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Posts in category 'Participation'

16 May 2010

Why it’s time to put the social back into services

Hilary Cottam
Is there an alternative to the seemingly inevitable cuts to public services? Hilary Cottam of Participle poses the question.

“The scale of the challenge to our public services is clear. The mainstream debate is all about cuts – how fast and how deep. At Participle, however, we are asking if there might not be another way. Our work is showing that it is possible to both increase social impact and reduce spending levels, by developing services that place relationships and participation at the centre.”

Read article

16 May 2010

Danah Boyd and the Facebook privacy discussion

Monopoly
Microsoft researcher Danah Boyd doesn’t need much introduction as her outspoken and well-developed analysis is frequently quoted on this blog. Two long articles — each with many comments — react to the current Facebook privacy discussion:

Facebook and “radical transparency” (a rant) (14 May)
The battle that is underway is not a battle over the future of privacy and publicity. It’s a battle over choice and informed consent. It’s unfolding because people are being duped, tricked, coerced, and confused into doing things where they don’t understand the consequences. Facebook keeps saying that it gives users choices, but that is completely unfair. It gives users the illusion of choice and hides the details away from them “for their own good.”

Facebook is a utility; utilities get regulated (15 May)
What’s next is how this emergent utility gets regulated. Cuz sadly, I doubt that anything else is going to stop them in their tracks. And I think that regulators know that.

16 May 2010

The trust economy: A world of P2P money-lending

P2P money lending
Wired UK has published a long article on P2P money-lending in its June issue:

The article devotes particular attention to Kiva.org, a San Francisco-based peer-to-peer (P2P) non-profit, which uses the principles of social networking to connect individual or group lenders to entrepreneurs via microfinance institutions (MFIs) around the world, and Zopa.com, a British matchmaker for borrowers and lenders.

“Just as eBay shook offline retail to its foundations, P2P lending models such as Kiva, though still marginal, threaten to disrupt high-street banking. Although the public’s faith in banks has been damaged and credit remains hard to come by, evidence suggests that a new trust-based economy is proving more efficient than traditional lending. [...]

If P2P finance has yet to prove scalable or profitable, it’s also true that, not so long ago, the same was said of other web ventures which went on to change the world.”

Read article

16 May 2010

Researchers study behavior in social networks

 
Research scientists Cameron Marlow (Facebook Inc.) and D.J. Patil (LinkedIn Corp.) have access to the interactions of groups of people that outnumber populations of whole countries and therefore unprecedented windows into the social interactions of people around the world.

During recent interviews with the San Francisco Chronicle, Marlow and Patil described the trends they are seeing.

“Palo Alto, Calif.-based Facebook, for example, has developed a “Gross National Happiness Index” that measures the positive and negative sentiments expressed in status posts. [...]

The team hopes to refine its data mining to answer questions such as how happiness may be contagious or what level of influence different groups of friends have on one another.”

Read article

16 May 2010

The reality of social media

The Merchant of Venice
Adrian Chan has written a thoughtful post about “teasing apart the objective and subjective dimensions of social media, to examine what’s behind the relational economy we now live in, and its particular mode of production.”

“All commerce and much personal and social utlity implied by use of social media owes to the subjective value added to what was, previously, a mode of production of information (publishing).

I will try to demonstrate here the manner in which social acts and communication result in mediated social realities. And suggest that the relational connections and value-added associations which are the byproduct of social media use create a marketplace of content whose highest value, individually motivated subjective choices, we are only beginning to capture and mine.”

He concludes:

“Communication is just communication as long as it remains observed only. But it calls for a yes or no, for acceptance or rejection. When that is supplied by another person, it becomes social action. Not information, but action, and what we need to capture it, measure it, relate it, and repurpose it, is the challenge facing us today.”

Read article

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

4 May 2010

What’s up with social objects?

Social objects
The concept of social objects is pretty widely used in social interaction design, but we’re missing a solid definition of what social objects are, says social media expert Adrian Chan on Johnny Holland. Or, whether they really even exist.

The most common use of the term “social object” refers to shared online resources around which interactions develop and coalesce. Examples could include gifts on Facebook, videos, or what have you. The object sort of serves as a shared object, a focus of attention, an actual digital object, and so on. And the object plays a role in governing or informing interactions; we know what objects mean and what to do with them (give them, comment on them, play them, etc.)

So argues Chan, we need a better description, and he gives it a go.

Read article

24 April 2010

Challenging the limits of open society

Anand Giridharadas
Anand Giridharadas is one of my favourite writers at the New York Times and this time his reflection on the merits of open societies is particularly thought provoking.

“A stunning idea has entered respectable American discourse of late: that China is not just an economic rival but also a political competitor, with a political system that, despite its own flaws, reveals grave flaws in American democracy and might be inspiring to wavering nations. [...]

The question the reappraisers seem to be asking is whether their belief in bottom-up, spontaneously ordering, self-regulating societies blinded them to other truths (as their enthusiasm for China risks blinding them to the cruelty and violence of autocracy). They are asking: Can openness go too far? Can public opinion be measured too frequently? Can free speech sow disorder? Is the crowd really smarter than the experts? Can transparency hamper governance?

Or, to put it in the terms of an influential 1997 essay, is the bazaar always better than the cathedral?”

Read article

22 April 2010

A new age of user-repaired devices

iFixit
iFixit launched today today a “global repair community” with the aim being user-level repairs of any device.

CrunchGear comments: “Such a project is well-timed; the relationship between user and manufacturer is becoming more one-sided. It doesn’t trouble you that the devices we use every day are so poorly documented, or constructed in such obscure ways, that one has to be an Apple-qualified technician or Dell customer service person to fix a simple problem? “

Read article

22 March 2010

Participatory systems, moving beyond 20th Century institutions

HIR
If the 20th century was the era of the global institution–the United Nations, the World Health Organization, the multinational corporation—then the 21st century will be the era of the participatory system, argues Participle‘s Hillary Cottam in the Winter 2010 (Vol.XXXI. No 4) edition of the Harvard International Review.

“The big global challenges of our time demand mass participation. Finding solutions to climate change, managing demographic shifts, preventing and managing chronic disease, providing safe water supplies, and maintaining food security will require the pooling of diverse types of knowledge and resources and harnessing the motivation of billions of individuals and their communities.

The issue of climate change illustrates this need. Governments can commission unclear power stations, but they cannot force change in behavior–they cannot convince citizens to turn down their thermostats or fly less frequently. Solutions cannot be pushed down at people from above; they need to be pulled up from below. Our existing institutional architecture is fundamentally not up to the task. We need new, distributed, and highly participatory systems if change is to happen at scale.

Bottom-up problem solving has been around for a long time, but it has operated at the margins. No longer. As we move into the second decade of the 21st century, two factors collide that will make participatory systems central to problem solving in the decades to come. Firstly, as I have already alluded to above, the scale of the problems creates the need to harness the widest possible set of resources to problem solve. Secondly, the technology has matured and has become pervasive enough to enable such problem solving in an unprecedented way. In a Web 2.0 world it is possible to design simple, low cost, and highly adaptive participatory systems.”

Read article

18 March 2010

Creating new concepts, products and services with user driven innovation

Creating new concepts, products and services with user driven innovation
From the Nordic Innovation website:

User driven innovation is emerging as one of the successful ways of creating breakthrough innovations for companies and organisations.

In this project called “Create concept innovation with users“, a Nordic and Baltic consortium lead by FORA has been able to identify four generic methods of working with user driven innovation:
– user test,
– user exploration,
– user innovation, and
– user participation.

Even though these methods might vary slightly from one company to the other, they have some basic features which are common. When working with users, companies might choose to include the users either directly or indirectly in the innovation process, depending on what type of knowledge the company wants to obtain from the user. Users’ ability to communicate and express their problems and needs varies greatly and will also influence the user driven innovation method chosen by a company. Sometimes users are fully aware of what problems they face and which needs they experience, while in other cases they will not be able to communicate or articulate what they are experiencing.

Based on this framework, the project members interviewed companies in the Nordic and Baltic countries about how they work with user driven innovation, what innovation outcomes they achieved and how satisfied they were with the processes during the project. Furthermore the project members wanted to get an understanding of whether there were any differences among the Nordic and Baltic countries regarding the methods they used by mapping the user driven innovation activity among companies and organisations.

Download report

13 March 2010

Guardian supplement on service design

Service design
The Guardian, one of the leading UK newspapers, has publish an eight-page supplement on service design (pdf) – subtitled “Design innovation in the public and private sector – in association with the Service Design Network (that Experientia is a member of).

“Service design is a relatively new discipline that asks some fundamental questions: what should the customer experience be like? What should the employee experience be like? How does a company remain true to its brand, to its core business assets and stay relevant to customers?

Design is a highly pragmatic discipline. That is why it is of such interest to business: it gets results. But if at its heart lies the idea of experience, then, as this supplement shows, the methods and ideas behind service design can equally be applied to the public sector. We reveal how service methods can help design experiences that are more efficient and more effective.

We also take a look at developments in sustainability for transport and water systems, as well as at changes in the voluntary sector, where the question: “Can design help change the world?” is increasingly gaining relevance.”

Articles cover service innovation management in major industries, service reform in the public sector, sustainability in the financial sector, car design as service ecosystem design, environmental design and social innovation. Much attention is devoted to methodology. Also included are interviews with Dan Pink (author), Joe Ferry (Virgin Atlantic) and others.

1 March 2010

New social innovation lab at Darden business school

Darden i.Lab
(From a Darden press release)

On March 19 the Darden School of Business [Charlottesville, VA, USA] and the Batten Institute [an academic research center of the business school] will launch Darden’s new innovation laboratory, or i.Lab, a state-of-the-art learning environment that inspires a new approach to teaching innovation and entrepreneurship. [...]

“In contrast to many traditional business-school offerings, the i.Lab provides experiential, team-based and collaborative learning opportunities, such as a design-based studio where students can transform concepts and ideas into physical prototypes,” said Elizabeth O’Halloran, Managing Director, Batten Institute. [...]

The Innovation Lab, or “i.Lab,” at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, is a unique physical learning environment rooted in multidisciplinary thinking and informed by ethnographic, anthropological, and other methodologies traditionally used in the social sciences.

Read press release

26 February 2010

Content strategy – the next big thing?

Content strategy
Content strategy is more or less on the same trajectory as social media was three years ago, argues Kristina Halvorson (of Brain Traffic).

“I think it’s because the reality of social media initiatives—that they’re internal commitments, not advertising campaigns—has derailed more than a few organizations from really implementing effective, measurable programs. Most companies can’t sustain social media engagement because they lack the internal editorial infrastructure to support it.”

Couldn’t agree more.

Read full story

(via InfoDesign)

24 February 2010

Google’s bad day

Google
Luca De Biase, the journalist I translated this morning, continues to add interesting commentary:

Excerpts from this post (translated into English):

“The Italian sentence on Google says fundamentally that the judges do not consider the [YouTube] platform to be an editor (Google was not sentenced for defamation) but they consider it responsible when there are violations of privacy legislation, in particular with regards to the sharing of sensitive data related to a person’s health. It might be that the problem that could simply be resolved by adding a button to the platform, so that the user, when about to publish something, has to declare that the uploaded contents are not in violation of the privacy legislation. We shall see. [...]

One cannot ignore the fact that the motivations for the ruling are currently lacking. Once the judge will publish them, it will become obvious whether he did indeed take all this correctly into account, pointing out simply that in Google’s terms and conditions at the time, not all precautions were taken to avoid that users would upload materials that damages privacy – in which case the whole thing would be a lot less worrisome and platforms, in order to comply with the law, would just need to be more clear in asking users to pay attention to privacy matters.”

A second post provides some further reflection:

“The right to freedom of information and the right to privacy are increasingly in conflict. And all those who want to reduce the first can appeal to the second. [...]

And even if it all leads to the fact that the platform needs to ensure that those who publish contents have all the rights to do so, even by asking first third parties before going on to publication, all this will generate enormous complications for any platform that deals with user-generated content. If it is just a matter of a better description of the terms and conditions, then it could be resolved rather easily.”

24 February 2010

Google Video: Italian law is complicating the world

Google
This Italian reflection on the Italian Google sentence, written by journalist Luca De Biase (in charge of the Nòva24 insert of “Sole 24 Ore” business newspaper), is highly pertinent and therefore worth to be translated:

Google Video: Italian law is complicating the world

“So now those platforms that allows users to publish online content have become responsible for possible violations by those same users? That’s what an Italian judge just decided. And this will have global legal consequences.

Judge Oscar Magi – the same one [who dealt with the CIA kidnapping] of Abu Omar – has condemned several
Google Italy executives for violating Italian privacy law, because they allowed the publication of a video showing a teenager with Down’s Syndrome being bullied. The judge absolved the three of a defamation accusation.

In practice it seems to state that Google would have had to obtain obtain a consent of all the parties involved – directly or indirectly – to the publication of these images.

This lower court decision is not final [and can be appealed]. But it opens a very complicated future scenario for all internet access providers and most of all for platforms that allow informational and other video content to be published by users directly.

Taken to its logical consequence, this sentence means that before publishing anything whatsoever about third parties on Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, or Facebook, users need to first obtain a consent from those third parties, and if not, also the platforms themselves are responsible. The platforms therefore need to supervise everything their users are publishing.

That could be a very serious blow to the world of user-generated content. This sentence should be carefully looked at by all those people and entities who care about the web as a place for freedom of information – with all its good and bad, its risks and opportunities.”

In fact, according to the BBC, Google’s lawyer “questioned how many internet platforms would be able to continue if the decision held.”

I wonder if judge Magi has written consent from his 47 friends, listed with full names and photos on the judge’s entirely public Facebook page

In any case, here is Google’s answer. And yes, they are going to appeal.

Further analysis:
Guardian
Guardian editorial
Fast Company
ReadWriteWeb
Spiked

10 January 2010

World Wide Mush

Not a gadget
In his new book, “You Are Not A Gadget,” online pioneer Jaron Lanier explains how the Internet has gone off course. In this Wall Street Journal, he summarises the key ideas and it turns out to be a full-blown rant against “digital collectivism”, free software and open source.

“Here’s one problem with digital collectivism: We shouldn’t want the whole world to take on the quality of having been designed by a committee. When you have everyone collaborate on everything, you generate a dull, average outcome in all things. You don’t get innovation.

If you want to foster creativity and excellence, you have to introduce some boundaries. Teams need some privacy from one another to develop unique approaches to any kind of competition. Scientists need some time in private before publication to get their results in order. Making everything open all the time creates what I call a global mush.”

Read full story

Check also this New York Times review.

8 January 2010

A Creative Commons inspired barter market in Turin, Italy

Senza Moneta
Two articles from today’s La Stampa newspaper (translation by Mark Vanderbeeken, Experientia):

Bargains without money
Luca Indemni – Fabrizio Vespa

“Leave your wallet at home” – that could be the slogan of the Gifts Without Money (“Regali Senza Moneta”) initiative organised by the ManaMana’ association in collaboration with the local San Salvario development agency and about fifteen other local associations. It will all take place this Sunday from 10am to 6pm in Piazza Madama Cristina, Turin, Italy.

Even though there are now a huge number of ideas on how to best face the economic crisis, this initiative is of another level altogether, as the event goes beyond the narrow idea of barter and promotes the concept of a real exchange. Scheduled immediately after the Christmas holidays, the initiative provides people with an opportunity to free themselves of less wanted gifts, bringing them to the market and putting them back in circulation. “Our market is not a real market,” explains Filippo Dionisio, President of ManaMana’ – in the sense that money is banned. We want to go beyond the commercial concept of barter, which is often seen as a precursor to money, and to affirm instead the value of exchange, where such exchange can also be immaterial and cover connections and relationships between people.” That’s why the “SenzaMoneta” event should be seen first of all as a meeting between people, where goods, products and also knowledge can be exchanged without any money passing hands, thereby also limiting any possible waste.

How does it work – Those wanting to particpate in the event have to bring something that can be exchanged, which can also include a skill or a knowledge service. Stalls are available and these can be booked by sending a mail to senzamoneta(at)manamana.it. “During recent SenzaMoneta events that we organised in the city,” continues Donisie, “we have seen some really fun things: dinner invitations in exchange for objects, or a live one-hour long music performance in exchange for a one hour plumber intervention. The whole idea is to go beyond the idea of the financial value of things, but rather exchange them with whatever our free immagination can come up with.”

Objects and services – On the covered Madama Cristina market, you can also find a range of services, such as the Bicycle Office, where you can get small bike repairs done, an initiative devoted to the recycling and reuse of PC’s, a special exchange zone for children, a Creative Commons based music exchange, as well as stalls with zero-kilometre food such as polenta and hot wine. “Our objective,” concludes the event organiser, “is to provide more space to people’s time and to demonstrate that one can do many things without adhering to a logic of ‘consumption at all costs’ and without thinking about money.” More information on www.manamana.it

A show room to recycle unwanted gifts

Exchange, barter and ‘do-it-yourself’ make you save money, but not just that. “When you are in a situation where you can’t use money,” explains Daniela Calisi of the ManaMana’ association, “you have to put yourself at stake, relate to the other and create a connection with him or her.” Therefore, the exchange is both an invitation to more enlightened consumption, but also a social opportunity to create connections with other city inhabitants. That’s at least the idea behind the SenzaMoneta markets that ManaMana organises every 3-4 months in the city.

During the remainder of the year, the no-cost supporters can also find tools online for exchange and barter.

Interesting proposals and offers can be found on www.bakeca.it, in the section “varie-regali-baratto” (“various gifts and barter”), or one can become a member of the group Freecycle, a platform dedicated to all those who prefer to recycle an object, rather than throw it away. These sites cover everything, from a piano seat to an old door, as long as they are in good condition. Be aware though that all things on offer on the Freecycle site are available for free.

Other interesting solutions, mostly connected to clothing exchange, are the so-called “swapping parties”, which are not just about meeting people and having fun, but also about exchanging and bartering clothes and accessories, events that often taken place when the seasons are about to change. So if you want to completely redo your wardrobe without spending money, the only thing you have to do is organise such a party, as Anna and Genny Colombotto Rosso have been doing for some time now in Turin. You can find valuable suggestions on the greenMe site under “consumare” and “riciclo e riuso”.

The swapping parties tend to be organised by and for women, without garments for men, even though these could provide some interesing gift ideas. Often the parties come with a small buffet that – always in the same spirit – are based on people bringing some food from their homes. What is crucial is that participants bring along some cleanly washed clothing in good condition. Also important is to have a space in the party home where the clothing can be shown, possibly organised by size, so that active participation is guaranteed. Finally, to create a smooth process, it is good to have some kind of rule on who can start. Once the garment has been fitted and chosen, it is removed from the “show room”. Whatever is not exchanged at the end of the party, is donated to a used clothing outlet or a non profit organisation, such as the San Vincenzo of Via Nizza, where they can make good use of such garments and assure their longer life.

And for those who can’t wait for the next swapping party, there is always the Internet. Check swapstyle and barattopoli.

3 January 2010

Seeing customers as partners in innovation

Visteon and 3M
A freelance writer reports for the New York Times on 3M Company’s customer innovation center at its headquarters.

“As a company, 3M is at the forefront of a movement that appears to be gaining traction: customer innovation centers, typically located near company research facilities, that provide a forum for meeting with corporate customers and engaging them directly in the innovation process. [...]

The idea behind the centers is to foster innovation by combining a richer understanding of customer needs with creative links among 3M technologies. “Being customer-driven doesn’t mean asking customers what they want and then giving it to them,” says Ranjay Gulati, a professor at the Harvard Business School. “It’s about building a deep awareness of how the customer uses your product.””

Even though travel and accommodation was paid by 3M, against New York Times policy, the article is worth a read.

Read full story

18 December 2009

How “social” is your bank?

Social bank
The banking industry is missing out on a huge opportunity to transform itself from a transactional model to an engagement model, writes social media strategist Jay Deragon on AlwaysOn.

“Think about what lies within the system of banking: people and businesses. Now, do banks do anything to “connect” people and businesses to facilitate transactions amongst and between people and businesses? When was the last time your bank actually helped you do the following:

  1. Solve a problem not having to do with a transaction
  2. Introduced you or your business to others who may need your product or service
  3. Provided you with new information or knowledge that helped you or your business be more productive
  4. Helped you or your business grow revenue, besides lending money for you to do it yourself
  5. Helped you find relevant and relative resources that you need

The answer to these questions is a bank simply doesn’t do any of these things, at least not consistently and as a regular part of their relations with customers.”

Read full story