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Posts in category 'Creativity'

17 November 2006

European Market Research Event – Day 2, afternoon

European Market Research Event
Mike Spang, Kodak

Mike Spang has the long job title: “Business Research Director, Document Imaging, Corporate Business Research, Eastman Kodak Company”. He spoke about how Kodak went about creating a satisfying global corporate web experience.

To put it in somewhat of a context, about five years ago Kodak had to rapidly reinvent itself as a digital camera company, and so the website had to also change from a portal for photography to a portal for digital imaging, with 80 percent of the web visitors being regular consumers.

The website also had to provide people with an experience beyond just camera purchasing. As one can read in an article in Business Week that was just published, CEO Antonio M. Perez “aims to make Kodak do for photos what Apple does for music: help people to organise and manage their personal libraries of images. He’s developing a slew of new digital photo services for consumers that he expects to yield higher returns.”

Spang described how Kodak through a clever use of user-centred design and a wide range of usability methods, was able to reinvent its web site, make it truly global and incorporate input from users worldwide.

The techniques used included open ended site surveys, heuristic evaluation, focus groups, cognitive walkthroughs, card sorting, usability testing (in lab, remote, web-based), visitor satisfaction assessments, multivariate design testing, and web traffic analysis.

Since there are more than 50 different national versions of the site, the research took place in the UK, Germany, France, China, South Korea and the United States.

Download presentation (pdf, 2.8 mb, 44 slides)

Emmi Kuussikko, Sulake Corporation

Emmi Kuussikko is a research manager with particular responsibilities for market and user insight at the Sulake Corporation, an interactive entertainment company based in Finland. Sulake is responsible for Habbo Hotel.

Habbo is one of the largest teen online communities in 29 different countries. It is a virtual world for young people, a massively multiplayer online game where teenagers create their own personalised virtual characters and interact with other characters in the community. It has 7 million unique users monthly, mainly in the 13 to 16 year old age range, and over 60 million characters have been created globally.

Since it is the community that creates a truly unique gaming environment and a great deal of the changing content is created by the users themselves, they strongly feel they own the brand and the Sulake Corporation just manages it with them.

Research in this online environment is of course also done online. The user base is very loyal and they are very eager to participate in surveys. So actual data collection is very fast. A survey can collect over 40,000 answers in just a few days.

Here are some of the results from a recent survey done globally.

Most teens spend more time on the internet (>90%) than TV (~60 %). Mobile usage is mainly used for text messages, followed by camera use and game playing. One third listen to music on the mobile phone, especially in the UK and Italy. Teens mostly use the web to stay in contact with their friends: IM and email. Then come games. The research provides also a more detailed insight into youth characteristics regarding life style and values:

  • No 1 value: having warm social relationships with friends and family; no 2 value was having fun, and no 3 was security
  • Many are rather conservative in their values
  • Fame, wealth and influence are important to about half
  • They generally have a very positive self-image
  • They endorse a socially responsible world-view
  • Even thought most claim to be tolerant, many have negative attitudes toward minorities. But they would like to have friends from other countries.

Kuusikko’s presentation started to become really interesting when she presented user segments, and the spread of these segments by country.

The user segmentation was based on a cluster-factor analysis. Trying to create maximum divergence between groups and minimum within, provided an accurate and reliable method for identifying groups with similar characteristics. The variables examined were personality, values, attitudes, subculture membership, areas of interest.

Five user types were found: achievers, traditionals, creatives, rebels and loners.

Sulake also uses a more selective community of 200 users to generate, co-create and test new ideas in a continuous and open dialogue.

I hope to be able to add a download to Kuusikko’s presentation shortly.

Mehmood Khan, Unilever

Mehmood Khan is the eccentric thinker who is the Global Leader of Innovation Process Development at Unilever.

Unilever‘s mission is to “add vitality to life”. It manages 400 brands spanning 14 categories of home, personal care and foods products “that help people look good, feel good and get more out of life”.

Khan has been with Unilever since 1982 and has worked in wide areas of the business: marketing, exports, procurement, business development and innovation. He has been pioneering new business for Unilever in places like Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Mongolia and North Korea, along with developing new portfolios in China and other countries in East Asia.

In his presentation, entitled “A holistic approach to innovation”, Khan described the key features of Unilever innovation.

According to Khan, innovation is about turning creativity in a successful enterprise. At Unilever innovation is customer-focused which allows the company to keep its brands connected to people’s lives. The innovation learnings and in particular the customer focus have also shaped the vitality brand strategy.

Download presentation (pdf, 136 kb, 17 slides)

8 November 2006

Experientia shows gesture-based interface at international art fair

Artissima
At Artissima, the international fair of contemporary art in Torino, visitors are able to use simple hand and arm gestures to browse a visual catalogue of recent art work exhibited at the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, an important museum in the city.

The technology is based on sophisticated gesture recognition, while the end-result for the visitor is a radically simple content navigation system in which the images are projected on a large screen, and interaction is performed via nothing but a flat luminous surface.

The project was developed by Jan-Christoph Zoels, Yaniv Steiner and Ofer Luft of Experientia, the Turin-based international experience design consultancy.

A prototype of the gesture-based interface was previously used to navigate Google Earth and to guide club dancing during a music rave. The various interfaces are all based on the smartRetina™ technology, which provides the designer with a programmable “eye”, allowing him to easily design new experiences and interactions which do not require a tangible interface.

YouTube video

6 November 2006

The People will be heard: Interactive technology in public spaces

AllOfUs kiosk
“In their efforts to compete with other and more dynamic providers of information and entertainment, many museums are listening to their visitors more closely than ever before,” writes Jennifer Kabat in a long story on the website of the Adobe Design Center.

“In some cases museums—famously top-down institutions—are even incorporating the views, critical choices and contributed content of visitors into their programs. They are also re-examining the ways in which visitors interact with objects and spaces, as well as each other. For help with both of these approaches they are turning to a growing sector of the interactive design world; one that specializes in interactive museum displays.”

“Thus, the best interactive exhibits are open-ended. They encourage visitors to be active participants in the experience rather than passive consumers of information. They take their visitors’ views seriously and break down the hierarchy of institutions.”

Acknowledging the debate (“The idea of the audience taking control sends shivers down many a curator’s spine”), Kabat provides some very good examples of thoughtful integration of user-generated content in museum and exhibition contexts.

Read full story

2 November 2006

Philips Research magazine provides deeper look at simplicity commitment

Philips Research Password
The October 2006 issue of Password, the Philips Research magazine, went online yesterday.

It contains a long feature story about Philips Research’s new light-emitting ‘Lumalive’ fabrics, with some nicely illustrated examples of how they could be meaningfully applied in daily life conditions.

The magazine also includes an interview with Kenneth Morse of MIT’s Entrepreneurship Center on how an entrepreneurial and sales culture can coax research and technologies to the global market place, as well as a background piece on some of the internal challenges of implementing a full end-user commitment within Philips, in order to be able to deliver on its Sense & Simplicity brand promise and to develop this into exciting Next Simplicity events.

Download Password (pdf, 1.9 mb, pages)

2 November 2006

User-centred design at the Young Tate

Young Tate
The Tate went out of its way to get young people involved in the web design process for a new site aimed at 13-25-year-olds, according to a case study on ProjectsETC.

“The Young Tate website is aimed at young people aged 13 to 25. It features different ways of learning and becoming involved with the world of art including the activities and events developed by the Young People’s Programmes curators at all four Tate galleries. Tate has run an in-gallery programme for young people outside the formal education sector since 1988. The key features of this programme are consultation with young people and peer-leadership. Tate has pioneered an approach in which young people are provided with the tools to shape their own learning experience.”

“The Young Tate website was launched in August 2006 and was designed to reflect the ethos of the in-gallery programme. It was essential that the website was driven ‘by young people and for young people.’ With this in mind, young people were involved in every stage of the website’s design and will continue to contribute to the site.”

ProjectsETC is a new resource site for people creating interactive projects in education, technology and culture, launched by Culture Online, part of the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Read case study

13 October 2006

Slow+Design: experience design, the Slow Food way

Slow Food logo
I have to admit: I am a fan of Slow Food. I am also one of its 80,000 members. It is an international ethical movement about good, clean and fair food. They “believe that everyone has a fundamental right to pleasure and consequently the responsibility to protect the heritage of food, tradition and culture that make this pleasure possible.” They organise lots of events, give quality labels to restaurants, have their own publishing house and university, and are branching out into new fields such as urban planning (“Slow City“).

Slow Food is the most clever conceptual innovation that I have seen coming out of Italy in the last decade. Through its emphasis on local produce and local production, Slow Food pulled it off to globalise the local, not an easy task in a world where the opposite prevails. In a few weeks they will organise the sixth edition of Salone del Gusto, their international fair, this year concurrently with Terra Madre, Slow Food’s colourful international food communities meeting. Slow Food also has by far the best looking members magazine of ANY movement I know of, printed of course on recycled paper, with a photo selection that is just stunning. Slow Food is seriously cool, Nussbaum might say.

Now Slow Food is getting into design.

On 6 October Slow Food Italy and three Italian educational institutions organised a one-day Slow+Design seminar on the “slow approach to distributed economy and sustainable sensoriality” in Milan (Italian press release).

The event sought an answer to two clear, concrete and complementary questions: what can design learn from the Slow Model? How can design contribute to the success of the Slow Model (both inside and outside the field of food)?

The Slow Food head office, located in a town just south of Torino, just sent me several English-language documents that provide some background on this new initiative, which is still in an embryonic phase. However, if you read them carefully, you realise that it is all about experience design, the Slow Food way. They even talk about co-creation, which they call “de-intermediation”. I quote:

“Our departure point is the Slow Food experience. Slow Food has met with great and growing international success which, contrary to dominant trends, has demonstrated the real possibility of linking food quality research to the safeguarding of typical local products and to the sustainable valorisation of the skills, expertise and organisational models from which such products originate. In so doing it has played an important role on two complementary fronts: firstly, in regenerating such a precious collective good as the biological and cultural diversity of local food production and secondly, in proposing and initially setting up new food networks.”

“However, though the specific scope of Slow Food lies in these new food networks, its experience is of more general value and is significant for those working in other fields and addressing other problems. Its experience is encapsulated in the new meanings that, thanks to its activities, have been attributed to the adjective “slow” and that we can refer to as the “slow approach”.”

“Above all, the slow approach means the simple, but in current times revolutionary, affirmation that it is not possible to produce and appreciate quality if we do not allow ourselves the time to do so, in other words, if we do not activate some kind of slowdown. However, slow does not only mean this. It also means a concrete way of actually putting this idea into practice. It means cultivating quality: linking products and their producers to their places of production and to their end-users who, by taking part in the production chain in different ways, become themselves co-producers.”

Download Slow+Design backgrounder (pdf, 2 mb, 27 pages)

13 October 2006

Book: ‘We-Think’ on collective creativity

We-Think
From YouTube to Wikipedia, collective creativity and collaboration are replacing top-down management as a business model. In a Times2 article today, Charles Leadbeater writes how he believes the We-Think phenomenon will affect every area of our lives.

Leadbeater, who is also a Demos associate, wrote the book We-Think which is about “developing new ways to innovate and be creative en masse”, being “organised without an organisation” and “combining ideas and skills without a hierarchy”. Leadbeater thinks this could “change not just the ways in which the media, software and entertainment work but how we organise education, healthcare, cities and, indeed, the political system.”

Here some quotes from the long and thoughtful Times2 article:

“The guiding ethos of this new culture is participation. The point of the industrial-era economy was mass production for mass consumption — the formula created by Henry Ford. We were workers by day and consumers in the evenings or at weekends. In the world of We-Think the point is to be a player in the action, a voice in the conversation — not to consume but to participate.”

“In the We-Think economy people don’t just want services and goods delivered to them. They also want tools so that they can take part and places in which to play, share, debate with others.”

“Participants will not be led and organised in this way: the dominant ethos of the We-Think economy is democratic and egalitarian. These vast communities of participation are led by antiheroic, slight leaders — the likes of Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google, Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia and Linus Torvalds of Linux. Such people are the antithesis of the charismatic, harddriving chief executive in the Jack Welch mould.”

“These collaboratives change the way in which people come up with new ideas. Innovation and creativity were once elite activities undertaken by special people — writers, designers, architects, inventors — in special places — garrets, studies, laboratories. The ideas they dreamt up would flow down pipelines to passive consumers. Now innovation and creativity are becoming mass activities, dispersed across society. Largely self-organising collaborations can unravel the human genome, create a vast encyclopaedia and a complex computer operating system. This is innovation by the masses, not just for the masses.”

“My book We-Think is an effort to understand this new culture; where these new ways of organising ourselves have come from and where they might lead. They started in the geeky swampland — in open-source software, blogging and computer gaming. But they are so powerful that increasingly they will become the mainstream by challenging traditional organisations to open up. They could change not just the ways in which the media, software and entertainment work but how we organise education, healthcare, cities and, indeed, the political system.”

Leadbeater is releasing the book in draft form before its physical publication, which is planned for summer 2007. Most of the first draft was made available online this week, with the final three or four chapters following over the next few weeks.

Read full story

(via Demos)

12 October 2006

Samsung’s DigitAll brand magazine on greatness in the digital era

Samsung's DigitAll magazine
The fall edition of Samsung’s DigitAll magazine explores greatness in the digital era.

To understand the topic better, Greg Lindsay portrays five business leaders of companies like Ingenio, Zopa, Honest Tea, Cleantech and Firefox.

Business writer Nicholas G. Carr (blog) meanwhile explores the topic conceptually, and investigates the claim that in the Age of the Internet, greatness in business is no longer “an expression of the aptitudes of individual persons or organisations, but a consequence of the connections between them”. Carr claims there is a “fundamental flaw in the thinking of those who believe greatness emerges naturally from the interconnections of the crowd or network”, the so-called “wisdom of the crowd”.

Also nice is a story by Observer architecture critic Deyan Sudjic on how designer Ross Lovegrove “turns technology into the experience of sense”.

8 October 2006

Fabrica at Centre Pompidou, Paris

Fabrica
Established in 1994 on the initiative of Luciano Benetton and Oliviero Toscani, Fabrica is a communications research centre whose range of activities extends from graphic design to cinema, taking in industrial design, writing, interactive media, photography and music on the way.

Housed in a strikingly simple and rigorous building by Tadao Ando, in Treviso, Italy, it is a unique institution, led by an international team, that encourages the creative development of selected young professionals from all over the world, who are granted a one-year scholarship to work on the projects they submit.

Responsible for many media campaigns for major organisations (Reporters Sans Frontières, World Health Organisation) this private-sector research centre encourages cultural cross-fertilisation and a global consciousness in all its fields of activity. Conceived by the Centre Pompidou, this exhibition presents a number of the projects developed at Treviso.

Accompanied by a film programme and a series of musical performances, the exhibition offers an opportunity to discover the scope of Fabrica’s work, which is redefining the frontiers between art and communications.

(via Design Observer)

5 October 2006

World Usability Day on 14 November – major event in Milan

World Usability Day
The Usability Professionals’ Association (UPA) organises on 14 November 2006 its second global World Usability Day, with events in more than one hundred cities around the world.

The World Usability Day event in Italy, which is also aimed at a non-specialised audience, will take place at the University of Bicocca in Milan on 14 November from 10am to 2pm. The aim is to share a design culture that puts people and usability at the centre of innovation. In particular, the day will focus on two themes:

  • How prototypes can promote usability – with speakers Yaniv Steiner (software prototyping specialist), Daniele Galiffa (3D user experience specialist), Prof. Roberto Polillo (HCI and prototyping specialist) and Roberto Giolito (Advanced Design Manager at the FIAT Group).
     
  • Integrating usability and creativity to achieve ‘pleasure of use’: with speakers Régine Debatty (we-make-money-not-art), Giovanni Padula (founder of CityO and Creativity Group Europe), Jan-Christoph Zoels (user experience designer and Experientia co-founder), Prof. Giorgio De Michelis (computer science) and Prof. Sebastiano Bagnara (cognitive psychology).

The Italian event is sponsored by Experientia and organised by Experientia’s president Michele Visciola, who is also the president of the UPA-Italy chapter, member of the editorial board of UPA’s User Experience Magazine, and author of a recent Italian book on web site usability.

During the event, which will be moderated by Visciola, Matteo Penzo will present the UXNet network.

More information can be found on www.webusabile.it.

4 October 2006

Trendwatching.com on status skills

Viking Cooking Schoool
The people from trendwatching.com have identified a new trend which they have dubbed “status skills”:

Their definition:
“In economies that increasingly depend on (and thus value) creative thinking and acting, well-known status symbols tied to owning and consuming goods and services will find worthy competition from ‘status skills’: those skills that consumers are mastering to make the most of those same goods and services, bringing them status by being good at something, and the story telling that comes with it.”

They note that this is not an anti-business trend. “It still relies on a dominantly capitalist system, in which consumption remains important, yet is partly replaced by another highly valued, status-providing activity: mastering skills, and the show & tell circus that comes with it. Which opens entirely new markets for both providers of skills, and those skillful consumers who may become competing producers of (niche) goods and services.”

“Furthermore, ‘skills’ joining tangible, shiny things and mind-blowing experiences as providers of status is by no means the only shift to watch in the status space. What if a ‘doing the right thing’ lifestyle gains in appreciation? Where does leading an eco-friendly existence fit in, and the praise that one increasingly will get from that? Or the virtual world, in which one’s gaming skills, or one’s profile popularity (and number of friends), or even the appearance of one’s avatar determine how much praise or scorn is received?”

The trend report is structured in three areas:

  • Dedicated status skills provider: “entities that are exclusively dedicated to helping consumers to acquire skills”;
  • Corporate classes: “brands that are assisting consumers in acquiring skills as a way to make the most of their purchases from that brand”;
  • “Ventures that enable consumers to show off their skills“.

Read trend report

2 October 2006

Futurelab on learning, social software and games

Futurelab
Futurelab is a not-for-profit organisation in the UK, passionate about transforming the way people learn. Tapping into the huge potential offered by digital and other technologies, it is “developing innovative learning resources and practices that support new approaches to education for the 21st century.”

Three reports and two projects offer some valuable recent insight, but the website contains much more:

The report Social Software and Learning explores the relationship between the emergence of social software and the personalisation of education. It suggests that there is a changing view of what education is for, with an emphasis on the need for young people to develop the skills necessary for today’s evolving global knowledge economy. Alongside this development is the rapid growth of social software, characterised as software that supports group interaction, and by combining these two trends there is significant potential to see a new approach to education.
- Read online version
- Download report (pdf, 994 kb, 71 pages)

Learner Voice is the title of a report on giving more of a voice to the learner. “Despite the vast number of changes in the education system in recent years, learners are seldom consulted and remain largely unheard in the change process. If education is to become more personalised, then the views of learners must be heard. This handbook draws on examples, case studies and research to provide learners and educators with information and ideas for promoting the voices of learners.”
- Read online version
- Download report (pdf, 816 kb, 42 pages)

Teaching with Games was a year-long project supported by Electronic Arts, Microsoft and Take-Two, as well as the Interactive Software Federation of Europe (ISFE), investigating the place of mainstream commercial computer games in the classroom. The project aimed to provide practical and informed evidence of the implications and potential of the use of these games in school, and an informed strategy for future educational development requirements, based upon collaborative discussions between industry and the education community. A report, outlining the context, objectives, methods, findings and key messages arising from the Teaching with Games project, is now available.
- Read online version
- Download report (pdf, 1.3 mb, 65 pages)

Enquiring Minds is a three-year research and development project investigating how children can shape their own learning, by changing the emphasis from what they learn to how they learn. Run by Futurelab and funded by Microsoft through its Partners in Learning initiative, the project is essentially trying to put into practice the theories of fully personalised learning.

Create-A-Scape is a new website that provides free resources to enable teachers and pupils to create digitally-enhanced, personalised learning experiences, using HP’s Mediascape authoring toolkit.
- Read project article
- Download article (pdf, 68 kb, 2 pages)

Finally, an article on the BBC website today reports on a Futurelab survey that shows that video games could have a serious role to play in the classroom. The survey, which covered 1,000 teachers and more than 2,300 primary and secondary school students in the UK, found 59% of teachers would consider using off-the-shelf games in the classroom while 62% of students wanted to use games at school.

1 October 2006

Book: Creativity and the City

Creativity and the City
Creativity and the City is the title of a new book, edited by Simon Franke and Evert Verhagen, on how the how the creative economy is changing the city, particularly in the Netherlands.

“The creative class and the creative city are two notions which have also recently forged a path to politicians and opinion-leaders in the field of urban society in the Netherlands.”

“This development presents myriad new opportunities for cities: redevelopment of former industrial zones, new business activity in the old city centres and new jobs.”

“The book describes all these opportunities and the consequences for the spatial development of the city; at the same time it also warns about the dangers of this creating a new élite of people who isolate themselves from those who miss the boat.”

“The new developments are considered in a series of 15 articles, describing the political, social and societal consequence and analysing the resulting spatial developments. Lastly, the book contains many tips for practical urban policy. Creativity and the City is a book for a broad group of politicians, policy-makers, urban planners, economists and sociologists. It includes contributions from Richard Florida, Charles Landry, the independent Dutch thinktank Nederland Kennisland (Knowledgeland), Jeroen Saris, Arnold Reijndorp, Robert Kloosterman, Nachtwacht Amsterdam (Amsterdam’s ‘Night-time Mayor’), John Thackera and others.”

22 September 2006

A look at Mau’s Massive Change [Business Week]

Massive Change
“What do a featherless chicken, Wal-Mart’s (WMT) logistics system, and an economic theory on homeownership have in common? To Bruce Mau, they all demonstrate the power of design-oriented thinking in the innovation process,” writes Robert Berner in Business Week.

“These examples and far more are packed into Massive Change, the multimedia exhibit that made its U.S. debut Sept. 16 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. The exhibit is the brainchild of Mau, a Toronto designer internationally renowned for his graphics work. But of all the points the show makes, and it makes many, the most obvious is how far design reaches in our lives, beyond visual expression and product development.”

“The show presents design as a method of creative problem-solving that can be applied to large social problems such as hunger, housing shortages, or energy for the Third World. ‘We have to liberate design from fixating on the visual,’ says Mau. ‘Instead we wanted to think about design as the capacity to effect change.’”

- Read full story
- Massive Change exhibition press release
- Massive Change exhibition feature site
- Massive Change project site

17 September 2006

Philips developed emotional clothing prototypes

Philips Skin
Philips Design developed a series of dynamic garments as part of the ongoing SKIN exploration research into the area known as ‘emotional sensing’.

The garments, which are intended for demonstration purposes only, demonstrate how electronics can be incorporated into fabrics and garments in order to express the emotions and personality of the wearer.

The intricate wearable prototypes include ‘Bubelle’, a dress surrounded by a delicate ‘bubble’ illuminated by patterns that changed dependent on skin contact- and ‘Frison’, a body suit that reacts to being blown on by igniting a private constellation of tiny LEDs.

These garments were developed as part of the SKIN research project, which challenges the notion that our lives are automatically better because they are more digital. It looks at more ‘analog’ phenomena like emotional sensing and explores technologies that are ’sensitive’ rather than ‘intelligent’.

SKIN belongs to the ongoing, far-future research program Design Probe carried out at Philips Design. The aim of this program is to identify emerging trends and likely societal shifts and then carry out ‘probes’ that explore whether there is potential for Philips in some of the more promising areas.

According to Clive van Heerden, Senior Director of design-led innovation at Philips Design, the SKIN probe has a much wider context than just garments. “As our media becomes progressively more virtual, it is quite possible in long term future that we will no longer have objects like DVD players, or music contained on disks, or books that are actually printed. An opportunity is therefore emerging for us to completely rethink our interaction with products and content.”

- Read press release
- View images

UPDATE via Reuters:
German fashion designer Anke Loh launched a new collection, “Dressing Light,” in which each garment incorporates Philips’ new photonic fabric — which has arrays of light-emitting diodes that can display text, graphics and animation.

Read Reuters article

(via we-make-money-not-art)

15 September 2006

Belgian experience design lab getting off the ground

Media & Design Academy - Experience Design Lab
One of the exciting initiaves within the Belgian C-Mine project is a new Experience Design Lab within the Media & Design Academy, a platform with the double function of integrating and transforming the various disciplines of the academy, and enabling the school to reach out to and collaborate with the social and economic tissue of the region they are in, through a new and engaging vision.

To better define the vision and the concept of the lab, the academy has invited some authorities in the field for a one day conference on Friday 29 September. Nathan Shedroff will deliver the keynote address. Other speakers include:

Experientia partner Mark Vanderbeeken myself will moderate one of the sessions. The project is guided by academy director Henk Heuts, project manager Jan Louis De Bruyn and programme manager Virginia Tassinari. Virginia, who only last year moved to Belgium from Italy, coordinates the content development of the lab and is one of the driving forces behind its visioning.

The event, which will be held in English, is open to an interested public, so if you are near that area, do register on their website.

The Experience Design Lab and the C-Mine project in general are endeavours close to our heart, since they are sited in an area Mark grew up in, embody a social and engaged vision of design, and are driven by a dynamic group of young people.

14 September 2006

The Principles of Play [Metropolis Magazine]

The Principles of Play
A thoughtful piece by Peter Hall in Metropolis Magazine ponders the question how to reach a generation of students reared on technology and resistant to traditional methods of teaching through innovative game design.

The article takes as an example Game Designer, an educational software program currently under development that introduces junior high school kids to the craft of video-game design.

“Part of a three-year research and development project backed by a $1.2 million grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the program’s loftier goals are to help equip students with a foundation of technical, artistic, cognitive, and linguistic skills—which some educational researchers argue are neglected by current standardized test-based curricula.”

“The educational aspect of the design is being overseen and tested by the University of Wisconsin’s Games and Professional Practice Simulations Group (GAPPS). Leading the GAPPS group is Jim Gee, a sociolinguist and professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison whose several books include the pleasingly provocative What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy. Gee is an engaging thinker and avid gamer who discovered video games in his early fifties.”

“In the appendix to What Video Games Have to Teach Us, Gee lists 36 learning principles that he believes are built into video games. His argument is not that video games are good teachers, but that playing good video games is often good learning. [...] Play, according to Gee, requires a four-step process of probing, hypothesizing, reprobing, and then rejecting or accepting the hypothesis—the very foundation of the scientific method. [...] Gee [also] rgues that video-game players naturally form “affinity groups” for sharing goals, endeavors, and practices, often across cultural and ethnic divides.”

Interestingly, the article then continues discussing whether more established design disciplines learn something from game design.

“Games are played for no other reason than for the experience of playing them—unlike a software application, in which the experience or enjoyment of the user is a by-product. If the experience of the interface is not pleasing, players will walk away. By contrast, the interfaces of many cell phones, software applications, digital cameras, microwave ovens, cars, and even wayfinding systems are maddening to use. In some situations—famously the VCR—the interface has been bad for so long that we expect operation to be frustrating and difficult. “

“A good game interface will not bombard the user with information at the outset or rely on a complex instruction manual; it will teach the user everything he or she needs to know on a need-to-know basis. This convention is so entrenched, in fact, that gamers trust the system and never read the manuals. Figuring out how it works, whether it’s boosting your cyborg hero’s bomb-disposal skills or downloading a cheat code that makes her invisible to flying aliens, is part of the game. “A game’s system itself generates meaning, and the way it changes over time begins to modify your understanding of that system,” Salen [a game designer and the director of the graduate Design and Technology Program at Parsons School of Design in New York] says. “It’s a basic principle that can apply to all kinds of design.”

Read full story

11 September 2006

Design to the people! [International Herald Tribune]

Project Runway
“Fashion’s latest buzz word is not ‘brand building’ or ‘mass/class.’ It is ‘interactive’,” writes Suzy Menkes in the International Herald Tribune.

“The challenge for fashion in the 21st century is to cease being a spectator sport for ordinary folk who view the red carpet as a runway – and to re-engage the public.”

She then goes on to describe a new interactive and participative fashion culture, exemplified by Project Runway, the brainchild of the movie moguls Harvey and Bob Weinstein. “The television show, now in its third season, aims to inform its audience and rate its participants, who, instead of performing daring-do stunts or offering up a song, found themselves last week in Paris trying to create a couture gown in two days.”

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3 September 2006

Ars Electronica on simplicity

Simplicity - The art of complexity
Ars Electronica, the Austrian festival for art, technology and society currently taking place in Linz, is this year devoted to simplicity.

Under the guidance of John Maeda (of the MIT Media Lab), the festival symposium considers what simplicity (and complexity) means in politics, life, art, and technology, pondering questions like: How are we to cope with the increasing degree of complexity in the reality we inhabit? How can we tap and utilize the potential of global communication and realtime-access to information and ideas, to people and markets in an efficient as well as responsible way? How can we develop flexible, adaptable systems, devices and programs that are responsive to our strengths and intuitive capabilities, to support our activities in complex contexts? Which options and features could we possibly do without? And which would we be only too glad to dispense with?

In an introductory interview on the subject, Maeda says “Simplicity begins, of course, with usability. The wish for user-friendly devices and programs is fervent and widespread.We will realize how justified it is when we inspect the plethora of shabbily designed user interfaces that hit the retail shelves in ever-shorter marketing cycles. So even as the writers of advertising-copy are busy ballyhooing the latest results of their company’s purported fixation on user experience and user-centered design, the reality that we, the ones who have actually purchased these applications, are familiar with is, sadly, a different one. How very often we wish that industrial designers would pay more frequent courtesy calls on media artists and soak up a bit of the ambient inspiration during their visits!”

16 August 2006

Arts Management newsletter on creative industries

Arts Management newsletter
The latest issue of the Arts Management newsletter is devoted to the creative industries, with a specific global angle (America, Asia, Australia and Europe).

Table of contents:

  1. Interview with Richard Florida
  2. Economic contributions of Singapore’s creative industries
    (download report – pdf, 164 kb, 25 pages)
  3. The emerging creative industries in Southeastern Europe
    (download e-book – pdf, 688 kb, 198 pages)
  4. Digitalisation, copyright, and the music industries
    (download paper – pdf, 188 kb, 21 pages)
  5. The 2005 creative industries reports in USA
    (download reports – scroll down)
  6. Play it right – Asian creative industries in London
    (download report – pdf, 552 kb, 58 pages)
  7. Creative policies in Barcelona
    (download paper – pdf, 28 kb, 3 pages)
  8. Books about creative and cultural industries
  9. Education: creative industries faculty in Brisbane (Australia)
  10. Preview: a critique of creative industries
  11. Preview: creative industries in focus at Germany’s music fair POPKOMM
  12. Web guide for creative industries

Download newsletter (pdf, 244 kb, 11 pages)