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Posts in category 'Book'

2 November 2013

Book: Social – Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect

socialbook

Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect
by Matthew D. Lieberman
Crown
October 2013, 384 pages
[Amazon link]

Abstract

In Social, renowned psychologist Matthew Lieberman explores groundbreaking research in social neuroscience revealing that our need to connect with other people is even more fundamental, more basic, than our need for food or shelter. Because of this, our brain uses its spare time to learn about the social world – other people and our relation to them. It is believed that we must commit 10,000 hours to master a skill. According to Lieberman, each of us has spent 10,000 hours learning to make sense of people and groups by the time we are ten.

Social argues that our need to reach out to and connect with others is a primary driver behind our behavior. We believe that pain and pleasure alone guide our actions. Yet, new research using fMRI – including a great deal of original research conducted by Lieberman and his UCLA lab — shows that our brains react to social pain and pleasure in much the same way as they do to physical pain and pleasure. Fortunately, the brain has evolved sophisticated mechanisms for securing our place in the social world. We have a unique ability to read other people’s minds, to figure out their hopes, fears, and motivations, allowing us to effectively coordinate our lives with one another. And our most private sense of who we are is intimately linked to the important people and groups in our lives. This wiring often leads us to restrain our selfish impulses for the greater good. These mechanisms lead to behavior that might seem irrational, but is really just the result of our deep social wiring and necessary for our success as a species.

Based on the latest cutting edge research, the findings in Social have important real-world implications. Our schools and businesses, for example, attempt to minimalize social distractions. But this is exactly the wrong thing to do to encourage engagement and learning, and literally shuts down the social brain, leaving powerful neuro-cognitive resources untapped. The insights revealed in this pioneering book suggest ways to improve learning in schools, make the workplace more productive, and improve our overall well-being.

The Author
Mathew Dylan Lieberman [Wikipedia - Personal site] PHD is a Professor and SCN (Social Cognitive Neuroscience) Lab Director at UCLA Department of Psychology, Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences.

> New York Times book review

2 November 2013

Book: Smarter Than You Think

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Smarter Than You Think
How Technology Is Changing Our Minds For the Better
by Clive Thompson and Jeff Cummings
Penguin Press
September 2013, 352 pages
[Penguin Press link - Amazon link]

Abstract

How technology boosts our cognitive abilities — making us smarter, more productive, and more creative than ever before It’s undeniable: technology is changing the way we think. But is it for the better? Amid a chorus of doomsayers, Clive Thompson votes yes. The Internet age has produced a radical new style of human intelligence, worthy of both celebration and investigation. We learn more and retain information longer, write and think with global audiences in mind, and even gain an ESP-like awareness of the world around us.

Modern technology is making us smarter and better connected, both as individuals and as a society. In Smarter Than You Think, Thompson documents how every technological innovation — from the printing press to the telegraph — has provoked the very same anxieties that plague us today. We panic that life will never be the same, that our attentions are eroding, that culture is being trivialized. But as in the past, we adapt, learning to use the new and retaining what’s good of the old.

Thompson introduces us to a cast of extraordinary characters who augment their minds in inventive ways. There’s the seventy-six-year-old millionaire who digitally records his every waking moment, giving him instant recall of the events and ideas of his life going back decades. There are the courageous Chinese students who mounted an online movement that shut down a $1.6 billion toxic copper plant. There are experts and there are amateurs, including a global set of gamers who took a puzzle that had baffled HIV scientists for a decade and solved it collaboratively — in only one month.

But Smarter Than You Think isn’t just about pioneers, nor is it simply concerned with the world we inhabit today. It’s about our future. How are computers improving our memory? How will our social “sixth sense” change the way we learn? Which tools are boosting our intelligence — and which ones are hindering our progress? Smarter Than You Think embraces and interrogates this transformation, offering a provocative vision of our shifting cognitive landscape.

The author
Clive Thompson is a contributor for the New York Times Magazine and Wired. He also writes for Fast Company and appears regularly on many NPR programs, CNN, Fox News, and NY1, among other news outlets. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

> New York Times book review

2 November 2013

Book: The App Generation

theappgeneration

The App Generation
How Today’s Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy, and Imagination in a Digital World
Howard Gardner and Katie Davis
Yale University Press
October 2013, 256 pages
[Yale University Press link - Amazon link]

Abstract
No one has failed to notice that the current generation of youth is deeply—some would say totally—involved with digital media. Professors Howard Gardner and Katie Davis name today’s young people The App Generation, and in this spellbinding book they explore what it means to be “app-dependent” versus “app-enabled” and how life for this generation differs from life before the digital era. Gardner and Davis are concerned with three vital areas of adolescent life: identity, intimacy, and imagination. Through innovative research, including interviews of young people, focus groups of those who work with them, and a unique comparison of youthful artistic productions before and after the digital revolution, the authors uncover the drawbacks of apps: they may foreclose a sense of identity, encourage superficial relations with others, and stunt creative imagination. On the other hand, the benefits of apps are equally striking: they can promote a strong sense of identity, allow deep relationships, and stimulate creativity. The challenge is to venture beyond the ways that apps are designed to be used, Gardner and Davis conclude, and they suggest how the power of apps can be a springboard to greater creativity and higher aspirations.

Authors
Howard Gardner is Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and senior director of Harvard Project Zero, an educational research group. He is renowned as father of the theory of multiple intelligences. He lives in Cambridge, MA.
Katie Davis is assistant professor, University of Washington Information School, where she studies the role of digital media technologies in adolescents’ lives. She is a former member of the Project Zero team. She lives in Seattle, WA.

> New York Times review

27 October 2013

Book: Speculative Everything

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Speculative Everything
Design, Fiction, and Social Dreaming
By Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby
MIT Press
Jan 2014, 200 pages
[Amazon link]

Today designers often focus on making technology easy to use, sexy, and consumable. In Speculative Everything, Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby propose a kind of design that is used as a tool to create not only things but ideas. For them, design is a means of speculating about how things could be—to imagine possible futures. This is not the usual sort of predicting or forecasting, spotting trends and extrapolating; these kinds of predictions have been proven wrong, again and again. Instead, Dunne and Raby pose “what if” questions that are intended to open debate and discussion about the kind of future people want (and do not want).

Speculative Everything offers a tour through an emerging cultural landscape of design ideas, ideals, and approaches. Dunne and Raby cite examples from their own design and teaching and from other projects from fine art, design, architecture, cinema, and photography. They also draw on futurology, political theory, the philosophy of technology, and literary fiction. They show us, for example, ideas for a solar kitchen restaurant; a flypaper robotic clock; a menstruation machine; a cloud-seeding truck; a phantom-limb sensation recorder; and devices for food foraging that use the tools of synthetic biology. Dunne and Raby contend that if we speculate more—about everything—reality will become more malleable. The ideas freed by speculative design increase the odds of achieving desirable futures.

Anthony Dunne is Professor and Head of Interaction Design at the Royal College of Art. He is also a Partner in the design practice Dunne & Raby, London.

Fiona Raby is Professor of Industrial Design at the University of Applied Arts, Vienna, and Reader in Design Interactions at the Royal College of Art.

> Video of Speculative Everything lecture by Anthony Dunne

21 October 2013

The Newspeak of ‘human-centred’ [Book]

freedomvsnecessity

Freedom vs Necessity in International Relations
Human-Centred Approaches to Security and Development

by David Chandler
Zed Books Ltd
224 pages, 2013
[Amazon link]

Human-centred understandings of the world have become increasingly dominant over the last two decades. Indeed, it is rare to read any analysis addressing the problems of insecurity, conflict or development which does not start from the need to empower or capacity-build local agency. In this path-breaking book, Chandler undertakes a radical challenge to such human-centred understandings and suggests that, in articulating problems as a result of human behaviour or decision-making, the problems of the world have become reinterpreted as problems of the human subject itself. Within this framework, the solutions are not seen to lie with structures of economic and social relations, but with the social and cognitive shaping of those who are often seen to be the most marginal and powerless. This shift – from the material problems of the external world to the subjective problems of human thought and action – has gone hand-in-hand with the shift from state-based to society-based understandings of the world. In a provocative analysis, Chandler highlights how human-centred approaches have shrunk rather than enlarged our world and have limited our understanding of transformative possibilities

Review by James Heartfield
In his new book, Freedom vs Necessity, David Chandler, professor of international relations at the University of Westminster, [...] lays bare the claims of governments to put people and their decision-making at the centre of policy. What Chandler shows to great effect is that the latest claims of policymakers and theorists to a human-centred approach result in something like its opposite. In a wide range of cases – from the United Nations’ Human Development Report to the Cabinet Office’s prioritisation of the ‘choice environment’ – Chandler explains how ‘human-centred’ policy is, in fact, very far from human-centred. The real aim is for people to align their behaviour and choices to the outcomes chosen by those in power, rather than deciding such outcomes for themselves. ‘Human-centred’ policy turns out to have as much to do with people deciding for themselves as the Ministry of Peace had to do with Peace, or the Ministry of Plenty to do with Plenty in Orwell’s novel.

28 September 2013

Book: People-Centered Innovation

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People-Centered Innovation: Becoming a Practitioner in Innovative Research
by Pedro Oliveira
Biblio Publishing, 2013
194 pages
[Amazon]

Written with a general audience in mind, People-Centered Innovation focuses on innovation research in corporate settings. Starting with a biographical standpoint, it describes the author’s transition from the fields of psychology and anthropology into the fields of business anthropology and innovation. Through a rich description of case-studies of corporate work, the author takes us into a fascinating journey across different ways of observing relations between consumers and corporations and generating new ideas based on that observation.

Pedro Oliveira is an anthropologist and an ethnographic research consultant.

Some other papers by Pedro Oliveira:

19 September 2013

Book: Design Anthropology

9780857853691

Design Anthropology: Theory and Practice
Editor(s): Wendy Gunn, Ton Otto, Rachel Charlotte Smith
Bloomsbury Academic, 2013
304 pages

Design is a key site of cultural production and change in contemporary society. Anthropologists have been involved in design projects for several decades but only recently a new field of inquiry has emerged which aims to integrate the strengths of design thinking and anthropological research.

This book is written by anthropologists who actively participate in the development of design anthropology. Comprising both cutting-edge explorations and theoretical reflections, it provides a much-needed introduction to the concepts, methods, practices and challenges of the new field. Design Anthropology moves from observation and interpretation to collaboration, intervention and co-creation. Its practitioners participate in multidisciplinary design teams working towards concrete solutions for problems that are sometimes ill-defined. The authors address the critical potential of design anthropology in a wide range of design activities across the globe and query the impact of design on the discipline of anthropology.

This volume will appeal to new and experienced practitioners in the field as well as to students of anthropology, innovation, science and technology studies, and a wide range of design studies focusing on user participation, innovation, and collaborative research.

For all of us who work, think, teach, write, and dwell in this exciting interdisciplinary space, these essays will be of tremendous value.” – Paul Dourish, Professor of Informatics, University of California, Irvine, USA

3 September 2013

Book: Putting Citizens First

puttingcitizensfirst

Putting Citizens First
Engagement in Policy and Service Delivery for the 21st Century
Evert A. Lindquist, Sam Vincent and John Wanna
Australian National University – Co-published with ANZSOG
August 2013, 220 pages

Free pdf (alternative link)

This book explores the ways in which governments are putting citizens first in their policy-making endeavours. Making citizens the focus of policy interventions and involving them in the delivery and design is for many governments a normative ideal; it is a worthy objective and sounds easy to achieve. But the reality is that putting citizens at the centre of policy-making is hard and confronting. Are governments really serious in their ambitions to put citizens first? Are they prepared for the challenges and demands such an approach will demand? Are they prepared to commit the time and resources to ensure genuine engagement takes place and that citizens’ interests are considered foremost? And, more importantly, are governments prepared for the trade-offs, risks and loss of control such citizen-centric approaches will inevitably involve?

The book is divided into five parts:

  • setting the scene: The evolving landscape for citizen engagement
  • drivers for change: Innovations in citizen-centric governance
  • case studies in land management and Indigenous empowerment
  • case studies in fostering community engagement and connectedness
  • case studies engaging with information technology and new media.

While some chapters question how far governments can go in engaging with citizens, many point to successful examples of actual engagement that enhanced policy experiences and improved service delivery. The various authors make clear that citizen engagement is not restricted to the domain of service delivery, but if taken seriously affects the ways governments conduct their activities across all agencies. The implications are enormous, but the benefits to public policy may be enormous too.

3 September 2013

Book: Interactive Visualization

interactivevisualization

Interactive Visualization: Insight through Inquiry
By Bill Ferster
The MIT Press, 2012
ISBN-10: 0262018152, ISBN-13: 978-0262018159
(Amazon link)

Abstract

Interactive visualization is emerging as a vibrant new form of communication, providing compelling presentations that allow viewers to interact directly with information in order to construct their own understandings of it. Building on a long tradition of print-based information visualization, interactive visualization utilizes the technological capabilities of computers, the Internet, and computer graphics to marshal multifaceted information in the service of making a point visually.

This book offers an introduction to the field, presenting a framework for exploring historical, theoretical, and practical issues. It is not a “how-to” book tied to specific and soon-to-be-outdated software tools, but a guide to the concepts that are central to building interactive visualization projects whatever their ultimate form.

The framework the book presents (known as the ASSERT model, developed by the author), allows the reader to explore the process of interactive visualization in terms of choosing good questions to ask; finding appropriate data for answering them; structuring that information; exploring and analyzing the data; representing the data visually; and telling a story using the data.

Interactive visualization draws on many disciplines to inform the final representation, and the book reflects this, covering basic principles of inquiry, data structuring, information design, statistics, cognitive theory, usability, working with spreadsheets, the Internet, and storytelling.

Bill Ferster is on the faculty of the University of Virginia with a joint appointment to the Center for Technology and Teacher Education at the Curry School of Education and at the Science, Humanities, and Arts Network of Technological Initiatives (SHANTI) at the College of Arts and Sciences.

Book review by By Gerd Waloszek
SAP AG, Design & Frontline Apps – September 3, 2013

“Ferster’s book “stands out from the crowd” because it is based on what I would call a “holistic approach” to information visualization, namely his ASSET model described above. It starts by asking questions and culminates in “telling a compelling story” with the visual representation created from the data.

I am too impatient for such an approach, and prefer a “data-driven” approach instead, where you start right from data having a certain structure, look for a suitable visual representation, and then implement it. This approach could be considered the “SER” section in Ferster’s model, and it is closer to what the author probably would consider a “how to” approach. But, as Ferster writes in his introduction, this was not what he had in mind when he conceived his book. I therefore agree with Shneiderman that Ferster’s book is more tailored to students of the humanities than to those of the natural sciences, particularly considering the tutorials, which are an important ingredient of the book.”

20 August 2013

eBook: Rethinking UX

rethinking-ux-smashing-magazine-ebook-opt

Rethinking UX
Formats: PDF, EPUB, Kindle (DRM-free)
Pages: 62
Language: English
Released: August 2013
Publisher: Smashing Magazine GmbH

Abstract
In “Rethinking UX”, various UX professionals share their lessons learned and provide practical advice from their very own personal experience. The eBook is packed with interesting thoughts and concepts that let us reflect on our own practices. Every designer has their own user research techniques and strategies, but leaving the office and talking to people on the streets can foster innovation even more as any thought-out strategy ever could.

Is empathy possibly the best guarantor for great UX? Overcoming traditional patterns and designing with a new type of user in mind is among the many topics of this eBook.

Of course, you can also get your hands on some future scenarios. The Smashing authors dare to sneak a peak at some new challenges that we could face with the rise of innovative technologies such as Google Glass and Leap Motion, and explore how we can embrace entirely gesture-driven interfaces today. This eBook is a springboard for developing a new perspective and for creating future-proof user experiences.

17 August 2013

Lessons from monks about designing the technologies of the future

distractionaddiction

Our technologies are designed to maximize shareholder profit, and if that means distracting, confusing or aggregating the end-user, then so be it.

But another path is possible, argues Alex Soojung-Kim Pang in his new book The Distraction Addiction: Getting the Information You Need and the Communication You Want, Without Enraging Your Family, Annoying Your Colleagues, and Destroying Your Soul (Amazon link).

Pang calls the idea “contemplative computing,” and Techcrunch’s Klint Finley reflects on his book:

“Pang’s notion of mindful, or contemplative, computing is useful, but ultimately it’s just a way of coping with a world of applications designed without our best interests at heart. Just as meditation, prayer and weekend retreats can help us cope with the harsh realities of the modern world, so too can it help us cope with flame wars, feral inboxes and the non-stop rush of social media. But just as citizens can demand safer cities, more humane governments and even economic reform, we can demand a new class of technologies.”

15 August 2013

Book: Lean UX

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Lean UX: Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience
by Jeff Gothelf (Author) and Josh Seiden (Editor)
O’Reilly Media
February 2013
(Amazon link)

“The Lean UX approach to interaction design is tailor-made for today’s web-driven reality. In this insightful book, leading advocate Jeff Gothelf teaches you valuable Lean UX principles, tactics, and techniques from the ground up—how to rapidly experiment with design ideas, validate them with real users, and continually adjust your design based on what you learn.

Inspired by Lean and Agile development theories, Lean UX lets you focus on the actual experience being designed, rather than deliverables. This book shows you how to collaborate closely with other members of the product team, and gather feedback early and often. You’ll learn how to drive the design in short, iterative cycles to assess what works best for the business and the user. Lean UX shows you how to make this change—for the better.

  • Frame a vision of the problem you’re solving and focus your team on the right outcomes
  • Bring the designers’ toolkit to the rest of your product team
  • Share your insights with your team much earlier in the process
  • Create Minimum Viable Products to determine which ideas are valid
  • Incorporate the voice of the customer throughout the project cycle
  • Make your team more productive: combine Lean UX with Agile’s Scrum framework
  • Understand the organizational shifts necessary to integrate Lean UX

Review by Ambroise Little:

The answer [to the pains associated with the staggered prints approach associated with the established Agile engineering process] situates itself within the Lean approach to product development. A lot of people seem to confuse Lean with Agile, and while they share some common characteristics, I would say that Lean is far more prescriptive. As Gothelf points out, Lean UX synthesizes the highly iterative structure of Agile with the creative and scientific methodologies of design thinking and Lean Startup (a set of concepts popularized by Eric Ries in his Lean Startup book), utilizing multiple frameworks to determine solutions.

Lean UX proposes a number of core principles and the ones that most directly address the key pain points mentioned above are:

  • Cross-functional teams – have UX folks integrated into the teams, not external consultant-type model
  • Minimize waste – few deliverables and handoffs

As Jeff relates in Chapter 4, the process is one that involves the whole team (as much as possible) in the user research and early design ideation. It goes further to have the team focused on the same problems at the same time. Together, this approach goes a long way towards eliminating the staggered sprint problems, and it also has other benefits around reduced waste and getting everyone on the same page more easily.”

7 August 2013

Book: Why We Fail

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Why We Fail: Learning from Experience Design Failures
By Victor Lombardi
248 pages
Rosenfeld Media

Why did Twitter succeed while Pownce plotzed? Why has “to Plaxo” become a verb? And Zune: great product, but are you using one right now?

More and more, products succeed because not because they provide better designs or functionality, but because their overall experiences are superior to their competitors’. Victor Lombardi’s new book, Why We Fail: Learning from Experience Design Failures is your field guide to failure. It’s packed with case studies and lessons that will help you, as Don Norman suggests in his foreword, “embrace failure to learn from failure” and “learn from failure to avoid failure”.

Just as pilots and doctors improve by studying crash reports and postmortems, experience designers can improve by learning how customer experience failures cause products to fail in the marketplace. Rather than proselytizing a particular approach to design, Why We Fail holistically explores what teams actually built, why the products failed, and how we can learn from the past to avoid failure ourselves.

Why We Fail is available from Rosenfeld Media in paperback and three DRM-free digital formats (PDF, MOBI, and ePUB). It’s also available from Amazon and O’Reilly.

19 July 2013

“An Aura of Familiarity”

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In 2013, the Technology Horizons Program of the Institute for the Future commissioned six leading science fiction writers — Cory Doctorow, Rudy Rucker, Warren Ellis, Madeline Ashby, Ramez Naam, and Bruce Sterling — and artist Daniel Martin Diaz to create short stories tied to our research on the coming Age of Networked Matter. They asked these collaborators to envision a world where humans have unprecedented control of matter at all scales, and to share with us a glimpse of daily life in that world. It was a process meant to make the future tangible.

The results is the anthology An Aura of Familiarity: Visions from the Coming Age of Networked Matter.

Read the stories from the book released so far:
- By His Things Will You Know Him, by Cory Doctorow
- Apricot Lane, by Rudy Rucker
- Social Services, by Madeline Ashby
- Water, by Ramez Naam
- From Beyond the Coming Age of Networked Matter, by Bruce Sterling

6 July 2013

Book: Legible Practices by Helsinki Design Lab

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The social innovation book Legible Practices aims at codifying the practises of stewardship, as exhibited by innovators who are consciously rethinking institutions to better meet the challenges of today. It is the last book by Helsinki Design Lab, the recently closed strategic design lab of Sitra, the Finnish innovation fund.

“Stewardship is the art of aligning decisions with impact when many minds are involved in making a plan, and many hands in enacting it.

This notion comes to life through the stories of six projects on three continent, each an example of carefully rewiring institutions to better meet today’s challenges.

By zooming in on the details, a handful of practises emerge that will help you convert ideas into action. Each story is shared as a brief narrative which is then broken down into a network of interlinking practises.

In writing Legible Practises, the authors Bryan Boyer, Justin W. Cook and Marco Steinberg – hope to spark a conversation about the deep craft of social innovation as a reminder that, even when dreaming big, the details still matter.”

The case studies featured in the book:

  • Constitución (Chile): Redesign the city in 90 days through a co-creation process aimed at deliverying more resilient infrastructure and an urban form that provides greater social equity.
  • Brownsville Partnership (USA): Create a safer, stronger and more self-reliant community in Brownsville by working collaboratively with community, non-profit organisations, and public agencies to build a portfolio of complimentary services.
  • Creative Councils (UK): Support innovators in local government across England and Wales to develop and implement radical innovations addressing a long-term challenge that matters in their area.
  • Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (USA): Designing a brand identity, engagement strategy and discrete consumer-facing educational experiences for the nascent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
  • Branchekode (DK): Transform a Danish government service responsible for generating classification categories needed to register a new business.
  • Gov.uk (UK): Transform the quality of the UK’s government digital services, making them “simpler, clearer, faster”, starting with a single website for the whole of government.

You can order a printed copy or download a free pdf.

2 July 2013

Notes on “Ambient Commons”, by Malcolm McCullough

AmbientCommons

Malcolm McCullough is one the key thinkers and writers about the intersection of the network, digital media, and the urban and architectural. Dan Hill (who will speak here in Torino on Thursday) was asked to provide a testimonial for the back of McCullough’s latest book, “Ambient Commons; Attention in the age of embodied interaction,” which he reproduced on his blog, together with some choice excerpts.

“Ambient Commons is both a timely, if highly civilised, wake-up call and a hugely valuable guidebook to the new post-”digital” landscape of contemporary urban culture.

In suggesting we “take back our attention”, genuinely consider our surroundings, take notice of the world, McCullough argues for a radical rebalancing of our patterns of living, working, playing – not as a refusenik, but as engaged and critical designer and thinker, and backed up by building on a bravura free-wheeling whistle-stop tour through an “environmental history of urban information”.

As physical and digital entwine such that they can rarely be separated, the relationship between disciplines and perspectives becomes increasingly complex and interwoven too. “Ambient Commons” demonstrates how a book can strategically expand the perspective, toolkit and practical vocabulary of the designers, coders and architects who are helping produce the new soft city, but through its open, diverse and richly patterned reference points and positions, it will be engaging and insightful for anyone who wants to understand what’s going on on the street of today and tomorrow.

McCullough also demonstrates how important it is that we understand technology as culture, and that it is worthy of philosophical inquiry. He manages to convey these complex ideas such that they feel accessible, yet are rigorously researched, are instantly appealing, yet prompt considered reflection, stoking the engines on many trains of thought.

It is also, unlike most texts that pivot around technology, beautifully written. It is a critical book to have written at this point.”

4 June 2013

A beautiful kids’ book that combines interactivity with good old-fashioned text

monster

The Jörgits and the End of Winter, an indie fantasy novel for kids nine and up, uses interactivity as a supplement to the story, not a stand-in for it, and shows how interactivity can work in a slightly more substantial text.

The app was created by Anders Sandell, a Finnish-born interaction designer who grew up in Hawaii, studied Chinese language and literature as an undergrad, earned a masters in NYU’s ITP program, and recently wrapped up a three-year stint establishing a toy design program at the Srishti School of Art, Design, and Technology, in Bangalore, India. Unsurprisingly, diversity and community are main themes of the designer’s book.

4 June 2013

Book: Rewire – Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection

rewire

Rewire: Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection
by Ethan Zuckerman
W. W. Norton & Company, June 2013
288 pages
[Amazon link]

Abstract

We live in an age of connection, one that is accelerated by the Internet. This increasingly ubiquitous, immensely powerful technology often leads us to assume that as the number of people online grows, it inevitably leads to a smaller, more cosmopolitan world. We’ll understand more, we think. We’ll know more. We’ll engage more and share more with people from other cultures. In reality, it is easier to ship bottles of water from Fiji to Atlanta than it is to get news from Tokyo to New York.
In Rewire, media scholar and activist Ethan Zuckerman explains why the technological ability to communicate with someone does not inevitably lead to increased human connection. At the most basic level, our human tendency to “flock together” means that most of our interactions, online or off, are with a small set of people with whom we have much in common. In examining this fundamental tendency, Zuckerman draws on his own work as well as the latest research in psychology and sociology to consider technology’s role in disconnecting ourselves from the rest of the world.

For those who seek a wider picture — a picture now critical for survival in an age of global economic crises and pandemics — Zuckerman highlights the challenges, and the headway already made, in truly connecting people across cultures. From voracious xenophiles eager to explore other countries to bridge figures who are able to connect one culture to another, people are at the center of his vision for a true kind of cosmopolitanism. And it is people who will shape a new approach to existing technologies, and perhaps invent some new ones, that embrace translation, cross-cultural inspiration, and the search for new, serendipitous experiences.

Rich with Zuckerman’s personal experience and wisdom, Rewire offers a map of the social, technical, and policy innovations needed to more tightly connect the world.

Review by Astra Taylor

“Zuckerman comes across as a kind and generous person who wants to make space for everyone, including, it seems, the global financial elite. While I respect his openness, I’m less forgiving. If cosmopolitanism is to be a force for desirable change in this world, it has to have a purpose more profound than the vision Zuckerman describes in his final chapter. The ease of digital connection may not bring about world peace, but that doesn’t mean we have to disavow all idealism and big dreams. If we’re going to rewire, let’s try to go further.”

26 May 2013

Book: Design For Care – Innovating Healthcare Experience

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Design For Care – Innovating Healthcare Experience
Peter Jones
Rosenfeld Media, 2013
376 pages

The world of healthcare is constantly evolving, ever increasing in complexity, costs, and stakeholders, and presenting huge challenges to policy making, decision making and system design. In Design for Care, Peter Jones shows how service and information designers can work with practice professionals and patients/advocates to make a positive difference in healthcare.

More in particular, the book will:

  • Present a current presentation of compelling healthcare design and information issues, integrated by representative case studies, to help designers, managers, students and teachers better understand the field
  • Educate and stimulate this audience to innovate and design better services from a total systems perspective in current healthcare practice
  • Help this audience understand the complexities, emerging opportunities, and uncertainties as indicated from the collective experience of leading edge design and research thinkers

It’s the first book of Rosenfeld Media focused on a specific industry—healthcare, of course. It’s also something of a service design book and a design strategy book to boot. After all, as the design field becomes increasingly recognized as strategically important, we’ll need to contextualize its value for a variety of wicked problems—ones that are often associated with particular industries.

Peter Jones is associate professor at Toronto’s OCAD University, where he is a senior fellow of the Strategic Innovation Lab and teaches in the Strategic Foresight and Innovation MDes program.

10 May 2013

How do you interview an interview specialist?

steve

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

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

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

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

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