“We’re selling ourselves short if we think the flow of innovation only goes way. There is a lot we can learn back from the developing world about the inventive uses they find for the technology we take for granted.”
Posts in category 'Emerging markets'
“Designing Liberation Technologies” is (at least in its current iteration) an experiment in remote, user-centered design. Starting in April, Stanford d.school students from a diverse array of disciplines – including computer science, medicine, business, law, education – worked with computer science students at the University of Nairobi to identify the design needs of health care providers and low-income mobile phone users in Kenya. The students then developed prototypes of mobile applications to support delivery of health services in urban areas. In August, a group of students travelled to Nairobi to meet with NGO partners, test prototypes, and advance plans for the future.
“For a technology company, Mobile Money is remarkably low-tech. Only the tiniest amount of bandwidth is necessary for a financial transaction, and it doesn’t need to be instant – the store and forward of SMS is perfectly good enough. There are a number of technologies used in Mobile Money, including USSD, SIM toolkit, Java and plain old voice through IVR – which is great for places with an illiterate population. None of these technologies are new. The barriers to Mobile Money are business models and logistics.
So while it might seem that Mobile Money is just another ecosystem in Nokia’s service strategy, look closer and you find that Mobile Money is a peculiarly good fit.”
“My talk today is about how I came into my research at Nokia wanting to answer the question: how can ethnographers contribute to the product design process of a mobile device? Ethnographically grounded research for technology use is a method that aims to reveal users’ values, beliefs, and ideas. Nokia was one of the first mobile companies to concertedly hire ethnographers as part of its design process, In the mid to late nineties, Nokia changed the mobile industry forever by creating affordable, user friendly phones. More than a decade later, the hardware mobile phone market is nearing saturation. With Nokia transitioning from a company that produces hardware to software, how can ethnographically driven research provide strategic insights for this shift?”
Poking around on Tricia’s site, I discovered some more inspiring and excellently written treasures to savour:
The Great Internet Freedom Bluff of Digital Imperialism: thoughts on cyber diplomacy, cargo cult digital activism… and Haystack
The Haystack Affair, like the recent Google-China Saga is just another technology that has been caught in the digital geo-politics of neo-informationalism. Neo-informationalism is the belief that information should function like currency in free-market capitalism—borderless, free from regulation, and mobile. The logic of this rests on an ethical framework that is tied to what Morgan Ames calls “information determinism,” the belief that free and open access to information can create real social change. [...] Neo-informationalist policies, such as the new “internet freedom” foreign policy to ensure free and flowing information, compliment neoliberal practices in corporate welfare to keep markets free and open to the US and all of our allies who benefit from our work. But it’s not free for all when it’s just free for some.
Check also these related posts:
- Evgeny Morozov: Were Haystack’s Iranian testers at risk?
Haystack is the Internet’s equivalent of the Bay of Pigs Invasion. It is the epitome of everything that is wrong with Washington’s push to promote Internet Freedom without thinking through the consequences and risks involved; thus, the more we learn about the Haystack Affair while it’s still fresh in everyone’s memory, the better.
- Sami Ben Gharbia: The Internet Freedom fallacy and Arab digital activism
This article focuses on grassroots digital activism in the Arab world and the risks of what seems to be an inevitable collusion with U.S foreign policy and interests. It sums up the most important elements of the conversation I have been having for the last 2 years with many actors involved in defending online free speech and the use of technology for social and political change. While the main focus is Arab digital activism, I have made sure to include similar concerns raised by activists and online free speech advocates from other parts of the world, such as China, Thailand, and Iran.
Three useful perspectives on technology, design, and social change (and countering the ICT4D hype)
As someone who researches the social side of technology, I am constantly trying to find new ways to talk to technologists that technology itself does not create social change, rather it’s how technology is socially embedded in a variety of institutions and cultural contexts. [...] Three resources have been very useful to me lately.
Research article by Melissa R. Ho (University of California, Berkeley), Thomas N. Smyth (Georgia Institute of Technology), Matthew Kam( Carnegie Mellon University) and Andy Dearden (Shefaeld Hallam University)
Recent years have seen a burgeoning interest in research into the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the context of developing regions, particularly into how such ICTs might be appropriately designed to meet the unique user and infrastructural requirements that we encounter in these cross-cultural environments. This emerging aeld, known to some as HCI4D, is the product of a diverse set of origins. As such, it can often be difacult to navigate prior work, and/or to piece together a broad picture of what the aeld looks like as a whole. In this paper, we aim to contextualize HCI4D—to give it some historical background, to review its existing literature spanning a number of research traditions, to discuss some of its key issues arising from the work done so far, and to suggest some major research objectives for the future.
(via relevant history)
One of [Younghee's] most recent projects was Nokia Open Studios. It’s a project that was conducted in three communities across the globe, in a bid to discover what people want when it comes to a mobile phone. But it’s not your typical research with a clipboard and a welcoming smile. Join us as we chat to Younghee about Nokia Open Studios, the challenges she faces and a glimpse into the world of mobile phone research.
“Wandering through winding alleys dotted with makeshift worksheds, one can’t help but feel clouded by the clanging of hammers on metal, grinding of bandsaws on wood, and the shouts of workers making sales. But soon it becomes clear that this cacophony is really a symphony of socioeconomic interactions that form what is known as the informal economy. In Kenya, engineers in the informal economy are known as jua kali, Swahili for “hot sun,” because they toil each day under intense heat and with limited resources. But despite these conditions, or in fact because of them, the jua kali continuously demonstrate creativity and resourcefulness in solving problems.
In Making Do: Innovation in Kenya’s Informal Economy, Steve Daniels illuminates the dynamics of the sector to enhance our understanding of African systems of innovation. The result of years of research and months of fieldwork, this study examines how the jua kali design, build, and manage through theoretical discussions, visualizations of data, and stories of successful and struggling entrepreneurs. What can we learn from the creativity and bricolage of these engineers? And how can we as external actors engage with the sector in a way that removes barriers to innovation for the jua kali and leverages their knowledge and networks to improve the lives of those who interact with them?”
The blog also supported TakingITMobile, an international study on youth mobile communications that she completed as a part of her Master of Environmental Studies at Canada’s York University. And her key findings are well worth taking a look at:
The fastest spreading communications technology the world has seen yet, mobile phones are rapidly changing the face of youth activism globally. TakingITMobile is a community-based research study conducted in partnership with the social network TakingITGlobal that examines how youth leaders across the globe (Campbell Salazar surveyed twenty countries) use mobile communications to create social change within their local communities and internationally. Survey participants (n = 565) paint a picture of the diversity of mobile youth activism around the world.
It was found that the majority of youth reported using their mobile phones to generate Citizen Media to share their message globally, mobilize protests, fundraise, educate their peers and spread solidarity.
TakingITMobile participants were passionate about a number of global issues, including the Environment (39%), Human Rights (36%), Poverty (28%), Health (24%), Peace (23.8%), HIV/AIDS (22.4%) and Violence (11.6%). While the most common mobile feature was Voice Calls (75%), TakingITMobile participants used a variety of mobile phone features, including Text Messages (46%), Web Browsing (38%), Social Media (27%), News (26%) and Photography (22%).
It was also discovered that youth who own smart phones are more likely to use their phones for activism (81%) than youth who don’t (71%). As well, females are much less likely (70%) to use their phones for activism than males. Youth ages 25-29 show higher levels of activism (84%) than youth in their teens (67%), early 20s (75%) and 30s (75%). GDP per capita was an influencing factor on both monthly costs, monthly average number of minutes used, number of SMS used and internet data used.
Overall it was found that participants from countries with high GDP per capita received cheaper services, with the exception of very high income nations such as Canada and the United States.
A number of barriers were identified for mobile youth activists, including cost of services (32%) cost of mobile phones (10%) as well as network coverage (9%) were the biggest barriers to accessing mobile phones.
In an interview with Arlene Chang of the India Real Time blog of the Wall Street Journal, Medhi talks about her passion for socio-economic development through technology, how it can improve the quality of life in rural India even for illiterate people, and “why she loves her job”.
“Through an ethnographic design process that comprised interviewing 400 research subjects from low-income, low-literate communities across India, the Philippines and South Africa and more than 450 hours spent in the field observing subjects in the natural contexts in which they live and work, I discovered that there were a number of usability challenges which people experienced while interacting with traditional text-based UIs, on both mobile phones and PCs.
Based on the broad lessons learned through this ethnography, design recommendations were developed for non-textual user interfaces for low-literate users that use combinations of voice, video and graphics. These principles have been applied to designing four applications – job-search for the informal labor market, health-information dissemination, a mobile money-transfer system and an electronic map.”
The report outlines major trends and main obstacles for increased use as well as key opportunities and potential for scaling-up mobile applications. It draws on secondary data and statistics as well as field work carried out in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya during 2008 and 2009.
It identifies relevant applications in an East African context for reaching and empowering the poor and contribute to social and economic development. The identified mobile applications range from small pilots to scaled-up initiatives – from simple agricultural, market or health information services to fairly advanced financial and government transaction services.
From the executive summary:
“The ‘killer application’ in East Africa is peer to peer communication, i.e. voice, SMS and beeping. The number of subscribers who use their phones to access internet is however steadily growing, which opens up for a whole range of new applications and possibilities. Many of the existing SMS based applications that could benefit the poor the most are still in their infancy in the region. A few successful cases, namely mobile money transaction systems and various health related solutions are being used at scale, but the fact remains that the number of scaled-up mobile services are still few and/or limited geographically.
So, what hinders the take off of mobile applications for economic and social development in East Africa?
- First the cost of communication must go down – SMS is very overpriced and so is voice and data traffic.
- Secondly, many applications and services never reach out to the masses due to poor marketing and the non-existing meta data about the available applications. Subscribers must know what solutions are available, why and how to use them. This will lead to volumes intensive which will eventually lower the price of the particular service. In other words, there is a huge need for marketing (of the product) and education (for the end user) in order to make mobile applications sustainable.
- Thirdly, many interventions are not designed with scale in mind. Few implementers are familiar with all the costs involved and seen from a technological point of view, the requirements on networks and different requirements on handsets and end-users that mobile applications have must be understood better.
Despite these challenges, we are witnessing a small revolution regarding new applications and services added to the mobile phone.
Some high potential application areas include financial services and various governance related services. After successful implementations of mobile money services in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and most recently in Rwanda, m-banking is set to grow. As it grows, there will be an integration of m-transactions systems into existing applications and services and m-commerce in general will thereby take off rapidly and widespread. Public service delivery can be improved by integrating services with m-transactions and facilitating interaction between the state and its citizens.”
On cross-cultural HCI
Postcolonial computing: a lens on design and development
Lilly Irani, Janet Vertesi and Paul Dourish, Department of Informatics, University of California, Irvine;
Kavita Philip, Department of Women’s Studies, University of California, Irvine;
Rebecca E. Grinter, GVU Center and School of Interactive Computing College of Computing Georgia Institute of Technology
As our technologies travel to new cultural contexts and our designs and methods engage new constituencies, both our design and analytical practices face significant challenges. We offer postcolonial computing as an analytical orientation to better understand these challenges. This analytic orientation inspires four key shifts in our approach to HCI4D efforts: generative models of culture, development as a historical program, uneven economic relations, and cultural epistemologies. Then, through reconsideration of the practices of engagement, articulation and translation in other contexts, we offer designers and researchers ways of understanding use and design practice to respond to global connectivity and movement.
After access – challenges facing mobile-only Internet users in the developing world
Shikoh Gitau, Gary Marsden, Hasso Plattner ICT4D Research School, University of Cape Town, South Africa;
Jonathan Donner, Microsoft Research India
This study reports results of an ethnographic action research study, exploring mobile-centric internet use. Over the course of 13 weeks, eight women, each a member of a livelihoods collective in urban Cape Town, South Africa, received training to make use of the data (internet) features on the phones they already owned. None of the women had previous exposure to PCs or the internet. Activities focused on social networking, entertainment, information search, and, in particular, job searches. Results of the exercise reveal both the promise of, and barriers to, mobile internet use by a potentially large community of first-time, mobile-centric users. Discussion focuses on the importance of self-expression and identity management in the refinement of online and offline presences, and considers these forces relative to issues of gender and socioeconomic status.
On micro-blogging and social networking
Tune in, tweet on, twit out: information snacking on Twitter
Elizabeth Churchill of the Internet Experiences Group of Yahoo! Research;
Andrew L. Brooks of the School of Information University of California, Berkeley
Microblogging via services such as Twitter is changing the way we share and access information. We report findings from three studies that explored everyday information seeking and sharing activities: local news consumption, shopping, and recommendation making by concierges in the hotel industry. Although our focus was not Twitter per se, the service is increasingly seen as having value for solving specific situational information needs. Through examples we illustrate how Twitter has evolved from a service for sharing personal status messages to being used as a source for pursuing one-off, disposable information requests.
This article proposes that microblogged messages that relate to a live event can be examined as indirect annotation on a media object that might not exist. From a collection of Twitter posts around two political events, we have begun to discover techniques for identifying how microblog posts relate to the matching media event. Further, we identify the relationship between the media event itself and the conversational shadow cast from the online community.
Sensemaking with tweeting: exploiting microblogging for knowledge workers
Bongwon Suh, Lichan Hong, Gregorio Convertino, Ed H. Chi, Palo Alto Research Center;
Michael Bernstein, MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
Just because the rules surrounding microblogging services are simple does not mean that tools support for them should be simple too. Microblogging generates volumes of interesting social content, but there is a lack of frameworks and tools that allow us to exploit such information and enhance knowledge workers’ sensemaking. Beyond adoption, we believe that new promising research directions on microblogging include designing and evaluating tools that extract and exploit social information. In this paper, we discuss a number of ways to exploit microblogging in support of two recurrent sensemaking tasks: (1) when a user is seeking information (information foraging and active exploration) and (2) when information is delivered to the user (awareness and passive monitoring).
What do people ask their social networks, and why? A survey study of status message Q&A behavior
Meredith Ringel Morris, Microsoft Research Redmond;
Jaime Teevan, Microsoft Research Redmond;
Katrina Panovich, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
People often turn to their friends, families, and colleagues when they have questions. The recent, rapid rise of online social networking tools has made doing this on a large scale easy and efficient. In this paper we explore the phenomenon of using social network status messages to ask questions. We conducted a survey of 624 people, asking them to share the questions they have asked and answered of their online social networks. We present detailed data on the frequency of this type of question asking, the types of questions asked, and respondents’ motivations for asking their social networks rather than using more traditional search tools like Web search engines. We report on the perceived speed and quality of the answers received, as well as what motivates people to respond to questions seen in their friends‟ status messages. We then discuss the implications of our findings for the design of next-generation search tools.
On energy use
Home, habits, and energy: examining domestic interactions and energy consumption
James Pierce, Computer Science Laboratory Palo Alto Research Center and HCI Institute Carnegie Mellon University;
Diane J. Schiano, Computer Science Laboratory Palo Alto Research Center and SAMA Group Yahoo!, Inc.;
Eric Paulos, HCI Institute Carnegie Mellon University
This paper presents findings from a qualitative study of people’s everyday interactions with energy-consuming products and systems in the home. Initial results from a large online survey are also considered. This research focuses not only on “conservation behavior” but importantly investigates interactions with technology that may be characterized as “normal consumption” or “over-consumption.” A novel vocabulary for analyzing and designing energy-conserving interactions is proposed based on our findings, including: cutting, trimming, switching, upgrading, and shifting. Using the proposed vocabulary, and informed by theoretical developments from various literatures, this paper demonstrates ways in which everyday interactions with technology in the home are performed without conscious consideration of energy consumption but rather are unconscious, habitual, and irrational. Implications for the design of energy-conserving interactions with technology and broader challenges for HCI research are proposed.
Studying always-on electricity feedback in the home
Yann Riche, Riche Design Seattle;
Jonathan Dodge and Ronald A. Metoyer, Oregon State University, School of EECS
The recent emphasis on sustainability has made consumers more aware of their responsibility for saving resources, in particular, electricity. Consumers can better understand how to save electricity by gaining awareness of their consumption beyond the typical monthly bill. We conducted a study to understand consumers’ awareness of energy consumption in the home and to determine their requirements for an interactive, always-on interface for exploring data to gain awareness of home energy consumption. In this paper, we describe a three-stage approach to supporting electricity conservation routines: raise awareness, inform complex changes, and maintain sustainable routines. We then present the findings from our study to support design implications for energy consumption feedback interfaces.
The design of eco-feedback technology
Jon Froehlich and James Landay, Computer Science and Engineering, DUB Institute, University of Washington;
Leah Findlater, The Information School, DUB Institute, University of Washington
Eco-feedback technology provides feedback on individual or group behaviors with a goal of reducing environmental impact. The history of eco-feedback extends back more than 40 years to the origins of environmental psychology. Despite its stated purpose, few HCI eco-feedback studies have attempted to measure behavior change. This leads to two overarching questions: (1) what can HCI learn from environmental psychology and (2) what role should HCI have in designing and evaluating eco-feedback technology? To help answer these questions, this paper conducts a comparative survey of eco-feedback technology, including 89 papers from environmental psychology and 44 papers from the HCI and UbiComp literature. We also provide an overview of predominant models of proenvironmental behaviors and a summary of key motivation techniques to promote this behavior.
They have now produced a video that is a synopsis of the projects, themes and trouble-shooting expressed at the event.
“We have edited down a conversation between UNICEF sponsored rapid design prototypers to profile what they have created in order to respond to and alleviate actual needs of families and children. This video is intended to help make transparent the iterative process that development must undergo in order to create a new device that can respond to global concerns. Also touched on are ways for the organization to make the process of creating prototypes more streamlined, and to take what is developed and make it open source in order to create a sustainable and beneficial outcome to those that need it.”
McCormack is a filmmaker who has spent much of the last five years documenting the successes and failures of business-oriented development projects in developing countries. Reports from various parts of the world can be seen on his website Flooded Cellar.
Solving some of society’s biggest challenges today will require large scale behavior change. Tim will talk about putting design thinking into the hands of everyone to inspire change and tackle the world’s biggest problems.
Allan Chochinov | Core77 (conference bio)
First Person Plural: The value of getting it from the horse’s mouth (24:15)
In a maturing world of design research methodologies, the value of primary research cannot be overstated. This talk will move through a series of student-initiated projects, each triggered by a singular, profound insight or leveraged to an engagement with a community far beyond the designer’s anticipated reach. We will discuss specific techniques for soliciting input from target audiences, and ways to recognize the good stuff when you see it. It all starts with the first person.
Joyce Chou | Core77
The steampunk solution to disruptive technology (14:04)
Martha Cotton | gravitytank (conference bio)
Accidents and Plans: A few good tools for collaboration (25:47)
Once upon a time, marketers saw truth mostly in numbers. But there have been some key shifts in the last 10 or so years: Design Research has broken out of its niche status and quantitative research has been stripped of its compulsory status. Design research has moved to the mainstream; quantitative research has become but one of many tools for decision making.
“Truth” about consumers is now found in many ways: stories, photos, video, quotes, anecdotes, sketches, conceptual frameworks, and more. Accompanying this shift our community has developed, and will continue to develop, more useful and interesting ways to gather qualitative data.
This talk explores a variety of compelling ways we are now able to gather qualitative data. She also expands the context to explore ways other phases in the qualitative research lifecycle can be done in more rich and effective ways including participant recruiting, analysis, and accessing project data over time.
Why is gender important? Smart Design’s Femme Den explores the gap between assumptions and realities about women. As practicing designers and design researchers, we apply new ways to design for the elusive women’s market. To create products and experiences that women love, we must better understand their lives, as well as our clients’ objectives and designers’ perspectives. In this talk, we will be sharing our methodologies to meet the needs of and effectively communicate with these three interconnected groups.
Kim Erwin | IIT Institute of Design (conference bio)
Diane Fraley | D.S. Fraley Associates (conference bio)
Our world is flat, too: the paradigm shift of online research (30:08)
When Thomas Friedman declared the world flat, in his seminal book by the same name, he summarized the dramatic shift in commerce and competition across the globe brought about by the Internet. This technology, he notes, puts nearly everything within reach of nearly everyone, and our global economy is now essentially free of geographic restraints—it’s a level playing field. What’s to become of us of all, he asks?
We should be asking this, too. As with most professions, the Internet is reshaping the landscape of user research. This is happening on two levels: the business model of user research, and the practice model of user research.
On the business side, large online research houses are capturing a growing portion of research work, leveraging economies of scale and exclusive contracts designed to appeal to the finance people inside organizations.
On the practice side, research design has become a vastly more complex and interesting proposition. The Internet and digital media combine to form a powerful set of new data collection tools, while also giving us access to participants across geographies and time zones.
The new playing field dramatically expands what’s possible: Micro-blogging, asynchronous video, synchronous video, video diaries, remote activity monitoring—we can now do it all, all at once. As researchers, we can be everywhere at the same time. We can instantly review data collected remotely. We can have intimate contact with participants while miles apart.
All of this challenges our research processes and logic—“web work” now joins “field work” to reshape the paradigm for bringing producers closer to their consumers. How do we leverage this new paradigm to enrich research design and the resulting data? How might we use “web work” to deliver against objectives in an increasingly time-constrained development environment? How does our new reach inform user research for strategy development—one of the bigger frontiers of practice.
In this talk, Diane Fraley and Kim Erwin share a new approach that hybridizes “field work” and “web work.” Working with graduate students at the Institute of Design, Kim and Diane designed and executed the first phase of a multi-phase, exploratory project—integrating multiple online technologies to deliver a picture of how shopping behavior is rapidly shifting as early majorities adopt the Internet and smart phones to manage their homes.
Heather Fraser | Rotman DesignWorks (conference bio)
Design (Research) as a Shared Platform (video not yet available)
We live in a world where VUCA is the new acronym for ‘Holy cow, this is a tough nut to crack.” Faced with complex challenges, design, and most critically design research, is not only an important field for new methodologies and tools; it is also a shared platform for building a common campfire and a shared understanding of the purpose and actions for all organizations. Through our work at Rotman DesignWorks with students of all disciplines and executives across all functions, we have witnessed the power of shared discoveries and appreciation for design research as the foundation and fuel for creating new value and mobilizing organizations to rise to today’s challenges.
Usman Haque | Pachube (conference bio)
Notes on the design of participatory systems – for the city or for the planet (25:42)
Cooperation is difficult. Even when everybody agrees on an end goal, and even when everybody agrees on what is needed to achieve that end goal, it does not mean that everyone (or even anyone) will be able to take the first step, which is the most important step. The talk discusses the paradoxical structures of collaboration and ways that the paradoxes can be harnessed, illustrated occasionally with concrete examples from past work.
Conducting design research in an emerging market like China takes cultural understanding, patience, along with a level of empathy that is not normally gained overnight. In this presentation, Cathy Huang will take an inward look at China to bring forward key challenges that China Bridge International (CBi) is encountering while trying to gain insight through design research in China.
How does Social Conformity, Confucius, Utilitarianism and the belief that concealing ones economic status create obstacles for gaining insight in China? How does a research project navigate the many cultural, social, psychographic, and geographical differences when doing research in China?
These represent a few of the questions Cathy will discuss in her presentation. The background and foundation for her thoughts and perspectives are presented from the findings of many cases studies and experiences gained from her work at CBi — an insight-based innovation and design strategy firm.
Stokes Jones | Lodestar (conference bio)
Stokes Jones: Getting Embedded: In Search of Alt-innovation (video not yet available)
Whatever innovation process you favor, chances are it’s a relatively ‘top-down’ one. In this presentation, I will explore the roots of, and a working model for, an alternative type of innovation that is ‘bottom-up’ and anthropologically grounded. What we call “embedded innovation” is not something companies do to the world – after a staged series of research and workshop events – but a cultural process that people are continually unfolding in the world over time. In this approach, the key focus for design research and strategy becomes ‘attunement’ not invention – identifying the embedded innovation already taking place in a context or marketspace, then aligning to and enhancing it.
We look at cases of how this method has been applied cross-culturally by Lodestar; for researching with P&G the design of new over-the-counter medicines in South Africa; for social networking in Brazil, as well as by comparison to a familiar household product in the US. We will then consider the implications of complementing the usual ‘heroic’, company-led innovation with this more humble form. We believe research into embedded innovation leads to solutions that are truly human centered and empathic because it connects people to the value inherent in proposed products and services by designing offers from the inside out of their own ‘folk models’ and situated practices.
How can the Design Research practice uncover and understand cultural nuances of consumers in new markets better? Also, does this practice the way we conduct it in the West, really work in China and India? Do we need new tools or do we need to approach this practice differently? The talk will address the above questions with case studies from various projects.
Gerald Lombardi | Hall & Partners (conference bio)
The deskilling of ethnographic labor: an emerging predicament and a possible solution (11:10)
An oft-stated rule in the world of design has been, “Good, fast, cheap: pick two”. The success of ethnography as a support to design, branding and marketing has forced this rule into action with a vengeance. Companies now demand that more and more ethnographic knowledge be produced in ever-shorter timeframes and on ever-lower budgets. Our work output has become a mass production item, and the pressure is on. Ethnographers like me find that our Ph.D.s and cosmopolitan outlooks are scant protection as we undergo the same process experienced by many other highly trained workers over the past two centuries: job deskilling.
Job deskilling is a two-edged sword that brings opportunity and misery at the same time, though not always to the same people. Without taking a position on merits or demerits, in my talk I will first review the mechanisms of professional deskilling as the manufacture of ethnographic output has expanded. I will also give examples from my experience as someone who is on both sides of the issue, often finding my own work situation deskilled, and sometimes required by business objectives to submit others to that kind of regime.
The resulting picture is a bit grim. Are those of us who practice ethnography for industry condemned to the same fate as the skilled automobile craftsmen of Detroit circa 1908? (They were replaced by machines, and now there are 680 million motor vehicles on Earth.) And are the outputs of our creative research destined to be commoditized, to the sad detriment of the products we help bring into the world? Perhaps not. So much is made these days of the need for disruptive innovation — what if we apply that outlook to the conditions of our own labor? I have in mind a collusion between ethnographic laborers and their more enlightened employers, in the service of a better paradigm, a realignment of “Good, fast, cheap” so there’s a chance for more “Good” to peek through.
But that’s impossible, right? Business would never stand for it…. To the contrary, I assert that the material conditions of global production are soon going to require a disruptive change regardless of what the business world thinks. I explain what and why that is, and urge that we make our new professional motto this one: “Why pay less?”
What’s next? Perhaps we need to go beyond the discovery aspects of design research and now focus on ways to go beyond, to figure out ways of executing and delivering real business success. Instead of declaring that Design Research has won or that there’s widespread acceptance, we might want to pause a bit for some reflection on how to take the critical next steps toward implementation and execution. And here’s a hint–it isn’t easy.
What have been effective methods and tools from within a corporate environment? What are some of the challenges you might face within an engineering-centered organization? Where is the scarcity and what skill sets provide utility? Doug Look will reflect on insights gathered over the past five years in his journey from an academic setting at the Institute of Design to an engineered-centered corporate culture.
Bill Lucas | LUMA Institute, MAYA Design (conference bio)
Encouraging everyone (from K through CEO) to look with care (video not yet available)
As the field of design research matures, an exciting new activity is emerging. Seasoned practitioners are extending their knowledge and passion to non-specialists of various ages and backgrounds. In this talk, I will present stories from LUMA Institute, an educational venture dedicated to helping everyone from K through CEO learn and apply the practices of Human-Centered Design (including the critical activity of looking and listening with care). I’ll talk about the wonderful things that happen when experienced professionals facilitate workshops aimed at raising the awareness and competence of people from all walks of life.
Dominick J. Misino | NYPD (conference bio)
Building Rapport: Lessons from a Hostage Negotiator (30:42)
There is a great gulf between the research community and practice. Moreover, there is often a great gull between what designers do and what industry needs. We believe we know how to do design, but this belief is based more on faith than on data, and this belief reinforces the gulf between the research community and practice.
I find that the things we take most for granted are seldom examined or questioned. As a result, it is often our most fundamental beliefs that are apt to be wrong.
In this talk, deliberately intended to be controversial. I examine some of our most cherished beliefs. Examples: design research helps create breakthrough products; complexity is bad and simplicity good; there is a natural chain from research to product.
Sona Patadia-Rao | PDT (conference bio)
Lisa Yanz | PDT (conference bio)
A Case Study: The Collaborative Redesign of the Perkins Brailler (28:28)
“Good Design” means something different to everyone, especially to an audience that experiences the world through their fingertips. As designers we are accustomed to immersing ourselves into the lives of our targeted users and pulling out meaning, values and aspirations. However, when the targeted audience interprets the world in an unique way, the design team’s methodology need to be flexible, conclusions are never final and bringing the users into the fold of the process is essential.
Through this discussion attendees hear the development story of redesigning the fully mechanical Next Generation Perkins Braille Writer for the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown MA. This device is the “pen and paper” for the visually impaired community, making it an essential teaching tool worldwide. The original Perkins Brailler was designed in the 1940′s, has over 600 moving parts, and has remained the unchanged, extremely reliable workhorse for decades.
We look to tell the story honestly, addressing successes, stumbles, surprises and how we were changed both professional and personally by the experience. This is a case study in blurring the formalized lines between research, design and engineering to create a product that meets the needs of a very adaptable and impressive user group.
Ron Pierce | Stuart Karten Design (conference bio)
360-Degree Research (video not yet available)
The power of design research lies in its connection to the end user. But too often, the focus on the end user is watered down as a product passes through many hands on its way to production. Ron Pierce proposes an alternate model of 360-degree research— an ongoing process in which researchers engage with the client and the end user throughout product development, putting solutions through rigorous testing at multiple phases.
Sharing the story of Stuart Karten Design’s engagement with hearing aid manufacturer Starkey Laboratories, Inc., Ron will show how a 360-degree research process can provide better results for the end user and significant financial returns for the corporation.
During a three-year strategic partnership with Starkey, Ron and his team at SKD have collaborated to develop products that greatly improve a frustrating end user experience. By continually engaging with stakeholders, distribution channels and a wide range of hearing aid wearers during various stages of the product development process, from foundational research through evaluative testing of functional prototypes, Ron and his team have reinvented Starkey’s product line with a focus on the user.
He shared SKD’s 360-degree research process, which recently culminated with the introduction of Starkey’s S Series hearing aid, featuring a touch-activated control proven to solve one of users’ most poignant frustrations. The first-of-its-kind innovation has increased Starkey’s market share and cemented the company’s position as a global leader.
Heather Reavey | Continuum (conference bio)
Envisioning Breakthrough Ideas (video not yet available)
A deep understanding of people is one lens that inspires designers to envision new experiences. Moving from inspiration to impact is another matter. What is a breakthrough idea, and how can you deliver it in a way that makes your audience believe? This session is all about big ideas: where they come from, how you know when you might have a game-changer. And how you can use design and storytelling to communicate a new opportunity in an experiential, emotional, human way that motivates clients and organizations to become advocates of change.
Rick E. Robinson | Sideriver Ventures (conference bio)
Crankiness is Overrated: Good Work is Harder Than Grumbling (28:15)
When we take hold of a powerful tool and use it to shape the daily lives of real people, we are laid under an obligation, a responsibility, to understand not only how that shaping could affect those daily lives, but how it should do so. The “good” in “good design” has, in the last twenty years or so, migrated from the relatively simple appreciation of an end-product’s formal properties to include the ways in which a product becomes what it is: the process of designing. In the course of that migration, “users” and “experience” have become central to the way design works, to how the things which it produces are evaluated. Under any number of labels (“user-centered design research”, “ethnographics,” “anthrojournalism” and so on) the (largely) social sciences-derived research which informs the work of design has grown into a small industry of its own. Taken as a whole, design research has resulted in a collective paying of more attention to people rather than less. That’s a ‘good’ in pretty much anyone’s book. But it is also, in practice, a bit like supposing that because an M.D. is doing rounds, looking into patients’ rooms and signing the charts, good medical care is being practiced. If designers have been less than explicit about the values that inform the choices they make, it seems that design research as a whole has been even less so. The most widely accepted ‘point’ of design research is to inform the work of design. To provide a basis from which the work of design, development, and strategy can proceed. It is a bit circular: we do research to inform the process of design, which requires that we understand the users. Circular or not, it would be just fine if what was required to “inform” design were no more than a scan of current conditions. A pH strip dipped in the pool. A thumb licked and held up in the breeze. But the best design work doesn’t need the thumb in the air; good designers or teams or practices are usually plugged in and working at the ragged front end anyway. What we need from research is more than description, and especially, more than a list of “needs,” explicit or implicit, met or unmet. We need a way to explicitly articulate the values that inform those decisions, and a basis on which to do so.
Designing a product that will make life better for the poor isn’t easy. You can’t just design a cool product that works; you have to make sure it will get into the hands of those who need it most and that it will be used to good effect. As investors in tools and products to benefit the poor – and get them out of poverty – we’ve developed an approach to vetting product ideas that is based on the successes and failures we’ve seen over the years. We’ve found that using it in the design phase can help avoid the pitfalls that waste effort and money, and ensure that good ideas turn into real impact.
In 2008 Rob presented an overview of the latest in digital user research technology, including the FieldCREW tablet concept. This year he is back to discuss tools and techniques to capture physical behavior, which is essential for the design of gestural, interactive devices.
The presentation includes:
* An introduction to “observational ergonomics” so researchers can qualitatively identify design problems and opportunities
* Demonstrations and reviews of the latest tech tools for conducting user research, including tactile sensing and wireless information tagging
Eric Wilmot | Wolff Olins (conference bio)
How Fast? 21st Century Approach To Speed & Innovation (24:58)
Over the past decade design-thinking and user-insight practices have grown to become integral process within the worlds top organizations. This has lead to product, digital, and brand innovation consultancies to differentiate their services by framing new ways of doing things.
During the last decade we have witnessed a layering of methodologies and activities in an attempt to differentiate how we discover, define, design, and deliver new solutions. Ironically, over much of this same time, the process itself has remained an assumption for practitioners across the business community.
Overall, what challenges exist for the next generation of research methods when applied to a process model that was born before the Internet? Nimble clients are making it difficult for consultancies to keep up. Demand for faster launches is challenging the effectiveness of traditional processes. Technology is shifting control where offerings can be “pulled” into the market, reducing risk from the traditional “push” model.
The business environment is demanding change. This talk will highlight new client demands and market forces that are reframing the question from “How might design-thinking be better used within the current development process?” to “How might the process itself be changed to enable new and better uses for design-thinking and research?”
“Textual and technical illiteracy is often cited as a barrier to the adoption of services and by default the benchmark for success is often set at ‘understanding and completing the task by oneself’. However if there are ‘literate’ people nearby to what extent does it matter that the user is illiterate?
‘Mediated use’ is simply recognising that part or all of a task or process is mediated through others.
“Many people who are not directly confronted with this reality on the continent are usually lured into a false sense that things are looking up because of the fountain of good news that is the telecom sector.
The truth though is that the seeming proliferation of ICT success stories across the continent masks the real picture, which is one of a splattering of embers in a desolate patch of darkness.”
Self Health – Philips Design’s exploration into reconnecting people with their bodies
The latest Philips Design Probe, Self Health, takes a “provocative and unconventional look at areas that could have a profound effect on the way we understand and monitor our own health and make lifestyle choices 15-20 years from now.”
Unfortunately, the descriptions on the website are so short that one can only superficially understand the concept ideas that have been developed, and not at all assess their value.
Beyond glocalization – The value of design in emerging markets
Design helps business understand and innovate in new, promising markets, bringing long-term business success.
> Emerging markets design backgrounder (pdf)
Market driven innovation – Making rice cooking easier and healthier in China
An easier and healthier cooking solution for China, driven by a deep understanding of the local people and context of use.
“The process of design is spreading into new areas of society and business, and as it does, our work gets more complicated and more rewarding. From the details of our interfaces to the focus of our efforts, this issue describes the complexity of the changing landscape of interactions.”
Here are the articles available for free online:
interactions: Business, Culture, and Society
The process of design is spreading into new areas of society and business, and as it does, our work gets more complicated and more rewarding. From the details of our interfaces to the focus of our efforts, this issue describes the complexity of the changing landscape of interactions.
Reframing health to embrace design of our own wellbeing
Rajiv Mehta, Shelley Evenson, Paul Pangaro, Hugh Dubberly
This article describes a growing trend: framing health in terms of well-being and broadening health-care to include self-management. Self-management reframes patients as designers, an example of a shift also occurring in design practice – reframing users as designers. The article concludes with thoughts on what these changes may mean when designing for health.
Depth over breadth: designing for impact locally, and for the long haul
In the past few years, we designers have acknowledged the imperatives of sustainability and design for the greater good, and responded by launching initiatives that are often rife with widespread cheerleading rather than deep, meaningful work. [Yet] I firmly believe that lasting impact requires all three of the following: proximity (simply being there, in the place you seek to design with and for), empathic investment (a personal and emotional stake in collective prosperity), and pervasiveness (the opposite of scattershot – involvement that has impact at multiple scales).
Solving the world’s problems through design
Design Revolution is a fantastic sourcebook of inspiring designs and creative problem solving and a deeply humanistic call to arms. Pilloton wants nothing less than for designers to focus their energy, knowledge, and talent on making people’s lives better.
Natural user interfaces are not natural
Gestural systems are no different from any other form of interaction. They need to follow the basic rules of interaction design, which means well-defined modes of expression, a clear conceptual model of the way they interact with the system, their consequences, and means of navigating unintended consequences. As a result, means of providing feedback, explicit hints as to possible actions, and guides for how they are to be conducted are required.
Making face: practices and interpretations of avatars in everyday media
We’re starting to see more and more experiences that weave avatar with message, pairing the expression of intent with content. How will the mix of image and message further proliferate through everyday life? Will the image stand for the message or will face work still be work? What will be socially acceptable, and will new etiquettes emerge in segments that cross personal, professional, and mixed boundaries?
The ubiquitous and increasingly significant status message
Bernard J. Jansen, Abdur Chowdury, Geoff Cook
The status message has evolved from its lowly beginnings into a multidimensional feature and service addressing numerous social needs.
Back to the future: bleeding-edge IVR
Ahmed Bouzid, Weiye Ma
The glaring disconnect between what companies aim to achieve in deploying interactive voice response (IVR) systems (better customer service) and what they actually do achieve (customer frustration) can be squarely laid on the shoulders of shabby voice user interface (VUI) design and implementation. The vast majority of today’s IVRs are, simply put, shamefully unusable, and customers detest them.
Intentional communication: expanding our definition of user experience design
Design and content. Content and design. It’s impossible (and stupid) to argue over which one is more important than the other – which should come first, which is more difficult or “strategic.” They need each other to provide context, meaning, information, and instruction in any user experience (UX).
Content strategy for everybody (even you)
When done the wrong way, creating new content and managing the approval process takes longer and is more painful than anyone expects. But planning for useful, usable content is possible – and necessary. It’s time to do it right.
interactions cafe: on language and potential
The more we carefully select our words, the more comfortable we’ll be in making the wholesale shift toward the emerging role of design in healthcare – and in other arenas where social responsibility is growing, and designers are able to value the whole person.
“Emerging markets are far more varied and volatile than mature ones. There is little money around: the average income per person in China is around $3,500 and in India $1,000. Cultural complexities are confounding and tastes are extraordinarily fluid. People who are not used to brands flit easily from one to another.
This has turned great metropolises such as Shanghai into vast laboratories of consumer research. Companies are always coming up with new products, or tweaking old ones, to suit local tastes and meet idiosyncratic preferences. Unilever makes its soaps and shampoos foamier than their Western equivalents. P&G produces toothpaste in herbal and green-tea flavours. PepsiCo adds spice to its potato chips. Adidas has created two kinds of shops—“local” ones that specialise in sportswear designed for Asian bodies and “global” ones that sell the same products as in the West. The shopping mall beneath the company’s regional headquarters in Shanghai has one of each kind.
Innovation extends to changing entire business models.”
“While developers in the United States rush to make flashy games for Apple’s latest gizmo, the iPad, these young developers are trying to tackle Africa’s most vexing problems.
Many are doing so with simple text message applications on phones that cost no more than $25.
Text message phone apps now help African people check market prices, transfer money, learn languages and alert authorities to the need for food or other aid in the event of a disaster. And this all comes despite Africa’s reputation as the “least wired” continent in the world.”