Putting People First

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






















Experience design

Interaction design


Service design

Ubiquitous computing












Mobile phone


Virtual world






User experience

User research


Financial services


Public services



Urban development


Digital divide

Emerging markets


Social change


Posts in category 'Australia'

18 February 2007

High technology meets cultural anthropology: Dr Genevieve Bell

Professor Genevieve Bell takes questions
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) features Genevieve Bell, Intel’s top anthropologist, who was keynote speaker at the recent Australasian Computer Science Week, where she discussed the past and the future of wireless technology trends around the world and across generations.

“I have a group of about 15 other researchers who work with me, and one of the things we’re trying to do is not just look at a brief moment when a human being interacts with a piece of technology – because sure that’s interesting but in some ways it’s not interesting unless you know the bigger picture … we go to a range of different countries around the world, we spend time living off and with people in their homes participating in their daily activities.

“What we’re interested in is the rhythm of life. What people care about what motiviates them, what frustrates them, what annoys them… in some ways the really mundane stuff of daily life, so you know – what do you do when you get up in the morning? Can I come shopping with you? Can I come down to the temple or the pub or the park – I’ve done all of those things, because part of what you want is to get a sense of that much bigger picture of people’s lives.”

- Read full story

- Listen to a discussion with Genevieve Bell on how her job works, how technologies differ worldwide, and how babyboomers are the most tech-savy generation modern civilisation has ever seen. MP3, duration: 13mins 15secs

- Listen to edited version of the keynote by Genevieve Bell at the Australasian Computer Science Conference, beginning with the cultural implications of basic broadband wireless technology in American versus Asian homes. MP3, duration: 55mins 38secs

2 February 2007

Interview with Genevieve Bell, director of user experience at Intel

Genevieve Bell
Genevieve Bell is a highly respected anthropologist and director of user experience at Intel.

In this interview with Australian usability consultant Gerry Gaffney, she talks about what it means to build technology with the home in mind, about cultural influences in the use of technology, about the connection between religion and technology, and about sheds.

Genevieve says that part of what people want is for technology to be invisible.

“Computational power is important but what people see is the experience.”

Listen to interview (mp3, 11.6 mb, 25:20)

23 January 2007

User experience design resources [Dey Alexander Consulting]

Dey Alexander Consulting
“The User experience design resources from Dey Alexander Consulting is one of the most extensive resources on everything regarding User-Centred Design I have come across,” writes David Geerts, project leader of the Centre for Usability Research (CUO), on the CUO blog “For Users Only“.

(CUO is a research department of the faculty of Social Sciences at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, where I have actually studied as well).

“From designing for children to ROI, from accessibility to heuristic evaluation and from conference proceedings to software tools, nearly everything you need to know is right at hand. This [the user experience design resources from Dey Alexander Consulting] is an essential bookmark for everyone involved in UCD!”

Greet Jans, a researcher who also writes for “For Users Only” points to another interesting lead, that I wrote about earlier, but is worth a reminder: Steve Mulder, the author of the book “The User is Always Right: A practical guide to creating and using personas for the Web” has got also a weblog dedicated to personas.

28 September 2006

No more SMS from Jesus: ubicomp, religion and techno-spiritual practices

Prayer times application
In a reflective and insightful paper, Dr. Genevieve Bell, a highly respected anthropologist and director of user experience at Intel, analyses the use of technology to support religious practices.

Bell argues that “the ways in which new technologies are delivering religious experiences represent the leading edge of a much larger re-purposing of the internet in particular, and of computational technologies more broadly, that has been underway for some time.”

“We need to design a ubiquitous computing not just for a secular life, but also for spiritual life, and we need to design it now!” she claims. “In no small part, this sense of urgency is informed by an awareness of the ways in which techno-spiritual practices are already unfolding; it is also informed by a clear sense that the ubicomp infrastructures we are building might actively preclude important spiritual practices and religious beliefs.”

She adds that, despite the fact “there are few other practices or shaping narratives [as religion] that impact so much of humanity”, there has been up till now “an ideological and rhetorical separation of religion and technology”, which says a lot about “the implicit understanding of the kinds of cultural work” that technology should enable. Instead Bell positions: “If it is indeed the case, that religion is a primary framing narrative in most cultures, and then religion must also be one of the primary forces acting on people’s relationships with and around new technologies – one could go as far as to suggest that there can be no real ubiquitous computing if it does not account for religion.”

The anthropological research the paper is “informed by”, took place in urban settings in India, China, Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, Indonesia and Australia. Bell relied on “a range of ethnographic methods and methodologies, including participant observation, semi-structured interviews, ‘deep hanging-out, and genealogies of ICTs to explore life in one hundred very different Asian households.”

The paper ends with two short scenarios that she wrote “as part of a
corporate exercise to develop a future vision for user-centered computing in 2015.”

The paper was published in P. Dourish and A. Friday (Eds.): Ubicomp 2006, LNCS 4206, pp. 141 – 158, 2006, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2006.

Since it is not clear where you can download the paper, but Bell herself sent it out to the public anthrodesign Yahoo! email group with 853 subscribers, I consider it to be part of the public domain and re-post it here (pdf, 216 kb, 18 pages).

5 September 2006

Presentation on how to apply corporate ethnography to web design

Intuity on corporate ethnography
Stephen Cox of the Australian consultancy Intuity just published a presentation (pdf, 2.4 mb) which provides a brief overview of corporate ethnography and how it can be used as a tool for innovation with particular reference to web design.

The gave the presentation at the Australian WebDirections conference last week.

It cites a case study for the Australian FOX Sports website and explains how we went through the process of using ethnographic information to help inform and innovate the design of the site.

2 May 2006

Australian’s The Age profiles Intel anthropologist Genevieve Bell

Genevieve Bell
“While computer companies spruik the digital home, Intel researcher Genevieve Bell has an eye out for the next big thing”, writes David Flynn in the Australian newspaper The Age.

“As the head of Intel’s user experience group in the US, and the company’s anthropologist, Ms Bell’s mission is to add the vital human element to technology.”

“It’s not good enough to just keep producing technology with no notion of whether it’s going to be useful. You have to create stuff that people really want, rather than create stuff just because you can,” she says.

“Bell’s work has already started to deliver results,” writes Flynn. “Intel recently completed a pilot program in rural India where a single “community PC” provides internet access to entire villages.”

Read full story

(via UPA monthly)

19 April 2006

New media design for cultural institutions

Queensland storytelling
Community co-creation programs are increasingly used by cultural institutions in an attempt to draw new audiences to their collections. By providing engaging interactive experiences in partnership with the community, institutions may well increase their audience numbers in the short term; but to optimise the viability and longevity of such programs, institutions and designers should consider the integration of strategic design methods with curatorial processes in order to reconsider the capture, display and promotion of collections and/or exhibitions.

This case study uses a project from the State Library of Queensland, Australia to showcase a human computer interaction-derived design method developed by the authors to ensure a strategic response to community co-creation initiatives. Using a variety of media, the new Multi-Platform Communication Design method has enabled the design of web-based distribution; a community and a facilitator’s training program; and the development of a mobile multimedia laboratory.

This paper details the design method by which these multiple communication platforms were developed and implemented to achieve successful project delivery.

Download case study (pdf, 416 kb, 10 pages)

(via AIGA Gain: Journal of Business and Design)

20 December 2005

Australian qualitative research results in 35 mobile phone product ideas

Backpackers in Australia often wish to organise group activities, but have few collaboration methods available and only a trickle of communication is possible between them as they move. They regularly explore unfamiliar locations quickly, but have only basic resources to inform them about those places. Many opportunities exist for mobile devices to assist them with their difficulties.

University of Queensland researchers used a combination of mobile group ethnography, contextual group interviews and participatory activities, to explore current communication behaviour between backpackers engaged in a typical tourist activity.

Results indicate a long list of inconveniences backpackers face, which have translate into a list of 48 user requirements and a table of 35 product ideas.

Read full abstract
Download paper (pdf, 3.5 mb, 71 pages)

(via Mobile Community Design)

9 December 2005

Mobile Community Design

Mobile Community Design is a frequently updated blog that provides research and design information on mobile communities.

It is maintained by Jeff Axup, a Ph.D. student in Information Environments at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, and contains some remarkable and detailed comparison charts.

One chart compares mobile research methods, that is methods for understanding mobile behaviour to inform technology design. Another (hosted on Axup’s previous blog) compares usability evalution methods.

15 October 2005

Australian children and technology

Two recent Australian reports investigate how children and teens relate to internet and mobile devices.

kidsonline@home – Internet use in Australian homes [April 2005]

NetAlert and the Australian Broadcasting Authority recognised a need to capture behaviours and attitudes associated with Internet use in the home, particularly among children aged 8 to 13 years and their parents.

Research was undertaken with the objectives to examine patterns of internet usage and behaviour, perceptions of the internet and online experiences, strategies for ensuring safety online, internet safety information resources and needs, and the use of mobile communications.

Download report (pdf, 1.6 mb, 123 pages)

eGeneration Study 2005-2006 [August 2005]

This study into internet and technology usage patterns among Australia’s online kids, teens and their parents revealed that 66 per cent of parents believe their children to be more internet and technology savvy than they are themselves.

The bi-annual study by Nielsen//NetRatings Australia and sponsored by Nickelodeon Australia was based on telephone interviews with 350 metropolitan and 150 rural households

Download press release (pdf, 124 kb, 2 pages)

5 September 2005

Smart Internet 2010

“Smart Internet 2010″ was an 18-month project conducted by Australia’s technology research consortium, the Smart Internet Technology CRC, to examine what the internet might evolve into by 2010 and the implications for end-users. The report was spearheaded by leading Australian scholar Trevor Barr, Alex Burns and Darren Sharp.

It uses a schools of thought methodology to develop four scenarios: the Adaptive User Environment, Not The Smart Internet, Rich Media and Chaos Rules. The report includes interviews with global ‘thought leaders’ including Howard Rheingold, Cory Doctorow, Douglas Rushkoff, Mark Pesce, Katie Salen, Eric Zimmerman and many others. Specific domains that are discussed include the Open Source movement, Social Networks, Digital Games, Voice Services, E-Health and Mobiles.

Download executive summary (pdf, 681 kb, 34 pages)
Download full report (pdf, 1.28 mb, 170 pages)

(via John Thackara)