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Putting People First

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Posts in category 'Blogging'

3 April 2011

Customer’s role in breakthrough innovation?

Customer perspective
Dr. Ralph-Christian Ohr, a Swiss product manager, reflects thoughtfully on the recent strong discussion on user-led innovation.

“There has been quite a lot of discussion recently about a post by Jens Martin Skibsted and Rasmus Bech Hansen, titled “User-Led Innovation Can’t Create Breakthroughs; Just Ask Apple and Ikea”. Their major claim is: “Great brands lead users, not the other way around.” As expected, this lead to controversial discussions in terms of customer’s role in the process for innovation. The response reminded me of the reaction to one of Roberto Verganti’s polarizing posts.

It’s interesting to see that those discussions mostly result in ‘either-or’ positions – assuming that customer-centered and vision-centered approaches exclude each other. As innovation is about managing tension, I think a ‘both-and’ approach tends to be more promising.

Innovation aims at providing value to customers. Customers eventually decide whether or not an innovative offering is going to be adopted and to become successful. Therefore, the customer needs to be put in the centre of innovation considerations.”

Read article

27 October 2009

A Synchronicity, a book by Julian Bleecker and Nicholas Nova

A Synchronicity
A synchronicity:
Design Fictions for Asynchronous Urban Computing

by Julian Bleecker and Nicolas Nova

Available as a print-on-demand book from lulu.com. Click here to order.
Available as a free download here.

The Situated Technologies Pamphlets series, published by the Architectural League, explores the implications of ubiquitous computing for architecture and urbanism. How are our experience of the city and the choices we make in it affected by mobile communications, pervasive media, ambient informatics and other “situated” technologies? How will the ability to design increasingly responsive environments alter the way architects conceive of space? What do architects need to know about urban computing and what do technologists need to know about cities?

In the last five years, the urban computing field has featured an impressive emphasis on the so-called “real-time, database-enabled city” with its synchronized Internet of Things. In Situated Technologies Pamphlets 5, Julian Bleecker and Nicholas Nova argue to invert this common perspective and speculate on the existence of an “asynchronous city.” Through a discussion of objects that blog, they forecast situated technologies based on weak signals that show the importance of time on human practices. They imagine the emergence of truly social technologies that through thoughtful provocation can invert and disrupt common perspective.

Situated Technologies Pamphlets will be published in nine issues over three years and will be edited by a rotating list of leading researchers and practitioners from architecture, art, philosophy of technology, comparative media studies, performance studies, and engineering.

18 April 2009

Let them eat tweets

Tweet box
Virginia Heffernan writes in the New York Times Magazine on why Twitter is a trap.

“These worries started to surface for me last month, when Bruce Sterling, the cyberpunk writer, proposed at the South by Southwest tech conference in Austin that the clearest symbol of poverty is dependence on “connections” like the Internet, Skype and texting. “Poor folk love their cellphones!” he said. [...]

“Connectivity is poverty” was how a friend of mine summarized Sterling’s bold theme. Only the poor — defined broadly as those without better options — are obsessed with their connections. Anyone with a strong soul or a fat wallet turns his ringer off for good and cultivates private gardens that keep the hectic Web far away. The man of leisure, Sterling suggested, savors solitude, or intimacy with friends, presumably surrounded by books and film and paintings and wine and vinyl — original things that stay where they are and cannot be copied and corrupted and shot around the globe with a few clicks of a keyboard.”

Read full story

1 March 2009

Real-time connections are “ambient intimacy,” like in a village

Laura Fitton
In an interview with Nokia’s IdeasProject, social media innovator Laura Fitton talks about the most basic of human connections: our immediate physical community.

This is the kind of intimacy that is built up over numerous ‘unimportant,’ low-level interactions…with the neighbours washing their car, the guy working at the cafe, or the woman walking her dog. It turns out these interactions add up to something very important; they anchor us in the world, and are a critical component to trust and connection.

“Fitton details the profound impact Twitter’s real time connectivity between individuals and their networks is having on how people work and live. The trivial, low-level nature of these interactions is also what gives them their power. Similar to the kinds of exchanges people have in their neighbourhoods, she documents how they work in creating a fabric of trust.”

Watch video
Read transcript

Related:
Interview with Twitter CEO Evan Williams
SAP Global Survey interview with Laura Fitton

1 March 2009

Sweet to tweet

FT
The Financial Times has posted a very long analysis on Twitter as a social phenomenon:

“In its deceptively simple way, Twitter has stumbled on a formula that a whole generation of recent web start-ups has been searching for: a way for people to connect with friends, express themselves and find information that stands a chance of one day becoming as popular as other mass online trends such as blogging and social networking.”

Read full story

If you are on Twitter, check out the Twitter feed of the author of Putting People First.

1 March 2009

Web 2.0: a magic Ponzi scheme from a demon haunted world

Bruce Sterling at Webstock
Bruce Sterling keynoted last week on “The Short but Glorious Life of Web 2.0 and What Comes Afterward” at Webstock in Wellington.

No video is (yet) available, but American journalist Annalee Newitz was there and she reports:

Sterling began his talk by poking fun at Web 2.0, calling it mostly a social network of investors and developers. He complained that it’s not an ideology or set of aesthetic tenants; it’s just a little network – “a little network for the network.” He talked about how Web 2.0 uses the Web as a “platform” for services, and then dismissed that as an “utter violation of common sense” based on the kind of thinking, translated into the financial realm, that caused the current global financial crisis, where mortgages are aggregated together and turned into a kind of Ponzi scheme platform.

Sterling acknowledged that of course Web 2.0 is not the same thing as the financial system, “but that frail and problematic system was what funded Web 2.0. After all, Web 2.0 is supposed to be business.”

Read full story

Other local bloggers like Ben Kepes and Daniel Nations also wrote on Sterling’s talk but seemed not to have liked what they heard.

UPDATE:
Here is the transcript of the talk.

10 December 2008

The Putting People First group on Facebook

Facebook
The launch this Sunday of a Putting People First group on Facebook has been quite a success: nearly 250 members in just a couple of days. If you haven’t yet joined, do so now, as we hope it will become a rich networking tool, where you can share news, post events and check job announcements (and more).

Two other Facebook groups could be of interest too: the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea group is for alumni in the broad sense of the word of the meanwhile defunct Interaction Design Institute Ivrea; and KashKlash provides you with insight, background and provoking ideas on the future of value exchange (and while you are at it, also visit KashKlash.net and fill out the questionnaire).

7 December 2008

Experimenting with Facebook groups

Facebook
As an experiment, we created two new Facebook groups today:

Interaction Design Institute Ivrea
This group is open to all who ever worked, studied, consulted or visited Interaction Design Institute Ivrea and liked what happened there. It complements an existing and popular email list.

Putting People First
This new Facebook platform for Putting People First readers grew out of the need some of you sometimes feel to post things quickly and share it within our professional community. This new Putting People First space is yours. Use it to share, to announce, to post, to plug.

Let me know on Facebook itself if this is something that you find useful.

7 December 2008

Audio interview with Nokia’s Adam Greenfield

Adam Greenfield
Podcamp Barcelona’s Chris Pinchen interviewed Nokia’s Adam Greenfield at Visualizar ’08 (Madrid, Spain) the day after the US elections.

Their conversation ranged widely over subjects including corporate Situationism, fear of ubicomp, the technological disparity between everyday life in the US and that in other parts of the world, and the odd and occasionally uncomfortable freedoms afforded anyone living in a culture to which they are not native.

Listen to interview: part 1 | part 2

(via Adam Greenfield)

29 November 2008

Social media in closed societies

closed societies
Ethan Zuckerman, a researcher on the impact of information technology in developing nations, reports on his blog on a recent panel discussion, organised by the Open Society Institute, on new media in authoritarian societies.

The discussion started from the premise that our understanding of the effects of online media on society “are largely based on research in open societies, especially in the U.S. But there’s lots less work on the effects of new media in other parts of the world, especially in closed societies, and much of the work that’s done is incomplete and sometimes inaccurate.”

Aside from Zuckerman himself, panels included John Kelly, founder of Morningside Analytics, who talked about the emerging networked public sphere and presented his maps of online social networks in Iran, Egypt, Russia, and China; Evgeny Morozov, who is writing a book on the Internet in authoritarian countries; and Porochista Khakpour, an Iranian-American writer who discussed how the Iranian diaspora uses the Internet..

Read full story

(via Worldchanging)

19 November 2008

How to rob a bank without money?

KashKlash
“How can you rob a bank in a world without money?” wonders science fiction writer Bruce Sterling, one of the collaborators of the new foresight project KashKlash

KashKlash is a lively platform where you can debate future scenarios for economic and cultural exchange. Beyond today’s financial turmoil, what new systems might appear? Global/local, tangible/intangible, digital/physical? On the KashKlash site, you can explore potential worlds where traditional financial transactions have disappeared, blended, or mutated into unexpected forms. Understand the near future, and help shape it!

Imagine yourself deprived of all of today’s conventional financial resources. Maybe you’re a refugee or stateless — or maybe it’s the systems themselves that have gone astray. Yet you still have your laptop, the Internet, and a broadband mobile connection. What would you do to create a new informal economy that would help you get by? What would you live on? E-barter? Rationing? Gadgets? Google juice? Cellphone minutes? Imagine a whole world approaching that condition. Which of today’s major power-players would win and lose, thrive or fail? What strange new roles would tomorrow’s technology fill?

Besides Bruce Sterling, the initial collaborators are Régine Debatty (of we-make-money-not-art), Nicolas Nova (LIFT) and Joshua Klein (author and hacker), who have been collaborating on initiating the discussion.

KashKlash is now opening up to you. You can join and follow the debate of our experts or contribute yourself by leaving a comment on the different matters or fill out our KashKlash questionnaire.

This public domain project is conceived and led by Heather Moore of Vodafone’s Global User Experience Team and run by Experientia, an international forward-looking user experience design company based in Turin, Italy.

Check the project description for more info.

20 October 2008

How mobile is changing our society

Teemu Arina
Teemu Arina, who will speak at the upcoming Mobile Monday event in Amsterdam, has put a lengthy essay on his blog on the topic “how mobile is changing our society.”

“I have a feeling that the question we pose today is wrong. It’s not about mobile anymore. For some people, mobile means the devices that we carry around as we move, usually hooked up to a cellular network. The truth is, the activities we go through online with computers and what we do with our “mobiles” cannot be seen as separate anymore. This convergence means our language needs to change or our culture will never understand its future.

As ordinary physical items enter the same network, it’s not going to be about virtual or physical activities anymore. Both will be different faces of the same coin. It’s not going to be about context or not. Context will be the primary component of everything. The primary device will no longer be a “mobile”, but more like something that interacts with the network in a highly contextual way. Ideas, people and physical objects will be part of the same network in a very literal sense.”

Read full story

(via Smart Mobs)

4 October 2008

Mobile Revolutions

Mobile revolutions
Mobile Revolutions is a great blog about mobile phones, youth and social change by Lisa Campbell, that I discovered via Mobile Active. What’s more, she has actually taken the time to write a lengthy, seriously researched and in-depth paper to dwell on the subjects that are dear to her (and important to us).

“In this paper I outline the transformative power of new media technologies in Latin American contexts as tools for social change, comparing examples of youth digital activism from both Costa Rican and Panamanian contexts. Focusing on two types of Social Media, both Social Networks and Mobile Communication are examined as tools for Central American youth activists. In my conclusion I summarize the effects of national media policies, the situation of the digital divide and its effect on media democracy. The powerful nature of Citizen Media illustrates how overcoming the digital divide can produce democratic access to the media and societies’ larger institutions for social change.”

You can read it in one go, or split out over four chapters:

2 October 2008

Writing for Core77

Core77
Just in case you don’t know, Experientia partner Mark Vanderbeeken also writes for Core77, the online design magazine. He takes a somewhat different angle there and post items on “Core” that do not really fit with the Putting People First themes.

His latest post is about a new Milan-conceived desktop concept (which actually is also quite relevant for Putting People First). Earlier posts can be accessed from this archive page (which still sports Core77’s old logo).

4 July 2008

From ubiquitous technology to human context (videos)

UIA World Congress of Architecture
On Wednesday 2 July Nicolas Nova (LIFT lab) moderated a session at the World Congress of Architecture in Turin, Italy, entitled “From ubiquitous technology to human context – Technology applied to architecture and design: does it solve problems or create needs?”.

Speakers were Adam Greenfield (Head of Design Direction, Nokia), Jeffrey Huang (Director, Media and Design Laboratory, EPFL, Switzerland) and Younghee Jung (senior design manager, Nokia).

Videos: About ten minutes into the session, I realised that no provisions had been made by the organisers to videotape the presentations, so I started recording everything myself, from a small handheld Nokia N95. Obviously image quality is not so great but the sound is quite good. I uploaded everything on Google Video: Adam Greenfield, Jeffrey Huang and Younghee Jung.

Two apologies: first to Nicolas for not having taped his session too – as I said, I realised too late that the organisers were not doing it themselves – but luckily Nicolas has posted a summary and his slides on his own blog. The second apology goes to Younghee, whose presentation is only half recorded, because the N95 battery died.

The session unfortunately ended a bit in chaos. As it had started late, it also ran a bit over time and people from the next session started filling up the seminar room and at one point hackled the last speaker – Younghee Jung – to finish things up. A fragile Younghee – during her talk she shared a personal event with the audience that was very close to her emotionally – suddenly had to summarise 30 slides in 2 minutes and this is luckily not on video. Perhaps she can send us her presentation still.

20 June 2008

Bridging communities via interactions

Elizabeth Churchill and Mark Vanderbeeken
Richard Anderson reports on a discussion session that Elizabeth Churchill and Experientia partner Mark Vanderbeeken participated in, held at the recent CHI conference in Florence, Italy, that dealt with the role of interactions magazine in bridging communities – “something essential for “user experience” to play the role it should be playing in business”.

“Jon Kolko facilitated an important discussion between Elizabeth and special guest Mark Vanderbeeken about the concept of open access to intellectual content and its relevance to interactions magazine. (Sorry that Mark’s head is largely obscured by Elizabeth’s in the nearby photo.) One might argue that open — i.e., free — online access to interactions magazine content would in and of itself help to bridge the communities for which interactions magazine is of relevance. However… (Portions of and extensions to the CHI 2008 discussion will appear in Elizabeth’s column and in “interactions cafe” in the September+October issue; both of those articles will be made available via the interactions website to all, facilitating everyone’s opportunity to respond and share his or her perspective.)”

Read full story (with SlideShare presentation)

3 May 2008

Reviewing the CHI 2008 conference

CHI 2008
A few weeks ago I attended the CHI conference in Florence, Italy.

I was only there for a day and a half, and this being my first CHI conference, I am not in a position to give it a solid review.

One thing that stands out of course is that it has a strong academic angle, which can make some of the presentations and discussions quite irrelevant for practitioners such as me. On the other, there was a lot of emphasis on the term “user experience”, which came back in titles, abstracts, presentations and papers.

Combing through the (Mac unfriendly) conference DVD, I found quite a few treasures, and I selected 40 papers out of a total of 556, that I will be presenting in ten separate posts, under the headings: emerging markets, mobile banking, mobility, product design, security, social applications, social context, strategic issues, sustainability, and usability.

The conference is not set up in order to help you meet new people, and this is a real pity. You just tend to meet those you know already, or those whose presentations you attended. (Unless you are lucky enough to be a speaker of a well attended session, so everyone else knows you.)

During CHI, I conducted interviews with Bill Buxton (Microsoft), Elizabeth Churchill (Yahoo!) and Mike Kuniavsky (ThingM), on which I will report in the coming weeks. Also in the coming weeks I will publish reviews of the books: Sketching the User Experience by Bill Buxton and Keeping Found Things Found by William Jones.

Because of this blog, and in particular a post of praise, I was part of a panel (others were Elizabeth Churchill, Richard Anderson and Jon Kolko) on the relaunched Interactions Magazine, now under the inspiring and volunteer (!) leadership of the latter two. Check out the magazine!

3 May 2008

CHI 2008: a selection on social applications

CHI 2008 proceedings
Here is my selection on papers related to social applications presented at CHI 2008.

(Papers are linked to their pdf downloads, if available.)

Ambient social tv: drawing people into a shared experience [abstract]
Authors: Gunnar Harboe, Crysta J. Metcalf, Frank Bentley, Joe Tullio, Noel Massey and Guy Romano (Motorola Labs)
Abstract: We examine how ambient displays can augment social television. Social TV 2 is an interactive television solution that incorporates two ambient displays to convey to participants an aggregate view of their friends’ current TV-watching status. Social TV 2 also allows users to see which television shows friends and family are watching and send lightweight messages from within the TV-viewing experience. Through a two-week field study we found the ambient displays to be an integral part of the experience. We present the results of our field study with a discussion of the implications for future social systems in the home.

Results from deploying a participation incentive mechanism within the enterprise [abstract]
Authors: Rosta Farzan (University of Pittsburgh), Joan M. DiMicco (IBM, Cambridge), David R. Millen (IBM, Cambridge), Casey Dugan (IBM, Cambridge), Werner Geyer (IBM, Cambridge) and Elizabeth A. Brownholtz (IBM, Cambridge)
Abstract: Success and sustainability of social networking sites is highly dependent on user participation. To encourage contribution to an opt-in social networking site designed for employees, we have designed and implemented a feature that rewards contribution with points. In our evaluation of the impact of the system, we found that employees are initially motivated to add more content to the site. This paper presents the analysis and design of the point system, the results of our experiment, and our insights regarding future directions derived from our post-experiment user interviews.

Exploring the role of the reader in the activity of blogging [abstract]
Authors: Eric Baumer, Mark Sueyoshi and Bill Tomlinson (UC Irvine)
Abstract: Within the last decade, blogs have become an important element of popular culture, mass media, and the daily lives of countless Internet users. Despite the medium’s interactive nature, most research on blogs focuses on either the blog itself or the blogger, rarely if at all focusing on the reader’s impact. In order to gain a better understanding of the social practice of blogging, we must take into account the role, contributions, and significance of the reader. This paper presents the findings of a qualitative study of blog readers, including common blog reading practices, some of the dimensions along which reading practices vary, relationships between identity presentation and perception, the interpretation of temporality, and the ways in which readers feel that they are a part of the blogs they read. It also describes similarities to, and discrepancies with, previous work, and suggests a number of directions and implications for future work on blogging.

The network in the garden: an empirical analysis of social media in rural life [abstract]
Authors: Eric Gilbert, Karrie Karahalios and Christian Sandvig (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
Abstract: History repeatedly demonstrates that rural communities have unique technological needs. Yet, we know little about how rural communities use modern technologies, so we lack knowledge on how to design for them. To address this gap, our empirical paper investigates behavioral differences between more than 3,000 rural and urban social media users. Using a dataset collected from a broadly popular social network site, we analyze users’ profiles, 340,000 online friendships and 200,000 interpersonal messages. Using social capital theory, we predict differences between rural and urban users and find strong evidence supporting our hypotheses. Namely, rural people articulate far fewer friends online, and those friends live much closer to home. Our results also indicate that the groups have substantially different gender distributions and use privacy features differently. We conclude by discussing design implications drawn from our findings; most importantly, designers should reconsider the binary friend-or-not model to allow for incremental trust-building.

Healthcare in everyday life: designing healthcare services for daily life [abstract]
Authors: Stinne Aaløkke Ballegaard, Thomas Riisgaard Hansen and Morten Kyng (University of Aarhus)
Abstract: Today the design of most healthcare technology is driven by the considerations of healthcare professionals and technology companies. This has several benefits, but we argue that there is a need for a supplementary design approach on the basis the citizen and his or her everyday life. An approach where the main focus is to develop healthcare technology that fits the routines of daily life and thus allows the citizens to continue with the activities they like and have grown used to — also with an aging body or when managing a chronic condition. Thus, with this approach it is not just a matter of fixing a health condition, more importantly is the matter of sustaining everyday life as a whole. This argument is a result from our work — using participatory design methods — on the development of supportive healthcare technology for elderly people and for diabetic, pregnant women.

International ethnographic observation of social networking sites [abstract]
Authors: Christopher N. Chapman (Microsoft Corporation) and Michal Lahav (Sakson & Taylor Consulting)
Abstract: Current research on social networking largely covers US providers. To investigate broader trends, we examine cross-cultural differences in the usage patterns of social networking services with observation and ethnographic interviews in multiple cultures. This appears to be the first systematic investigation of social networking behavior across multiple cultures. We report here on the first four locations with observation and interviews of 36 respondents, 8-10 in each of the US, France, China, and South Korea. The results show three dimensions of cultural difference for typical social networking behaviors: the users’ goals, typical pattern of self expression, and common interaction behaviors. These differences exemplify a developmental path of interest in social networking and the gradual integration of social networking behavior into more general communications behaviors. Future work in other cultures and with additional methods will evaluate the hypotheses presented here.

31 March 2008

Beyond blogs: the conversation has moved into the flow

Stowe Boyd
Stowe Boyd, an internationally recognised authority on social applications and their impact on business, media, and society, published today an interesting reflection on the fact that conversation online has moved away from the blogs that once seemed the nexus:

“Basically, conversation is moving from a very static and slow form of conversation — the comments thread on blog posts — to a more dynamic and fast form of conversation: into the flow in Twitter, Friendfeed, and others. I think this directionality may be like a law of the universe: conversation moves to where is is most social.

Personally, I don’t think the genie can be put back in the bottle. Twitter et al are simply more compelling a conversational medium than blog comments. While the close relationship of blog posts and their associated comments may seem like a positive attribute, it is actually very limiting and closed. In general, people have to blunder into an interesting comment thread by moving to the post, opening the link to the comments, and manually scrolling down through them. A lot of time and effort, all based around the metaphor of wandering around in the web of pages. It’s like a trip to the library.

Twitter and other similar apps are based on the web of flow: information of interest comes to us, not the other way around. And it flows through people, through relationships: it’s not a bunch of clicks on URLs, scrolling, and so on. It’s a move away from hunting and gathering and into relationship agriculture: information grows in our flow applications instead of us spending time hunting it down.” [...]

Today’s blog technologies were not designed with flow in mind: they are based on Web 1.0 principles, and although they have helped to engender a revolution in sociality and flow, they don’t support it very well.

Read full story

Jason Kaneshiro posted a similar reflection recently.

(via Bruce Sterling)

But — just perhaps — the situation is not so clear-cut: BBC News launched a new home page today and the announcement article already has 533 comments, that is five hundred and thirty three (and it’s still increasing).

18 March 2008

A short interview on identity

Trendbuero
The people from the German consultancy Trendbüro published a short interview with Experientia partner Mark Vanderbeeken on the topic of identity.

It is part of their strategy to publicise their forthcoming Trend Day, which has the theme: “Identity Management – Recognition replaces attention”.

Mark is in very good company: they have also published interviews with Richard Florida, Willem Velthoven of Mediamatic, Hartmut Esslinger of frog design, and Dick Hardt of identity 2.0.

Read interview