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Putting People First

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May 2013
20 May 2013

Ericsson studies on people’s behaviors and values

ericsson

Ericsson’s ConsumerLab studies people’s behaviors and values, including the way they act and think about ICT products and services. Here are some of their recent publications:

How young professionals see the perfect company
April 2013
A new study from Ericsson ConsumerLab called “Young professionals at work” looks at the latest generation to enter the workforce: the Millennials.

Mixing schoolwork and leisure
March 2013
According to a ConsumerLab study, almost half of Estonian pupils use school computers for leisure activities. Many pupils also bring their own mobile phones and tablets to school to use for study purposes. This bring-your-own-device behavior blurs the boundary between leisure and school work.
> Video

Consumers’ TV and video behaviors (video)
March 2013
Niklas Heyman Rönnblom, Senior Advisor at Ericsson ConsumerLab, shares insights about consumer’s TV and video behaviors and priorities. The consumer insights highlighted in the video include the importance of HD quality, super simplicity and allowing consumers to personalize their own TV-packages.

Keys for success in the Personal information Economy
February 2013
A new report from Ericsson ConsumerLab shows that consumer awareness of how their information is being shared is still low and anonymous big data is rarely perceived as a big issue.

Network quality and smartphone usage experience
January 2013
New findings from Ericsson ConsumerLab have underlined the crucial role of good connectivity and network quality in smartphone user experience and operator loyalty.

On the same level as the ConsumerLab, sits Ericsson’s Networked Society Lab, which researches ICT-driven transformation in society, industry and service provider business.

They recently published a report on the future of learning:

As technology continues to transform our society, those responsible for our current systems of learning and education are facing overwhelming pressure to adapt.

Education technology, connected learning and the rise of the Networked Society are transforming the established concept of learning, teachers’ roles and even the nature of knowledge itself.

In an associated video (YouTube | Vimeo), Ericsson asked experts and educators to explain how learning and education are shifting away from a model based on memorization and repetition toward one that focuses on individual needs and self-expression. Obviously based on very friendly Silicon Valley-inspired technology that supports it all.

20 May 2013

The secret life of data in the year 2020

ja2012futuristdata

Brian David Johnson, Intel futurist, shows how geotags, sensor outputs, and big data are changing the future. He argues that we need a better understanding of our relationship with the data we produce in order to build the future we want.

“When you look to 2020 and beyond, you can’t escape big data. Big data—extremely large sets of data related to consumer behavior, social network posts, geotagging, sensor outputs, and more—is a big problem. Intel is at the forefront of the big data revolution and all the challenges therein. Our processors are how data gets from one place to another. If anyone should have insight into how to make data do things we want it to do, make it work for the future, it should be Intel.

[…] We will have algorithms talking to algorithms, machines talking to machines, machines talking to algorithms, sensors and cameras gathering data, and computational power crunching through that data, then handing it off to more algorithms and machines. It will be a rich and secret life separate from us and for me incredibly fascinating.

But as we begin to build the Secret Life of Data, we must always remember that data is meaningless all by itself. The 1s and 0s are useless and meaningless on their own. Data is only useful and indeed powerful when it comes into contact with people.

This brings up some interesting questions and fascinating problems to be solved from an engineering standpoint. When we are architecting these algorithms, when we are designing these systems, how do we make sure they have an understanding of what it means to be human? The people writing these algorithms must have an understanding of what people will do with that data. How will it fit into their lives? How will it affect their daily routine? How will it make their lives better?”

20 May 2013

The too-smart city

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We’re already building the metropolis of the future—green, wired, even helpful. Now critics are starting to ask whether we’ll really want to live there. Courtney Humphries reports for the Boston Globe.

“As political leaders, engineers, and environmentalists join the smart-city bandwagon, a growing chorus of thinkers from social sciences, architecture, urban planning, and design are starting to sound a note of caution. […]

Behind the alluring vision, they argue, lurk a number of troubling questions. A city tracking its citizens, even for helpful reasons, encroaches on the personal liberty we count on in public spaces. The crucial software systems and networks that underlie city services will likely lie in private hands. And the more successful smart-city programs become, the more they risk diverting resources into the problems that can be solved with technology, rather than grappling with difficult issues that can’t be easily fixed with an app. […]

The orderly, manageable city is a vision with enduring appeal, from Plato’s Republic to Songdo, an entirely new smart city constructed near Seoul. But there’s an equally compelling vision of the city as a chaotic and dynamic whirl of activity, an emergent system, an urban jungle at once hostile and full of possibility—a place to lose oneself. [Dan] Hill points out that efficiency isn’t the reason we like to live in cities, and it’s not the reason we visit them. Tourists come to Boston for the bustling charm of the North End, not the sterile landscape of Government Center. In a city where everything can be sensed, measured, analyzed, and controlled, we risk losing the overlooked benefits of inconvenience. It’s as if cities are one of the last wild places, and one that we’re still trying to tame.”

18 May 2013

Big Data knows what your future holds

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Living by the Numbers [original title: “Leben nach Zahlen”] is the title of the cover story of the German magazine Der Spiegel, available for free in English translation.

“For a modern society, an even more pressing question is whether it wishes to accept everything that becomes possible in a data-driven economy. Do we want to live in a world in which algorithms predict how well a child will do in school, how suitable he or she is for a specific job — or whether that person is at risk of becoming a criminal or developing cancer?”

18 May 2013

Industrial designers in the 21st Century: masters of the experience

Angry-Siri

Fernd Van Engelen of Artefact writes about how adding hardware design to a UX practice can create opportunities for a more holistic user experience.

“We shared the belief that we could no longer separate what a product looks like physically from the way it behaves and how we interact with it. Where traditionally UI had been confined to a small portion of the real estate on a smart, beautiful object, increasingly the UI was becoming the hero experience of the product while the hardware simply provided a stage for that magic. Neither extreme felt right us and we set out to forge a much more integrated approach.

This approach has proven very successful, as clients have embraced the integrated design thinking we deliver. But as technology and our way we interact with it evolves, we are starting to see some shifts that demand a new set of skills on the part of the designers”

18 May 2013

Customers remember experiences, not content

Felix Baumgartner for Red Bull Stratos

To solve the issue with content marketing, we need to start looking at content as part of a broader ecosystem, argues Ben Barone-Nugent, a senior digital writer & content strategist at TBWA, in a Digital Marketing special in The Guardian.

“If we define experience as the beginning-to-end engagement with a brand, then content is simply part of the spectrum. […]

Digital content needs to be supported by great user experience (UX), solid digital strategy, attentive channel management and smart technology. To reiterate – it must be part of a system.”

18 May 2013

Chatting in code on walkie-talkies in Pakistan’s tribal areas

Pakistan FATA banner

Reboot principal Panthea Lee discusses on The Atlantic how people communicate in one of the most dangerous places on earth.

“Barbers, for example, are seen as well-informed about local news because they converse with a wide range of people daily. Despite the mobility constraints in many parts of the region, all men — rich and poor, educated and uneducated — still go to the barbershop. Sultan, a barber in Khyber, thinks of himself as “a computer where people feed and receive information.”

Similarly, diaspora populations are increasingly important providers of information to FATA’s residents. Living outside of the region, migrants often learn about local events before their families and call home when they do.”

16 May 2013

SAP’s UX strategy

sap_ux_strategy

SAP customers are increasingly telling the company that user experience (UX) is the differentiator, not features and functions, starts the introduction to SAP’s new UX strategy.

“With [its] large product portfolio, any SAP UX strategy cannot be a “boil the ocean” approach; it has to target the areas that will have the biggest impact. So, instead of closing themselves off in a meeting room with like-minded colleagues, SAP user experience and product leads invited customers to tackle the challenge together as one team.

Driven by SAP’s Sam Yen, Andreas Hauser, Gerrit Kotze, Nis Boy Naeve, Jörg Rosbach, and Volker Zimmermann, these were not high-level-sit-around-a-long-table-sipping-mineral-water meetings. Instead, all participants rolled up their shirtsleeves, got out markers and post-its, brainstormed, exchanged, debated, and analyzed. The workshops and iterations started in the spring of 2012 and concluded several months ago in Walldorf.”

Based on [this] feedback from customers and trends in the IT industry, SAP defined a clear user experience strategy that incorporates [their] aspiration, vision, and mission for user experience.

“Reflecting IT trends and user expectations, we have distilled our strategy into the following design directions:
• Solve the right problem the right way
• Design for the mobile mind-set
• Give the user one entry point
• Provide coherence for common activities
• Know and show the user context
• Provide brand coherence
• Integrate data meaningfully
• Enable adaptation and personalization
• Deploy to users in one day

By 2015, SAP will make superior user experience and design an integral part of the SAP brand experience – just as the SAP HANA® platform has reconfirmed SAP’s reputation for innovation.

A key consideration in improving the user experience of SAP applications was how to include existing applications, which already
deliver consumer-grade experience, while embracing such new technologies as mobile and cloud. SAP decided to focus on three areas for applications:

  • Provide consumer-grade UX for new applications
  • Renew existing applications by improving the UX of software supporting the most commonly-used business scenarios
  • Enable customers to improve the UX of the SAP software they use to perform their own mission-critical business scenarios

Over time, the percentage of new and renewed applications representing SAP software will increase to significantly augment the overall usability of SAP business solutions.”

Also check out SAP Fiori, a collection of apps with a simple and easy to use experience for broadly and frequently used SAP software functions that work seamlessly across devices – desktop, tablet, or smartphone, and according to SAP “a major step forward in executing on the “renew” pillar of the strategy.”

14 May 2013

New NESTA paper on good and bad futurology

future

A new NESTA paper, Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow, navigates the myths and realities of good and bad futurology, from economic forecasting to science fiction.

Since time immemorial, people have tried to predict the future. In the second half of the 20th century, these efforts grew more ambitious and sophisticated. Improvements in computational power, data gathering, and analysis were all put to work to try to lift the veil on the future.

But the last decade has not been kind to futurology. Bankers’ and insurers’ forecasts of risk turned out to be drastically wrong, torpedoing the financial system and ushering in a long stagnation. Politicians’ visions of long-term stable economic growth evaporated. Perhaps relatedly, scathing critiques of our ability to foresee the future rose to the top of bestseller lists.

In this newly self-conscious mood, Nesta funded research that tries to get under the surface of different ways of talking about the future. This paper leans on that research, defending some forms of futurology.

The paper uses the image of a torch beam that shines forward in time to distinguish different ways of talking about the future. Imagine a hiker moving through unfamiliar territory using a torch equipped with a focusing lens. The narrower and more focused the beam, the brighter the light, and the more detail can be perceived about the probable path. However, an unexpected obstacle or event may force the hiker to take an alternative route and encounter dangers which were not lit up by the thin, bright torch beam. With an unfocused wider beam, the hiker can see less detail about any particular area, but is able to see some of the dangers and advantages of a wider range of plausible paths and potentially choose the preferable way forward.

Key findings
Thinking about the future is not pointless or dangerous. The paper puts forward three maxims that show that thinking about the future in a structured way is not just useful, but essential

  1. New forms of data-driven forecasting tell us valuable things about the near future. There is scope for experimenting with these techniques in order to find out what works.
  2. Thinking about plausible future scenarios can help guard against fragility. Governments and businesses need foresight capabilities in order to address systemic challenges.
  3. Innovation starts with a story about the future. Imagining and sharing desires and fears about the futures is a way for all of us to shape it.
11 May 2013

Mozilla’s new UX Quarterly

mozillauxquarterly

Mozilla’s user experience research and design team has just published the first Mozilla UX Quarterly.

Crystal Beasley, Editor and Product Design Strategist, writes:

“My hope is that this will be a tool to spread throughout the community of Mozillians the empathy for our users we’ve gained through our research studies and interviews.

All of this is to serve the broader goal of more deeply integrating design into the weft and weave of all that Mozilla does. Design gives us great tools to deal with uncertainty, enabling a culture with richer innovation. It also provides methods for breaking our own known and unknow- able biases so that we might more clearly see and appreciate the people who use the products we build.”

Here is the table of contents of the 16 page launch edition:
– Four things you need to know about mobile usage in Brazil (Cori Schauer)
– Introducing Feura Sans, a more legible font for mobile (Patryk Adamczyk)
– Firefox Design Values (Madhava Enros)
– A New Face for Firefox (Stephen Horlander)
– Project Meta: desktop Firefox user typologies (Bill Selman)
– Firefox Sentiment Report v19 (Matthew Grimes)
– Micropilot Measures What Users Actually Do (Gregg Lind)
– Designing Meaningful Security and Privacy Experiences (Larissa Co)
– Exploring the Emotions of Security, Privacy and Identity (Lindsay Kenzig)
– The Mozilla Manifesto

10 May 2013

Very successful launch of Experientia’s Talking Design lecture series

 


Talking Design - Todd Harple

Click on image to view slideshow

On Wednesday evening about 20 guests and 30 Experientia staff maxed out our little conference room to attend our very first Talking Design lecture and listen to Intel anthropologist Todd Harple, who spoke about why design and social sciences need each other, now more than ever (see also links below).

The “Talking Design” guest speaker evenings are part of our drive to bring the design world to Turin. Harple inaugurated what we plan to make a long series of talks from global experts in the industry, who will share their experiences and knowledge with the staff and friends of Experientia.

A good aperitivo afterwards (a much lauded Piedmont tradition!) allowed for informal conversation and networking.

Todd Harple, who has a PhD in anthropology, is an Experience Engineer and Strategist at Intel Corporation, and is currently on sabbatical at the International Training Centre of the ILO in Turin.

We will soon let you know about the second speaker in the series, and the location (which we may have to change, due to the success of our first talk). We also plan to video record the next talk so that we can post the lecture series also online.

Here are the links Todd provided yesterday to some background reading on the topics that he addressed during his talk:

On the heritage of design in craft
Book “Design Methods: Seeds of Human Futures“, by J. Christopher Jones

For a great review of ethnography in design and implications:
Article “Implications for Design” by Paul Dourish

See Eric Dishman tell his inspirational story of data and health care as team sport:
TED Talk “Healthcare should be a team sport” by Eric Dishman

Check out CIA’s Challenges with Big Data (and notions of ownership):
GigaOM talk “The CIA’s Grand Challenges with Big Data” by Ira “Gus” Hunt, CTO of the CIA

Andersen’s notion that Big Data heralds The End of Theory discussed last night:
Article “The End of Theory: The Data Deluge Makes the Scientific Method Obsolete” by Chris Anderson

Kate Crawford on The Hidden Biases in Big Data that we discussed last night
Article

Controversy over Google Glass we discussed last night
Article “Google Glass Picks Up Early Signal: Keep Out” by David Streitfeld in The New York Times

Will Google Glass have same effect as Bentham’s Panopticon?

Join the discussion about responsibly managing Big Data #wethedata

10 May 2013

UXPA’s latest User Experience Magazine is freely available online

13-1-newsstand

User Experience is the quarterly magazine of the UXPA, the User Experience Professional Association. From now on, each new issue is available online, in a responsive design so that you can read it on the desktop, tablet or handheld device with equal facility.

Although a members-only magazine, UX PA has made the latest issue (13.1 – “UX Careers”) freely available, along with each of the four issues from 2012.

New issues will be “members-only” for an initial period, and then will become open-access as the next issue is published. The archives are being brought into the new format and will also be open-access.

10 May 2013

Jake Barton of Local Projects wins USA’s National Award for Interaction Design

jake-barton

We at Experientia have always admired the work of Jake Barton and his company Local Projects, for the way that they have deeply woven people’s narration and storytelling into the design of interactive installations and museums.

Now Jake has won the 2013 National Award for Interaction Design, which shall be handed to him by Michelle Obama during a luncheon ceremony at the White House. Congratulations!

The National Design Awards – which cover a range of design categories – were conceived by the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum to honor lasting achievement in American design. The Awards are bestowed in recognition of excellence, innovation, and enhancement of the quality of life.

Founded by Jake Barton, Local Projects is a media design firm that specializes in work for museums and public spaces. Local Projects is creating all media for the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum with Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and the Frank Gehry–designed Eisenhower Memorial. The firm is recognized as a leader in the field of interaction design for physical spaces, and in the creation of collaborative storytelling projects where participants generate content. Through Storycorps, the 9/11 Memorial Museum, and Change By Us, Local Projects has brought forth over 100,000 individuals’ stories and memories, sharing them with millions worldwide. Clients include SFMOMA, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the National Museum of African-American History and Culture, and the Sugar Hill Museum of Children’s Art and Storytelling, NYC.

10 May 2013

How do you interview an interview specialist?

steve

Ethnography Matters took on a difficult challenge with this interview of Steve Portigal about his new book “Interviewing Users“.

EM: In your 18 years in this business, what has been some of the biggest shifts that you have witnessed in the field?

SP: When I entered the field, it was barely a field. There was no community, there were few people practicing, and there wasn’t a lot of demand for the work. I think the growth in the user experience field, through the web and then mobile devices has really pulled us along. Of course, there are researchers working in categories I have less visibility into so their shifts would be different. I saw insights about customers regarded as a luxury in the 2001 recession and thus low demand; but in 2008 companies talked about trying to innovate their way through the downturn and so insights and design were no longer expendable ingredients in product development.

Steve Portigal is the founder of Portigal Consulting, a bite-sized firm that helps clients to discover and act on new insights about themselves and their customers. Over the course of his career, he has interviewed hundreds of people, including families eating breakfast, hotel maintenance staff, architects, rock musicians, home-automation enthusiasts, credit-default swap traders, and radiologists. His work has informed the development of mobile devices, medical information systems, music gear, wine packaging, financial services, corporate intranets, videoconferencing systems, and iPod accessories.

Putting People First readers have a 20% discount off the list price of the book — simply place your order through Rosenfeld Media and use the coupon code PPF2013 upon checkout.

10 May 2013

‘Open Data’ brings potential and perils for governments

 

Governments and public officials are rushing to embrace the concept of Open Data, throwing open the vast panoply of publicly collected information for the digitally savvy to mine and exploit, writes Ben Rooney in the Wall Street Journal.

However, the use of government data throws up many issues surrounding privacy, policy-making and the uses to which the data has been put. These need to be tackled before simply opening up these digital to all comers.

Some remarkable quotes:

“Anonymized personal data has to be treated as personal data and not open data.”

“The main problem with correlation is that if you look at enough data you can find correlations in almost anything.”

“It is very dicey when you start talking about causation… You know, we have real problems to solve.”

10 May 2013

How GE uses data visualization to tell complex stories

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GE, perhaps more than any other major company, is dedicated to the use of data visualization as a key part of its marketing and communications efforts. Stemming from last month’s Insight Center on visualizing data, Gretchen Gavett of the Harvard Business Review spoke with Linda Boff, GE’s executive director of global brand marketing, about the benefits and challenges of this approach.

“The power of a good story well told in any sort of medium cannot be overstated. Data vis has allowed us to do storytelling at its best. Experimentation is also key, getting in there, understanding a medium and a technique, and not being afraid to experiment with it and be open and collaborative. We have had data marathons with many universities where we’ve brought in students, given them a problem, and said, hey, let’s work over the next couple of days to solve this.”

10 May 2013

Libraries: a canvas for creating meaningful UX

library-ux-small

Amanda L. Goodman is the User Experience Librarian at Darien Library in Connecticut. In this article for UX Magazine, she writes about her experience as a librarian in the USA:

“Across the country, libraries are providing services and crafting experiences that make patrons’ visits meaningful and pleasurable. The focus has changed from providing books and reference services to user experience—a change that has been partially facilitated in recent years by the economic downturn.

User experience is an important tool for libraries to employ against a number of competitors like bookstores and at-home Internet access. Libraries have taken this as an opportunity to provide services that are not available elsewhere. The strategy to focus on users and their needs has earned libraries strong support from the public as demonstrated by a recent Pew Internet study: an overwhelming 91% of Americans “say public libraries are important to their communities.”

8 May 2013

Interviewing Users book – Special offers for Putting People First readers

interviewing-users

A few weeks ago, I announced Interviewing Users, the new book by Steve Portigal published by Rosenfeld Media. It is now available for purchase, both in print and in digital version.

Steve and his publisher provide Putting People First readers with two special offers:

  • Giveaway: the first three people leaving a reply on this post why they would love to get a free copy of this book, will get a mail from me with the code for exactly that: a free paper copy!
  • Discount: all others get something too: an exclusive 20% discount off the list price of the book — simply place your order through Rosenfeld Media and use the coupon code PPF2013 upon checkout.

Also note that Steve has posted a long excerpt from Chapter 2 “How to Uncover Compelling Insights” on Core77: . This part off the book sets up the overarching framework for successful interviewing: most experts have a set of best practices—tactics, really—that they follow. But what really makes them expert is that they have a set of operating principles. This ends up being more like a framework for how to be, rather than a list of what to do.

Grant McCracken meanwhile has posted his foreword to the book.

Thank you Louis, Mary and Steve.

6 May 2013

Tweeting Minarets: joining quantitative and qualitative research methodologies

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In the last post of the EthnographyMatters Ethnomining edition (edited by Nicolas Nova), David Ayman Shamma @ayman gives a personal perspective on mixed methods. Based on the example of data produced by people of Egypt who stood up against then Egyptian president and his party in 2011, he advocates for a comprehensive approach for data analysis beyond the “Big Data vs the World” situation we seem to have reached. In doing so, his perspective complements the previous posts by showing the richness of ethnographic data in order to deepen quantitative findings.

“Discovering how communities organize, grow, and communicate under times of distress is difficult even when technology hasn’t been cut. While many things surfaced on Twitter during the revolution, like the Hardees in Tahrir being used as a safe house, many questions were left unexplained or assumed to be the work of online social networking.

This is where ethnography matters–by surfacing what to look for in the big data and highlighting what might be salient trends and features despite not being dominant. And mostly, by identifying people’s motivations and giving a deeper understanding of why things happen. From there we can start to unravel the complex communication structures at play and define new metrics informed by human action. The effort is ongoing, as we surface what has been done and what we now know through, it still says we don’t know.

It’s not a race, it’s a partnership, a marriage. The goal isn’t to get to the end as quickly as possible but rather to work together over time and build a richer world. We should strive to find these links between the quantitative and qualitative, and leave the silos which have us fragmented as a research community.”

David Ayman Shamma is a research scientist in the Internet Experiences group at Yahoo! Research for which he designs and evaluates systems for multimedia-mediated communication.

6 May 2013

It’s time to reinvent the Personal Computer

 

Although Windows and Macintosh are both showing their age, Michael Mace of Cera Technology thinks there is enormous opportunity for a renaissance in personal computing.

In this post he describes the next-generation personal computing opportunity, and what could make it happen.

“I call the new platform sensory computing because it makes much richer use of vision and gestures and 3D technology than anything we have today. Compared to a sensory computer, today’s PCs and even tablets look flat and uninteresting.

There are four big changes needed to implement sensory computing.”

They are 3D, a modernized UI, a new paradigm (metaphor) for user interaction, and a modernized computer ecosystem.