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Posts in category 'Europe'

19 May 2011

Power Lines

Power Lines
Power Lines, the latest paper by the UK’s Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA), follows on from the RSA’s Connected Communities report, deepening the analysis to look at networks of power and influence, and in particular those who are isolated in the community.

Abstract

In 2010, the RSA published Connected Communities: How social networks power and sustain the Big Society, which explored a new approach to community regeneration based on an understanding of the importance of social networks. It argued that such an approach has the potential to bring about significant improvements in efforts to combat isolation and to support the development of resilient and empowered communities.

This paper follows on from that report, deepening the analysis to look at networks of power and influence, and in particular those who are isolated in the community. The paper argues that the government’s efforts to build the Big Society are too focused on citizen-led service delivery. An approach based on utilising and building people’s social networks, which largely determine our ability to create change and influence decisions that affect us, may prove more effective.

19 May 2011

Compendium for the Civic Economy

Compendium for the Civic Economy
The Compendium for the Civic Economy is the latest publication by NESTA, the UK’s National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (an independent body with a mission to make the UK more innovative). It showcases 25 trailblazing ideas that are transforming local places and economies across the UK.

Abstract

Against the context of rapid economic, social and environmental change, a collective reflection is taking place on how to build more sustainable routes to share prosperity. In the meantime, an increasing number and wide range of change-makers have already found ways to imagine and grow a different economy in our cities, towns, neighbourhoods and villages.

This publication presents 25 case studies of the civic economy – rooted in age-old traditions of the associational economy but using new organising tactics, ways of connecting with people and approaches to collaborative investment.

They show that the civic economy is already a real, vital and growing part of many places, which actively contributes to community resilience, everyday innovation and shared prosperity. They also reveal how local leaders – that is, all those working together to improve places and their economies, whether in the public, private or third sector – can create the fertile ground for the civic economy to flourish and grow. Most importantly, the remarkable achievements of these 25 trailblazers show why we need to get better at understanding and recognising the role of civic entrepreneurship and enable it to turn ideas into action and impact.

19 May 2011

Interaction design in France: an overview

Interaction design in France
Benoît Drouillat, president of designers interactifs, France’s leading professional organization for the digital design industry, announced the publication of the article “Interaction design in France: an overview” taken from a speech he gives today at the Cumulus Digital Culture Session at Strate Collège in Paris.

“France’s technology-driven design culture is deeply rooted in engineering, making it difficult for non-technological innovation to emerge. [...]”

Even the French government has acknowledged the challenges surrounding digital and interaction design. First, there is a general lack of understanding of the field. Second, interaction design is struggling to be seen as a legitimate profession. Unless these hurdles are overcome, it will be impossible to assess the impact of interaction design on France’s digital economy.”

Read article

15 May 2011

UX Lx, a user experience conference in Lisbon

UX Lx
Jeroen van Geel and Vicky Teinaki report on Johnny Holland on UX Lx, the international user experience conference that took place in Lisbon, Portugal, May 11-13.

Day One
featuring Whitney Quesenbery, Leah Buley, Andrew Watterson, Susan Dybbs, Stuart Cruickshank, Dan Brown, and Anders Ramsay.

Day Two
featuring Leisa Reichelt, Steve Mulder, Louis Rosenfeld, Ian Fenn, Jeroen van Geel, Jason Masut, and Kevin Chang.

Day Three
featuring Louis Rosenfeld, Christian Crumlish, Stephen Anderson, Kristina Halvorson, Nick Finck, Josh Clark, Dario Buzzini, and Don Norman.

23 April 2011

Behaviour more significant than opinion when it comes to service design

Changing Behaviours
Behaviour change techniques should be used to develop public services with citizens’ motivations at the heart of their design, says a leading [UK] thinktank.

A report produced by the New Local Government Network argues that using citizen’s to design services using so-called nudge techniques can save councils money and the report sets out tools for councils to better understand what motivates their citizens.

The Changing Behaviours report also emphasises the need for a radical change to [UK] central government thinking in order for the reco/ammendations to achieve maximum effect.

The thinktank urges [local and regional] councils to allocate more resources towards improved engagement and communications methods with its citizens in order to understand their needs.

Read article

19 April 2011

EU recommendations on privacy protection in smart meters

EUJustice
The European Union’s Working Party on Data Protection has issued five recommended requirements for the protection of personal privacy in a time of Smart Meters in the home (pdf), outlining what needs to happen in order to gain the benefits of Smart Metering data while minimizing the risk and cost to personal privacy.

The Working Group’s recommendations:

  • Electricity consumption data should be treated as Personal Information, because it can be traced back to an individual person. Europeans treat Personal Information very seriously, sometimes arguably at the expense of technological innovation.
  • Push-button consent: the Working Group recommends that Smart Meter providers develop easy buttons that consumers can push to grant or remove consent that their data be shared with anyone who seeks to offer them enhanced services.
  • The social good is not always the primary consideration. “The imperative to reduce energy consumption,” writes the Working Group, “although it might be a sensible public policy objective, does not override data subjects’ rights and interests in every case.”
  • Personal data collected should be kept to a minimum as required to fulfill services offered – and be deleted as soon as possible except in cases where the electricity consumer has requested services like annual comparisons of consumption.
  • Privacy by Design: “Security should also be designed in at the early stage as part of the architecture of the network rather than added on later.”

Read article (ReadWriteWeb)

5 April 2011

Storytelling and destination development

Storytelling and Destination Development
The study “Storytelling and Destination Development” by the Nordic Innovation Centre set out to scrutinize the possibilities and drawbacks of using storytelling as a means of developing and marketing Nordic tourism destinations.

On the basis of five selected Nordic cases, the study sheds light both on the ways in which storytelling is practiced and how stakeholder cooperation unfolds and seeks to determine the prerequisites for using storytelling as part of a destination development strategy.

Drawing on the literature on storytelling as well as theory on inter-organisational relations, the study develops a theoretical model which centres on four closely interrelated elements: types of stakeholders involved; stages of the storytelling process; outcome of the storytelling process; and destination development. The theoretical model serves as a central tool for the cases presented to illustrate the issues at stake.

The five cases – one each from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden – consist of rich sets of data: interviews with main stakeholders; collection of industry documents, marketing material and media coverage; observation of stakeholder meetings; and participant observation of storytelling events.

The findings point to the importance of a location-based story to conceptualize, substantiate, and commercialize a destination. Findings suggest that some cases are characterized by individual stories of many qualities in terms of dramaturgical principles and customer involvement, however, an overall story framework is non-existent which makes the storytelling initiative poorly suited as a means of destination development. In other cases, a more holistic, coordinated story can be identified that ties the individual stories together and on this basis a common identity for the destination seems to materialize. The nature of stakeholder relations helps explain why some storytelling practices have destination development potential whereas others have not. Dedicated leadership, multi-actor involvement and two-way communication appear to be prerequisites for the destination development potential of storytelling activities.

1 April 2011

Free Experientia backgrounder on EU’s new, more holistic innovation policy

EU Innovation Union
Major emphasis on user-centred design, open innovation and social innovation in new EU innovation strategy

On 6 October 2010, the European Commission adopted the “Innovation Union“, a strategic approach to innovation, which is to become a main tool to reach the Europe 2020 targets that will underpin the smart, sustainable and inclusive growth the Europe 2020 strategy is aiming for:

  • Employment: 75% of the 20-64 year-olds to be employed
  • 3% of the EU’s GDP (public and private combined) to be invested in R&D/innovation
  • Climate change / energy: greenhouse gas emissions 20% lower than 1990, 20% of energy from renewables, and 20% increase in energy efficiency
  • Education: Reducing school drop-out rates below 10%, and at least 40% of 30-34–year-olds completing third level education
  • At least 20 million fewer people in or at risk of poverty and social exclusion

The Innovation Union will focus Europe’s efforts on tackling major societal challenges, such as climate change, energy and food security, health and an ageing population.

Design and creativity have major prominence in the new EU innovation strategy, with a particular emphasis on (user-centred) design, open and co-creative innovation, and social/public sector innovation, as described in detail in the European Commission Communication and Rationale for Action, published on 6 October last year.

In other words, European innovation policy is moving beyond a technology-only approach and becoming more holistic, by embracing design, openness and broad social issues.

It will take some time for this new focus to spread to local, regional and national governmental institutions across Europe, who still often identify innovation with technological innovation.

To help speed up this process, Experientia, the international user-experience design consultancy based in Torino, Italy, has gone through the European Commission documents in detail, and a 5-page backgrounder highlights those sections that are of major relevance for design companies, design support organisations and therefore also industry organisations.

The text in the backgrounder is mainly excerpted from the Communication, and sometimes expanded with text from the Rationale for Action or from the Innovation Union website.

Please feel free to use this backgrounder to lobby for a more holistic innovation approach also in your own regional context.

Download backgrounder

30 March 2011

Service Design Toolkit for the design of public services

Service Design Toolkit
Yesterday Brussels saw the launch of the English version of the Service Design Toolkit, which Design Flanders developed together with Belgian consultancies Yellow Window and Namahn.

The launch took place at the international SEE conference on integrating design into regional and national policies, that took place at the Flemish Parliament and was chaired by myself.

The toolkit is designed to help local governments perform service design with a minimal need of outside assistance, and offers an introduction to service design, an explanation of the most important techniques, a practical road map, and a great many tools and templates.

The SEE project, which includes partners from 11 countries, has involved a series of workshops with policymakers on themes such as design in innovation policy, design for sustainability, evaluating the return on design investment and bringing innovative ideas to market through design. The conference – that I will report on more in a few days – was the project’s final event, and provided delegates with an overview of design’s role in innovation, recent design policy developments in Europe and examples of successful design policies and promotion programmes – through speakers such as Anders Byriel (Chairman of Danish Design Council), Judith Thompson (Director, Better by Design, New Zealand), Patrick Janssens (Mayor, City of Antwerp, Belgium), and Brian Boyer (Sitra, Finland). Peter Dröll, the European Commission’s head of innovation, explained how the EU is working on making design a structural part of its innovation policy.

10 March 2011

Repost: Reflections on the LIFT conference 2011

Lift
Two weeks ago, Core77 published my review of the LIFT conference in Geneva, Switzerland.
In the interest of completeness, I also publish it here:

lift_01.jpgAll images by Ivo Näpflin, courtesy of LIFT Conference – Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

A few weeks ago I was, together with about 1000 other people, in Geneva, Switzerland, to attend the 2011 LIFT conference.

LIFT is really a series of events, launched in 2006 and now taking place in France, Korea and Switzerland, built around a community of pioneers who get together to explore the social implications of new technologies. The LIFT conferences are driven by a dynamic and informal team of people whose public faces, Laurent Haug and Nicolas Nova, are quite well known in the user experience community.

lift_02.jpg

lift_03.jpg

The main event is the acclaimed three-day yearly conference in Geneva (now in its 6th edition) and this year the theme was: What can the future do for you?

Writing about a design and technology conference has changed a lot recently — especially when that conference streams all sessions immediately and Twitter comments have become pervasive.

So I chose to wait a bit, look back at some of the videos (they are all online here), let it all sink in and look back in reflection.

My angle is personal of course, but it struck me that there were a number of core themes that drove a substantial part of the discourse at this year’s LIFT. They are also, I think, the main challenges we as experience and interaction designers will need to address: networks, identity, people and openness, and algorithms.

NETWORKS

lift_04.jpgDon Tapscott

Today we are vividly witnessing the fact that revolutions don’t get made by leaders anymore. And this is illustrative of a larger social paradigm shift in our society, argued Don Tapscott, author of the 2006 bestseller Wikinomics, How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything, in his keynote presentation. Social media has lowered transaction and collaboration costs and enhanced people’s capability to collaborate. Hierarchical leadership models are becoming more and more outdated, stalled and failing. The Industrial Age and its institutions have run out of gas. In short, Tapscott says, we are facing nothing less than a turning point in human history, and this creates friction, of course. The huge challenge for us now is to shape this emerging open network paradigm which, to many in charge, seems to lack structure and organization. There is no easy answer in how our societies and businesses can deal with the challenge of rebuilding themselves along this new model of networked intelligence. We do know the principles though — collaboration, openness, sharing, interdependence and integrity, and you may want to see the presentation or read Tapscott’s new book Macrowikinomics: Rebooting Business and the World to understand how these principles are currently starting to be applied in business and government.

lift_05.jpgBen Hammersley

Confronting the same theme was Ben Hammersley, Editor at Large for Wired UK. Thirty years younger than Tapscott, his different take on networks is quite refreshing. In essence both speakers addressed their own generations: Tapscott the digital immigrants who come from a hierarchical world and Hammersley the in-between “buffer” generation who constantly have to deal with the older, somewhat “bewildered” generations, the political, industrial and intellectual elites, that currently hold the levers of power.

Hammersley focused on the psychology behind it all — the dominant intellectual framework of the 20th century now gets inverted into a new model, the network model, which has to deal and co-live with the older hierarchical model. People from these other generations might have, what he calls, the “wrong cognitive toolkits” to function well in a drastically changing world. Hammersley explained what it means for the older generations to be “weirded out by modern times” and why there has been so much focus recently in the world of major corporations and institutions on “innovation” and “thinking outside the box”. It is, he says, a sort of therapy in a world where many hierarchies no longer make any sense. Our primary problem (and he is referring to his own generation) is not to encourage innovation, but to translate it. Our job is to clear the path to allow the young people to come through with their new ideas.


lift_azeem.jpgAzeem Azhar

IDENTITY
The topic of identity and reputation got introduced through Azeem Azhar (personal site), a UK entrepreneur with a background in journalism. Azhar started off with a clear problem we all face: connection inflation. It is so cheap and effortless to make connections that we now have too many of them and the trust element starts to diminish. Yet trust and reputation are crucial tools in our economies and lives. The financial markets are fundamentally based on reputation systems but many other of the worlds ratings and rankings play a very strong role e.g. sports, academia, professions, corporate branding and web search. What we need now, he says, is a people rank that makes sense of the connections between people. Quora, CubeDuel, Mixtent and PeerIndex are examples of companies that help us address the professional reputation rank. Foursquare has the hoop-jumping model of reputation ranking (you have to jump through some hoops, i.e. enter places, to increase your rank) and eBay has a reputation system that is very context dependent and not portable at all. The search for the magic reputation breakthrough is on. After all, we all now live in public. Everything we do is now generally available and indexed. Or as Dan Tapscott said in his keynote, we are all naked now: as companies, as governments and as individuals. Eventually we will go to a single currency, a lingua franca for reputation, that is portable and applies to different contexts. But, asks Azhar, are we aware of all the implications? Who owns your reputation? Who owns your data? And how will your data be used?

lift_brian.jpgBrian Solis

These questions were exactly the kind of stimulation that got the highly active mind of Brian Solis (personal site) going. Soiis, a US futurist, simply loves to put his teeth into anything related to reputation, trust, social capital and influence. We each lead three lives in the real world, he says: a public life, a private life and a secret life. Online however, we are all guilty of blurring the line between the three. We are all over-sharing. We are all indexed, ranked and scored by a great variety of online services. Yet, none of the services currently out there, is actually measuring your reputation, your influence. What they are doing is measuring the semblance of your social capital: what you are worth within these social networks, essentially becoming a credit score for the social web. We are measured by what we say and the company we keep. This social graph is already being used by (US) credit card companies to determine their potential risk. Knowing that, how do we become more mindful in how we use social networks?

Solis cited political scientist Robert Putnam who defined social capital as “the collective value of all ‘social networks’ and the inclinations that arise from these networks to do things for each other.” Social capital, Putnam said, can be measured by the amount of trust and “reciprocity” in a community or between individuals. Nothing of that, however, is measured by today’s tools. The problem is that these imperfect “social capital” scores are currently used against us.

Now, asks Solis, let’s look at the issue from a people’s perspective: What do we, as people, expect to get in return for our investment in social networks? It breaks down to trust, relationships, reciprocity, authority, popularity and recognition.

At the moment, the currency of social capital is the social object: the thing that you create, do or say online. When you publish it, it has an effect and that effect is measured. The problem is that we are being measured differently in every network. Moreover, context is missing most of the time, and the difference between social currency/capital and influence is not addressed. Influence is the capacity to trigger an effect. It is an ability. We do know that the elements of digital influence centre around a great many terms such as trust, authority, reputation, reach and social capital, but we don’t know how they connect. Today there is just a great deal of confusion (and Solis promised a paper to clarify it all). Knowing how things currently work, Solis has definitely become more mindful in sharing online and in fact he shares less now.

But Solis ends on a positive note: giving back is the new black. Businesses that give something to their customers (advice, ideas, suggestions, tools) earn reputation and influence.

lift_hasan.jpgHasan Elahi

On the very last day of the conference, the most powerful statement about identity came from an artist.

In 2002, Hasan Elahi, a US citizen, somehow ended up, wrongly of course, on a US terrorist watch list and was extensively questioned at Detroit Airport. He was released but had to endure many months of “interviews” with FBI officials and he had to defend himself through no less than nine successive lie detector test. Unfortunately he couldn’t be formally cleared because he was never formally charged. Not surprisingly, Elahi was concerned (and somewhat scared) that similar things, or worse, would continue to happen to him after any successive trip abroad. So initially he called the FBI to share his travel plans with them. This soon changed to emails and then eventually became a very extensive and highly automized website he created in 2002 that basically tracked his life. At first the site was private but in 2003 he decided to make it public — assuming that safety is also in the numbers.

Elahi was initially considered somewhat of a creep by his friends to go to the extremity of making his life public. The real irony and the very heart of his speech is that now, seven years later, there are half a billion people doing essentially the same thing every time they update their Facebook status.

Interestingly, Elahi said that by giving out so much information about himself, he actually leads a rather private and anonymous life. He generates so much data but to understand them you would still have to do the analysis, and when you do that, you get very little in return. All of us are generating data now.

So his FBI encounter resulted in a very extensive real-life project about identity management. Having a little bit of information about you is very dangerous, Elahi says, but by having a large amount of information you get a better picture. By generating a lot of information, you become in control of your own identity, rather than someone else defining your identity.



lift_galbraith.jpgDavid Galbraith

PEOPLE AND OPENESS
Introducing the people theme was David Galbraith (personal site) of Samba, who spoke — in addition to other things — about how people are shaping the future of the Internet. Galbraith thinks the Long Tail is over. People need celebrities — look at the asymmetries that are clearly showing up in Twitter. The Internet is a giant game of follow the leader and the Long Tail is starting to reverse as marketing takes over.

lift_portigal.jpgSteve Portigal

Steve Portigal of Portigal Consulting focused on the importance of understanding people in order to create innovation.

In a condensed and highly practical session, Portigal explained the power of the participatory or user-centered design process. What is the meaning behind what people do, asks Portigal. By focusing on gathering meaning, we can synthesize and find connections that no one connected before. These connections can then be used to create stories that can be applied in the design process to make change happen.

What makes Portigal’s talk relevant is that he explains how concentrating on understanding people’s behavior is so much broader than asking people what needs they have and what they would like as some still seem to think. This approach can lead to misjudging the power of user-centered design in innovation. People, says Portigal, are not good at talking about solutions, but we can understand a great deal about needs by observing people. By leaping away from the specific, we can get at the principles that drive the specific. So the question that drives the research is not the solution but the problem we are trying to solve. Contemporary user-centred design, says Portigal, implies a willingness to shift what we think the problem is, a willingness to shift what we think the solution is, and a willingness to be comfortable with ambiguity.

lift_coates.jpgNick Coates

Nick Coates elaborated this people strategy into the methodology of co-creation, first describing the methodology and then giving a great case study on how he used co-creation to design the cabin space for Etihad Airways.

lift_sutton.jpgThomas Sutton

People was also the topic of Thomas Sutton of frog design Milan, approached from his vision on open innovation.

Sutton’s focus is on contextual networks and the way changing meaning within those contexts create changing behaviors. Sutton gave an interesting perspective on how content and service providers would start on platforms (like Microsoft, Apple and Sun), whereas more recently they actually start from digital and physical touchpoints (like Amazon, Twitter). Through a strategy of openness providers then moved from these outer touchpoints to the layer of platform. Twitter has nearly become a platform.

This has big implications for design. End-users are starting to move very opportunistically from touchpoint to touchpoint, and this undermines some of the basic tenants of classical interaction design: the idea of understanding and designing an ideal path for your user. People are now creating their own opportunistic ideal paths based on the forms of access that they have available to them at any one time. So designing an ideal path has become pointless. The most rewarding strategy is to allow an open flow between channels and platforms by designing an experiential thread to them all. This means that designers have to design for connectivity (giving people the space to innovate for themselves), and Sutton presented some of the participatory tools frog design uses to achieve exactly that.


lift_Slavin.jpgKevin Slavin

ALGORITHMS
The importance of algorithms was alluded to by many speakers (including Galbraith), but only one, Kevin Slavin, dedicated his entire presentation to algorithms. And he did it in a sublime way, not in the least because of his beautiful deep, dark and relaxed storytelling voice (check the video!)

In today’s financial markets, everything is electronic and it is important to hide transactions wherever possible (since you don’t want to show your intentions or strategies). If you need to move one million shares, it is better to move 10,000 individual lots of 100 shares, much like how Stealth bombers make the enemy believe that what flys in the sky isn’t a plane but simply a lot of little things, like birds. That’s why banks use algorithms and have become very equipped at making these appear as random as possible. 70% of all trades in Wall Street are either driven by an algorithm trying to appear invisible or another algorithm trying to find that invisible algorithm.

Today, algorithms do not just impact our pension funds but also affect a much broader part of society. Algorithmic effects are applied to determine what we hear and how those songs are made, what they sound like, what we watch, what we are going to see in the movies, what we read (the titles of what we read are algorithmically evaluated and determined), who we are matched with if we go online to get matched with somebody, what we call news, who gets arrested, what we drive, how we get there, what we eat and even what we drink.

There are, says Slavin, three problems with this: opacity, inscrutability and “something darker and harder to describe” — the idea that taste could algorithmically be determined. Millions of dollars could be moved by that. What if an algorithm would focus not on what movies you might like (as is already the case), but what movies should be made that you might like (as is also starting to become the case)? In a way, it is regression in the sense that it regresses towards the mean. In doing so, we are producing a kind of monoculture and we lose the tools to understand how it actually works (even though we wrote the algorithms).

Now and then algorithms cause crashes. Serious crashes. And since algorithms are now everywhere, we need to ask ourselves, what does a flash cash look like in the wine industry? In the criminal justice system?

CONCLUSION
There is none, besides that LIFT has again proven its relevance to me and to the many others present — although definitely in a myriad of different ways. My perspective on the topics of interest have been personal, and this has resulted — I now notice — in a review of nothing but male speakers. And this despite there being so many excellent female speakers on a host of other themes. I encourage you to peruse video content from other presentations on the newly launched LIFT Video site. I look forward to being challenged by another reviewer, and I can’t wait to go back next year.


About Mark Vanderbeeken
Mark Vanderbeeken is a senior partner of Experientia, the international experience design consultancy based in Turin, Italy, and author/editor of the acclaimed UX blog Putting People First.

7 March 2011

Understanding society

Understanding Society
Understanding Society is a major £15.5 million research study designed to provide valuable new evidence about the people of the UK, their lives, experiences, behaviours and beliefs.

Understanding Society follows 100,000 people in 40,000 households year by year and asks them questions about a wide spectrum of areas relating to their working and personal lives. The study focuses on:
* Peoples’ state of health
* Our experiences of crime
* Personal finances
* Bringing up children
* How involved we are in our local community
* Our working lives
* Our views and outlook, including about the political system

The focus is on the household, looking at how different members of a family relate to each other.

The power of the survey lies in the links that can be made about different aspects of peoples lives. These links will allow the researchers to understand the life journey that people take, whether it be why some people get to university whilst others ended up in poverty in old age. The study will catch major trends and have an understanding of why major changes in the way that we all live and work take place.

An earlier study – the British Household Panel Survey – helped decision makers to evaluate the impact of key policies designed to help the low paid and encourage mothers return to employment. Understanding Society has continuing potential to influence decisions that affect all our lives, whether we are parents, savers or users of public services.

The scale of the survey will allow the researchers to focus in on key sections of the community, such as older people, parents, people from ethnic minorities or people with low incomes.

With an initial budget of £15.5 million, Understanding Society is the largest single investment in academic social research resources ever launched in the UK. The study is based at, and led by, the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) at the University of Essex, together with colleagues from the University of Warwick and the Institute of Education. The survey work will be delivered by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen). Understanding Society both replaces and incorporates the successful, but much smaller, British Household Panel Survey (BHPS), which has been running since 1991.

Download early findings

11 February 2011

Female interaction – design for advanced electronic products

Female Interaction
Female Interaction is a 2.5 year, DKK 4.7 mio (630,000 euro / 850,000 usd) multidisciplinary research project focusing on female interaction design for advanced electronic products, in particular on how to make these products attractive and convenient to use for females – and for the rest of the world

User-driven development methods and tools are being developed and tested – focusing on the demands and desires of female users.

The project, which is co-financed by the Danish Enterprise and Construction Authority (DEACA) as part of its programme for user-driven innovation, brings together development and market-research specialists, scientists and designers in an interdisciplinary collaboration.

Female Interaction has been initiated by design-people in collaboration with Aalborg University, Aarhus University, Bang and Olufsen, GN Netcom, Danfoss and Lindberg International.

The project sets out to offer a novel approach to user-driven innovation in businesses by bringing together scientists, businesses, designers and market analysts for purposes of developing new process models and guidelines and new results for the benefit of the user.

27 January 2011

Innovating in the French wine industry

Wine by one
How does an entrepreneur successfully introduce innovation to a gastronomic tradition that is a cornerstone of French culture and identity?

Stéphane Girard, who graduated from the prestigious Bordeaux Wine School in 2004, has launched a modern concept in wine degustation to make understanding viniculture more accessible by placing the individual’s discovery of wine at the center of the experience.

“Imagine that you purchased a bottle or glass of wine, not because the label was attractive or you had read about it in a magazine, but because you had tasted it and found it pleasing. WINE by ONE facilitates that experience through its three-in-one concept of a wine bar, store, and club in a single location.”

Read article

12 January 2011

Distance Lab closed down

Distance Lab
The BBC reports that the Distance Lab closed down.

Distance Lab was a Scottish creative research initiative for digital media technology and design innovation, focused on addressing the many problems and opportunities found in rural and remote areas of the world.

“A technology laboratory working on a prototype device designed to communicate intimacy over distances has been wound up, it has emerged.

Backed by £3m of public money, Distance Lab had said in 2008 it expected to raise £2m or more and become self-sustainable in just over three years.

Based in Forres, staff had been working on Mutsugoto, a device to help couples stay in touch while separated.

They were also working on Remote Impact, an interactive fighting game.

The company’s projects included research on the use of technology in medicine and health.”

Read article

16 December 2010

EU action plan to drive take up of online public services

Bill Verplank
The European Commission unveiled an ambitious agenda to bring public services online across Europe so that it could “serve an economy which relies on the networks of the future.”

By 2015, the Commission wants to have 50% of European Citizens using online public services and 80% of businesses. It also wants flexible and collaborative key public services are available online to facilitate the mobility of EU citizens within the internal market in business, work or study irrespective of their original location.

Interestingly, one of the key measures is user empowerment, defined as:
- services designed around users’ needs
- collaborative production of services e.g. using Web 2.0 technologies
- re-use of public sector information (including reviewing the public sector information Directive – see IP/10/1103)
- improvement of transparency
- involvement of citizens and business in policy-making process

Read article (eGov Monitor)

More background:
- EU press release
- Fact sheet: Digital Agenda – what would it do for me?
- Fact sheet: Pilot projects
- Digital Agenda for Europe (website)
- Digital Agenda for Europe (Communication – legal text)
- Speech by Nelly Kroes, VP of European Commission

1 December 2010

U DriveIT – User-Driven Innovation – Transfer from the IT sector to traditional businesses

U DriveIT
Norden, the Nordic Innovation Center, has published the results of a research project between Denmark, Norway and Iceland, that explored the increasingly strong connection between ICT and user-driven innovation in those countries, and how this approach could be transferred from the IT sector to traditional businesses.

Abstract

The project has worked with the relation between ICT and user-driven innovation. Traditionally, the Nordic region has had a position of strength regarding the part of the ICT area that deals with ICT and users. This is very much reflected in the Participatory Design Tradition and the Nordic position of strength within HCI. Furthermore, ICT has today moved from playing a role within work and business life to being the driving factor within all sorts of activities. This is reflected in phenomena such as Web 2.0, open source and social media etc. The project is therefore based on the assumption that the ICT field has been one of the leading fields within development via user-driven innovation during the last decades. The project has focused on methods, tools and experiences from these various areas which can be used in general regarding initiating user-driven innovation within a long line of different business areas.

The report describes and accounts in short for the Nordic tradition of user involvement in the ICT development and through a number of research interviews it extracts pivotal ideas and experiences from this tradition. At the same time experiences with user involvement in connection with new media is presented – both in a sales perspective and in a production perspective. Besides, a long row of cases and examples from other projects are presented, and courses and results from a number of workshops and knowledge activities initiated via the project will be mentioned. Finally, a range of recommendations for political focus areas are stated which based on the project experiences may be part of strengthening the basis for user-driven innovation in the Nordic region.

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25 November 2010

Experientia’s framework for behavioural change towards sustainable lifestyles

Canvas8
Experientia partner Mark Vanderbeeken recently became one of Canvas8’s newest Thought Leaders, lending his insights and knowledge to the site’s growing archives of articles and interviews on cultural global trends.

Canvas8 draws on the knowledge of recognised industry thought leaders to offer expert insight into attitudes and behaviour. They encourage a deeper understanding of people so brands and agency planners can more effectively engage with their audience. This people-centred focus is a strong fit with Experientia’s own motto of Putting People First.

Mark’s first contribution, co-written with Experientia team member Erin O’Loughlin, was a reflection on designing for sustainability-focused behavioural change. This is a vital issue, which needs to be addressed at a multitude of levels, from a national outlook of global cooperation, to action by communities and individuals.

The article (which was originally published on the Canvas8 site and is now reproduced below) outlines Experientia’s behavioural change framework, which has been developed over the course of our work in Helsinki’s Jätkäsaari area, as part of a team constructing a low-to-no carbon emissions building block called Low2No. It identifies some of the barriers to changing to more sustainable behaviours, and some of the ways that change can be promoted and supported, in particular, by the construction of new social values and norms that value sustainability over a consumption-driven economy.

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Sustainable change: discovering motivations and building a community of values
Mark Vanderbeeken and Erin O’Loughlin
Conceptual input by Jan-Christoph Zoels and Irene Cassarino

 

Business has been told for years that the perfect product or service should fit people’s contexts, behaviours and attitudes. The designer’s own feelings about what might make a product or service attractive should always be informed by a solid understanding of the target market, and their contextual wants and needs.

Although too many businesses still aren’t catching on to this idea, current design thinking is moving people-centred design even further: the concept of design for behavioural change, particularly with regards to health and sustainability, sees the understanding of people as a first step in changing them. Can we use design to change people rather than adapt to existing desires and behaviours? Is it ethical? Is it desirable? Is it possible?

In the midst of a worsening climate crisis, design for behavioural change is a vital issue. We know that individually and collectively, we urgently need to start consuming less. In fact, we know that individual behavioural change could reduce personal carbon impact by as much as 15% by 2020 (see Smart2020 report). Yet not only is it difficult to know which actions are the most effective, it’s also often difficult to carry them out – whether due to lack of time, lack of commitment, lack of tools, infrastructure and services, or even the feeling of being one person toiling against the mainstream, which neutralises our good behaviour. This is where design can play a huge role in helping people and communities to comply with the existing desire to be more sustainable.
 

Not forcing change – tapping into motivations

If changing people’s behaviour through design sounds somewhat sinister, don’t worry. We’re not talking about 1984-style attempts to make people act against their natural instinct. The aim is not to constrain people’s autonomy and freedom of choice, but rather to tap into those motivations that might make changing behaviour worth it to them as individuals. Of course, we are all motivated by different things. Just look at the 2007 study on ‘nudging’ people to change their behaviour through comparative electricity bills.

The study was carried out in 80,000 Californian households, half of which received feedback on whether they were using more or less electricity than their neighbours. The results showed that people who got the feedback cut electricity usage by a modest average of two per cent. But looking closer, the researchers found something interesting – homeowners who identified themselves as politically republican only cut usage by an average of around 0.4 per cent. Those republican households who showed no practical interest in the environment actually increased their consumption by 0.75 per cent.

This doesn’t mean that those people can’t be convinced to cut back on their energy use – but it won’t be comparative billing that convinces them. Feedback has to be tailored, and changing our behaviours has to bring us a result that we want – and while people may not always want to ‘be green’, non-green motivations, such as saving money, could also lead to more sustainable behaviours. It also highlights another important aspect of behavioural change: the groups and communities that we identify with can have a big impact on our likelihood of responding to certain triggers and stimulus. So, designing tools and services for behavioural change needs to start from a triple bottom line approach, which considers the environmental, economic and social dimensions of sustainable decisions.
 

Conflicting desires

What people really want can be complicated and is of course defined by much more than our personal values. As we will discuss, physical, cultural and social factors also come into play. Often, what we want as a long-term goal, and what we want to do right now can be in conflict. Take the desire to stay trim and fit – a longer term personal value – which wavers as we walk past our favourite restaurant; or the desire to live a more sustainable life, compared to the inconvenience of walking three blocks to recycle rubbish into the right bins. Solutions need to understand the entire context of our behaviour, use the right tools to gently remind us of the benefits whilst overcoming the barriers, and then trigger the right behaviour. An elegant example of a behavioural change solution comes from Paris, where a new fountain offers locals sparkling water on tap – after discovering that aversion to still tap water was one of the main reasons many French people were buying bottled water despite concerns about the waste. A municipality in Italy is doing the same thing along its coastal walkways, in an attempt to cut down on discarded bottles. This, in turn, steps into the realm of creating products, services and public infrastructure that support sustainability – the more we build a world that supports sustainable behaviours, the easier it will be for people to change, irrespective of their values.
 

“I want to behave sustainably, but not right now”

Of course, offering us free, fizzy tap water might be a quick fix for plastic bottle consumption, but getting people to change their behaviours, and making that change last over time, is not always so simple – even when they know they should. First there is the issue of self-perception. Dirk Dobbs, in his article ‘The climate is changing, why aren’t we?’ says people often overestimate their own abilities and therefore don’t think they need to change, and have a general tendency to discount the seriousness of risks, especially if they occur far in the future.

At Experientia we’ve encountered both mentalities as barriers to more sustainable behaviour in different research projects. In one, we asked people to comment on their energy consumption use. The majority of our participants stated that they believed they used less energy than average. Obviously, statistically speaking, this can’t be true. In another project, we identified a kind of ‘on hold’ mentality, in which people are aware of the issues, want to change, and even know some basic information on what actions they could take – but put off making the changes to a “more convenient time”, perhaps waiting until they own a house to install new insulation, or get married to buy more sustainable appliances, or a new job to think about alternative ways to travel to work.
 

There is a whole world beyond the personal

As mentioned above, however, individual motivations don’t spring from nothing – they are formed by our physical environment, our culture, our social groups, our political leanings, our government’s stance and policies, and the practical tools we have at our disposal, among other things. Any attempt at behavioural change has to take action across these different areas. In Experientia’s work in Helsinki’s Jätkäsaari area, as part of a team constructing a low-to-no carbon emissions building block called Low2No, we have been working on a behavioural change framework that identifies the interplay of forces that impact our likelihood of complying with behavioural change efforts.

  • Physical considerations and constraints
    Such as the spaces in which we live, heating needs, transport infrastructure, light conditions, water and food supplies, and available technology, including the tools and interfaces which give us the information we need to make informed decisions.
     
  • Personal factors
    These include our individual green values, current consumption behaviours, transport behaviours and our levels of self-awareness regarding our own impact on climate and the available options to modify it.
     
  • Social environment
    Such as community identity, values, beliefs, memories, needs, and habits. How widely are green values shared in the community? Are people aware of pollution conditions and the associated risks? Is there a collective knowledge base about the behavioural impact on climate and the options to modify it?
     
  • Cultural context
    Finally, consider issues such as the level of commitment of public administrations and businesses to green values, the number and quality of public/private incentives for sustainable behaviours and continuous improvement and maintenance programmes, affects the likelihood of us taking personal action.

 

A framework for bottom-up change

Of course, the government has a major role to play in creating the conditions for these frameworks to thrive. Legislation will need to play a strong role in behavioural change towards sustainability. We have already seen the limits of self-governing regulatory bodies and voluntary standards in the past – Norwegian businesses only started allowing women into their boardrooms once this became mandatory, despite ten years of promises from the companies involved.

Governments will mandate change because they need to meet targets set by various international bodies and agreements. However, for change to be sustained in the long-term, it also needs to be bottom-up, and not just top-down, rising from a grassroots commitment to change, which in turn brings pressure to bear on political bodies to change at national level.

Design can support and nurture the development of this grassroots movement, through concepts that work in the four contexts described above. Our Low2No framework also defines four different kinds of actions that need to take place: Engagement and Awareness, Community Actions, Self Assessment and Leading by Example.

  • Engagement and Awareness
    As people’s awareness of climate issues are raised, they need meaningful and contextual information to help them respond. What is the difference in real terms between an A and an A++ appliance? How could this information be presented to people so that the benefits are clear? This also involves providing people with tools for evaluation, so that they are empowered to make better choices. Engagement with a new behaviour is more likely to be sustained long-term if it is easier and more convenient than previous patterns – for example, making it easier to recycle technological waste products or systems that automatically reuse grey water in gardens without any extra effort.
     
  • Community Actions
    We are social animals and our neighbours’ or peers’ behaviour will impact us strongly. We are already starting to see social reputation being used to enforce or “proof” behaviour. Comparative billing is just one example of this. How else might people’s behaviours start to change if they knew exactly what keeping up with the Joneses meant in terms of consumption?

    However, we need to go beyond the passive concept of social proofing, to help communities to build a sense of shared values, of people who have the same goals and work together. One person working alone may find it hard to sustain their commitment to a new activity – but once it becomes a social activity, family, neighbours and peers become a force of encouragement and support, with common interests. This means creating a pool of shared knowledge, accessible to all members of the community, and putting support mechanisms and networks in place to encourage compliance. This opportunity to focus sustainability efforts through the lens of community involvement also has lifestyle implications – it reframes the paradigm of urban living from one in which we live in our own households and don’t know the neighbours, to a social network in which we know exactly what our joint energy consumption is, and metaphorically (or even actually) stop on the stairs to exchange tips.
     

  • Self Assessment
    In order to translate understanding into action, people need to be able to see the real impact of their individual or group actions. Targets can help make information measurable and actionable, and simulating the impact of different alternatives can help people decide on the best course to take. Monitoring and immediate feedback can help people to see patterns in their own behaviour, showing when they are more or less compliant with their goals, and perhaps helping them to identify why. Success should be tied to rewards, from emotional satisfaction, such as having achieved the goal of using less than the average, to more tangible benefits such as financial savings or a bonus. At a community level, the ability to evaluate joint consumption and carbon emissions is an important tool for highlighting the need for further action, and the opportunity to reward sustained change.
     
  • Leading by Example
    Encouraging individuals to change is vital, but the impact has to occur at community, regional and national level. Governments and local authorities need to show their commitment to sustainable causes by facilitating open dialogue between public and private sectors, and offering public incentives to sustain change, for individuals, communities and small and big businesses alike. Positive feedback loops are needed to constantly refine processes and policies. More importantly, governments need to model the behaviours they are hoping to encourage in their populations. Change at this level can only occur once governments start to feel the pressure from their voters, and to believe that sustainability is a challenge we can no longer afford to procrastinate around.

 

A virtuous circle

The ultimate aim of behavioural change for sustainability has to be to make our lives better. If designers and policy makers can find a way to link more sustainable behaviours with a higher quality of life, then we have the problem cracked. If we can provide a context in which we can link personal satisfaction and self-actualisation with a lower rate of consumption, and a more sustainable lifestyle, then we can create a society in which wealth means not having more, but living better. To do this, people must be offered the right tools and information to effect change, as well as the conditions to create new tools and new values, and to communicate these to others. In the end, change becomes a self-reinforcing loop, in which design influences people to behave more sustainably, and people’s desire to act ‘green’ drives design and public policy.

24 November 2010

Evaluating Nordic Living Labs

ENoLL Nordic
Over the past decade, Living Labs have become an established part of local and regional innovation systems, using a variety of methods and tools, and focusing on a wide array of domains and themes.

However, the experimental, learning-by-doing set up of Living Labs within various application domains and the disconnection between individual Living Labs, has lead to a wide variation of approaches, results and impacts of Living Lab activities. Furthermore, the economic logic and business models for Living Labs remain underdeveloped. Therefore, as this innovation instrument matures, it is paramount to ensure that its main strength in terms of local applicability does not turn into a significant weakness in terms of the relevance, validity and robustness of Living Lab test results.

Reflecting these concerns, the ENoLL Nordic project primarily aimed at benchmarking and harmonizing best practices for setting up and conducting individual Living Lab research.

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22 November 2010

Invading Cyprus with user-centred design

Schedia
A group of young designers are making their mark on Nicosia’s urban scene by creatively redesigning “misused public spaces”.

“Our goal is to give solutions on how these spaces could be used,” said designer Marina Hadjilouca, one of the founders and designers of Schedia, organisers of this weekend’s Urban Invaders event.

Schedia was set up in December 2009 and focuses on user-centred designs, exploring how methods used within this area of design can improve urban regeneration, such as the transformation of the old town of Nicosia, as well as public and private places like libraries. This type of design is centred on the user, researching its characteristics and providing solutions that meet their needs, wishes and expectations. The process covers each stage of design, starting from the research involving the public to the outline of the idea and the development of the space.

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15 October 2010

US UX versus EU UX: What’s the difference?

EC UX
In response to questions from Amy Knox regarding US user experience and European user experience, Søren Muus (creative director at FatDUX and co-initiator of the European Centre for User Experience) recently posted on the mail list of the Information Architecture Institute some interesting ideas in this matter. The people of the European Centre for User Experience (ECUX) republished his piece.

“I’m not sure if there’s a specific “European” UX – it’s mostly a matter of content and tone of voice, perhaps to the extend where this is reflected in IA as a consequence hereof, or from being multilingual in an area where language barriers don’t follow national borders. There are of course both national conventions and best practices that relates to specific countries or language areas that you have to beware of. I’ll give you a few examples in my attempt to answer your questions below.

Most of the problems you may encounter, would derive from either lingual, cultural, political or historical issues. And these challenges relates very much to who YOU are, or pretend to be.”

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(via InfoDesign)