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Posts in category 'Americas'

17 June 2010

Jon Kolko on design that changes human behavior

Jon Kolko
As part of its “Future By Design” series, Forbes Magazine interviewed Jon Kolko, associate creative director at Frog Design and founder of the Austin Center for Design, on how a “well-crafted product can make the world a better place.”

Forbes: What do you think constitutes good design?
Good design is design that changes behavior for the better. I think it needs to take into account the context of the environment, of the human condition, the culture and then attempt to make the things you do–make us do them better, make us do better things. It encourages us to change the way that we live.

Read interview

14 June 2010

Some CHI papers that we like

CHI 2010
Here are some of the CHI 2010 papers we like:

On cross-cultural HCI

Postcolonial computing: a lens on design and development
Lilly Irani, Janet Vertesi and Paul Dourish, Department of Informatics, University of California, Irvine;
Kavita Philip, Department of Women’s Studies, University of California, Irvine;
Rebecca E. Grinter, GVU Center and School of Interactive Computing College of Computing Georgia Institute of Technology

As our technologies travel to new cultural contexts and our designs and methods engage new constituencies, both our design and analytical practices face significant challenges. We offer postcolonial computing as an analytical orientation to better understand these challenges. This analytic orientation inspires four key shifts in our approach to HCI4D efforts: generative models of culture, development as a historical program, uneven economic relations, and cultural epistemologies. Then, through reconsideration of the practices of engagement, articulation and translation in other contexts, we offer designers and researchers ways of understanding use and design practice to respond to global connectivity and movement.

After access – challenges facing mobile-only Internet users in the developing world
Shikoh Gitau, Gary Marsden, Hasso Plattner ICT4D Research School, University of Cape Town, South Africa;
Jonathan Donner, Microsoft Research India

This study reports results of an ethnographic action research study, exploring mobile-centric internet use. Over the course of 13 weeks, eight women, each a member of a livelihoods collective in urban Cape Town, South Africa, received training to make use of the data (internet) features on the phones they already owned. None of the women had previous exposure to PCs or the internet. Activities focused on social networking, entertainment, information search, and, in particular, job searches. Results of the exercise reveal both the promise of, and barriers to, mobile internet use by a potentially large community of first-time, mobile-centric users. Discussion focuses on the importance of self-expression and identity management in the refinement of online and offline presences, and considers these forces relative to issues of gender and socioeconomic status.

On micro-blogging and social networking

Tune in, tweet on, twit out: information snacking on Twitter
Elizabeth Churchill of the Internet Experiences Group of Yahoo! Research;
Andrew L. Brooks of the School of Information University of California, Berkeley

Microblogging via services such as Twitter is changing the way we share and access information. We report findings from three studies that explored everyday information seeking and sharing activities: local news consumption, shopping, and recommendation making by concierges in the hotel industry. Although our focus was not Twitter per se, the service is increasingly seen as having value for solving specific situational information needs. Through examples we illustrate how Twitter has evolved from a service for sharing personal status messages to being used as a source for pursuing one-off, disposable information requests.

Media, conversations, and shadows
David A. Shamma, Lyndon Kennedy, and Elizabeth F. Churchill of the Internet Experiences Group of Yahoo! Research

This article proposes that microblogged messages that relate to a live event can be examined as indirect annotation on a media object that might not exist. From a collection of Twitter posts around two political events, we have begun to discover techniques for identifying how microblog posts relate to the matching media event. Further, we identify the relationship between the media event itself and the conversational shadow cast from the online community.

Sensemaking with tweeting: exploiting microblogging for knowledge workers
Bongwon Suh, Lichan Hong, Gregorio Convertino, Ed H. Chi, Palo Alto Research Center;
Michael Bernstein, MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory

Just because the rules surrounding microblogging services are simple does not mean that tools support for them should be simple too. Microblogging generates volumes of interesting social content, but there is a lack of frameworks and tools that allow us to exploit such information and enhance knowledge workers’ sensemaking. Beyond adoption, we believe that new promising research directions on microblogging include designing and evaluating tools that extract and exploit social information. In this paper, we discuss a number of ways to exploit microblogging in support of two recurrent sensemaking tasks: (1) when a user is seeking information (information foraging and active exploration) and (2) when information is delivered to the user (awareness and passive monitoring).

What do people ask their social networks, and why? A survey study of status message Q&A behavior
Meredith Ringel Morris, Microsoft Research Redmond;
Jaime Teevan, Microsoft Research Redmond;
Katrina Panovich, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

People often turn to their friends, families, and colleagues when they have questions. The recent, rapid rise of online social networking tools has made doing this on a large scale easy and efficient. In this paper we explore the phenomenon of using social network status messages to ask questions. We conducted a survey of 624 people, asking them to share the questions they have asked and answered of their online social networks. We present detailed data on the frequency of this type of question asking, the types of questions asked, and respondents’ motivations for asking their social networks rather than using more traditional search tools like Web search engines. We report on the perceived speed and quality of the answers received, as well as what motivates people to respond to questions seen in their friends‟ status messages. We then discuss the implications of our findings for the design of next-generation search tools.

On energy use

Home, habits, and energy: examining domestic interactions and energy consumption
James Pierce, Computer Science Laboratory Palo Alto Research Center and HCI Institute Carnegie Mellon University;
Diane J. Schiano, Computer Science Laboratory Palo Alto Research Center and SAMA Group Yahoo!, Inc.;
Eric Paulos, HCI Institute Carnegie Mellon University

This paper presents findings from a qualitative study of people’s everyday interactions with energy-consuming products and systems in the home. Initial results from a large online survey are also considered. This research focuses not only on “conservation behavior” but importantly investigates interactions with technology that may be characterized as “normal consumption” or “over-consumption.” A novel vocabulary for analyzing and designing energy-conserving interactions is proposed based on our findings, including: cutting, trimming, switching, upgrading, and shifting. Using the proposed vocabulary, and informed by theoretical developments from various literatures, this paper demonstrates ways in which everyday interactions with technology in the home are performed without conscious consideration of energy consumption but rather are unconscious, habitual, and irrational. Implications for the design of energy-conserving interactions with technology and broader challenges for HCI research are proposed.

Studying always-on electricity feedback in the home
Yann Riche, Riche Design Seattle;
Jonathan Dodge and Ronald A. Metoyer, Oregon State University, School of EECS

The recent emphasis on sustainability has made consumers more aware of their responsibility for saving resources, in particular, electricity. Consumers can better understand how to save electricity by gaining awareness of their consumption beyond the typical monthly bill. We conducted a study to understand consumers’ awareness of energy consumption in the home and to determine their requirements for an interactive, always-on interface for exploring data to gain awareness of home energy consumption. In this paper, we describe a three-stage approach to supporting electricity conservation routines: raise awareness, inform complex changes, and maintain sustainable routines. We then present the findings from our study to support design implications for energy consumption feedback interfaces.

The design of eco-feedback technology
Jon Froehlich and James Landay, Computer Science and Engineering, DUB Institute, University of Washington;
Leah Findlater, The Information School, DUB Institute, University of Washington

Eco-feedback technology provides feedback on individual or group behaviors with a goal of reducing environmental impact. The history of eco-feedback extends back more than 40 years to the origins of environmental psychology. Despite its stated purpose, few HCI eco-feedback studies have attempted to measure behavior change. This leads to two overarching questions: (1) what can HCI learn from environmental psychology and (2) what role should HCI have in designing and evaluating eco-feedback technology? To help answer these questions, this paper conducts a comparative survey of eco-feedback technology, including 89 papers from environmental psychology and 44 papers from the HCI and UbiComp literature. We also provide an overview of predominant models of proenvironmental behaviors and a summary of key motivation techniques to promote this behavior.

13 June 2010

Book: Screen Future

Screen Future
Screen Future
The Future of Entertainment, Computing, and the Devices We Love
By Brian David Johnson

June 30th 2010 will see the publication of the book, Screen Future: The Future of Entertainment, Computing and the Devices We Love, by Brian David Johnson, customer experience architect at Intel.

Screen Future is a technical book about people, technology, and the economics that are shaping and the evolution of entertainment. Blending social and computer sciences, the book provides a vision for what happens after convergence and what we need to do to get there.

Screen Future explores the big unanswered questions: What do consumers really want? What are the real world implications for bringing about the future of TV across multiple platforms? As the experience of watching television permeates all of consumer electronics devices how will it be delivered and paid for? Pulling from global consumer research, Screen Future explores in concrete terms what real people actually want from the future of TVs and how the entertainment and technology industries might bring this vision to market in ways that work for all involved.

Table of contents (pdf)
Blog post by the author
Book review on Dealerscope

13 June 2010

William J. Mitchell (MIT) passed away

William J. Mitchell
BoingBoing reports that Professor William J. Mitchell, pioneer of urban computing, has passed away.

Professor William J. Mitchell, director of MIT’s Design Laboratory and pioneering Smart Cities research group, died yesterday after a battle with cancer. Professor Mitchell was a brilliant and big thinker who wrote a series of seminal books, including Me++, City of Bits, and e-topia, about the intersection of humanity, networked intelligence, and the built environment. “Bill was a designer’s designer and visionary about the impact of new media on human experience,” says professor Ken Goldberg, director of UC Berkeley’s Center for New Media, to which Mitchell was an advisor. “He was incredibly prolific and will leave a lasting impact on generations of designers and thinkers.”

Read MIT News obituary

2 June 2010

Videos of IIT Design Research Conference

DRC
Videos of the recent IIT Design Research Conference are currently being uploaded. Here is the list of the presentations (alphabetical by speaker’s last name), with video links (where available):

Tim Brown | IDEO (conference bio)
We’re all design researchers now (34:15)

Solving some of society’s biggest challenges today will require large scale behavior change. Tim will talk about putting design thinking into the hands of everyone to inspire change and tackle the world’s biggest problems.

Allan Chochinov | Core77 (conference bio)
First Person Plural: The value of getting it from the horse’s mouth (24:15)

In a maturing world of design research methodologies, the value of primary research cannot be overstated. This talk will move through a series of student-initiated projects, each triggered by a singular, profound insight or leveraged to an engagement with a community far beyond the designer’s anticipated reach. We will discuss specific techniques for soliciting input from target audiences, and ways to recognize the good stuff when you see it. It all starts with the first person.

Joyce Chou | Core77
The steampunk solution to disruptive technology (14:04)

Martha Cotton | gravitytank (conference bio)
Accidents and Plans: A few good tools for collaboration (25:47)

Once upon a time, marketers saw truth mostly in numbers. But there have been some key shifts in the last 10 or so years: Design Research has broken out of its niche status and quantitative research has been stripped of its compulsory status. Design research has moved to the mainstream; quantitative research has become but one of many tools for decision making.
“Truth” about consumers is now found in many ways: stories, photos, video, quotes, anecdotes, sketches, conceptual frameworks, and more. Accompanying this shift our community has developed, and will continue to develop, more useful and interesting ways to gather qualitative data.
This talk explores a variety of compelling ways we are now able to gather qualitative data. She also expands the context to explore ways other phases in the qualitative research lifecycle can be done in more rich and effective ways including participant recruiting, analysis, and accessing project data over time.

Erica Eden | Smart Design, Femme Den (conference bio)
Sex Ed: Clients, Designers, and Everyone Else (27:40)

Why is gender important? Smart Design’s Femme Den explores the gap between assumptions and realities about women. As practicing designers and design researchers, we apply new ways to design for the elusive women’s market. To create products and experiences that women love, we must better understand their lives, as well as our clients’ objectives and designers’ perspectives. In this talk, we will be sharing our methodologies to meet the needs of and effectively communicate with these three interconnected groups.

Kim Erwin | IIT Institute of Design (conference bio)
Diane Fraley | D.S. Fraley Associates (conference bio)
Our world is flat, too: the paradigm shift of online research (30:08)

When Thomas Friedman declared the world flat, in his seminal book by the same name, he summarized the dramatic shift in commerce and competition across the globe brought about by the Internet. This technology, he notes, puts nearly everything within reach of nearly everyone, and our global economy is now essentially free of geographic restraints—it’s a level playing field. What’s to become of us of all, he asks?
We should be asking this, too. As with most professions, the Internet is reshaping the landscape of user research. This is happening on two levels: the business model of user research, and the practice model of user research.
On the business side, large online research houses are capturing a growing portion of research work, leveraging economies of scale and exclusive contracts designed to appeal to the finance people inside organizations.
On the practice side, research design has become a vastly more complex and interesting proposition. The Internet and digital media combine to form a powerful set of new data collection tools, while also giving us access to participants across geographies and time zones.
The new playing field dramatically expands what’s possible: Micro-blogging, asynchronous video, synchronous video, video diaries, remote activity monitoring—we can now do it all, all at once. As researchers, we can be everywhere at the same time. We can instantly review data collected remotely. We can have intimate contact with participants while miles apart.
All of this challenges our research processes and logic—“web work” now joins “field work” to reshape the paradigm for bringing producers closer to their consumers. How do we leverage this new paradigm to enrich research design and the resulting data? How might we use “web work” to deliver against objectives in an increasingly time-constrained development environment? How does our new reach inform user research for strategy development—one of the bigger frontiers of practice.
In this talk, Diane Fraley and Kim Erwin share a new approach that hybridizes “field work” and “web work.” Working with graduate students at the Institute of Design, Kim and Diane designed and executed the first phase of a multi-phase, exploratory project—integrating multiple online technologies to deliver a picture of how shopping behavior is rapidly shifting as early majorities adopt the Internet and smart phones to manage their homes.

Heather Fraser | Rotman DesignWorks (conference bio)
Design (Research) as a Shared Platform (video not yet available)

We live in a world where VUCA is the new acronym for ‘Holy cow, this is a tough nut to crack.” Faced with complex challenges, design, and most critically design research, is not only an important field for new methodologies and tools; it is also a shared platform for building a common campfire and a shared understanding of the purpose and actions for all organizations. Through our work at Rotman DesignWorks with students of all disciplines and executives across all functions, we have witnessed the power of shared discoveries and appreciation for design research as the foundation and fuel for creating new value and mobilizing organizations to rise to today’s challenges.

Usman Haque | Pachube (conference bio)
Notes on the design of participatory systems – for the city or for the planet (25:42)

Cooperation is difficult. Even when everybody agrees on an end goal, and even when everybody agrees on what is needed to achieve that end goal, it does not mean that everyone (or even anyone) will be able to take the first step, which is the most important step. The talk discusses the paradoxical structures of collaboration and ways that the paradoxes can be harnessed, illustrated occasionally with concrete examples from past work.

Cathy Huang | China Bridge International (conference bio)
Looking Inward: Design Research in China (25:17)

Conducting design research in an emerging market like China takes cultural understanding, patience, along with a level of empathy that is not normally gained overnight. In this presentation, Cathy Huang will take an inward look at China to bring forward key challenges that China Bridge International (CBi) is encountering while trying to gain insight through design research in China.
How does Social Conformity, Confucius, Utilitarianism and the belief that concealing ones economic status create obstacles for gaining insight in China? How does a research project navigate the many cultural, social, psychographic, and geographical differences when doing research in China?
These represent a few of the questions Cathy will discuss in her presentation. The background and foundation for her thoughts and perspectives are presented from the findings of many cases studies and experiences gained from her work at CBi — an insight-based innovation and design strategy firm.

Stokes Jones | Lodestar (conference bio)
Stokes Jones: Getting Embedded: In Search of Alt-innovation (video not yet available)

Whatever innovation process you favor, chances are it’s a relatively ‘top-down’ one. In this presentation, I will explore the roots of, and a working model for, an alternative type of innovation that is ‘bottom-up’ and anthropologically grounded. What we call “embedded innovation” is not something companies do to the world – after a staged series of research and workshop events – but a cultural process that people are continually unfolding in the world over time. In this approach, the key focus for design research and strategy becomes ‘attunement’ not invention – identifying the embedded innovation already taking place in a context or marketspace, then aligning to and enhancing it.
We look at cases of how this method has been applied cross-culturally by Lodestar; for researching with P&G the design of new over-the-counter medicines in South Africa; for social networking in Brazil, as well as by comparison to a familiar household product in the US. We will then consider the implications of complementing the usual ‘heroic’, company-led innovation with this more humble form. We believe research into embedded innovation leads to solutions that are truly human centered and empathic because it connects people to the value inherent in proposed products and services by designing offers from the inside out of their own ‘folk models’ and situated practices.

Anjali Kelkar | Studio for Design Research (conference bio)
Getting the most out of design research in Asia (24:46)

How can the Design Research practice uncover and understand cultural nuances of consumers in new markets better? Also, does this practice the way we conduct it in the West, really work in China and India? Do we need new tools or do we need to approach this practice differently? The talk will address the above questions with case studies from various projects.

Gerald Lombardi | Hall & Partners (conference bio)
The deskilling of ethnographic labor: an emerging predicament and a possible solution (11:10)

An oft-stated rule in the world of design has been, “Good, fast, cheap: pick two”. The success of ethnography as a support to design, branding and marketing has forced this rule into action with a vengeance. Companies now demand that more and more ethnographic knowledge be produced in ever-shorter timeframes and on ever-lower budgets. Our work output has become a mass production item, and the pressure is on. Ethnographers like me find that our Ph.D.s and cosmopolitan outlooks are scant protection as we undergo the same process experienced by many other highly trained workers over the past two centuries: job deskilling.
Job deskilling is a two-edged sword that brings opportunity and misery at the same time, though not always to the same people. Without taking a position on merits or demerits, in my talk I will first review the mechanisms of professional deskilling as the manufacture of ethnographic output has expanded. I will also give examples from my experience as someone who is on both sides of the issue, often finding my own work situation deskilled, and sometimes required by business objectives to submit others to that kind of regime.
The resulting picture is a bit grim. Are those of us who practice ethnography for industry condemned to the same fate as the skilled automobile craftsmen of Detroit circa 1908? (They were replaced by machines, and now there are 680 million motor vehicles on Earth.) And are the outputs of our creative research destined to be commoditized, to the sad detriment of the products we help bring into the world? Perhaps not. So much is made these days of the need for disruptive innovation — what if we apply that outlook to the conditions of our own labor? I have in mind a collusion between ethnographic laborers and their more enlightened employers, in the service of a better paradigm, a realignment of “Good, fast, cheap” so there’s a chance for more “Good” to peek through.
But that’s impossible, right? Business would never stand for it…. To the contrary, I assert that the material conditions of global production are soon going to require a disruptive change regardless of what the business world thinks. I explain what and why that is, and urge that we make our new professional motto this one: “Why pay less?”

Doug Look | Autodesk (conference bio)
Up in the Air (15:54)

What’s next? Perhaps we need to go beyond the discovery aspects of design research and now focus on ways to go beyond, to figure out ways of executing and delivering real business success. Instead of declaring that Design Research has won or that there’s widespread acceptance, we might want to pause a bit for some reflection on how to take the critical next steps toward implementation and execution. And here’s a hint–it isn’t easy.
What have been effective methods and tools from within a corporate environment? What are some of the challenges you might face within an engineering-centered organization? Where is the scarcity and what skill sets provide utility? Doug Look will reflect on insights gathered over the past five years in his journey from an academic setting at the Institute of Design to an engineered-centered corporate culture.

Bill Lucas | LUMA Institute, MAYA Design (conference bio)
Encouraging everyone (from K through CEO) to look with care (video not yet available)

As the field of design research matures, an exciting new activity is emerging. Seasoned practitioners are extending their knowledge and passion to non-specialists of various ages and backgrounds. In this talk, I will present stories from LUMA Institute, an educational venture dedicated to helping everyone from K through CEO learn and apply the practices of Human-Centered Design (including the critical activity of looking and listening with care). I’ll talk about the wonderful things that happen when experienced professionals facilitate workshops aimed at raising the awareness and competence of people from all walks of life.

Dominick J. Misino | NYPD (conference bio)
Building Rapport: Lessons from a Hostage Negotiator (30:42)

Don Norman | Nielsen Norman Group (conference bio)
The Research-Practice Gulf (40:22)

There is a great gulf between the research community and practice. Moreover, there is often a great gull between what designers do and what industry needs. We believe we know how to do design, but this belief is based more on faith than on data, and this belief reinforces the gulf between the research community and practice.
I find that the things we take most for granted are seldom examined or questioned. As a result, it is often our most fundamental beliefs that are apt to be wrong.
In this talk, deliberately intended to be controversial. I examine some of our most cherished beliefs. Examples: design research helps create breakthrough products; complexity is bad and simplicity good; there is a natural chain from research to product.

Sona Patadia-Rao | PDT (conference bio)
Lisa Yanz | PDT (conference bio)
A Case Study: The Collaborative Redesign of the Perkins Brailler (28:28)

“Good Design” means something different to everyone, especially to an audience that experiences the world through their fingertips. As designers we are accustomed to immersing ourselves into the lives of our targeted users and pulling out meaning, values and aspirations. However, when the targeted audience interprets the world in an unique way, the design team’s methodology need to be flexible, conclusions are never final and bringing the users into the fold of the process is essential.
Through this discussion attendees hear the development story of redesigning the fully mechanical Next Generation Perkins Braille Writer for the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown MA. This device is the “pen and paper” for the visually impaired community, making it an essential teaching tool worldwide. The original Perkins Brailler was designed in the 1940’s, has over 600 moving parts, and has remained the unchanged, extremely reliable workhorse for decades.
We look to tell the story honestly, addressing successes, stumbles, surprises and how we were changed both professional and personally by the experience. This is a case study in blurring the formalized lines between research, design and engineering to create a product that meets the needs of a very adaptable and impressive user group.

Ron Pierce | Stuart Karten Design (conference bio)
360-Degree Research (video not yet available)

The power of design research lies in its connection to the end user. But too often, the focus on the end user is watered down as a product passes through many hands on its way to production. Ron Pierce proposes an alternate model of 360-degree research— an ongoing process in which researchers engage with the client and the end user throughout product development, putting solutions through rigorous testing at multiple phases.
Sharing the story of Stuart Karten Design’s engagement with hearing aid manufacturer Starkey Laboratories, Inc., Ron will show how a 360-degree research process can provide better results for the end user and significant financial returns for the corporation.
During a three-year strategic partnership with Starkey, Ron and his team at SKD have collaborated to develop products that greatly improve a frustrating end user experience. By continually engaging with stakeholders, distribution channels and a wide range of hearing aid wearers during various stages of the product development process, from foundational research through evaluative testing of functional prototypes, Ron and his team have reinvented Starkey’s product line with a focus on the user.
He shared SKD’s 360-degree research process, which recently culminated with the introduction of Starkey’s S Series hearing aid, featuring a touch-activated control proven to solve one of users’ most poignant frustrations. The first-of-its-kind innovation has increased Starkey’s market share and cemented the company’s position as a global leader.

Heather Reavey | Continuum (conference bio)
Envisioning Breakthrough Ideas (video not yet available)

A deep understanding of people is one lens that inspires designers to envision new experiences. Moving from inspiration to impact is another matter. What is a breakthrough idea, and how can you deliver it in a way that makes your audience believe? This session is all about big ideas: where they come from, how you know when you might have a game-changer. And how you can use design and storytelling to communicate a new opportunity in an experiential, emotional, human way that motivates clients and organizations to become advocates of change.

Rick E. Robinson | Sideriver Ventures (conference bio)
Crankiness is Overrated: Good Work is Harder Than Grumbling (28:15)

When we take hold of a powerful tool and use it to shape the daily lives of real people, we are laid under an obligation, a responsibility, to understand not only how that shaping could affect those daily lives, but how it should do so. The “good” in “good design” has, in the last twenty years or so, migrated from the relatively simple appreciation of an end-product’s formal properties to include the ways in which a product becomes what it is: the process of designing. In the course of that migration, “users” and “experience” have become central to the way design works, to how the things which it produces are evaluated. Under any number of labels (“user-centered design research”, “ethnographics,” “anthrojournalism” and so on) the (largely) social sciences-derived research which informs the work of design has grown into a small industry of its own. Taken as a whole, design research has resulted in a collective paying of more attention to people rather than less. That’s a ‘good’ in pretty much anyone’s book. But it is also, in practice, a bit like supposing that because an M.D. is doing rounds, looking into patients’ rooms and signing the charts, good medical care is being practiced. If designers have been less than explicit about the values that inform the choices they make, it seems that design research as a whole has been even less so. The most widely accepted ‘point’ of design research is to inform the work of design. To provide a basis from which the work of design, development, and strategy can proceed. It is a bit circular: we do research to inform the process of design, which requires that we understand the users. Circular or not, it would be just fine if what was required to “inform” design were no more than a scan of current conditions. A pH strip dipped in the pool. A thumb licked and held up in the breeze. But the best design work doesn’t need the thumb in the air; good designers or teams or practices are usually plugged in and working at the ragged front end anyway. What we need from research is more than description, and especially, more than a list of “needs,” explicit or implicit, met or unmet. We need a way to explicitly articulate the values that inform those decisions, and a basis on which to do so.

Kevin Starr | Rainer Arnhold Fellows (conference bio)
Design for (Real) Social Impact (24:56)

Designing a product that will make life better for the poor isn’t easy. You can’t just design a cool product that works; you have to make sure it will get into the hands of those who need it most and that it will be used to good effect. As investors in tools and products to benefit the poor – and get them out of poverty – we’ve developed an approach to vetting product ideas that is based on the successes and failures we’ve seen over the years. We’ve found that using it in the design phase can help avoid the pitfalls that waste effort and money, and ensure that good ideas turn into real impact.

Rob Tannen | Bresslergroup (conference bio)
Design Research Tools for the Physical World (25:28)

In 2008 Rob presented an overview of the latest in digital user research technology, including the FieldCREW tablet concept. This year he is back to discuss tools and techniques to capture physical behavior, which is essential for the design of gestural, interactive devices.
The presentation includes:
* An introduction to “observational ergonomics” so researchers can qualitatively identify design problems and opportunities
* Demonstrations and reviews of the latest tech tools for conducting user research, including tactile sensing and wireless information tagging

Helen Walters | Bloomberg Businessweek (conference bio)
Wrap-up of Day One of DRC 2010 (13:36)

Eric Wilmot | Wolff Olins (conference bio)
How Fast? 21st Century Approach To Speed & Innovation (24:58)

Over the past decade design-thinking and user-insight practices have grown to become integral process within the worlds top organizations. This has lead to product, digital, and brand innovation consultancies to differentiate their services by framing new ways of doing things.
During the last decade we have witnessed a layering of methodologies and activities in an attempt to differentiate how we discover, define, design, and deliver new solutions. Ironically, over much of this same time, the process itself has remained an assumption for practitioners across the business community.
Overall, what challenges exist for the next generation of research methods when applied to a process model that was born before the Internet? Nimble clients are making it difficult for consultancies to keep up. Demand for faster launches is challenging the effectiveness of traditional processes. Technology is shifting control where offerings can be “pulled” into the market, reducing risk from the traditional “push” model.
The business environment is demanding change. This talk will highlight new client demands and market forces that are reframing the question from “How might design-thinking be better used within the current development process?” to “How might the process itself be changed to enable new and better uses for design-thinking and research?”

28 May 2010

Moving past user needs

IIT DRC
Tara Mullaney (and not Allan Chochinov as erroneously reported earlier) has published her reflections on IIT’s 2010 Design Research conference on Core77.

Although there were about 30 speakers, Mullaney focuses on the contributions by Donald Norman, Rick Robinson (Elab), Doug Look (AutoDesk), Tim Brown (IDEO), Martha Cotton (gravitytank), Heather Fraser (Rotman DesignWorks), Eric Wilmot (Wolff Olins), Kim Erwin (IIT’s Institute of Design), Usman Haque (Pachube), Kevin Starr (Rainer Arnhold Fellows Program), and Cathy Huang (China Bridge International).

“What has been and always will be true about Design Research is its consideration of people. The future lies not in ignoring needs, but in broadening our horizons. We need to think about more than just insights. We need to be collaborators and co-creators not only with the companies we are designing for, but also the communities and individuals we are researching. The increasingly elaborate tools available to us will enable these connections to happen in both traditional fieldwork and through digital interactions. The present calls for new business models where design researchers will function as the translators between society and industry.”

Read article

25 May 2010

Growing up online

Growning up online
In Growing Up Online, the American public affairs series FRONTLINE takes viewers inside the very public private worlds that kids are creating online, raising important questions about how the Internet is transforming childhood.

“The Internet and the digital world was something that belonged to adults, and now it’s something that really is the province of teenagers, ” says C.J. Pascoe, a postdoctoral scholar with the University of California, Berkeley’s Digital Youth Research project.

“They’re able to have a private space, even while they’re still at home. They’re able to communicate with their friends and have an entire social life outside of the purview of their parents, without actually having to leave the house.”

As more and more kids grow up online, parents are finding themselves on the outside looking in. “I remember being 11; I remember being 13; I remember being 16, and I remember having secrets,” mother of four Evan Skinner says. “But it’s really hard when it’s the other side.”

At school, teachers are trying to figure out how to reach a generation that no longer reads books or newspapers. “We can’t possibly expect the learner of today to be engrossed by someone who speaks in a monotone voice with a piece of chalk in their hand,” one school principal says.

“We almost have to be entertainers,” social studies teacher Steve Maher tells FRONTLINE. “They consume so much media. We have to cut through that cloud of information around them, cut through that media, and capture their attention.”

Fears of online predators have led teachers and parents to focus heavily on keeping kids safe online. But many children think these fears are misplaced. “My parents don’t understand that I’ve spent pretty much since second grade online,” one ninth-grader says. “I know what to avoid.”

Many Internet experts agree with the kids. “Everyone is panicking about sexual predators online. That’s what parents are afraid of; that’s what parents are paying attention to,” says Parry Aftab, an Internet security expert and executive director of WiredSafety.org. But the real concern, she says, is the trouble that kids might get into on their own. Through social networking and other Web sites, kids with eating disorders share tips about staying thin, and depressed kids can share information about the best ways to commit suicide.

Another threat is “cyberbullying,” as schoolyard taunts, insults and rumors find their way online. John Halligan‘s son Ryan was bullied for months at school and online before he ultimately hanged himself in October 2003. “I clearly made a mistake putting that computer in his room. I allowed the computer to become too much of his life,” Halligan tells FRONTLINE. “The computer and the Internet were not the cause of my son’s suicide, but I believe they helped amplify and accelerate the hurt and the pain that he was trying to deal with that started in person, in the real world.”

“You have a generation faced with a society with fundamentally different properties, thanks to the Internet,” says Danah Boyd, a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. “It’s a question for us of how we teach ourselves and our children to live in a society where these properties are fundamentally a way of life. This is public life today.”

Watch programme online

22 May 2010

Digital Death Day

Candles shrine
On 20 May 2010 an event known as “Digital Death Day” brought together the businesses of social networking, data management and death care.

One of its organisers, Jennifer Holmes, says: “We have reached a critical mass of personal data online.”

She is referring to the billions of pages held by Facebook and other social networking sites, as well as blogs, online gaming sites… basically anything into which we put data… data which, in most cases, remains after we die.

So what should happen to it?

“There’s no standard practice across the industry yet. There are no norms for how digital assets are passed on to heirs,” says Kaliya Hamlin, another of Digital Death Day’s organisers.

And it could be the case that digital assets could have real-money value. Domain names can be sold for large sums of money and even Twitter accounts can be monetised with “sponsored tweets”.

Read article

12 May 2010

The future of news

Daedalus
The Spring 2010 issue of Dædalus, the Journal of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, is dedicated to the Future of News.

Front Matter

Introduction
Loren Ghiglione, Professor of Media Ethics at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University

News & the news media in the digital age: implications for democracy
Herbert J. Gans, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Columbia University

Are there lessons for the future of news from the 2008 presidential campaign?
Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Professor of Communication at the Annenberg School for Communication, & Jeffrey A. Gottfried, senior researcher at the Annenberg Public Policy Center

New economic models for U.S. journalism
Robert H. Giles, Curator of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University

Sustaining quality journalism
Jill Abramson, Managing Editor, The New York Times

The future of investigative journalism
Brant Houston, Chair in Investigative and Enterprise Reporting at the College of Media at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The future of science news
Donald Kennedy, President Emeritus and Senior Fellow of the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University

International reporting in the age of participatory media
Ethan Zuckerman, senior researcher at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University

The case for wisdom journalism – and for journalists surrendering the pursuit of news
Mitchell Stephens, Professor of Journalism in the Carter Institute at New York University

Journalism ethics amid structural change
Jane B. Singer, Associate Professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Iowa

Political observatories, databases & news in the emerging ecology of public information
Michael Schudson, Professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

What is happening to news?
Jack Fuller, former President of Tribune Publishing Company

The Internet & the future of news
Paul Sagan & Tom Leighton, Fellows of the American Academy

Improving how journalists are educated & how their audiences are informed
Susan King, Vice President for External Relations at Carnegie Corporation of New York

Does science fiction suggest futures for news?
Loren Ghiglione, Professor of Media Ethics at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University

poetry: In a Diner Above the Lamoille River
Greg Delanty, poet

Contributors

9 May 2010

Tell-all generation learns to keep things offline

Privacy online
Members of the under 30 tell-all generation are rethinking what it means to live out loud.

“The conventional wisdom suggests that everyone under 30 is comfortable revealing every facet of their lives online, from their favorite pizza to most frequent sexual partners. But many members of the tell-all generation are rethinking what it means to live out loud.

While participation in social networks is still strong, a survey released last month by the University of California, Berkeley, found that more than half the young adults questioned had become more concerned about privacy than they were five years ago — mirroring the number of people their parent’s age or older with that worry.

They are more diligent than older adults, however, in trying to protect themselves. In a new study to be released this month, the Pew Internet Project has found that people in their 20s exert more control over their digital reputations than older adults, more vigorously deleting unwanted posts and limiting information about themselves. “

Interestingly “mistrust of the intentions of social sites appears to be pervasive.”

Read article

5 May 2010

Bill Moggridge blogs

Bill Moggridge
Bill Moggridge, the legendary industrial and interaction designer, IDEO co-founder and now director of the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, started his own blog, Bill’s blog.

It reads like his working notes, though very well written, and gives you a fascinating insight into the thought process of a brilliant man.

Just enjoy.

5 May 2010

Reading in a digital age

American Scholar
Sven Birkerts wites in the American Scholar on why the novel and the Internet are opposites, and why the latter both undermines the former and makes it more necessary.

“My real worry has less to do with the overthrow of human intelligence by Google-powered artificial intelligence and more with the rapid erosion of certain ways of thinking—their demotion, as it were. I mean reflection, a contextual understanding of information, imaginative projection. I mean, in my shorthand, intransitive thinking. Contemplation. Thinking for its own sake, non-instrumental, as opposed to transitive thinking, the kind that would depend on a machine-drive harvesting of facts toward some specified end. Ideally, of course, we have both, left brain and right brain in balance. But the evidence keeps coming in that not only are we hypertrophied on the left-brain side, but we are subscribing wholesale to technologies reinforcing that kind of thinking in every aspect of our lives. The digital paradigm.”

Read article

1 May 2010

RIM’s split personality strategy

RIM game developer
A Canadian article about Canada’s most important technology company, Research in Motion (the makers of the Blackberry), is always worth delving into.

“RIM captured boardrooms by reinventing business communication. Now it faces a balancing act between keeping those customers and wooing tech-savvy consumers. [...]

This week in Orlando, RIM’s executives gave perhaps the clearest explanation yet of what the company intends to do: everything Apple’s not doing. It is no longer about playing catch up in the apps race. It is about playing a different game altogether.

While Apple’s focus is squarely on the consumer, RIM is building its consumer strategy around the same things that made the BlackBerry a corporate addiction: security, low power consumption and efficiency. While Apple controls the means of downloading applications for its phone, RIM allows downloads through myriad channels, such as third-party websites, giving developers more freedom. While Apple regularly boasts about the number of iPhone applications available – somewhere north of 185,000 – RIM, which boasts just 6,500 apps, is now pushing quality over quantity, focusing on professionally designed applications that make full use of the BlackBerry’s many functions, something Mr. Lazaridis defined this week as a “super-app.”

In essence, if Apple wants to be the Holiday Inn of the wireless application world, RIM’s new focus is trying to become the Four Seasons.”

Read article

27 March 2010

AP’s ethnographic studies look for solutions to news and ad “fatigue”

AP
A new study by the Associated Press has come to the conclusion that consumers are “tired, even annoyed, by the current experience of advertising,” and that, as a result, they don’t trust very much of it. But at the same time, AP found, consumers do want information relevant to their needs, as well as ways to socialize that information.

Although it tends to move cautiously and deliberately, AP has been subtly and quietly introducing tools aimed at improving relevance and socialization, and may have plans for an ad-supported aggregation business that applies what it has been learning. [...]

The findings are part of a study called “A new model for communication,” released two weeks ago with little fanfare and no press coverage, even by AP’s own reporters (pdf link to report). The research was done in conjunction with Context-Based Research Group of Baltimore, and was a followup to a 2008 study called “A new model for news” (pdf link to report). Both studies used ethnographic research techniques to do a ‘deep dive’ into consumer behavior and motivations. [...]

To combat “ad annoyance,” the study recommends restoring trust, noting that social vetting of information is now often “filling a role historically played by trusted packagers of information, such as local newspapers, which connected readers with advertisers in a trusted environment.” This led the study team at Context to suggest a what they call Communitas, consisting of collaboration, social contract (understood rules), kinship, honesty, reciprocity and relevance.

Read article

1 March 2010

New social innovation lab at Darden business school

Darden i.Lab
(From a Darden press release)

On March 19 the Darden School of Business [Charlottesville, VA, USA] and the Batten Institute [an academic research center of the business school] will launch Darden’s new innovation laboratory, or i.Lab, a state-of-the-art learning environment that inspires a new approach to teaching innovation and entrepreneurship. [...]

“In contrast to many traditional business-school offerings, the i.Lab provides experiential, team-based and collaborative learning opportunities, such as a design-based studio where students can transform concepts and ideas into physical prototypes,” said Elizabeth O’Halloran, Managing Director, Batten Institute. [...]

The Innovation Lab, or “i.Lab,” at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, is a unique physical learning environment rooted in multidisciplinary thinking and informed by ethnographic, anthropological, and other methodologies traditionally used in the social sciences.

Read press release

1 March 2010

Interaction’10 videos online

Interaction10
Many videos of the Interaction10 conference are now online. Here are the one of the speakers mentioned in the recent review by Experientia partner Jan-Christoph Zoels.

Paola Antonelli – Talk to Me
Whether openly and actively, or in subtle, subliminal ways, things talk to us, and designers write the initial script that will let us develop and improvise the dialogue.

Richard Banks – The 40 Year-Old Tweet
Most entries on Twitter are throwaway. They’re mundane, in the moment, with an expected period of interest of only a few minutes. This is true of much of what we put online. Yet as we grow older, breadcrumb like these, little traces of what we did in the past, will become more and more important as a way of looking back, and reminiscing on our lives. What seems mundane now will likely seem odd and forgotten in the future, and play an important role in triggering our memories. I suspect we’ll want to see, in 30 or 40 years time, what we were motivated enough about in 2009 to Tweet.
There’s a danger, though, that when we get old the services we used to express ourselves, and make records of our interests and activities in the past will either no longer exist, or will have changed beyond recognition. Do you think Twitter will still exist in 2049?
This presentation will talk about the role of the digital objects, products and services we are designing today as they take over from physical things as the primary way we remember our past. What are our responsibilities as designers in making sure not only that people’s lives are preserved for reminiscing, but also that the record of their past can be passed on to their offspring and become part of a family’s history?

Matt Cottam – Wooden Logic: In Search of Heirloom Electronics
In this session Matt Cottam will present a recent project entitled Wooden Logic: In search of Heirloom Electronics. The project represents the first phase in a hands-on sketching process aimed at exploring how natural materials and craft traditions can be brought to the center of interactive digital design to give modern products greater longevity and meaning.
Where furniture and fine art are cared for and handed down through generations as heirlooms, the value of digital products rarely survives beyond their short useful lifespan. Their rapid obsolescence makes them seem poor candidates for the use of natural materials and time-consuming manufacturing techniques. Yet these objects also occupy a very privileged and intimate position among our possessions, often living in our pockets, handbags and at our bedsides.
For centuries artisans have had the ability to sketch with wood and hand tools to craft high-quality, precious objects. With digital technology the functionality of objects became less tangible and visible, and their making fell almost exclusively to engineers and computer scientists. It is only in the past decade or so that the community and tools have evolved to the point that designers can sketch with hardware and software. This project seeks to combine seemingly dissonant elements, natural, material and virtual, and explore how they can be crafted to feel as if they were born together as parts of a unified object anatomy that is both singular and precious.

Timo Arnall – Designing for the Web in the World
From NFC mobile phones to Nabaztag and Nike+, there is an entirely new class of consumer product that becomes almost useless when disconnected from the network. How can designers deal with the vast complexity of designing not only interactive physical products, but the connections and resulting interactions with the data that they produce? In the Touch project we have been working with designing interactive products and services that involve RFID, NFC and mobile devices. The project has developed useful models for designing across tangible and mobile interactions, networks and the web, that allow us to see where existing products succeed or fail, and to get to a grip on the design of new networked products.

Kevin Cheng – Augmented Reality: Is It Real? Should We Care?
This year, we’ve seen the mobile market make incredible strides in technology. The iPhone, Android and Palm platforms have increased their functionality well beyond just being a phone and have added critical functions such as faster internet connectivity, video cameras, GPS and compasses. Handheld gaming devices have also converged, adding cameras and accelerometers to their devices.
The combination of all of these pieces have made Augmented Reality—overlaying information and technology virtually over what you see—become a true possibility. Suddenly, science fiction has become much less fictional.

Gretchen Anderson – The Importance of Facial Features
The tactile controls of an electronic, interactive product form its most recognizable aspects, or “facial features.” Choosing which controls to use and how they appear has an enormous impact on the impact the product makes on first impression. The process of deciding on your product’s facial features is tricky; a team must collaborate closely across multiple disciplines to determine what controls are needed, how they should appear and how they relate to the product’s form. Even with touch- and gesture-based interfaces, people need cues that point to (or obscure) the function, value, and lust-factor of the product.
This session will look at some well-known products and illuminate best practices for integrating interaction designers, industrial designers, and engineers to make well-informed decisions about a product’s (inter)face. This session looks at how design teams can make sense of user research to inform the design of the user interface as well as the aesthetic expression. It will also look at how emerging interactive models (gesture, touch and voice) change the historical relationship of industrial and interaction design.

Peter Morville – The Future of Search
Search is among the most disruptive innovations of our time. It influences what we buy and where we go. It shapes how we learn and what we believe. It’s a wicked problem of terrific consequence and a radically cross-disciplinary, creative challenge. In this talk, we’ll define a pattern language for search that embraces user psychology and behavior, multisensory interaction, and emerging technology. We’ll identify design principles that apply across the categories of web, e-commerce, enterprise, desktop, mobile, social, and realtime. And, we’ll show how futures methods and user experience deliverables can help us to create better search interfaces and applications today, and invent the unthinkable discovery tools of tomorrow.

Tom Igoe – Open Source Design: Camel or Unicorn?
Open source development has taken hold in software design, and is beginning to show up in electronics hardware design as well. Thus far, however, open source has been limited mainly to the engineering side of development. Open source tools for design tend to be abysmal, largely because there are no designers working on them. And open source has not made a blip on consumer-facing issues like licensing, warranties, and customer support. Should it? What impacts could it have, and how can the design community help to bring that about? How does the open source “democratic project development” model fly in design? In this session, I’ll examine some current examples of how open source is expanding beyond software, and discuss ways in which is might continue to do so.

Nicolas Nova – From Observing Failures to Provoking Them
One of the reasons why product and technology failures are important is that they can be seen as “seeds of the future” or “good ideas before their time”. A common example lies in the use of personal communication with pictures, which failed several times in its phone instantiation, but is now a huge success with laptops, PCs, webcams and Skype.
In the context of design, this talk with discuss how failures can be explored through field research and eventually help creating innovative products or services.
The underlying rationale of field research in design is generally to conduct studies so that the results can bring out insights, constraints and relevant material to design inventive or groundbreaking artifacts. When it comes to failures, this investigation can be tackled through two approaches. On the one hand, research can observe design flops and identify symptoms of failures. On the other hand, I am interested by a much more radical approach: provoking product failures as a way to document user behavior. What I mean here is the conscious design of questionable prototypes to investigate user experience. The point is to have “anti-probe”: failed materialization of the principles of technology that can be shown to people to engage them in open-ended ways. This alternative to start dialogue with users highlight inspirational data about how people would really happened.
The presentation will describe different case studies about failures following these two approaches to shed some light on original design questions.

Nathan Shedroff – Meaningful Innovation Relies on Interaction and Service Design
Interaction designers can play a key role in creating a more meaningful, sustainable, and post-consumer world. come learn about frameworks and approaches that help designers make real change for customers.

Dan Hill – New Soft City
The way the street feels may soon be defined by the invisible and inaudible. Cities are being laced with sensors, which in turn generate urban informatics experiences, imbuing physical space with real-time behavioural data. The urban fabric itself can become reflexive and responsive to some extent, and there are numerous implications for the design and experience of cities as a result.
Multi-sensory interaction design merges with architecture, planning and an urbanism informed by the gentle ambient drizzle of everyday data. Drawing from projects in Sydney, Masdar, Helsinki, Seoul and elsewhere, I’ll explore the opportunities implicit in this new soft city – how we might once again enable a city alive to the touch of its citizens – and what this means for an urban interaction design.

Kendra Shimmell – Environments: The Future of Interaction Design
What is the future of interaction design? I propose that it’s movement — natural, fluid interactions — your body interfacing with the environment around you.
As an interaction designer, I understand the inherent drawbacks of hardware-based interfaces — the range of movement is limited and it is frankly kind of lame to be bound to a device.
In 2001 I became involved with the Environments Laboratory at The Ohio State University. Our focus was to explore movement analysis, motion capture, and interactive performance. Since then, I have befriended a few choreographers that have been developing very sophisticated tools to explore the reality of the human body as interface.
Some questions that I’ve been exploring: Can we obtain meaningful data on human motion? Is there a design research implication? What are the potential industry applications for this type of technology? Can gesture and movement be standardized (Laban Movement Analysis and American Sign Language)?
Join me in exploring the human body as interface. You will get to try it out (yes, control light and sound with your body), and I will lead you in a workshop to explore the more practical use cases for such a technology moving forward.

Dave Gray – A Grammar for Creativity and Innovation
We’re moving from an industrial to a knowledge economy, where creativity and innovation will be the keys to value. New rules apply. Yet two hundred years of industrial habits are embedded in our workplaces, our schools and our systems of government. How must we change our work practices to thrive in the 21st Century? Dave Gray will share insights from his upcoming book on the work of creativity and innovation, due to be published in the first quarter of 2010.

Christopher Fahey – The Human Interface (or:Why Products are People too)
In the half-century since the first transistor was invented we’ve seen radical changes in how humans interact with computers and digital systems: We’ve gone from punch cards to text commands, from mouse pointers to touchscreen gestures, from menus to voice recognition.
What all of these user experience innovations have in common is an inexorable movement towards interfaces that behave more and more like the way real humans have interacted with one another for millenia.
Our interactions with systems increasingly feel like interactions with real people because our systems are increasingly designed to sound, look, and behave just like humans do. We’re interacting with web sites and software on a conversational, physical, and emotional level. In a way, our interfaces are actually becoming more human.
We can no longer ask users to think like machines just to be able to use software. Instead, our systems must act more like people. User experience designers, in turn, need to stop thinking about interfaces as dumb control panels for manipulating machines and data and start thinking about them (in many ways literally!) as human beings.
This talk will explore diverse areas of non-digital human experience – including language and theater, neurology and sociology – in order to frame and showcase some of the most exciting current and emerging user experience design practices, both on the web and in other media such as video games and the arts. The objective is quite simply to inspire designers to humanize their interfaces. This new way of understanding user experience design crosses many disciplines, from branding and content strategy (your product’s voice and personality) to interaction design and information architecture (your product’s behavior and motivations), and has many practical applications at every point in current and future design scenarios.
More importantly, this kind of thinking can be framed as part of a longer term trend in interaction design generally: Looking even further ahead – but probably sooner than many of us might imagine – future UX designers will almost certainly be moving from designing screens to designing actual personalities, for example artificial intelligences, virtual characters, and even human-like androids. We’ll peek a little further out and look at what the next generation of human interfaces will be and discuss what skills future interaction designers will need to have.”

Ezio Manzini – Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability
1. In the last decades we have been witnessing a growing wave of social innovation. A multiplicity of institutions, enterprises, non-profit organisations, but also and most of all, individual citizens and their associations have been capable to move outside the mainstream models of living and producing and to invent new and sustainable ones.
2. Social innovation is driven by diffuse creativity and entrepreneurship. That is, by resources that, in a densely populated and highly connected world, are very abundant (if only they are recognized and valorised). In the next future, social innovation has high potentialities to become a major driver of change. But something has to be done to help the process.
3. Social innovation cannot be planned, but it can be made more probable creating favourable environments and empowering creative people. Creative people can be empowered by specifically conceived sets of products, services and communication artefacts, i.e by conceiving and developing enabling solutions, and in particular, enabling digital platforms.
The presentation articulates the previous statements and introduces the discussion on what interaction design can do to catalyse diffuse creativity for sustainable changes.

Jon Kolko – Keynote: My Heart is in The Work
In 1900, Andrew Carnegie quietly declared that his “heart is in the work” – that he had found an endeavor worth pursuing, and that he would passionately follow-through on that endeavor until it was complete. We interaction designers feel that passion on a daily basis, as we’ve found ourselves at the heart of industry, policy, and culture. Our endeavors are worth pursuing and we approach them with the whole of our hearts. We build the artifacts and frameworks that support engagement, that keep us entertained, aroused, engaged and productive. We are building the culture we live in, and we possess the capability to enable massive change in an increasingly fragmented and tense world.
This talk will examine our ability to affect change at the intersection of experience, behavior, meaning, and culture, and will emphasize our responsibility to approach our work with philanthropic enthusiasm that would make Carnegie proud.

Also online are:

28 February 2010

When American and European ideas of privacy collide

Liptak
An Italian ruling against Google highlights the clash between Europe’s love of privacy and America’s of free speech, writes Adam Liptak in the New York Times.

“Last week’s ruling from an Italian court that Google executives had violated Italian privacy law by allowing users to post a video on one of its services [...] called attention to the profound European commitment to privacy, one that threatens the American conception of free expression and could restrict the flow of information on the Internet to everyone. [...]

“The framework in Europe is of privacy as a human-dignity right,” said Nicole Wong, a lawyer with [Google]. “As enforced in the U.S., it’s a consumer-protection right.” [...]

Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights says, “Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.” The First Amendment’s distant cousin comes later, in Article 10.

Americans like privacy, too, but they think about it in a different way, as an aspect of liberty and a protection against government overreaching, particularly into the home. Continental privacy protections, by contrast, focus on protecting people from having their lives exposed to public view, especially in the mass media.”

Read full story

25 February 2010

Diabetes Innovation Fair videos online

Diabetes
Videos of the November 23, 2009 Diabetes Innovation Fair at the IIT Institute of Design are now on the web.

Graduate students presented design innovation proposals from three courses: Platform Strategy, Persuasive Technology, and Wellness Experience. Each presentation was followed by open dialogue for taking our common concerns to address diabetes and obesity into action for transformative behavioral and social change.

Session 1: Platform strategy for diabetes innovation

Session 2: Persuasive technology for diabetes & obesity

Session 3: Wellness experience research: diabetes in Chicago’s Latino communities

24 February 2010

Millennials – a portrait of generation next

Millennials
This report on the values, attitudes, behaviors and demographic characteristics of the Millennial generation was prepared by the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan “fact tank” that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.

It represents the Pew Research Center’s most ambitious examination to date of America’s newest generation, the Millennials, many of whom have now crossed into adulthood.

“Generations, like people, have personalities, and Millennials – the American teens and twenty-somethings currently making the passage into adulthood – have begun to forge theirs: confident, self-expressive, liberal, upbeat and receptive to new ideas and ways of living.

They are more ethnically and racially diverse than older adults. The Great Recession has set back their entry into the labor force, but they are more upbeat than their elders about their own economic futures and the overall state of the nation. And they are the first “always connected” generation, steeped in digital technology and social media.”

Read summary
Download report

14 February 2010

Conversations in a weekend village — Interaction10 impressions

Interaction10
Written by Experientia partner Jan-Christoph Zoels.

Interaction10 is over. Four days of presentations, workshops, games, installations stimulated vivid exchanges of ideas and reflections on the changing landscape of interaction design. Hosted in beautiful downtown Savannah by the international Interaction Design Association and Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), the conference set the stage for lively face to faces encounters, practice discussions and sensory southern food discoveries. Deep thoughts and constant twittering.

Co-chairs Bill DeRouchey (Ziba Design) and Jennifer Bove (Kicker Studio and a graduate of Interaction Design Institute Ivrea) moderated a salon style conference across several historic venues getting the participants out onto the squares and into the charming nooks of Savannah. SCAD has over the years preserved historic buildings and filled them with live through their educational programs such as those in Interaction Design and Service Design, led by professors such as Dave Malouf, Jon Kolko and Diane Miller. A great experience! The following notes give some impression on select highlights.

Learning from the past – Talk to me

Paolo Antonelli, senior curator of architecture and design at MOMA, laid out her exhibition plans charting the ‘subtle, subliminal ways, things talk to us’. Her talk showcased outstanding examples of how objects and interactions changed our way of seeing, mapping and explaining the world. She traced the impact of networks and systems on our capability to make and mix worlds to the shifting face of things. Examples range from Muriel Cooper‘s Visual Language workshop at MIT to Ben Fry‘s scientific information visualizations, and from the changing nature of prototyping via open source design tools Processing and Arduino, visionary scenarios such as Apple’s 1087 Navigator video to Applied Minds Touch landscapes. Take her title ‘Talk to me’ literally – Paola is looking for visionary artefacts from the history of interaction design.

Our scattered distribution of memories – The 40 year old tweet

Is there a life after the half hour half-life of tweets? How to approach your parents’ Flickr collection or find the heirloom experiences in your grand parents’ SMS exchanges? How does the web of metadata become part of our reminiscences years later? Richard Banks of Microsoft Research Cambridge explored in several prototypes the sentimental value, burden and sense of obligation digital exchanges will pose to future generations. Matt Cottam extends this search to heirloom electronics and our design capabilities to give modern products greater longevity and meaning.

Making it – Designing for the web in the world

Timo Arnall, Kevin Cheng, Ben Fullerton, Gretchen Anderson and Raphael Grignani offered diverse strategies to engage people’s experiences of physical products and digital services.

Timo Arnall explored in the Touch project controversial issues of technology usage such as leaking RFiD fields and the tangible experience of invisible data. Which kind of graceful interactions remain when a connected object goes offline or is without power? In his research and work with Berg, a London based interaction design studio, he proposes that interactive objects need to provide an immediate tangible experience even if not in use, that the purpose of being connected and data sharing should become obvious, and that long-term services and data visualizations provide feedback loops.

Twitter’s Kevin Cheng gave an excellent overview about the challenges and opportunities of Augmented Reality (see also his book in progress). He documented how context based smartphone applications expand our experience spaces such as in Yelp, Nearby, Layar, Arg DJ, Lego selections in retail stores, a USPS shipping box simulation, and ARhrrr games. Challenges are the lack of design patterns, glanceable interfaces and usability issues.

Gretchen Anderson, IxD director at Lunar, showcased our visceral reactions to facial features – ‘those key things your users see first’ – in products. What is the impression which we are giving? What can we understand at a first glance? Imbuing objects with a sophisticated character can enhanced the storytelling potential and interaction magic.

According to Bruce Sterling ‘Sense of wonders have short shelf life’. Our search capabilities have undergone dramatic change. Peter Morville of Semantic Studios spoke about the future of search. He introduced various behavioral and design patterns from his latest book Search Patterns. What we find, changes what we are looking for. How will we search in the future – feels like, tastes like, looks like, sounds like, smells like? Multi-sensory search is an untapped area of exploration – moving search beyond the web.

ITP professor Tom Igoe demanded to extend open source design to products and services to enable public knowledge and participation in the modification and/or reproduction of a product. Consequences might be flexible warranty agreements, impact on recycling and reverse engineering, or community patent reviews. Practical layers of openness need to include the whole value chain from physical construction, bill of materials, code, extendibility and reprogrammability, API’s and communication protocols, interoperability as well as design and interaction guidelines. This also requires to address frequent usability issues of open source projects.

From observing failures to provoking them was Nicholas Nova‘s contribution in addressing product non-usage, real-time accidents, traces and individual blame bias. ‘Failures are often overlooked in design research’. He proposed to actively provoke failures as a design tactic and to observe responding people’s behaviors.

Designing for the next billion

Nokia Design has over the years embraced ethnographic research and design discovery processes to shape mobile experiences and accelerate decision making processes. Raphael Grignani, head of Nokia’s San Francisco design studio, engaged workshop participants in exploring incremental and radical design innovation through community-based ethnographic design approaches. Nokia sends 3-4 times per year design teams to search for extreme behaviors in remote locations in Africa, Asia, Latin America and eastern Europe. Raphael guided us through the design process – discover, define, develop and deliver – with examples from the open studio project – My mobile phone, to Lifeblog to Remade and Homegrown.

See also:
Patterns in UX Research
Deconstructing Analysis Techniques
Mobile Literacy
Homegrown people planit profit

Processes and reflections – Design is the process of evoking meaning

Nathan Shedroff, chair of the MBA program in Design Strategy at California College of Arts in San Francisco, started of the row of thought leaders in situating meaning, behavioral change and sustainability as key challenges for interaction designers. How does a more meaningful world look like? Or a post consumer society?

Easy answers are difficult to come by. Next year’s conference needs a track of fast paced inspirational show & tells and the design thinking behind it. Dan Hill from Arup came closest in establishing a vision of a new soft city, merging multi-sensor interaction design ‘with architecture, planning and urbanism informed by a gentle ambient drizzle of everyday data’ – alive to the touch of its citizen. In his closing talk he exhibited a range of responsive well-tempered environments supporting civic relationships between individuals and communities around them. Examples of his call for civic sustainability feedback loops are projects in Barangaroo, the State Library of Queensland and the Sydney Metro in Australia, Arup’s contribution to the Masdar city centre, and the low2no carbon emissions project for Helsinki Harbor by Arup, Sauerbruch Hutton and Experientia.

A further exploration of the poetics of space were Kendra Shimmell‘s staging of interactive environments sensitive to movement and intent. Trained as a ballet dancer she presented motion capture studies in real time. Every movement unleashed auditory qualities in the space. A blink of an eye turned into sound, a raise of an arm provoked a tonal scale, fast movements elicit under her control musical compositions. Robert Wechsler provided the artistic motion tracking software.

‘You find things that you are nor looking for, when you are not looking’. Dave Gray continued the playful approach to innovation in his presentation of Knowledge Games: The visual thinking playbook. Fuzzy goals can lead to prospecting unexpected sensory, emotional and functional discoveries. Unfortunately he illustrated his engaging talk with a glorification of the AK47 as a ‘powerful tool of change’. His agnostic design philosophy hides an ethical ambivalence and repositions designers as hired hands of industry who do whatever is needed – even weapons of mass destruction. Can’t we find ethical examples which enable people, but don’t kill?

Chris Fahey applied the Uncanny Valley hypothesis of robotics to interface design. As interfaces behave eerily humanlike, people find them repulsive until they become more realistic representations of human behaviors. Human interface need to be ‘responsive to human needs and considerate of human frailties’. Qualities are sentience – the ability to feel subjectively, intimacy and personality. Character and personality may imbue interfaces with meaning and make them memorable. Now just watch your step, the uncanny valley is calling.

Ezio Manzini spoke about our growing desire for de-intermediated relationships between consumer and producers. Examples range from neighborhood markets and festivals, to community supported agriculture, urban farms, collaborative welfare servicesm etc. Digital platforms become catalysts of social resources and can support our vision of sustainable futures. Keywords to describe these futures are small-connected-local-open. Small-local interweaves issues of scale, relationships and identities, generally associated with control of a smaller set of variables and therefore supporting happiness. Open-connected outlines the rise of new organizational forms, whereas small-connected establishes nodes in a network society with the density of these links becoming important. Local-open: in a sustainable society the local is open, the connected local – resulting in an increase of cultural diversity and dialog between cosmopolitan participants. Manzini called on us to design enabling systems and engage in programs such as the US Social Innovation Fund, funded with 50 million USD by the US Government as announced by Michele Obama: “The idea is simple: Find the most effective programs out there and then provide the capital needed to replicate their success in communities around the country, … By focusing on high-impact, results-oriented nonprofits, we will ensure that government dollars are spent in a way that is effective, accountable and worthy of the public trust.”

If it’s not ethical, it is not beautiful. Jon Kolko expanded on Andrew Carnegie‘s “My heart is in the work” to ‘approach our work with philanthropic enthusiasm that would make Carnegie proud. Design for real cultural change starts by understanding how people really behave. He called on designers to emphasize with people, build trust and purposefully change behaviors. His heart is now in the new Austin Center for Design, a place for wicked problem solving.

Interaction11 is coming. See you on February 10-12, 2011 in Boulder, Colorado.