Exécution) permettant leur classification – fournit un guide utile pour comprendre et tracer des parcours d’innovation fondés sur les méthodologies et les principes du design thinking. La structuration de l’ouvrage en chapitres enrichis de synthèses, questions, activités de réflexion et cas réels favorise l’apprentissage des principaux concepts. De plus, un site web propose des corrigés d’exercices pour l’auto-apprentissage de l’étudiant, ainsi que des ressources pédagogiques complémentaires permettant à l’enseignant d’animer des séances de cours et de travaux dirigés.

L’ouvrage s’adresse aux étudiants des cours de design et design stratégique des Écoles d’Architecture, de Design, ou des Beaux-Arts, ainsi qu’aux étudiants des cours de management de l’innovation à l’Université, en Écoles de Commerce et dans les Instituts d’Administration des Entreprises. Il est aussi destiné aux professionnels et aux managers souhaitant mieux appréhender les processus d’innovation guidés par le design.

12 March 2013

Book: Service Design – From Insight to Implementation

servicedesign

Service Design – From Insight to Implementation
by Andy Polaine, Lavrans Løvlie & Ben Reason
Rosenfeld Media – March 2013
(book will be published tomorrow)

We have unsatisfactory experiences when we use banks, buses, health services and insurance companies. They don’t make us feel happier or richer. Why are they not designed as well as the products we love to use such as an Apple iPod or a BMW?

The ‘developed’ world has moved beyond the industrial mindset of products and the majority of ‘products’ that we encounter are actually parts of a larger service network. These services comprise people, technology, places, time and objects that form the entire service experience. In most cases some of the touchpoints are designed, but in many situations the service as a complete ecology just “happens” and is not consciously designed at all, which is why they don’t feel like iPods or BMWs.

One of the goals of service design is to redress this imbalance and to design services that have the same appeal and experience as the products we love, whether it is buying insurance, going on holiday, filling in a tax return, or having a heart transplant. Another important aspect of service design is its potential for design innovation and intervention in the big issues facing us, such as transport, sustainability, government, finance, communications and healthcare.

Given that we live in a service and information age, a practical, thoughtful book about how to design better services is urgently needed.

Along with many other insights, this book offers:

  • A clear explanation of what service design is and what makes it different from other ways of thinking about design, marketing and business.
  • Service design insights, methods and case studies to help you move up the project food chain and have a bigger design impact on the entire service ecosystem.
  • Practical advice to help you sell the value of service thinking within your organisation and to clients.
  • Ways to help you develop business, design, environmental and social innovation through service design.

Also of note: Free webcast by the authors (recommended!)

11 March 2013

Re-designing (or redefining) UXD

UXD2013_Hero

Putting People First rarely plugs conferences (before they happen) but this one seems intriguing:

RE:DESIGN/UX Design will take place in Silicon Valley on April 29–30, 2013. The events are capped at 125 attendees and the focus is on small-scale, spirited, salon-style discussions with industry leaders and peers.

The theme for 2013 is “James Bond is an Experience Designer: What UXD Can Learn from How Others Think”

“As we hurtle into the future and the concept of “experiences” changes dramatically by the day, what it means to be an “experience designer” is changing, too. At RE:DESIGN/UXD we’ll dive in and see what we can learn about crafting the future of experience by thinking like a British spy, a journalist, a genome-code cracker and beyond.”

The speaker line, very much focused on interactive media and Silicon Valley type software companies, is impressive, with such greats as Peter Merholz, Eric Rodenbeck and Jeff DeVries.

I wonder if they will discuss the rich debate currently unrolling on the changing role of UX research, particularly in Silicon Valley.

7 March 2013

What form of behaviour change does climate change call for?

rowson01

Jonathan Rowson @Jonathan_Rowson, who leads the RSA Social Brain Centre, recently gave a 15 minute presentation on the Social Brain Centre’s emerging ideas relating to behaviour change in the context of Climate Change. The title was: “What kind of behaviour change do we need?” The details will soon be unpacked in a report, grounded in evidence from a national survey, but the idea in outline is as follows:

  • Begin with those people who fully accept the reality of climate challenge, want to do more to deal with it in their own lives, but somehow don’t manage to (‘climate ignorers
  • Focus on practices that have strategic value (changing behaviour in a way that promotes attitudes or values that reinforce rather than undermine related behaviours)
  • Help people change certain social practices(often called “habits”) that are formative of their relationship to climate change.
  • Design this change in a a way that promotes social diffusion to shift social norms and shape political will at a local level.
  • Through a shift in civil society, local government and businesses, change political will at national and international levels.
7 March 2013

Reaching those beyond Big Data

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Opening up the Stories to Action edition of Ethnography Matters is Panthea Lee’s @panthealee moving story about a human trafficking outreach campaign that her company, Reboot, designed for Safe Horizon.

In David Brook’s recent NYT column, What Data Can’t Do, he lists several things that big data is unable to accomplish. After reading the notes to Panthea’s talk below, we’d all agree that big data also leaves out people who live “off the grid.”

As Panthea tells her story about Fatou (pseudonym), a person who has been trafficked, we learn that many of the services we use to make our lives easier, like Google Maps or Hop Stop, are also used by human traffickers to maintain dominance and power over people they are controlling.

Panthea shares the early prototypes in Reboot’s design and how they decided to create a campaign that would take place at cash checking shops.

In this post, Panthea shares her notes to the talk that she gave at Microsoft’s annual Social Computing Symposium organized by Lily Cheng at NYU’s ITP. You can also view the video version of her talk.

5 March 2013

The disappearing interface

 

Where static computer screens and smartphones suck in our gaze and extract us from the world around us, many of the most interesting new tech gadgets and ideas move us back out into the open.

Instead of all-purpose, full-focus devices, these new tools are migrating outward, on and around our bodies, to our fingers and heads and wrists and ears, and even feet. From there, they can be ready to help us the moment we need them, in a manner that’s less abstracted and hard to talk about without referencing science fiction.

5 March 2013

Designing the political future

Scout_Front_

After technology received so much attention as a key differentiator for Barack Obama’s reelection campaign, Cooper Managing Director Doug LeMoine asked Scout Addis, the Director of User Experience at Practice Fusion, to discuss his experience working on the campaign and how design and technology worked together to help win the election and change the future of politics.

“I would encourage every designer to apply his or her skills to the political process to help make it better. We need more designers helping with civic engagement. Working on a political campaign is unlike working for any company you can imagine. It’s so fast, so fluid, so data intensive, that you’ll learn more in a day about what works and what doesn’t than you will in a month at most other companies.”

Read the interview

5 March 2013

Are our household appliances getting too complicated?

Breville toaster

Who needs a kettle with four heat settings? A washing machine with a ‘freshen up’ function? A toaster with six browning modes? What happened to the good old days of the on/off switch, asks Tom Meltzer in The Guardian.

“Function inflation or “setting creep” – both of which are names I’ve just made up – is not, of course, confined to the kitchen. We can see it in our computers and cars, our phones and televisions, and, in its purest form, in the deranged one-upmanship of a top-of-the-range Swiss Army knife, complete with a “fish scaler”, a “chisel” and a “pressurised ballpoint pen”. But is the surreal image of a war fought using descaled fish in Switzerland really progress? Or are all these settings just getting in our way?”

5 March 2013

Language issues. An Interview with Brigitte Jordan

gj_oval

Last September, social anthropologist Nora Schenkel had the opportunity to interview Brigitte Jordan, described by Cat Macaulay as one of the “godmothers” of design ethnography. Schenkel interviewed her on how she transitioned as one of the first from academically grounded anthropology into the field of corporate ethnography.

“I think moving into the corporate sector was like moving into a new culture, Jordan agreed. Except that you think because you have in some respects the same language, you can rely on what you know.”

The interview is now posted (Part 1 | Part 2) on the blog of the Design Ethnography Community at Dundee University.

4 March 2013

John Maeda on our life in 2020

 

In 2020 we might just regain some of the humanity that was lost in 2010, argues John Maeda, president of the Rhode Island School of Design.

“The software industry is poised to embrace its craft heritage. By 2020 software will return to a cottage industry, with bespoke applications made by many, rather than today’s industrialized, Microsoft-esque mass-production and distribution model. It will be part of a larger world movement to make things by hand, infused with emotion and integrity. This phenomenon is already becoming visible in the rise of the “apps” market for mobile phones. With few dominant players and close-to-zero distribution costs, practically anyone can “ship” an app on the iPhone, Android or BlackBerry. These apps are often built with care and attention to the design that big companies’ offerings lack. Look at the exquisite quality made by game companies like Iconfactory; or the many iPhone apps like ToonPaint that focus on letting users make “hand-crafted” creative content on their phones.

Rather than be content to accept corporate anonymity, we will rediscover the value of authorship. In 2020 technology will continue to enable individual makers to operate in the same way that once only large corporations could do.”

Too optimistic?

1 March 2013

The user research behind HTC One’s Sense 5 interface

htc-one-2

Drew Bamford, Director of User Experience at HTC, explains Sense 5.0 and why the company’s Android UX needed redefining.

“HTC radically overhauled the look and feel of Sense UI aboard the HTC One. It removed the standard homescreen of app icons and a weather widget and replaced it with something HTC says is far more useful.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, says Drew Bamford, Director of User Experience at HTC. Sense 5 is more than just a UX – it’s a redefined experience born from extensive research.

‘After releasing Sense 4 last year, I challenged the team to step back and take a fresh look at the overall customer experience,’ said Bamford, writing on the HTC Blog. ‘We interviewed customers for their personal feedback and we became students of human behaviour, taking more time than ever to observe how people use their phones today.’” [...]

The company’s research turned up three rather interesting points about the way in which its users interacted with Sense UXs of old. Most people, apparently, don’t differentiate between apps and widgets.

Widgets aren’t widely used – weather, clock and music are the most used and after that, fewer than 10 percent of customers use any other widgets.

Most of us don’t modify our home screens much. In fact, after the first month of use, approximately 80 percent of us don’t change our home screens any further.

1 March 2013

The Google Glass feature no one is talking about

 

The Google Glass feature that (almost) no one is talking about is the experience – not of the user, but of everyone other than the user, writes Mark Hurst in a thought provoking post.

“Anywhere you go in public – any store, any sidewalk, any bus or subway – you’re liable to be recorded: audio and video. Fifty people on the bus might be Glassless, but if a single person wearing Glass gets on, you – and all 49 other passengers – could be recorded. Not just for a temporary throwaway video buffer, like a security camera, but recorded, stored permanently, and shared to the world.” [...]

“Now add in facial recognition and the identity database that Google is building within Google Plus (with an emphasis on people’s accurate, real-world names): Google’s servers can process video files, at their leisure, to attempt identification on every person appearing in every video. And if Google Plus doesn’t sound like much, note that Mark Zuckerberg has already pledged that Facebook will develop apps for Glass.

Finally, consider the speech-to-text software that Google already employs, both in its servers and on the Glass devices themselves. Any audio in a video could, technically speaking, be converted to text, tagged to the individual who spoke it, and made fully searchable within Google’s search index.” [...]

“Let’s return to the bus ride. It’s not a stretch to imagine that you could immediately be identified by that Google Glass user who gets on the bus and turns the camera toward you. Anything you say within earshot could be recorded, associated with the text, and tagged to your online identity. And stored in Google’s search index. Permanently.

The really interesting aspect is that all of the indexing, tagging, and storage could happen without the Google Glass user even requesting it. Any video taken by any Google Glass, anywhere, is likely to be stored on Google servers, where any post-processing (facial recognition, speech-to-text, etc.) could happen at the later request of Google, or any other corporate or governmental body, at any point in the future.”

By the way, some people are filming a documentary using Google Glass in New York right now.

1 March 2013

In a world of connected devices, focus on what they do

connection

Stacey Higginbotham reports on a the GigaOM Internet of things meetup in San Francisco a few days ago:

“All of the participants agreed that the connected device wasn’t the product; the service was. Ideally, the Internet of things should fade into the background; what matters is what it allows people to do.” [...]

“The other design factors people must take into consideration are that these are not devices made for the screen, but devices that need to be integrated into everyday life, according to Roberto Tagliabue, executive director and software designer at Jawbone. It’s also important to think about the difference between a service and an app that might hope to have the user’s full attention.

“Ask when and how we can be relevant to the user,” Tagliabue said. “It’s not about their full attention, but now, how we can improve their life.”