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Posts in category 'Identity'

26 October 2006

Interfaces for people, not products [UX matters]

“The digitising of information, the rapid rise of digital information systems, and increased access to those systems by a broad range of people have challenged the way in which we look at specialists and the roles they play”, writes Jonathan Follett in UX matters.

This also means that “we are also increasingly responsible for managing everything from our bank accounts to our credit, our insurance plans to our retirement plans, our health care to our education. This responsibility is time-consuming—and while we are no longer amateurs, we’re not really experts either. Herein lies a great challenge for information designers, who must format data to aid understanding, decision-making, and efficient task completion.”

“How do we find a way to enable people to more easily and powerfully interact with their data that is stored across applications from competing corporate entities and government agencies? Progress on the data side is well underway with widespread adoption of formats like XML and RSS. On the user interface side, we can encourage the adoption of standards and patterns.”

Read full story

1 October 2006

European versus American innovation

Jeffrey Phillips of the software and services innovation consultancy OVO recently explored the similarities and differences between innovation in Europe and in the US.

“What became clear is that while firms on both continents are seeking to become more innovative, their methods and approaches are relatively different.”

According to Phillips, “Europe has a more collegial, collaborative approach to innovation”, whereas the US innovator seems more likely to try to “go it alone”.

He then explores what the implications of this are in a time when participation and co-creation are increasingly valued.

Read full story

8 August 2006

Cellphones top Iraqi cool list [The New York Times]

Cellphones in Iraq
“Cellphones have long been considered status symbols in developing countries, Iraq included. But in an environment [like Iraq] where hanging out is potentially life threatening, cellphones are also a window into dreams and terrors, the macabre local sense of humor and Iraqis’ resilience amid the swells of violence”, writes Damien Cave in The New York Times.

Cellphones also provide “one of the country’s only safe forms of teenage self-expression.”

Read full story (permanent link)

3 August 2006

The dashboard as metaphor for the next wave in technological culture

Linda Stone
Linda Stone, former Microsoft and Apple researcher and world-renowned specialist in understanding and quantifying human productivity, stated recently at the Collaborative Technologies Conference in Boston, that continuous partial attention characterises the way most of us react to the world most of the time.

It involves constantly scanning multiple sources of information (e-mail, instant messages, RSS feeds, TV, podcasts) paying partial attention to each. That’s different from old-school multitasking — talking on the phone while stirring a pot of soup, for example — which involves doing multiple nonintellectual tasks at the same time.

According to Stone, the focus for the next technocultural wave (from 2005 to 2025) will be on simplified, trusted communications. We’ll be looking for tools that help us sort through the chaos of overconnectedness and replace it with “meaningful” connectedness: Instead of tracking 3,000 online friends, we’ll deepen our connection with the three or 30 friends who really matter.

If the metaphor for the first generation (from 1965 to 1985) was the PC and for the second generation (from 1985 to 2005) was the Internet, the metaphor for this generation is the “dashboard” — a tool that simplifies multiple sources of information and allows us to focus on what really matters.

- Read full story
- Blog transcripts of Stone’s presentation: Nancy White (mirror), Annette Kramer, Jeffrey Treem

20 June 2006

Tech creates a bubble for kids [USA Today]

Bubble kids
USA Today has a long story on the effect of technology on the social mores of children and teens, particularly on their self-identity and the need for social approval.

“Raised by parents who stressed individualism and informality, young people grew up in a society that is more open and offers more choices than in their parents’ youth, says child and adolescent psychologist Dave Verhaagen of Charlotte.

Unlike their parents, they have never known anything but a world dominated by technology. Even their social lives revolve around the Web, iPods and cellphones. So they dress down, talk loose and reveal their innermost thoughts online.

“Put that all together and you’ve got a generation that doesn’t have the same concept of privacy and personal boundaries as generations before,” Verhaagen says.

“They’re tuned out in some ways to the social graces around them and the people in their lives, in their physical realm, and tuned in to the people they’re with virtually,” says psychologist and sociologist Sherry Turkle of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.

On top of that, young people don’t care as much about making a good impression as their parents and grandparents did growing up, says Jean Twenge, an associate professor of psychology at San Diego State University.”

Read full story

11 June 2006

Thimble, a location-based social network for lending and renting using reputation as currency

Dave Chiu
“Sharing is not currently typical behaviour in society. Future services, which emphasise sharing, require a shift in human behaviour. One requirement for this shift is trust.”

This starting assumption, which was initially developed within an Applied Dreams workshop, provided Dave Chiu (personal blog) with the inspiration for Thimble, his thesis project at Interaction Design Institute Ivrea.

“Thimble is a location-based social network that enables lending and renting using reputation as currency. This service helps you find people nearby who have the things you need, and improves your chances of borrowing or renting items. Thimble capitalises on trust within existing social networks and helps you build a history of borrowing and lending, which you can then use when negotiating for access to things outside of your social network.”

“On the Thimble website, you can search for things you need and find people who may have them in your local area and your social network. Depending on your relationship with them, you may contact them directly or through the service. The terms of any resulting transaction are recorded on Thimble and both parties rate the outcome of the transaction with a qualitative and quantitative thumbs-up or thumbs-down. Over time, these ratings compile as your reputation, which you can then use when negotiating for access to items.”

Dave is now implementing some of his ideas on reputation by helping RapLeaf (blog), a web-based reputation management system.

Visit thesis website

(This post is the third in a series of short features on the graduation projects by the final students of the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea, now located in Milan. As of next week, the Institute will be entirely absorbed within the Domus Academy‘s ‘I-Design” programme.)

11 December 2005

Turin World Design Capital in 2008

My hometown Turin (or “Torino” in Italian) has been selected as the 2008 World Design Capital by ICSID, the international council of societies of industrial design.

With this nomination, Turin has been given the go-ahead to organise a series of activities and events to present the Piedmont and Italian design excellence to a worldwide audience.

Turin gave the ICSID members with a unique book that provides in ten stories an insight into the Torino and Piedmont peculiarities, seen through the eye of design.

The book also features a uniquely created font, WDC, designed to give a clearer indentity to the award, which is now available to the design community.

The idea of designing a font stems from the awareness that Piedmont has a long tradition of typography and font development. In 1470 the first industrial typographers in Europe were located in Paris and Mondovi, a town to the south of Turin. Giovanni Bodoni was Piemontese by origin, and his successful font, Bodoni, is still widely used.

World Design Capital book (English only)
- Download text pages (pdf, 100 kb, 15 pages)
- View images

Read latest newsletter (Italian only)

26 November 2005

The product as story [The Observer]

If you had to write your organisation’s obituary, what would it say? Would there be any mourners? Has it made any difference to anyone? Would the world be worse off without it? Would anyone actually notice?

Faced with this question, say Klaus Fog and Christian Budtz, most chief executives are struck dumb, with no idea how to reply – a telling indication of the tenuousness of their companies’ hold on their purpose and meaning. If those inside the firm cannot encapsulate the core story, how can those outside be expected to understand it?

Both Fog and Budtz, of the small Danish communications group Sigma, believe that in a world of trivia, artifice and information overload, ‘the story’ is critical not just to a company’s brands, but to its whole existence. In most companies it is lost under accretions of history and bureaucracy; it takes the obituary test to uncover and reinvigorate fundamentals.

Together with Baris Yakaboylou, Fog and Budtz have written a book about their findings: Storytelling: Branding in Practice, Springer.

Read full story

Related: The Storytellers (UK)

25 November 2005

A user-centric concept of web identity

Identity 2.0 is a new user-centric and secure concept of identity on the web, rather than the current directory or site-centric one, which is not exactly safe.

Dick Hardt, CEO of Sxip Identity, made a brilliant presentation of what this all means.

Dave Gray of Communication Nation describes Hardt’s talk as: “one of the best presentations I’ve seen recently. Hardt completely captivates his audience with great visuals, great storytelling, and great timing. His presentation has a staccato, rhythmic quality, like a kind of corporate hip-hop. And he pulls it off by focusing your attention on the screen; he barely moves a muscle and doesn’t budge from behind the podium. One benefit of this presentation style is that it transfers seamlessly to the web.”

(more about this presentation style)

9 September 2005

Sacred World Foundation

The Sacred World Foundation was founded several years ago by Ranjit Makkuni, a visionary and designer and a former leading researcher at Xerox PARC.

It is a state of the art research and design think tank, located in New Delhi, India, whose projects are exploring innovation created by building bridges between techno and traditional cultures.

The site, which I highly recommend, features a rich portfolio of entirely original projects, including The Crossing, an interactive exhibition exploring traditional crafts and culture, and the recently inaugurated Eternal Gandhi Multimedia Museum.

8 September 2005 – social tagging for mobile phones

Glocalmap (site currently in Italian only) is a large-scale cultural “social tagging” project that integrates web mapping, thematic tagging and mobile phone messaging, to create a new urban narrative for the city of Turin.

It allows citizens and visitors alike to enrich a detailed satellite map of Turin and its surroundings with thematic text and mms messages of all sorts, sent directly from their mobile phones, thus creating a detailed and easily consultable immaterial narrative that reflects the city’s many levels of vibrant cultural activity.

The project, which is part of the Turin Cultural Olympics, will enter into a testing phase in November 2005, and be fully launched on 1 February 2006, in time for Turin’s Olympic Winter Games.

Building on various experiences of social tagging, including the New Orleans disaster information tool recently developed as an overlay on Google Maps, the Turin project goes several steps further: it focuses on cultural meaning and narrative, rather than just practical information; it uses Italy’s top digital tool – the mobile phone; and it makes all citizens active players and contributors.

The project is developed by the architect/urbanist Maurizio Cilli and the new media expert Carlo Infante, and has meanwhile received support from various authorities and foundations, and from the internationally acclaimed Domus Magazine.

Related: performing mediateatron (both sites in Italian only)

5 August 2005

Indigenous people bridging the digital divide [World Changing]

Indigenous peoples are using both digital and narrative media to preserve and express their cultures and beliefs.

Often this involves adapting media and technology to what the people need, rather than pushing them into a pre-digested or “mainstream” model of what they ought to do with technology.

Read full story

14 July 2005

Extra, extra! Foreign press, translated [Christian Science Monitor]

Website lets Americans see what the world’s non-English publications say about US policy.

The headline reads, “Columbus’ Discovery of America: History’s ‘Biggest Mistake.’ ” That might sound harsh to an American audience, but it’s less likely to ruffle Iraqis reading it in Arabic. Another zinger, this one from Tunisia, bluntly states, “The United States: a Country Beyond the Law.” A Mexican headline declares: “Time Near for Bush to Pay the Piper.”

The stories offer a glimpse of how foreigners feel about the only superpower. And they were all available recently on, a website launched earlier this year that simply culls, without comment, the foreign online press for commentary about America.

Read full story

5 July 2005

Digital data never die [Business Week]

E-mail, video, and all sorts of stuff now rendered in bits and bytes never really disappear and can be easily copied. Privacy? Hah!

Read full story

1 July 2005

European Cities Monitor

What do European companies think about European cities? Here is a sample of the results of a survey with 500 of Europe’s 15,000 biggest companies:

  • The top 10 European cities to locate a business to today (in order):
    London, Paris, Frankfurt, Brussels, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Munich, Berlin, Zurich and Milan
  • The top 10 European cities that promote themselves well (in order):
    Barcelona, London, Paris, Dublin, Madrid, Prague, Warsaw, Berlin, Brussels and Lisbon
  • The top 10 European cities that are doing the most to actually improve themselves (in order):
    Barcelona, Madrid, Berlin, Prague, London, Lisbon, Warsaw, Paris, Budapest and Athens

Click here to download the report with the full results (pdf, 668 kb).

20 June 2005

Reflecting on Europe’s identity

A series of articles on the current European debate:

17 June 2005

The Red Cross and secrecy, or how to deal with a changing world [Financial Times]

A particularly thorough and insightful article on how the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross), based as it is on 19th and early 20th century paradigms, is coping with a changing world. It analyses the simple question raised by Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo: has confidentiality become obsolete in the face of modern warfare?

Read full story

8 June 2005

Rethinking the identity of Cittadellarte, the foundation of Michelangelo Pistoletto

During the last five months, I have been working intensively with Michelangelo Pistoletto and the staff of his foundation, Cittadellarte, on a clearer definition of Cittadellarte’s core identity, which had become a little diffuse after several years of fast growth in its activities.

The organisation now has a mission, a series of core objectives, and a methodology of model projects that structure all its activities.

Since yesterday, this is also reflected in the updated text of its web site.

Go to website

21 May 2005

A city with drive [The Independent]

Stephen Bayley takes a pit stop in Turin, and finds the hometown of Fiat is fuelled by fast cars and fabulous food.

Read full story

14 May 2005

Dortmund looks ahead [International Herald Tribune]

In 2003, roughly 500 Chinese workers arrived in Dortmund to deal the final blow to the city’s former status as a heavy-industry heartland in Germany’s Ruhr River valley. Working by day and sometimes by night, the Chinese dismantled Dortmund’s last blast furnace, which the steelmaking giant ThyssenKrupp had mothballed in 1998, no longer able to run it at a profit.

Read full story