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Posts in category 'Foresight'

3 September 2010

The future of screen technology

Alarm
TAT, a Swedish software technology and mobile interface design company, recently ran a two-week open innovation experiment, during which they collaborate with the web community to sketch out an idea for two weeks and then build a video of the concept that gets most contribution and attention – measured in votes, ideas, and comments.

They concentrated the open innovation on three areas: the future of driving, the future of communication, and the future of screen technology.

The latter – screen technology – became the winner of the initiative. After concept design and video production, which TAT conducted internally, the movie which aims to showcase user interfaces in 2014 is now ready and available online.

Watch video

2 July 2010

More videos from The Web And Beyond

TWAB
All presentations from The Web and Beyond (TWAB) can now be viewed online.

TWAB is the bi-annual daylong conference organised by Chi Nederland and IOP-MMI for the user experience and interaction design community.

Here are some we like:

People as content [video | abstract + bio]
Anton Nijholt, University of Twente
Anton looks deeper into non-cooperative behaviour and its many uses from both the point of view of a smart environment, and that of human partners, users, or inhabitants of smart environments.

Playing well with others: design for augmented reality [video | abstract + bio]
Joe Lamantia
Joe reviews interaction design patterns common to augmented reality, suggest tools to improve the ‘social maturity’ of AR, and shares design principles for creating genuinely social augmented experiences.

Proximity wormholes: how the social web enables intimacy at scale [video | abstract + bio]
Lee Bryant, Headshift
Lee shows how proximity changes in the social web, and how we can adapt and cope with these changes, given that our own cognitive powers evolve more slowly than the tools we use to connect and communicate.

Social 3.0 [video | abstract + bio]
Steven Pemberton, CWI/W3C
Steven introduces new technologies that would allow us to arrange our social networks in different ways so that the data belongs to us. He’ll discuss how they affect our interactions online and how we can adopt such technologies.

The human interface (Why products are people, too) [video | abstract + bio]
Christopher Fahey, Behavior
Chris explores diverse areas of non-digital human experience (language, storytelling, neurology and sociology) to frame and showcase some of the most exciting current and emerging user experience design practices on the web and other media.

UX research methods for ubiquitous computing [video | abstract + bio]
Stijn Nieuwendijk, valsplat
Ubiquitous computing challenges the field of usability research. Stijn talks about the evolution of the classic usability set-up and show new user experience research methods that valsplat is experimenting with.

1 July 2010

The cities we need

The Cities We Need
The Grattan Institute, an Australian independent public policy think-tank, has published a new report, entitled “The Cities We Need“, that aims to set an agenda for thinking about the future of Australia’s cities. It asks how cities meet the individual needs of their residents, both material and psychological, and identifies emerging challenges to meeting these needs.

Abstract

The most important characteristic of a city is whether it meets the needs of its residents, both material and psychological. Despite the fact that these needs are central to our lives, they are often at the periphery of conversations about the future of Australian cities. With these criteria in mind, it is clear that while our cities operate well, there is much room for improvement.

We do not propose a set of solutions or prescriptions. Instead we argue that we need to realise that cities are complex systems, and lay out ten questions about our urban future that we must get serious about. As we manage growth and change in Australian cities, how bold are we prepared to be to get the cities we really need?

18 June 2010

Deciphering the cause of human motivation

Drive
Anand Giridharadas, columnist at the New York Times and the International Herald Tribune, is at it again in his usual delightful way. This time he reflects on the nature of human motivation.

“Call it, perhaps, the great showdown over the nature of human motivation.

One camp regards our species as Homo Incentivus. It conceives of us as shrewd responders to carrots and sticks, hooked on a diet of incentives and external rewards. This camp bristles at the thought that we do things just because we love them or believe they are right. [...]

Which idea reflects our cultural moment? Are we cool, rational optimizers or suckers for the balm of purpose?

In a recent book called “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us,” Daniel Pink, who wrote speeches for Al Gore when he was the U.S. vice president, attacks the incentive-based vision of humans. On his telling, Motivation 1.0 came naturally: It was biological survival, the escaping from lions and tigers. Then we developed Motivation 2.0, which is the use of incentives — external penalties and rewards. But in our attempt to induce useful behavior, we may actually have drained the intrinsic pleasure from it, Mr. Pink contends.”

Read article

17 June 2010

Resistance is futile and the design of politics

Personal and Ubiquitous Computing
Paul Dourish, a researcher frequently written about on this blog (check e.g. Monday’s mentioning of his paper on Postcolonial Computing), has posted a few more papers that are worth exploring:

“Resistance is Futile”: Reading Science Fiction Alongside Ubiquitous Computing
Personal and Ubiquitous Computing
Paul Dourish, Department of Informatics, University of California
Genevieve Bell, Director of the User Experience Group, Intel Corporation

“Design-oriented research is an act of collective imagining – a way in which we work together to bring about a future that lies slightly out of our grasp. In this paper, we examine the collective imagining of ubiquitous computing by bringing it into alignment with a related phenomenon, science fiction, in particular as imagined by a series of shows that form part of the cultural backdrop for many members of the research community. A comparative reading of these fictional narratives highlights a series of themes that are also implicit in the research literature. We argue both that these themes are important considerations in the shaping of technological design, and that an attention to the tropes of popular culture holds methodological value for ubiquitous computing.”

HCI and Environmental Sustainability: The Politics of Design and the Design of Politics
DIS 2010
Paul Dourish, Department of Informatics, University of California, Irvine

“Many HCI researchers have recently begun to examine the opportunities to use ICTs to promote environmental sustainability and ecological consciousness on the part of technology users. This paper examines the way that traditional HCI discourse obscures political and cultural contexts of environmental practice that must be part of an effective solution. Research on ecological politics and the political economy of environmentalism highlight some missing elements in contemporary HCI analysis, and suggest some new directions for the relationship between sustainability and HCI. In particular, I propose that questions of scale – the scales of action and the scales of effects – might provide a useful new entry point for design practice.”

17 June 2010

Jon Kolko on design that changes human behavior

Jon Kolko
As part of its “Future By Design” series, Forbes Magazine interviewed Jon Kolko, associate creative director at Frog Design and founder of the Austin Center for Design, on how a “well-crafted product can make the world a better place.”

Forbes: What do you think constitutes good design?
Good design is design that changes behavior for the better. I think it needs to take into account the context of the environment, of the human condition, the culture and then attempt to make the things you do–make us do them better, make us do better things. It encourages us to change the way that we live.

Read interview

12 June 2010

Closing the digital frontier

The digital frontier
The era of the Web browser’s dominance is coming to a close. And the Internet’s founding ideology—that information wants to be free, and that attempts to constrain it are not only hopeless but immoral— suddenly seems naive and stale in the new age of apps, smart phones, and pricing plans. What will this mean for the future of the media—and of the Web itself? Michael Hirschorn reflects on this in latest issue of The Atlantic Magazine:

“The shift of the digital frontier from the Web, where the browser ruled supreme, to the smart phone, where the app and the pricing plan now hold sway, signals a radical shift from openness to a degree of closed-ness that would have been remarkable even before 1995.”

Read article

8 June 2010

Design Everything, a futures conference

FutureEverything
I finally had a chance to listen to the two excellent keynotes of Design Everything, the futures conference that took place last month in Manchester, UK.

Keynote: Ben Cerveny
Ben Cerveny‘s keynote explored how, as newly-emerging urban-scale technology infrastructures are implemented, citizens will begin to gain the ability to affect their environment in new ways, using city services the way they would use a digital application in an online environment. Through collaborative interaction with such tools, users of public spaces can configure them for specific temporary functions and even begin to ‘perform’ space together.”

Keynote: Keri Facer
In her keynote, Keri Facer explored the scenarios emerging from the Beyond Current Horizons programme and ask how, as a society, we can learn together as communities to respond to the profound environmental, demographic and technological opportunities challenges we face over the coming two decades.

8 June 2010

A sense of place, a world of Augmented Reality

Sicily
Architectural historian Mitchell Schwarzer has published a two-part essay that explores how technology — especially the real-time, mediating imageries of augmented reality — influences how we perceive and inhabit place.

“We’re in the first stage of a transformation of our sense of place,” he writes, “as momentous as that which occurred a couple of centuries ago, when products from smoke-stacked factories forged modern society.” Today, he argues, the “convergence of mobile phone, camera, wireless Internet and satellite communication — the key ingredients of the digital handheld — accelerates the reconstitution of place from real, occupied space to a collage of here and there, past and present.”

Mitchell Schwarzer is Professor of Visual Studies at California College of the Arts and a historian of architecture, landscape and urbanism.

Read article: Part 1 | Part 2

7 June 2010

Keynotes from The Web and Beyond

TWAB
Keynote videos from The Web and Beyond, the bi-annual daylong conference organised by Chi Nederland and IOP-MMI for the user experience and interaction design community, are available on Vimeo:

Michael Meyer
CEO, Adaptive Path
Proximus Maximus: design imperatives from the Roman Empire to the NASA Space Program and beyond
Michael Meyer frames the business and organizational imperatives for the new millennium by reviewing the lessons of history from the Roman times to the NASA Space Program.
Presentation abstract and speaker bio

Josephine Green
Specialist in social foresight for strategy and innovation
Engaging with the future differently – from pyramids to pancakes
Within a new worldview emerging from chaos and complexity, networks and systems thinking, what are the ways to decentralise and distribute innovation, strategy and design?
Presentation abstract and speaker bio

5 June 2010

Does the Internet make us smarter or dumber?

Smarter or dumber?
Clay Shirky and Nicholas Carr post contrasting video’s in the Saturday Essay of the Wall Street Journal

Amid the silly videos and spam are the roots of a new reading and writing culture, says Clay Shirky.

“The case for digitally-driven stupidity assumes we’ll fail to integrate digital freedoms into society as well as we integrated literacy. This assumption in turn rests on three beliefs: that the recent past was a glorious and irreplaceable high-water mark of intellectual attainment; that the present is only characterized by the silly stuff and not by the noble experiments; and that this generation of young people will fail to invent cultural norms that do for the Internet’s abundance what the intellectuals of the 17th century did for print culture. There are likewise three reasons to think that the Internet will fuel the intellectual achievements of 21st-century society.”

The cognitive effects are measurable: We’re turning into shallow thinkers, says Nicholas Carr.

“A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that the Net, with its constant distractions and interruptions, is [...] turning us into scattered and superficial thinkers.

The picture emerging from the research is deeply troubling, at least to anyone who values the depth, rather than just the velocity, of human thought. People who read text studded with links, the studies show, comprehend less than those who read traditional linear text. People who watch busy multimedia presentations remember less than those who take in information in a more sedate and focused manner. People who are continually distracted by emails, alerts and other messages understand less than those who are able to concentrate. And people who juggle many tasks are less creative and less productive than those who do one thing at a time.”

Personally, I am much more convinced by Shirky’s argument. Also I find Shirky’s thinking more concrete and actionable than Nicholas Carr’s, whose gloomy and conservative analysis can only lead, it seems to me, to a completely impossible conclusion: to shut down the web and move back to books.

>> See also these reviews on Carr’s book by The New York Times and Business Week

12 May 2010

The future of news

Daedalus
The Spring 2010 issue of Dædalus, the Journal of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, is dedicated to the Future of News.

Front Matter

Introduction
Loren Ghiglione, Professor of Media Ethics at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University

News & the news media in the digital age: implications for democracy
Herbert J. Gans, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Columbia University

Are there lessons for the future of news from the 2008 presidential campaign?
Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Professor of Communication at the Annenberg School for Communication, & Jeffrey A. Gottfried, senior researcher at the Annenberg Public Policy Center

New economic models for U.S. journalism
Robert H. Giles, Curator of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University

Sustaining quality journalism
Jill Abramson, Managing Editor, The New York Times

The future of investigative journalism
Brant Houston, Chair in Investigative and Enterprise Reporting at the College of Media at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The future of science news
Donald Kennedy, President Emeritus and Senior Fellow of the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University

International reporting in the age of participatory media
Ethan Zuckerman, senior researcher at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University

The case for wisdom journalism – and for journalists surrendering the pursuit of news
Mitchell Stephens, Professor of Journalism in the Carter Institute at New York University

Journalism ethics amid structural change
Jane B. Singer, Associate Professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Iowa

Political observatories, databases & news in the emerging ecology of public information
Michael Schudson, Professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

What is happening to news?
Jack Fuller, former President of Tribune Publishing Company

The Internet & the future of news
Paul Sagan & Tom Leighton, Fellows of the American Academy

Improving how journalists are educated & how their audiences are informed
Susan King, Vice President for External Relations at Carnegie Corporation of New York

Does science fiction suggest futures for news?
Loren Ghiglione, Professor of Media Ethics at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University

poetry: In a Diner Above the Lamoille River
Greg Delanty, poet

Contributors

11 May 2010

Philips Design’s latest projects

Rice cooker
The latest issue of new value by design, the Philips Design newsletter, contains three short articles that sit closely to what we cover in this blog:

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.

30 April 2010

Towards a Finnish user needs based service economy

uutiskuva
Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund [disclaimer: and Experientia client] has launched a new book, After the Crisis, and a report, Finland: Wellsprings for a Vital Future, that shed light on the fundamental change Finland is going through.

“For decades, Finland’s wealth has been underpinned by an economy that is based on exports and industry. Globalisation has now changed the geography of industrial production and we are transitioning from production-based activities to a service economy focused on people and solutions. This transition requires a totally new way of thinking,” says Sari Baldauf, Chair of Sitra’s Wellsprings of Finnish Vitality development programme.

The concept of a service economy focused on people and solutions means that today’s growth engines are no longer those on which Finland’s success has been built. In order to succeed, industrial and social institutions are increasingly having to create new service solutions and products for their operations, and ones based on users’ needs.

These changes will affect how we perceive economic growth, well-being, as well as the way people live and work. The impact of the changes will be so great that it would be fair to talk of a cultural transformation.

Read press release

24 April 2010

Toward a read/write urbanism

Frameworks
What might we gain, asks Adam Greenfield, if we begin to conceive of cities, for some limited purposes anyway, as software under active development?

What if we imagined that the citizen-responsiveness system we’ve designed lives in a dense mesh of active, communicating public objects? Then the framework we’ve already deployed becomes something very different. To use another metaphor from the world of information technology, it begins to look a whole lot like an operating system for cities.

Provided that, we can treat the things we encounter in urban environments as system resources, rather than a mute collection of disarticulated buildings, vehicles, sewers and sidewalks. One prospect that seems fairly straightforward is letting these resources report on their own status. Information about failures would propagate not merely to other objects on the network but reach you and me as well, in terms we can relate to, via the provisions we’ve made for issue-tracking.

And because our own human senses are still so much better at spotting emergent situations than their machinic counterparts, and will probably be for quite some time yet to come, there’s no reason to leave this all up to automation.

Read article

11 April 2010

Your life in 2020

2020
Forbes Magazine, in collaboration with Frog Design, has been looking at what the future in 2020 might look like in a range of areas: computer, choice, classroom, commute, home, job, diet, health and reputation.

Some articles are clearly more inspired (and less technology and US-centered) than others. Many scenarios are far too optimistic, and I miss some broader socio-economic and environmental analysis. What could be the real consequences of privacy concerns, crime, cultural differences, war, climate change, overpopulation or poverty in all this?

Here is for instance a quote from one of the scenarios (about social networking in 2020) that, when thinking about it, would open up a huge range of privacy and security problems, none of which are acknowledged or addressed:

“The virtual display could be used to illustrate relationships between a group of people. A husband and wife might be linked by a thin glowing tether. Flowchart arrows could indicate if one person is another’s boss. Even former friends–people who were once connected but severed ties–could be identified with broken chains or angry lightning bolts.”

This lack of broader contextualisation makes the whole exercise somewhat naive and superficial. That said, here are my preferred pieces (with Steve McCallion’s one – addressing some of the issues mentioned above – my personal number one):

Your life in 2020
by John Maeda, president of RISD
In 2020 we might just regain some of the humanity that was lost in 2010.

“So, what will take technology’s place? It begins with art, design and you: Products and culture that are made by many individuals, made by hand, made well, made by people we trust, and made to capture some of the nuances and imperfections that we treasure in the physical world. It may just feel like we’ve regained some of what we’ve lost in 2010.”

Your computer in 2020
by Mark Rolston, chief creative officer at Frog Design
Traditional computers are disappearing; human beings themselves are becoming information augmented

“When computing becomes deeply integrated into our knowing, our thinking, our decision processes, our bodies and even our consciousness, we are forever changed. We are becoming augmented. Our first and second lives will be forever entwined.”

Transportation in 2020
by Steve McCallion, executive creative director at Ziba Design
In 10 years, your commute will be short, cheap and, dare we say, fun.

“In 2020 a new generation will emerge from a period of frugality into one of resourcefulness and resilience. Americans will start searching for transportation solutions that are smarter, healthier, slower and more social.”

The classroom in 2020
by George Kembel, cofounder and executive director of Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design
The next decade will bring an end to school as we know it.

“In 2020 we will see an end to the classroom as we know it. The lone professor will be replaced by a team of coaches from vastly different fields. Tidy lectures will be supplanted by messy real-world challenges. Instead of parking themselves in a lecture hall for hours, students will work in collaborative spaces, where future doctors, lawyers, business leaders, engineers, journalists and artists learn to integrate their different approaches to problem solving and innovate together.”

Reputation in 2020
by David Ewait, Fortune Magazine
Social networks change the way we look at the world and introduce new economic incentives.

“Web-based social networks are cutting-edge technology in 2010. By the year 2020 they’ll be so commonplace–and so deeply embedded in our lives–that we’ll navigate them in the real world, in real time, using displays that splash details over our own field of vision. We’ll even use the social capital that results from these networks as a form of currency.”

But if you understand French, it is useful to compare these insights with the five videos broadcast on the France 5 channel: vivre en 2040.

2 April 2010

The impact of the Internet on institutions in the future

Imagining the Internet
The latest Pew Research Center Internet & American Life Project report is out: “The Impact of the Internet on Institutions in the Future” surveys 895 tech experts on the way that technology will change institutions (government, business, nonprofits, schools) in the next ten years.

Technology experts and stakeholders say the internet will drive more change in businesses and government agencies by 2020, making them more responsive and efficient. But there are powerful bureaucratic forces that will push back against such transformation and probably draw out the timeline. Expect continuing tension in disruptive times.

Respondents included Clay Shirky, Esther Dyson, Doc Searls, Nicholas Carr, Susan Crawford, David Clark, Jamais Cascio, Peter Norvig, Craig Newmark, Hal Varian, Howard Rheingold, Andreas Kluth, Jeff Jarvis, Andy Oram, Kevin Werbach, David Sifry, Dan Gillmor, Marc Rotenberg, Stowe Boyd, John Pike, Andrew Nachison, Anthony Townsend, Ethan Zuckerman, Tom Wolzien, Stephen Downes, Rebecca MacKinnon, Jim Warren, Sandra Brahman, Barry Wellman, Seth Finkelstein, Jerry Berman, Tiffany Shlain, and Stewart Baker.

Consult survey

11 March 2010

BBC on the future of the internet

Discovery
Twenty years after the emergence of the world wide web, Rory Cellan-Jones of the BBC World Service’s Discovery series looks at the science driving its third decade.

Web 3.0 promises a world where people and objects are seamlessly connected through an all pervasive network, no longer controlled through devices such as mouse and keyboards but through speech, gestures and even our very thoughts. It is a web that will become truly mobile and global.

But the will this vision work in reality? How will such an all pervasive network, if it does emerge, be made safe and secure against attacks and corruption?

Who will ultimately control the web – big business or the community? And will the developing world finally take centre stage in this new silicon Babylon?

Listen to programme

25 February 2010

Article series on futures thinking

Crystal ball
Jamais Cascio, who covers the intersection of emerging technologies and cultural transformation for Fast Company, is in the process of publishing an ‘occasional’ series of articles “about the tools and methods for thinking about the future in a structured, useful way”.

Futures Thinking: The Basics
Overview of how to engage in a foresight exercise

Futures Thinking: Asking the Question
Detailed exploration of setting up a futures exercise and “how to figure out what you’re trying to figure out”

Futures Thinking: Scanning the World
On gathering useful data

Futures Thinking: Mapping the Possibilities (Part 1)
Broad overview of creating alternative scenarios

Futures Thinking: Mapping the Possibilities (Part 2)
The nuts & bolts of creating scenarios

Futures Thinking: Writing Scenarios
What scenarios actually look like

19 February 2010

The Internet in 2020

Room with a view
A new report on the future of the internet, based on interviews of nearly 900 internet stakeholders and critics, conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and the Imagining the Internet Center at Elon University, created wide interest.

“The web-based survey gathered opinions from prominent scientists, business leaders, consultants, writers and technology developers. It is the fourth in a series of Internet expert studies conducted by the Imagining the Internet Center at Elon University and the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. In this report, we cover experts’ thoughts on the following issues:

  • Will Google make us stupid?
  • Will the internet enhance or detract from reading, writing, and rendering of knowledge?
  • Is the next wave of innovation in technology, gadgets, and applications pretty clear now, or will the most interesting developments between now and 2020 come “out of the blue”?
  • Will the end-to-end principle of the internet still prevail in 10 years, or will there be more control of access to information?
  • Will it be possible to be anonymous online or not by the end of the decade?

Fast Company focuses on privacy:

Experts were nearly split down the middle, with 55% agreeing that Internet users will be able to communicate anonymously and 41% agreeing that, by 2002, “anonymous online activity is sharply curtailed.” Not only are there divergent opinions on whether online anonymity will be possible in the future, there isn’t even a consensus on whether anonymity is universally desirable.

ReadWriteWeb takes a broader view and highlights some key quotes from the report.

MSNBC instead focuses on literacy:

A decade from now, Google won’t make us “stupid,” the Internet may make us more literate in a different kind of way and efforts to protect individual anonymity will be even more difficult to achieve, according to many of the experts surveyed for a look at “The Future of the Internet” in 2020.

Download report