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Posts in category 'Scenarios'

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.

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

23 February 2010

Mass Localism

Mass Localism
A new report by NESTA, the UK’s National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, shows “how we can work better with communities to unlock ingenious solutions to complex social challenges.

Abstract

Policymakers increasingly recognise that many of the solutions to major social challenges – from tackling climate change to improving public health – need to be much more local. Local solutions are frequently very effective, as they reflect the needs of specific communities and engage citizens in taking action. And they are often cost-effective, since they provide a conduit for the resources of citizens, charities or social enterprises to complement those of the state. Given the growing pressure on government finances, these are important benefits.

But localism presents a dilemma. Government has traditionally found it difficult to support genuine local solutions while achieving national impact and scale.

This report offers a solution: an approach by which central and local government can encourage widespread, high quality local responses to big challenges. The approach draws on the lessons of NESTA’s Big Green Challenge – a successful programme to support communities to reduce carbon emissions.

Download report

14 February 2010

Scenarios for branchless banking in 2020

cgap
The growing use of branchless banking channels over the coming years is inevitable in most countries. But it’s far less certain whether large numbers of the unbanked poor will use these alternative channels for financial services beyond payments, such as savings and credit.

The World Bank’s CGAP and DFID, the UK Department for International Development, undertook a six-month scenario-building project in which almost 200 experts from more than 30 countries helped answer the question “How can government and private sector most affect the uptake and usage of branchless banking among the unserved majority by 2020?”

CGAP/DFID identified identified four forces most likely to shape the answers:
• The changing demographics of users
• The actions of increasingly activist governments
• Rising crime
• The spread of Internet access via data-enabled phones even in poor countries and communities

They also isolated four key uncertainties with important effects but uncertain outcomes:
• Which types of entities will be allowed to provide branchless financial services?
• Will providers craft viable business models for services beyond payments?
• How will competition play out?
• How will consumer, business, and regulator confidence be affected by the inevitable failures that will happen?

The work culminated in the CGAP/DFID Branchless Banking Scenarios 2020 Focus Note, that presents four scenarios that interweave these forces and uncertainties in different settings to produce very different trajectories over the next 10 years.

A video discussion with the authors and some of the leaders in mobile and branchless banking was held in Washington, DC in December 2009; you can watch the archived video here.

20 January 2010

Real-time video in 2020

The future of real-time video
Skype commissioned the Institute for the Future to research and start a conversation about the future of real-time video communication and what will it feel like to live and work in a world where real-time video is ubiquitous.

The newly-released report was designed as a conversation starter about the likely changes in how we communicate as individuals, businesses, governments, and societies. It examines the current trends affecting the future of real-time video communication, as well as the foundational trends necessary for this future to occur.

Included are four scenarios that present plausible futures that integrate real-time video communication into the lives of every day people—an average employee, a sports fan, a newly engaged couple, and a fully-connected small business.

Read full story

13 January 2010

The world in 2020: A glimpse into the future

Future glimpse
Ten years ago we thought wireless was another word for radio, Peter Mandelson’s career was over – and only birds tweeted. So what will life be like a decade from now? The Independent newspaper provides a glimpse.

2020 vision: Our team of futurologists peers into mists of time
Reflections on UK politics, the environment, leisure, literature, the arts, fashion, celebrity, business, US politics, and sport.

The world in 2020: A glimpse into the future
Reflections on society, transport, health, politics, and the arts.

The world in 2020: Thrift, hard work – and no smoking
Reflections on social affairs, the economy, religion, crime, and the natural world.

11 November 2009

Nokia The Way We Live Next 3.0

The Way We Live Next
The third edition of Nokia’s The Way We Live Next conference took place yesterday and today in Espoo, Finland.

Nokia’s blog, Nokia Conversations, reports on a few of the keynote presentations:

Nokia’s vision of the future
by Heikki Norta, Nokia’s Head of Corporate Strategy
Smart ecosystems sits at the centre of our mobile life five years from now. That’s what Nokia’s head of corporate strategy Heikki Norta outlined this morning when he talked about what life will be like in 2015. During a short video, we saw how a combination of devices and services worked together to de-clutter life. This comes from a background that’s seeing the relationship between consumers and brands evolve from a monologue right now through a conversation and into a continuos relationship. The idea is simply to help users manage their lives better and enable them to create, share and get the most out of life.
Read more
Watch video (RECOMMENDED)
Download presentation

The opportunities for the future
by Oskar Korkman, Nokia’s Head of Opportunity Identification in Consumer & Customer Insights
Trend research plays a key role in understanding what’s going to happen in the future. Creating an understanding of how people’s needs are changing and evolving helps create a clearer idea of where the opportunity for next generation products and services. Oskar Korkman is head of opportunity identification in consumer insights at Nokia and today he shared some of his thoughts for how we’re going to evolve. For Oskar, it’s all about relationships, with everything from strangers to plants firmly in his sights.
Read more

Some other presentation downloads:
Multiplying our efforts by Henry Tirri, SVP, Head of Nokia Research Center
Communities creating Computers – Computers connecting Communities by Peter Schneider, Head of Technology Marketing, Maemo Devices, Nokia
Communities of the Future by Purnima Kochikar, VP, Head of Forum Nokia & Developer Community
Go mobile with cash by Teppo Paavola, VP, General Manager of Mobile Financial Services, Nokia

See also a few articles in Wired UK:
Social apps and open-source research
Nokia gets intimate with haptic technology

27 October 2009

Irene Cassarino: A reflection on energy efficiency and behaviour

Energy and behaviour
Irene Cassarino, an Experientia collaborator, reports on the First European Conference on Energy Efficiency and Behaviour, which took place in Maastricht last week:

What role do objects play in our life and culture? It depends on their embedded scripts. Like actors on-stage, they tell us a story, influence our feelings, enrich our knowledge and at the end play a social and even political role in our society, somewhat like movies and plays do. They share the power to influence our behaviours with other individuals, their socio-cultural context, and routines, in a dialogical way. Too abstract?

Hal Wilhite from the University of Oslo and keynote speaker at the First European Conference on Energy Efficiency and Behaviour in Maastricht a week ago (20-22 October 2009), shared with attendees the defining story of the refrigerator in India: keeping leftover food used to be associated, in India, with stupidity. What the refrigerator as a functional object was suggesting to Indians was not enough to overwrite their routines and beliefs, so at first, they refused it. Then the refrigerator kept ‘saying’: it’s good to store raw food in a cool environment before cooking. With this new message, customs in Indian houses changed to include storing of raw food in the refrigerator, and slowly but firmly, the habits and beliefs of local people changed to eventually include storing cooked food as well. A side note – people using refrigerators also increased the country’s CO2 emission by 20%.

This story is quite simple, but it does give an idea of how complex it is to design tools, services and practices to trigger behavioural change in people’s lives. This is particularly true in respect to energy saving. Behavioural research in energy saving was born as a discipline 20 years ago in the university departments of environmental psychology, and a lot of experiences and case studies have been collected so far, but despite this, the issue is still widely debated and suffers from a lack of interdisciplinary cross-fertilisation.

Some objects, for instance, are introduced to market with an explicit script (the refrigerator to store raw food) and with potential scripts to change people’s attitudes (refrigerator to store cooked food). Scripts have to be taken into account and leveraged by designers in a positive way, but few designers have been ready to participate in the dialogue.

From supply to demand management

All speakers acknowledged that the climate change challenge is addressed so far with a strong emphasis on the supply side (as much energy as we want, but greenly produced and smartly distributed), while there is barely no systematic approach on the demand management front. A considerable amount of research has been done though by universities and research centres, especially in the household sector, while few efforts have been devoted to studying behavioural change in business organisations.

Many conceptual approaches and methodologies have been presented: this is not a signal of disciplinary confusion at all, because -– as Charles Vlek from the Groningen University pointed out — the more they are combined and tailored, in specific interventions, the more effective they become. Paul Stern from the US Research Council reworded this recommendation as the “full court press” approach. The audience waited with anticipation for his scientific estimations on opportunities for emission reduction in 5 to 10 years, but he was unfortunately unable to share much about his paper because it was under embargo from his editor.

Irmeli Mikkone from Motiva, Finland, presented the European Energy Network programme (EnR), a voluntary organisation that since 1992 has gathered 22 members from the whole of Europe, operating in 8 different working groups (from behavioural change, to labelling and eco-design, monitoring tools and common databases).

Methodological challenges

A common issue in several research papers was that results on energy use and percentages of reductions were just calculated –- that is deduced from information collected by users themselves and delivered to the researcher through questionnaires. This was criticised as a highly unreliable methodology. Although it is understandable from the point of view of budget constraints, the use of energy smart meters in research could be a valuable alternative. Similar issues refer to the fact that people often volunteered in these studies, while a professional recruitment system –- which also implies financial reward for participants –- would have led to more reliable results.

Discrepancies between attitudes and behaviours also introduce bias into research: meaning that it is not enough to ask people to what extent they support the environment and related policies. The change in their actual behaviour is the issue, and this holds true also for government and administrations. As Shane Fudge from the University of Surrey noticed, although the UK government has a strong strategy for behavioural change (the Enable, Encourage, Exemplify, Engage diamond), actual results are quite disappointing: emissions of CO2 continue to increase, as well as the rate of car use and air travels.

Leveraging people

“I want to change but I don’t want to be changed by others!”; the challenge is to leverage people’s intrinsic motivations, a member of the audience pointed out. How to do it? According to Gerjo Kok from the Department of Psychology and Neurosciences at Maastricht University -– in order to plan a successful intervention to foster behavioural change, the designer should concentrate on assessing needs, defining specific programme objectives (in terms, for instance, of target groups, performance objectives and desired energy saving behaviour), and choosing the right mix of methodologies, applications, development channels and continuous evaluation of programme steps.

Sible Schoone, Director of the Climate Campaign Office (Heir, Netherlands), shifted the attention to the importance of involving the consumer in climate policy: as a citizen (moral/knowledge level), as a neighbour (social level), and eventually as a customer (price/quality/easy-to-get level). Communication initiatives at citizen level involve celebrities, events and free publicity, while if you want to involve the consumer at a social level it is better to organise local events like the climate street party (competition over streets in taking energy saving measures, ending with a big party with celebrities). At customer level, it’s worth mentioning tikkie terug -– the most successful consumer campaign of the year in the Netherlands, which offered people advice and tips on energy friendly and saving behaviours via TV.

“Revolution doesn’t happen when society adopts new tools, but when it adopts new behaviours”
Clay Shirky

Employing this famous quotation, Karen Ehrhardt Martinez from ACEEE –- the American Council for Energy Efficient Economy –- reminded the audience that technologies are tools. Interventions must not be biased by technologies: people are the centre. Just by adopting easy to apply energy saving behaviours and measures, she calculated that it’s possible to potentially reduce carbon emissions by 9%. For big countries like United States, it is a huge amount. In order to underline the relevance of the motivational factor with respect to the enabling technologies, she recalled the episode in a US town, where people were told that the power infrastructure was partially broken. Citizens achieved a 30% reduction in 6 weeks and after having ‘repaired’ the problem, they maintained a 10% reduction!

Addressing the gap between research and practice

C.F.J. Feenstra was representing the Changing Behaviour Programme (CBP), a demand side management programme of the EnR (see above). Such and similar programmes are led by governments, NGOs and utilities, but most of times they are not successful due to the gap between theory and practices. The aim of the CBP is to close the gap that lies between researchers and practitioners.

Is it possible, for instance, to develop a standard toolkit for similar programmes? Steps in this direction are: creation of a public database (so far there are 27 programmes), collection of case studies, close collaboration with local practitioners as cultural mediators, identification of guidelines, identification of pilot projects to implement those guidelines (6, so far). Finally, results of pilot projects will be exploited to create the toolkit.

Identified success factors, so far, are: good understanding of the context (target groups, intermediaries) and taking advantage of ongoing similar projects (to be considered as allies and not at all as competitors since they make people more open to welcome/accept/join similar initiatives).

Examples on the ground

The aim of Sustainable Everyday, a private agency from Belgium represented by Francois Jégou, is to design affordances of embedded user scripts toward 4 kind of appliances: lighting systems, heating thermostats, washing machines and PCs.

The process went through 4 entertaining steps: casting (recruitment) of a group of friendly users; happy hours (guided tours) in user’s homes, with card games; co-design sessions in homes and design studio, with maps and “play-mobiles”, and delivery and installation of new products (prototypes) in homes.

Each member of the family was involved and design guidelines emerging from the project are: (1) provide semi-manual interfaces; (2) reset default principles, e.g.: the washing machine with preset functions easily accessible at every washing cycle; (3) favour eco-conscious artefacts and energy smart meters.

In short

These are just few notes from a much richer conference programme (more detailed notes can be requested at info at experientia dot com). Next time, the organisers will maybe manage to publish abstracts and/or presentations from the many parallel sessions, if not streaming videos! Let’s see.

The First European Conference on Energy Efficiency and Behaviour has been an initial opportunity for psychologists and sociologists to step out of their disciplinary bubble and open themselves to the debate with practitioners and operators. We were there, indeed, and it was extremely useful for us.

Unfortunately operators came mostly from public agencies, consumer associations and utilities, while designers, architects and engineers were not well represented. But this was just the first time for Europe: we are sure that next time we will find more colleagues there.

Next appointment? The Behaviour, Energy and Climate Change Conference, 15-18 Nov. 2009, Washington DC — save the date! And for those not being able to attend, there is good news: most of the presentations there will be webcast live on the conference website.

9 October 2009

Wired UK’s special feature on digital cities

Wired UK
Here are the five stories that appeared in the special “Digital Cities” feature of Wired UK’s November issue.

Words on the street
by Adam Greenfield
Ubiquitous, networked information will reshape our cities.

‘Sense-able’ urban design
by Carlo Ratti
Digital elements blanket our environment: transforming our cities, informing their citizens and improving economic, social and environmental sustainability.

London after the great 2047 flu outbreak
by Geoff Manaugh
After the Dutch flu outbreak of 2047 decimated greater London, the politics of the city began to change: everything turned medical.

Your neighbourhood is now Facebook Live
by Andrew Blum
When it comes to technology and cities, today’s thrilling development is that social networking is enhancing urban places [and this is] significant for the future of our cities.

The transport of tomorrow is already here
by Joe Simpson
The main impact on city planning will be mediated through transport infrastructures, freeing up road space as it does so.

24 September 2009

Information overload

Anna Wintour
Too many emails, texts and tweets can lead to rising anxiety, lower intelligence – and a generation of BlackBerry orphans. Paul Hemp reports in The Guardian.

“With the information floodgates open, content rushes at us in countless formats: text messages and tweets on our mobile phones. Facebook friend alerts and voicemail on our BlackBerrys. Instant messages and direct-marketing sales pitches (no longer limited by the cost of postage) on our desktop computers. Not to mention the ultimate killer app: email. (I, for one, have nearly expired during futile efforts to keep up with it.)

Meanwhile, we are drawn toward information that in the past didn’t exist or that we didn’t have access to but, now that it’s available, we dare not ignore. Online research reports and industry data. Blogs written by colleagues or by executives at rival companies. Wikis and discussion forums on topics we’re following. The corporate intranet. The latest banal musings of friends in our social networks.

Researchers now say that the stress of not being able to process information as fast as it arrives – combined with the personal and social expectation that, say, you will answer every email – can deplete and demoralise you.”

Read full story

24 August 2009

The augmented reality avalanche

Bruce Sterling on AR
The last few weeks we have witnessed an avalanche of posts about augmented reality.

To begin with there is Bruce – Bruce Sterling that is.

He has been following the trend for months now, all culminating at his excellent keynote speech during the Layar event in Amsterdam.

In his keynote, entitled ““At the Dawn of the Augmented Reality Industry“, Bruce talks about its history, the cool side (“a techno-visionary dream come true”), the dark side (“you are going to get the four horsemen of the apocalypse”) and gives the industry some pointers to be successful (“you’re not going to look like you are looking now”).

Watch it. Seriously.

Other recent contributions on this topic that caught my attention are:

Inside out: interaction design for augmented reality [UX Matters]
by Joe Lamantia
The role of experience design in regard to the inside-out world of augmented reality is critical, because, as [Victor] Vinge also pointed out, “Reality can be whatever the software people choose to make it, and the people operating in the outside, real world choose it to be.” The UX community needs to find ways to participate in and shape this design probe into the experience of everyware. To UX designers of all stripes, this blizzard of AR products offers a collection of prototypes that can help us understand and refine the basic interaction models and experience concepts that will underlay future generations of everyware. UX professionals can offer an essential perspective—as well as substantial history and a critical set of methods and skills—for the creation of delightful, useful, and humane augmented experiences, expanding their relevance and value. This opportunity is upon us now and is ours to grasp—or miss!

Augmented reality? More like awkward hilarity [Wired UK]
by Michael Conroy
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” By overlaying the real (live video) with the virtual (data, images, 3D models), augmented reality (AR) may be the most convincing example of Arthur C. Clarke’s third law of prediction. When it works, that is.

Handsets enhance the real world [BBC News]
by Dan Simmons
Imagine seeing interesting information pop up as you stroll around. It is almost like a sixth sense, and it used to be mainly the stuff of science fiction. But Augmented Reality (AR) – in which live video images like those from mobile phone camera are tagged with relevant data – is starting to be widely available.
Check the Layar video.

Augmented reality: five barriers to a web that’s everywhere[ReadWriteWeb]
by Marshall Kirkpatrick
“The internet smeared all over everything.” An “enchanted window” that turns contextual information hidden all around us inside out. A platform that will be bigger than the Web. Those are the kinds of phrases being used to describe the future of what’s called Augmented Reality (AR), by specialists developing the technology to enable it. Big questions remain unanswered, though, about the viability of what could be a radical next step in humanity’s use of computers.

27 July 2009

What is the interest created by conversational currency?

Interest rate
As the world moves to accommodate “everyone’s interest” could we be headed towards a global economy based on “free interest”, asks Jay Deragon on AlwaysOn. And what is the interest created by conversational currency?

Social media is about depositing conversational currency for use and gaining “interest” from it. A conversation can and does create a currency exchange of value. Sharing pertinent information with people whom can use said information to create more value for themselves and others creates an “interest”.

Conversations propagate based on the rate of interest. Rate of interest in your conversation is reflected by the rate of change. The more your conversation “changes” from one to one to a million the higher the interest rate becomes.

Read full story

10 July 2009

Personas, devices, enterprises and diaries to illustrate life in 2020

Life in 2020
Wired UK reports on a new foresight project by Ericsson:

Ericsson, the company that, with Sony, gave birth to Sony Ericsson in 2001, has unveiled its Life in 2020 project, which involved 450 experts from inside and outside the company coming together to predict how technology will be used in the future.

Erik Kruse, from Ericsson, headed up the project. His team included people from the consultancy firm McKinsey, as well as the Institute for the Future in California and the Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies.

They were asked to draw together information on socio-economic trends, consumer buying patterns and the sustainability of certain technologies to determine how life will have changed in the next decade. This included whether social attitudes towards green products will have changed, what new industries may be providing employment, and whether issues like a growing elderly population may have been addressed.

The team then created 15 personas from 2020, including a 37-year old space engineer from New Zealand, a Brazilian farmer and a 22-year old computer specialist from Indonesia. On the 2020 website, you can see each of these people and then click on them to explore what technology, including specific gadgets, they use in their daily lives.

There are a total of 70 hypothetical mobile devices and services for these characters, delivered by 22 hypothetical companies.

Read full story

26 June 2009

Arup Foresight – Drivers of Change

Arup Drivers of Change
Arup’s Drivers of Change initiative is an on-going research programme exploring those issues most likely to have a major impact upon society, on Arup’s business and on that of their clients.

Following the success of drivers of change 2006 publication, Arup Foresight recently published an update.

This new set of 175 cards investigates leading drivers in greater depth that have particular relevance to the work of Arup. They include energy, waste, climate change, water, demographics, urbanisation and poverty.

The cards can be used for developing business strategy, brainstorming, education and to help the reader to gain greater knowledge of the issues which are driving global change. The publication also encourages us to think holistically and creatively.

Also check out the various Arup Foresight blogs:
* future frequency
* emtech primer (by Duncan Wilson)
* global village
* foresight podcasts
* city of sound (by Dan Hill)

1 March 2009

KashKlash booklet now online

KashKlash
After the project, the collaborative website, the game, now also the booklet.

KashKlash is an open forum and web project focusing on alternative economies in a post-money future. What will such a world look like? How will the concept of value be measured? What concepts will shape the formal and informal economies? Bright thinkers from around the world came together online to discuss, debate and ideate in this innovative and exciting project.

KashKlash is a collaborative project between Heather Moore of Vodafone, Experientia and a group of independent visionaries. The project started with four bright and innovative provocateurs, Nicolas Nova, Joshua Klein, Bruce Sterling, and Régine Debatty, and as the debate gathered steam, contributions, comments, flickr photos and twitter streams rolled in from more than 50 additional participants to shape and envision possible futures.

Download booklet (pdf)

1 March 2009

Ethan Zuckerman on mobile news and mobile currency in Africa

Ethan Zuckerman
Ethan Zuckerman, a multifaceted thinker whose work focuses on the impact of technology in developing countries, and a research fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, was interviewed on Ideas Project, the Nokia site that explores “where technology and communications may be taking us”.

Information will be used as money (transcript)
Ethan Zuckerman, who specializes in the implementation of transformative technological innovations in developing countries, observes how a system for transferring money in Uganda has anticipated a trend in the use information such as cell phone credits as a viable currency for day to day transactions. These alternative payment systems will be mediated by phone companies and anyone who is in the business of turning money into information.

Shedding new light on Kenyan violence (transcript on same page)
Ethan Zuckerman describes a project called Ushahidi, a project which resulted from the elections in Kenya, that allows anyone around the world to gather reports by mobile phone, email and the web – and map them.

Mobile reporting deepens global narratives (transcript on same page)
If we don’t have reporters in Gomah, but we do have a lot of connected citizens in Gomah, how do we take advantage of that? How do we take advantage of their ability to witness and report, and how do we knit that together into narratives that tell us something we didn’t know previously?

Related:
Money transfer service wows Kenya
Ethan Zuckerman article on m-banking in Africa
Industry report on the future of mobile banking

1 March 2009

Microsoft’s glimpse of the future

Microsoft future
A new video from Microsoft shows in an elegant, if utopian way, what it might look like if all of those gadgets came together several years hence.

Ina Fried of CNet News wasn’t entirely impressed:

“The hardest thing for me to imagine wasn’t that in several years time, all our walls will be displays, but rather that Microsoft will have become so efficient in getting all of its product groups working together.”

Read article with embedded video
Read related interview

13 February 2009

Dubberly Design articles

Dubberly Design Office
Hugh Dubberly is a forum editor at Interactions Magazine, which means that he writes, co-writes or edits articles for the magazine. The website of his company, Dubberly Design Office, contains all of these excellently written and very thoughtful articles.

Here is a short and personal selection:

What is interaction? Are there different types?
Written for Interactions magazine by Hugh Dubberly, Usman Haque and Paul Pangaro – 1 Jan 2009
When we discuss computer-human interaction and design for interaction, do we agree on the meaning of the term “interaction”? Has the subject been fully explored? Is the definition settled?

An evolving map of design practice and design research
Written for Interactions magazine by Liz Sanders. Edited by Hugh Dubberly – 1 November 2008
Design research is in a state of flux. The design research landscape has been the focus of a tremendous amount of exploration and growth over the past five to 10 years. It is currently a jumble of approaches that, while competing as well as complementary, nonetheless share a common goal: to drive, inspire, and inform the design development process.

Design in the age of biology: shifting from a mechanical-object ethos to an organic-systems ethos
Written for Interactions magazine by Hugh Dubberly – 1 September 2008
In the early twentieth century, our understanding of physics changed rapidly; now, our understanding of biology is undergoing a similar rapid change. [...] Recent breakthroughs in biology are largely about information—understanding how organisms encode it, store, reproduce, transmit, and express it—mapping genomes, editing DNA sequences, mapping cell-signaling pathways. […[ Already we can see the process beginning. Where once we described computers as mechanical minds, increasingly we describe computer networks with more biological terms—bugs, viruses, attacks, communities, social capital, trust, identity.

The experience cycle
Written for Interactions magazine by Hugh Dubberly and Shelley Evenson – 1 May 2008
In this article, we contrast the “sales cycle” and related models with the “experience cycle” model. The sales cycle model is a traditional tool in business. The sales cycle frames the producer-customer relationship from the producer’s point of view and aims to funnel potential customers to a transaction. The experience cycle is a new tool, synthesizing and giving form to a broader, more holistic approach being taken by growing numbers of designers, brand experts, and marketers. The experience cycle frames the producer-customer relationship from the customer’s point of view and aims to move well beyond a single transaction to establish a relationship between producer and customer and foster an on-going conversation.

The analysis-synthesis bridge model
Written for Interactions magazine by Hugh Dubberly, Shelley Evenson, and Rick Robinson – 1 March 2008
The simplest way to describe the design process is to divide it into two phases: analysis and synthesis. Or preparation and inspiration. But those descriptions miss a crucial element—the connection between the two, the active move from one state to another, the transition or transformation that is at the heart of designing. How do designers move from analysis to synthesis? From problem to solution? From current situation to preferred future? From research to concept? From constituent needs to proposed response? From context to form?

Cybernetics and service-craft: language for behavior-focused design
Written for Kybernetes by Hugh Dubberly and Paul Pangaro – 19 January 2007
Argues [that] design practice has moved from hand-craft to service-craft and that service-craft exemplifies a growing focus on systems within design practice. Proposes cybernetics as a source for practical frameworks that enable understanding of dynamic systems, including specific interactions, larger systems of service, and the activity of design itself. Shows [that] development of first- and second-generation design methods parallels development of first- and second-generation cybernetics, particularly in placing design within the political realm and viewing definition of systems as constructed. Proposes cybernetics as a component of a broad design education.

31 January 2009

W3C workshop on the future of social networking

W3C
A few weeks ago, W3C, the body in charge of global web standards directed by Tim Berners-Lee, organised a Workshop on the Future of Social Networking in Barcelona, with a high level goal of bringing together the world experts on social networking design, management and operation in a neutral and objective environment where the social networking history to date could be examined and discussed, the risks and opportunities analysed and the state of affairs accurately portrayed.

Within the W3C workshop, the issues facing social networking growth could be documented and, in this workshop in particular, taking into account social networking on mobile devices/platforms with and without PC/broadband Internet services.

The workshop also explored whether it is worthwhile to consider the creation of an Interest or Working Group under the auspices of W3C to continue these discussions.

The discussions of the workshop were fed by the input of the 72 (!) position papers submitted by the participants, and animated by the Program Committee composed of experts from the industry and academics on this topic.

Companies that submitted papers include Atos Origin, Ericsson, IBM, Microsoft, Opera, Samsung Electronics, SUN, Telecom Italia, Telefónica, Vodafone, Yahoo!, and YouTube, so the papers section definitely requires a quick scan. You can read the brief summaries by Libby Miller on each of them.

You can also read rough minutes of Day 1 and Day 2 of the workshop, download the slides of the various presentations (linked from the agenda) and watch videos of some of the sessions.

In a short article, the New Scientist focuses on one of the papers on the potency of mobile social networking in developing market economies (with the great subtitle: “The Revolution will be ‘mobil’-ised”), written by South Africa-based mobile social media consultant Gloria Ruhrmund.:

Western consumers are becoming used to the idea that the computing power of their phone is catching up with what is traditionally expected from a computer. But in Africa and some other poor regions it is phones that have all the computing power – mobile handsets far outnumber PCs and broadband connections.

As a result, innovative new uses of mobile connectivity are appearing in those developing areas first, possibly providing a glimpse of what the future holds for cellphone users in richer countries.

28 January 2009

User experience deliverables

UX treasure map
Peter Morville (author of Ambient Findability) and Jeffery Callender (co-author of Search Patterns) are planning a new book (in process) about design for discovery and the future of search.

As part of this effort, they have begun collecting user experience deliverables, which can now find on Peter’s blog, with wonderful small illustrations and links to relevant resources and examples.

The twenty deliverables — stories, proverbs, personas, scenarios, content inventories, analytics, user surveys, concept maps, system maps, process flows, wireframes, storyboards, concept designs, prototypes, narrative reports, presentations, plans, specifications, style guides, and design patterns — are collected in a beautifully designed (and print-ready) treasure map (pdf).

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