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Posts in category 'Book'

29 September 2012

Book: Doing Design Ethnography

Doing Design Ethnography

Doing Design Ethnography
By Andrew Crabtree, Mark Rouncefield, Peter Tolmie
Springer Publishers – Human-Computer Interaction Series
March 2012, 212 pages
(Amazon link)

Ethnographic approaches associated with social and cultural anthropology are common currency in systems design. They are employed in academic and industrial research labs, consultancy firms, IT companies and design houses to understand user requirements, to develop design ideas, and to evaluate computing systems.

Doing Design Ethnography is about one particularly influential approach: ethnomethodologically informed or inspired ethnography. This approach focuses distinctively on the embodied work practices that people use to conduct their everyday activities and to concert them with others. It enables system developers to factor the social organisation of human activities into IT research and systems design, and to do so with respect to its real world, real time character.

Doing Design Ethnography is the first dedicated practical text explaining how to do ethnography in a design context. Particular emphasis is placed on doing to convey and elaborate the approach as a concrete job of work consisting of particular skills and competences that are responsive to the practical demands of systems development. The authors work through a range of examples to elaborate key aspects of the job, and offer practical guidelines for researchers and design practitioners who seek to do ethnography for systems design.

Andrew Crabtree (Associate Professor, School of Computer Science, University of Nottingham), Mark Rouncefield (Senior Research Fellow, Computing Department, Lancaster University) and Peter Tolmie (Senior Ethnographic Consultant, Mixed Reality Lab, University of Nottingham) draw on over 50 years of combined practical experience to creat this book, which will be of broad appeal to students and practitioners in Human-Computer Interaction, Computer Supported Cooperative Work and software engineering, providing valuable insights as to how to conduct ethnography and relate it to systems design.

27 September 2012

Aaron Marcus publishes (free) ebook about HCI in Sci-Fi

100years

The Past 100 Years of the Future: Sci-Fi and HCI in Movies and Television
by Aaron Marcus
2012 – 197 pages

On 24 August 2012, AM+A published its first ebook, The Past 100 Years of the Future: HCI in Science-Fiction Movies and Television.

The book, downloadable at the AM+A Website, is a work in progress, says the author, because movie studios have demanded extremely high publication permission rights, as high as $4500 per image, for individual images for some of the many films cited in the book. This cost seems prohibitively expensive, especially when the publication is being issued as a not-for profit, non-commercial, but downloadable publication. Consequently, the book appears without these images. As rights are secured, revised versions will be published. AM+A hopes readers enjoy the current version, and thanks readers in advance for their patience and for coming back for later versions.

The e-book is based on Aaron Macus’ keynote lecture (video) on Sci-Fi and HCI at the Chemnitz Technical University Mensch und Komputer Konferenz in September 2010.

Aaron Marcus is an American user-interface and information-visualization designer, as well as a computer graphics artist.

26 September 2012

The magic of good service

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THE customer is king. So some firms have started appointing chief customer officers (CCOs) to serve the king more attentively. These new additions to the (already crowded) C-suite are supposed to look at the business from the customer’s point of view. They try to focus on the entire “customer experience”, rather than on individual transactions.

An article by The Economist reflects on the matter, and refers to the book “Outside In” (Amazon) by Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine of Forrester Research, who observe that customers are growing more powerful.

“The internet makes it easier to shop around and share complaints with a wide audience. Yet poor service persists. Mr Manning and Ms Bodine have been asking customers about their experiences with American companies for years. In 2012 a third of the 160 firms they asked about were rated “poor” or “very poor”. Health insurers and cable companies fared worst.”

The article ends with this hilarious recommendation: “Phone a firm that has appointed a chief customer officer and see if you can reach a human being. If not, that CCO might as well be tossed from an executive-floor window, no doubt clutching his collection of ‘journey maps’ and ‘customer archetypes’.”

26 September 2012

Book: Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century

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Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century
By Jeanne E. Arnold, Anthony P. Graesch, Enzo Ragazzini, and Elinor Ochs
UCLA, Cotson Institute of Archaeology
July 2012

Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century cross-cuts the ranks of important books on social history, consumerism, contemporary culture, the meaning of material culture, domestic architecture, and household ethnoarchaeology. Far richer in information and more incisive than America at Home (Smolan and Erwitt), it also moves well beyond Rick Smolan’s Day in the Life series. It is a distant cousin of Material World and Hungry Planet in content and style, but represents a blend of rigorous science and photography that none of these books can claim. Using archaeological approaches to human material culture, this volume offers unprecedented access to the middle-class American home through the kaleidoscopic lens of no-limits photography and many kinds of never-before acquired data about how people actually live their lives at home.

Based on a rigorous, nine-year project at UCLA, this book has appeal not only to scientists but also to all people who share intense curiosity about what goes on at home in their neighborhoods. Many who read the book will see their own lives mirrored in these pages and can reflect on how other people cope with their mountains of possessions and other daily challenges. Readers abroad will be equally fascinated by the contrasts between their own kinds of materialism and the typical American experience. The book will interest a range of designers, builders, and architects as well as scholars and students who research various facets of U.S. and global consumerism, cultural history, and economic history.

25 September 2012

Book: Observing the User Experience

observing_ux

Observing the User Experience
A Practitioner’s Guide to User Research
by
Elizabeth Goodman, PhD candidate, University of California, Berkeley’s School of Information, National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow, and Intel PhD Fellow
Mike Kuniavsky, Founder, ThingM
Andrea Moed, Staff User Researcher at Inflection
Publisher: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers
608 pages – September 21, 2012
(Amazon link)

The gap between who designers and developers imagine their users are, and who those users really are can be the biggest problem with product development. Observing the User Experience will help you bridge that gap to understand what your users want and need from your product, and whether they’ll be able to use what you’ve created.

Filled with real-world experience and a wealth of practical information, this book presents a complete toolbox of techniques to help designers and developers see through the eyes of their users. It provides in-depth coverage of 13 user experience research techniques that will provide a basis for developing better products, whether they’re Web, software or mobile based. In addition, it’s written with an understanding of how software is developed in the real world, taking tight budgets, short schedules, and existing processes into account.

> See also this article by UC Berkeley: “Elizabeth Goodman revises classic handbook of user experience research“.

21 September 2012

Book: Communicating the User Experience

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Communicating the User Experience: A Practical Guide for Creating Useful UX Documentation
by Richard Caddick and Steve Cable
Wiley
2011, 352 pages
ISBN 978-1119971108
(Amazon | Scribd)

Abstract
As web sites and applications become richer and more complex, the user experience (UX) becomes critical to their success. This indispensible and full-color book provides practical guidance on this growing field and shares valuable UX advice that you can put into practice immediately on your own projects. The authors examine why UX is gaining so much interest from web designers, graduates, and career changers and looks at the new UX tools and ideas that can help you do your job better. In addition, you’ll benefit from the unique insight the authors provide from their experiences of working with some of the world’s best-known companies, learning how to take ideas from business requirements, user research, and documentation to create and develop your UX vision.

> Book review (UX magazine)

18 September 2012

Book: Make It So: Interaction Design Lessons from Science Fiction

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Make It So – Interaction design lessons from science fiction
By Nathan Shedroff & Christopher Noessel
Rosenfeld Media
September 2012
ISBNs: paperback (1-933820-98-5); digital editions (1-933820-76-4)

Many designers enjoy the interfaces seen in science fiction films and television shows. Freed from the rigorous constraints of designing for real users, sci-fi production designers develop blue-sky interfaces that are inspiring, humorous, and even instructive. By carefully studying these “outsider” user interfaces, designers can derive lessons that make their real-world designs more cutting edge and successful.

Make It So shows:

  • Sci-fi interfaces have been there (almost) from the beginning
  • Sci-fi creates a shared design language that sets audience expectations
  • If an interface works for an audience, there’s something there that will work for users
  • Bad sci-fi interfaces can sometimes be the most inspiring
  • There are ten “meta-lessons” spread across hundreds of examples
  • You can use — and not just enjoy — sci-fi in your design work

Also:

16 September 2012

Book: Economy of Experiences

cover Boswijk2

Today Albert Boswijk, founder and CEO of the European Centre for the Experience Economy, contacted us about his new book “Economy of Experiences”.

Boswijk co-founded the Centre, a structure affiliated with the University of Amsterdam, in 2000 with Joseph Pine, who was the first to launch the term in 1998 and then co-authored the seminal 1999 book with the same title.

Economy of Experiences
By Albert Boswijk, Ed Peelen and Steven Olthof
European Centre for the Experience Economy
2012 – 335 pages
ISBN: 978-0985593209
(Amazon link)

Abstract
Economy of Experiences sheds light on the fundamental process of change whereby society is currently searching for new forms of value creation. The ‘Experience Economy’ is the first symptom of this process. The Economy of Experiences is more than ‘feed me’ or ‘entertain me’. Businesses and organisations have a larger, more significant role to play in supporting individuals in their search to find their own way and a significant role for themselves. This book describes, step-by-step, the foundations of new forms of value creation and how businesses can avoid the downward escalation of price competition (commoditisation). It starts by placing individuals at the centre of their social context as well as events that are important to them in the world in which they live. In order to facilitate these, we present new business models in which co-creation plays an important role. Concrete design principles are given that can be used as a basis for creating meaningful experiences. Both theory and practice are discussed; numerous cases studies are dissected. The last three chapters focus on practical applications in health care, financial service innovation and developing creative cities. The book is backed by its own website: www.experience-economy.com.

Download table of contents and introduction

7 September 2012

Service design in tourism

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SDT2012 was the first international conference on service design thinking in the travel and tourism industry. For the first time, the conference brought together a community interested in the practical application of service design thinking within the travel and tourism industry.

The conference was the closing event of the project “Service Design in Tourism” funded by the European Union under the CIP Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme, and hosted by MCI – Management Center Innsbruck, Department of Tourism.

A free 142 page e-book with Case studies of applied research projects on mobile ethnography for tourism destinations.

Abstract

Tourism becomes more and more transparent through social media and tourism review websites. Nowadays, it’s the individual guest’s experience that makes or breaks the success of a tourism product. Thus, the focus in tourism shifts from mere marketing communications to meaningful experiences. Service design thinking can provide an in-depth and holistic understanding of customers required to cocreate meaningful experiences with guests.

The book provides an introduction into service design and tourism and presents seven case studies of European tourism destinations, which used the app myServiceFellow as a mobile ethnography research tool to gain genuine customer insights. The book reports lessons learned of these case studies, gives managerial implications and an outlook on future research fields for service design in tourism.

“Service Design and Tourism” is the written outcome of the research project “Service design as an approach to foster competitiveness and sustainability of European tourism” funded by the European Union under the CIP Competitiveness and Innovation Program.

3 August 2012

Book: UX Best Practices

007175251X

UX Best Practices – How to Achieve More Impact with User Experience
Helmut Degen & Xiaowei Yuan (Eds.)
McGraw-Hill Osborne Media, 2011
ISBN-10: 007175251X, ISBN-13: 978-0071752510
304 pages
(Amazon)

Helmut Degen, Ph.D., works as a program manager for Siemens Corporate Research (SCR). He was previously a user experience design lead and senior user experience manager for Vodafone Global Marketing in Dusseldorf, Germany, and for the Siemens User Interface Design center in Munich, Germany.

Xiaowei Yuan, Ph.D., is an expert commissioner of the Standardization Administration of the People’s Republic of China, and the founder of ISAR User Interface Design. He was previously head of the Siemens User Interface Design Center, Beijing, China.

Gerd Waloszek of SAP User Experience wrote a lengthy review on the book. Here are his concluding paragraphs:

“As I have already mentioned, the editors’ vision of the book is that “readers change perspective from a ‘how-to’ perspective to an ‘impact’ perspective”, that they “then apply the new perspective to their organization or customers’ organization systematically to achieve greater impact with UX contributions more often.” However, in recognition of the survey results from October 2011, they are more modest in their goals for the book when they state,”The UX practices described in the success stories in this book can be used as a starting point to improve existing UX processes,” because “the UX success stories in this book are rather exceptional in the UX industry and can be considered as benchmarks.” Of course, this is by no means a contradiction and both aspects are useful. But when the editors finally promote the “model” perspective for the book, it has eventually become what they initially intended not to publish: a “how-to” book.

Nonetheless, considering its broad perspective with respect to industries (in-depth case studies from Yahoo!, Siemens, SAP, Haier, Intuit, Tencent, and more), its cross-regional coverage (USA, Europe, China), and its variety of user experience techniques (for example, analyzing user needs and expectations, creating design concepts, prototyping, using agile development, conducting usability testing, developing user interface guidelines, defining user interface patterns, and specifying metrics), the book is definitely a rich and unique resource for readers who want to learn about the state of the UX industry, find the gaps between what would be desirable and what is still the current state of affairs in the industry, and, last but not least, get familiar with approaches that help provide UX teams with more impact on products and organizations.”

1 August 2012

The ethnographer’s reading list

 

Ethnography Matters has embarked on a new series called “The Ethnographer’s Reading List” with UX professionals discussing their summer reading. Here are the latest three instalments:

Nicolas Nova
Nicolas Nova, who holds a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction from the Swiss Institute of Technology (EPFL, Switzerland), is a consultant and researcher at the Near Future Laboratory, and and editorial consultant for the Lift Conference. He also teaches user research in interaction design at HEAD-Geneva and ENSCI-Les Ateliers in Paris. This summer he is spending the months of July and August in California for a visiting researcher’s residence at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, working on a project about rituals and gestures of the digital everyday. Because of that topic, the books he has bought for the summer are quite influenced by this project. They’re not about methodologies, but more about case studies concerning design, material culture, ethnography and architecture.

Christina Dennaoui
Christina Dennaoui, who did graduate studies in anthropology, media, and religion at the University of Chicago, is now working as a digital planner and strategist for a digital marketing agency in Chicago. Christina, who can be described as a social theorist working in industry, also runs the Modern and Im/Material Things blog. Her shelves are full of work that relate to her professional work in digital strategy and planning. Although there is no grand theme uniting all of the books on her list, there are a few sub-themes worth calling out: archiving and identity, personal branding, quantifying individual interests, and the meaning of “strategy.”

Elisa Oreglia
Elisa is a PhD candidate at the UC Berkeley School of Information. She studies the circulation and use of mobile phones and computers in China, especially in the countryside. Her summer reading deviates from the usual goal-driven reading of the rest of the year.

24 July 2012

Book: This is Service Design Thinking

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This is Service Design Thinking: Basics – Tools – Cases
Edited by Marc Stickdorn and Jakob Schneider
BIS Publishers, 2011
376 pages
(Amazon link)

This is Service Design Thinking outlines a contemporary approach for service innovation. Service design and design thinking are lately evolving into buzz words for management and business consulting. This is Service Design Thinking strives to unveil the practical meaning behind these terms in everyday use. The book introduces this new way of thinking to beginners but also serves as a reference for professionals.

Although service design and design thinking in general recently gains vast interest by both business and research, until now there was no comprehensive textbook outlining the approach, including its background, process, methods and tools as well as contemporary case studies. A set of 23 international authors created this interdisciplinary textbook applying exactly the same user-centred and co-creative approach it preaches. “The unique visual language of This is Service Design Thinking extends the idea of a classic textbook. Based on workshops and contextual interviews using prototypes of this book, the reader is now supported with various visual aides to facilitate a pleasurable and effective reading experience” highlights Jakob Schneider, co-editor and graphic designer of the book.

Change is a constant: Innovative service concepts and ground-breaking business models outrun established products and services. Social media empowers customers and cause an overdue shift of companies from classic advertisement towards service quality and customer experience. Social media as the customer’s megaphone broadcasts the perceived service experience to a growing audience. Thus, the perceived experience becomes the key factor for success of both new and established offerings. This entails business opportunities particularly for small- and medium sized companies, since customer recognition does not necessarily rely on mere market share anymore.

“The strength of service design thinking is that it is not a defined and thus restricted discipline, but rather a common approach and process including various tools and methods rooted in different disciplines from design to engineering, from management to marketing.” explains Marc Stickdorn, editor of This is Service Design Thinking. An appendant website to the book offers free downloads of ready-to-use tools such as the Customer Journey Canvas.

16 July 2012

The Machine and The Ghost

verbeek

Moralizing Technology: Understanding and Designing the Morality of Things
Peter-Paul Verbeek
University of Chicago Press, 2011
183 pages
(Amazon link)

Christine Rosen has written a very long and excellent book review / reflection in The New Republic on the recent book on the moral dimension of technology by Prof. Peter-Paul Verbeek (pictured) of the University of Twente in The Netherlands.

Interaction designers ought to reflect on the fact that Verbeek locates morality not just in the human users of technology but in the interaction between us and our machines. In this affair, human beings no longer hold the autonomous upper hand when it comes to moral agency; rather, Verbeek argues, we should replace that notion with one that recognizes “technologically mediated intentions.”

In a world where new technologies seek to seduce us by invoking the language of self-improvement and where smart algorithms subconsciously bypass our emotional and cognitive “imperfections” in order to make us more efficient, those interested in behavioural change should be aware that this also brings about an increase in moral laziness and a decline in individual freedom. “Freedom, Verbeek says, “is a hollow promise in the absence of agency and choice.”

And all of us would be intrigued to read that Enlightenment principles of human autonomy are according to Verbeek “no longer sufficient grounds for moral thinking in an era whose technologies are as ubiquitous and powerful as our own.” Rosen also quotes Alex Pentland who argues in Honest Signals, his book about sociometers, “We bear little resemblance to the idealized, rational beings imagined by Enlightenment philosophers. The idea that our conscious, individual thinking is the key determining factor of our behavior may come to be seen as foolish a vanity as our earlier idea that we were the center of the universe.”

26 June 2012

Book: Design and Anthropology

 

Design and Anthropology
Edited by Wendy Gunn, University of Southern Denmark and Jared Donovan, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
Ashgate, 2012
Hardcover and ebook

Design and Anthropology challenges conventional thinking regarding the nature of design and creativity, in a way that acknowledges the improvisatory skills and perceptual acuity of people. Combining theoretical investigations and documentation of practice based experiments, it addresses methodological questions concerning the re-conceptualisation of the relation between design and use from both theoretical and practice-based positions.

Concerned with what it means to draw ‘users’ into processes of designing and producing this book emphasises the creativity of design and the emergence of objects in social situations and collaborative endeavours.

Organised around the themes of perception and the user-producer, skilled practices of designing and using, and the relation between people and things, the book contains the latest work of researchers from academia and industry, to enhance our understanding of ethnographic practice and develop a research agenda for the emergent field of design anthropology.

Drawing together work from anthropologists, philosophers, designers, engineers, scholars of innovation and theatre practitioners, Design and Anthropology will appeal to anthropologists and to those working in the fields of design and innovation, and the philosophy of technology and engineering.

Contents:

  • Preface
  • Design anthropology: an introduction, Wendy Gunn and Jared Donovan
  • Part I Using and Producing:
    • Introduction: the perception of the user-producer, Tim Ingold
    • The patient as skilled practitioner, Kyle Kilbourn
    • Hearing poorly with skill, Dennis Day
    • Gliding effortlessly through life? Surfaces and friction, Griet Scheldeman
    • An institutional view of user improvisation and design, Max Rolfstam and Jacob Buur
  • Part II Designing and Using:
    • Introduction: defining moments, Johan Redström
    • The time it takes to make: design and use in architecture and archaeology, Lesley McFadyen
    • Moving from objects to possibilities, Jared Donovan and Wendy Gunn
    • Emergence of user identity in social interaction, Henry Larsen and Claus Have
    • The role of supply chains in product design, Benedicte Brøgger
  • Part III People and Things:
    • Introduction: humanity in design, Peter-Paul Verbeek
    • Anthropological fieldwork and designing potentials, Mette Kjærsgaard and Ton Otto
    • Designing behaviour, Nynke Tromp and Paul Hekkert
    • Emergent artefacts of ethnography and processual engagements of design, Jamie Wallace
    • Theories and figures of technical mediation, Steven Dorrestijn
  • Epilogue: Utopian things, Pelle Ehn
  • Index
  • 15 June 2012

    Book: Connected Health

    ConnectedHealth

    Connected Health: How mobile phones, cloud, and big data will reinvent healthcare
    by Jody Ranck, DrPH
    GigaOm Books, June 2012
    170 pages
    [Amazon Kindle edition]

    Abstract

    Our current healthcare system is in need of a radical reinvention. Traditional approaches have not brought the rapid change required by aging populations and the rising costs of healthcare, and government efforts too often get bogged down in partisan politics and fail to address systemic issues.

    Thankfully, there is hope on the horizon. New approaches that embrace game-changing technology — mobile networks, big data, social media, and the Internet of things — could completely disrupt the status quo and transform the healthcare system. For this change to occur, we must create new institutions and collaborative markets and promote a cultural shift in how we think about medicine, health, and the body. Only then will the path to disruptive innovation be able to overcome its many obstacles and reach a future where health strategists are conversant in the tools and technologies of cooperation.

    This volume provides a comprehensive overview of the emerging connected health ecosystem, including the startups and traditional technology players shaping the future of healthcare and innovative approaches by the government that demonstrate the need to move beyond the tired rhetoric of big government versus the market in healthcare.

    The author

    Jody Ranck, DrPH has a career in health that spans over 20 years and has worked around the world in countries such as Bangladesh, Tunisia, Haiti, Rwanda, Zambia, and Ethiopia with the UN, think tanks, and with the Nobel Peace Prize winning Grameen Bank. A noted thought leader in the area of health innovation and mHealth, he has written widely on Connected Health in global settings. In 2011 he served on a committee of the Institute of Medicine that examined information technologies and global violence prevention. He is also a popular public speaker on technology and society and is a frequent commentator for a number of global news outlets including Bloomberg News.

    Although the book is written by an American writer and describes the US healthcare context, many of the emerging solutions are bound to be relevant to non-US healthcare systems as well.

    10 June 2012

    Book: The Mobile Frontier

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    The Mobile Frontier – A Guide for Designing Mobile Experiences
    By Rachel Hinman
    Rosenfeld Media
    June 2012
    Publisher’s page | Amazon page

    Mobile user experience is a new frontier. Untethered from a keyboard and mouse, this rich design space is lush with opportunity to invent new and more human ways for people to interact with information. Invention requires casting off many anchors and conventions inherited from the last 50 years of computer science and traditional design and jumping head first into a new and unfamiliar design space.

    The Mobile Frontier will assist in navigating the unfamiliar and fast-changing mobile landscape with grace and solid thinking while inspiring you to explore the possibilities mobile technology presents.

    > Excerpt from the book on UX Magazine

    10 June 2012

    Dark Matter and Trojan Horses

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    Dark Matter and Trojan Horses – A Strategic Design Vocabulary” is a short e-book by designer and urbanist Dan Hill in which he argues that in an age of wicked problems, conventional solutions are failing, and a new culture of decision-making is called for.

    “Strategic design is about applying the principles of traditional design to “big picture” systemic challenges such as healthcare, education and climate change. It redefines how problems are approached and aims to deliver more resilient solutions.

    In this short book, Dan Hill outlines a new vocabulary of design, one that needs to be smuggled into the upper echelons of power. He asserts that, increasingly, effective design means engaging with the messy politics – the “dark matter” – taking place above the designer’s head. And that may mean redesigning the organisation that hires you.”

    The book is one of a series published by Strelka Press, a Russia based publishing house long critical essays on architecture, design and urbanism, published initially as digital downloads, Kindle Singles or ebooks.

    One of the authors, Alexandra Lange, interviewed the editor of the press Justin McGuirk, who is also design critic for the Guardian. You can read the interview on Design Observer.

    1 May 2012

    The demise of the ethnographic monograph

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    As ethnographic practice has spilled out into the broader world of design and policy-making, business strategy and marketing, the monograph has not remained the singular format for presenting ethnographic work.

    In the design community and high-tech industry, it is the conference paper (see EPIC, DIS, CSCW, and CHI, etc), the technology demo, and within corporate walls, the PowerPoint slideset or edited video that have become established formats for delivering ethnographic outputs.

    There is great pressure in some subfields to offer clearly outlined implications and propose practices alongside (or instead of) the theory and holistic description of the more conventional format.

    In light of the publication this week of her own ethnographic monograph titled Invisible Users: Youth in the Internet Cafes of Urban Ghana, Jenna Burrell thought it worth considering the question: why should someone outside of the Academy read her book or any other of this genre?

    Read article

    4 April 2012

    Book: Cross-Cultural Technology Design

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    Cross-Cultural Technology Design
    Creating Culture-Sensitive Technology for Local Users
    by Huatong Sun
    Hardback, 352 pages
    Oxford University Press – Feb 2012
    [Amazon link]

    The demand and opportunity for cross-cultural technology design is rapidly rising due to globalization. However, all too often resulting technologies are technically usable, yet cannot be immediately put to meaningful use by users in their local, concrete contexts. Support for concrete user activities is frequently missing in design, as support for decontextualized actions is typically the focus of design. Sun examines this disconnect between action and meaning in cross-cultural technology design and presents an innovative framework, Culturally Localized User Experience (CLUE), to tackle this problem. Incorporating key concepts and methods from activity theory, British cultural studies, and rhetorical genre theory, the CLUE approach integrates action and meaning through a dialogical, cyclical design process to design technology that engages local users within culturally meaningful social practices.

    Illustrated with five in-depth case studies of mobile text messaging use by college students and young professionals in American and Chinese contexts spanning years, Sun demonstrates that a technology created for culturally localized user experience mediates both instrumental practices and social meanings. She calls for a change in cross-cultural design practices from simply applying cultural conventions in design to engaging with social affordances based on a rich understanding of meaningful contextualized activity. Meanwhile, the vivid user stories at sites of technology-in-use show the power of “user localization” in connecting design and use, which Sun believes is essential for the success of an emerging technology like mobile messaging in an era of participatory culture.

    This book will be of interest to researchers, students, practitioners, and anyone who wants to create culture-sensitive technology in this increasingly globalized world that requires advanced strategies and techniques for culturally localized, participatory design.

    5 March 2012

    Book: The Transition Companion

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    The Transition Companion: making your community more resilient in uncertain times
    by Rob Hopkins
    Chelsea Green Pub Co, November 2011
    320 pages

    Abstract

    In 2008, the bestselling The Transition Handbook suggested a model for a community-led response to peak oil and climate change. Since then, the Transition idea has gone viral across the globe, from universities and London neighbourhoods to Italian villages and Brazilian favelas. There are now hundreds of Transition towns and Transition initiatives around the world. In contrast to the ever-worsening stream of information about climate change, the economy and resource depletion, the Transition movement focuses on solutions, on community-scale projects and on positive results.

    The Transition Companion picks up the story today, describing one of the most fascinating experiments now under way in the world. It answers the question ‘What is Transition?’ and shows how communities are working for a future where local enterprises are valued and nurtured; where lower energy use is seen as a benefit; and where cooperation, creativity and the building of resilience are the cornerstones of a new economy.

    In the first part of the book author and Transition movement co-founder Rob Hopkins discusses where we are now in terms of resilience to the problems of rising oil prices, climate change and economic uncertainty. He presents a vision of how the future might look if we succeed in addressing these issues. Rob Hopkins then looks in detail at the process a community in transition goes through, drawing on the experience of those who have already embarked on this journey. These examples show how much can be achieved when people harness energy and imagination to create projects that will make their communities more resilient. The Transition Companion combines practical advice – the tools needed to start and maintain a Transition initiative – with numerous inspiring stories from local groups worldwide.

    Review by John Thackara

    “One of the many virtues of this awesome and joysome book is that the word “strategic” does not appear until page 272; a section on “policies” has to wait until page 281. It’s not that the book is hostile to high altitude thinking; on the contrary, its pages are scattered with philosophical asides on everything from Buddhist thinking and backcasting, to time banking and thermodynamics. But the rational and the abstract are given their proper, modest, place.

    The book is filled with incredibly handy short texts about issues that confuse many of us. What, for example, are we to think of Community Supported Agriculture? Is it enough to sign up to a vegetable box scheme – and find the resulting service inflexible and irritating? Maybe yes and maybe no, writes Hopkins. For him, our relationship with the people who grow our food should be shaped by four key principles (page 268): “shared risk; transparency; community benefits; and building resilience”. Within that framework, the details are down to us.”