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Posts in category 'Technology'

1 December 2010

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

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

Abstract

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

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

Download report

27 November 2010

Korea’s smartphone era

Koreana
The autumn issue of Koreana, the quarterly devoted to Korean art and culture, contains a special feature on Korea’s smartphone era.

The articles come in a range of other languages, including Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Russian and Spanish.

Mobile phones in Korea: between dynamism and anxiety
by Kim Chanho, Professor, Sungkonghoe University
Statistics indicate that Koreans spend the most amount of time on their mobile phones, as compared to the people in other countries, which includes double the time of users in Germany. What are the factors behind this zealous passion for mobile phones in Korea, where the ubiquity of wireless communication contributes to a unique dynamism of Korean society?

Korea’s mobile phone industry
by Cho Hyung Rae, Assistant Editor, The Chosun Ilbo
Early on, the mobile phone industry in Korea basically imported parts from foreign suppliers, and assembled them into finished products. But, over the past 20 years, the mobile phone has become the face of Korean industry, with cutting-edge technology. The industry is now preparing for a new leap into the popular smartphone market.

Korea’s innovative mobile phone technology
by Kim Dong-suk, Mobile Division Chief, Electronic Times
Innovation and technology resources, as well as the tech-savvy nature of Korean consumers who are eager to be at the forefront of market trends, have combined to fuel the remarkable development of Korea’s mobile phone industry. Indeed, this favorable environment has enabled Korean mobile phone makers to vault into the upper echelon of the global telecom market.

26 November 2010

Car or computer? How transport is becoming more connected

Fiat's eco:Drive
The amount of data that can now be collected about how drivers use their cars is unprecedented, reports the BBC, and the impact of so much information is potentially huge.

The article highlights the innovative role of Fiat, which has been compiling data from the Blue&Me navigation systems installed on many of its cars over a six-month period – the largest such data harvest done by a major carmaker.

“It is not hard to see a future where the on-board computers get ever more sophisticated – such as personal profiles for a car, so the car’s settings are individualised for each family member.

The computer would adjust the seats, music, the suspension between sports and comfort mode, depending on which family member was using the car.

All while telling each one how to be a better – and more fuel-efficient – driver. [...]

Increased data collection also tells us a lot about different drivers and how they use the cars. [...]

Carmakers are bracing for a world where not only are cars collecting data about you, but they are sharing it with each other.”

Read article

21 November 2010

Growing up digital, wired for distraction

Growing up digital
Matt Richtel reflects in a long New York Times article on the impact of growing up digital. The constant stream of stimuli offered by new technology, he says, poses a profound new challenge to focusing and learning.

“Students have always faced distractions and time-wasters. But computers and cellphones, and the constant stream of stimuli they offer, pose a profound new challenge to focusing and learning.

Researchers say the lure of these technologies, while it affects adults too, is particularly powerful for young people. The risk, they say, is that developing brains can become more easily habituated than adult brains to constantly switching tasks — and less able to sustain attention.”

Read article

> Related:

  • Students and technology, constant companions (audio and video)
    At Woodside High in Woodside, Calif., students are immersed in personal technology, complicating the job of those responsible for their education. Hear five students talk about their relationship with technology, and watch a video about the school.
     
  • Teachers’ views on technology in the classroom
    The Times asked teachers to submit videos on how the use of technology has changed the way they teach.
     
  • Achieving a healthful digital diet
    Experts suggest that half of a child’s computer time should be educational and that multitasking while studying should be limited.
20 November 2010

Harvard Forum essays on ICT4D

ITID
ITID (Information Technologies & International Development) has come out with a special issue devoted to papers emerging from the second Harvard Forum on ICTs, Human Development, Growth and Poverty Reduction (audio cast).

The two-day Harvard Forum II was sponsored by Canada’s International Development Research Centre and hosted by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University in September 2009.

ITID is a peer-reviewed, international, multidisciplinary quarterly that focuses on the intersection of information and communication technologies (ICT) with economic and social development. It is designed for researchers and practitioners from the engineering and social sciences, technologists, policy makers, and development specialists.

Some highlights:
- The mobile and the world – Amartya Sen
- Some thoughts on ICT and growth – Michael Spence (Nobel in Economics, 2001)
- Capital, power, and the next step in decentralization – Yochai Benkler
- Decentralizing the mobile phone: a second ICT4D revolution – Ethan Zuckerman

7 November 2010

Do people want location-based social networking?

Tag along
Social networks want to know your location. But it’s not clear if consumers will share that information — or at what price. Joshua Brustein reports in the New York Times.

“Everything is in place for location-based social networking to be the next big thing. Tech companies are building the platforms, venture capitalists are providing the cash and marketers are eager to develop advertising.

All that is missing are the people.”

Read article

5 November 2010

Nine reasons smartphones are dumb remotes

FLPR
As the Internet and TV converge in living rooms, lots of folks, including the New York Times, have been drooling over the idea of smartphones as next-gen remotes. On the surface, this seems like a cool idea. After all, smart mobile devices have touch screens, keyboards, and all sorts of other bells and whistles that should equal an enhanced, enjoyable smart-TV experience.

Once you scratch the surface, however, you soon realize what a terrible and impractical idea an app-enabled smartphone remote really is.

Here are the nine reasons why

(And the author forgets to mention that TV’s are often watched in darker environments, where tactile feedback on the location of the volume and programme buttons are simply quite helpful – one can change the volume or the programme without having to watch a normal remote, but you can’t do that with a touchscreen smart phone).

2 November 2010

Lost the remote? Another reason to use an app

Remote
TV viewing habits are changing as more Internet and on-demand content — YouTube videos, streaming movies, shopping sites, Facebook photos — flows directly onto big screens, writes Joshua Brustein in the New York Times. Navigating all of that demands more action from the viewer, including a fair amount of typing, which current remotes cannot handle.

“Some in the technology industry believe that a better alternative would be to simply replace the remote with smartphone apps like the one Mr. Lavoie uses. If you create a specialized smartphone app to control a TV or set-top box, you can pack the phone’s touch screen with virtual buttons in any configuration you like. [...]

[Other] companies are not sold on the idea of the smartphone as the remote of the future. They are selling a range of remotes armed with full keyboards, touch screens and motion sensors.”

Read article

25 October 2010

Intel research projects explore context-aware computing

Personal vacation assistant
If you could look into Intel’s crystal ball, you’d see that their vision of the future includes context-aware computing. Intel has done extensive research into what people love, and how much of that involves technology and people’s attachment to their technology. As a result, they believe that integrating context-aware computing is the future.

What exactly does context-aware computing mean? According to Genevieve Bell, director of Intel’s Interaction and Experience Research Group, context-aware computing refers to “technologies that are able to determine how you feel, who you’re friends with and what your preferences are to better deliver personalized information.”

At a recent event in New York City, Intel showed off four research projects that represent possible future everyday uses of context-aware computing.

Read article

2 October 2010

Talk by anthropologist Mimi Ito in Milan

Mimi Ito
Yesterday cultural anthropologist Mimi Ito spoke on the impact of technology on teen and youth culture at the Meet The Media Guru event in Milan, Italy. The video is available online.

Cultural anthropologist, with degrees from Harvard and Stanford, Mimi Ito co-directed the Digital Youth Project, which was funded by the MacArthur Foundation and focused on new m-Learning scenarios. The project has become an important point of reference for those studying the relationship between teens and new media.

The three-year Digital Youth Project researched kids’ and teens’ informal learning through digital media, with a particular focus on the day-to-day use and the impact of these new technologies on learning, play and social interaction.

The results of the project are encapsulated in the report, Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project, and the book Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media.

Mimi explored a vast range of social activities that are “augmented” by digital technology: online gaming, virtual communities, production and consumptin of children’s software, and the relationship between children and new media.

She is also specialised in amateur content production and peer-to-peer learning.

She teaches at the Department of Informatics of the University of California, Irvine, and at Kejo University in Kanagawa, Japan. She has also worked for the Institute for Research and Learning, Xerox PARC, Tokyo University, the National Institute for Educational Research in Japan, and for Apple Computer.

Her new book on Otaku culture, the Japanese term for children that have an obsessive interest in video games and manga, will be published shortly.

Mimi Ito joined the Wiki Foundation Advisory Board in June of this year.

Watch video (Mimi starts speaking at 19:30)

1 October 2010

Danah Boyd taking a pulse in roiling online world

Danah Boyd
The Boston Globe profiles Microsoft researcher Danah Boyd.

“At the center of the broader societal debate is Boyd, whose views on key issues like online privacy are followed closely by tech companies and policy makers. An opponent of “regulation for its own sake,’’ as she puts it, Boyd, 32, has become a go-to source for companies (from Google on down), government agencies, and academics seeking insight into youthful behavior in a 24/7 digital universe.

She prides herself on diving deeply into what young people think and feel about their use of social media. With her tongue stud, bracelets, and neobohemian style of dressing, she fits in seamlessly with her target demographic, even while joking that they all “think I’m an old lady.’’”

Read article

1 October 2010

Data visualisation as an actionable tool in our lives

Inflation
This week I watched the excellent online documentary “Journalism in the Age of Data“, which is a video report on data visualisation as a storytelling medium that Geoff McGhee created during a 2009-2010 Knight Journalism fellowship. I first didn’t write on it in Putting People First, as I considered it a media story. But I changed my mind.

Apart from the fact that this video provides great inspiration for interaction designers and interface designers of all sorts, and not just those working in journalism, it also inspires a wider reflection.

With people rapidly moving to a world inundated with data capturing devices and the resulting data streams, our challenge as UX designers is to create tools that make sense of these data, and transform this data flood into useful and actionable informational experiences that help us better conduct our lives.

Smart phone applicatins seem to me an intermediate step. Yes, indeed, one can find apps for almost any need and they are sometimes quite useful. But we cannot conduct our lives with hundreds of apps: one for parking, one for driving, one for shopping, one for dining, etcetera.

What could be the future of actionable data visualisations in a multi-sensorial world?

29 September 2010

UK campaign for inquiry into “mind change” caused by computers and internet

Lady Greenfield
The potential transformation of our brains caused by intensive use of computers and the internet is a threat to our quality of life on the same scale as risks to the planet from climate change, according to an eminent neuroscientist. The Financial Times reports.

“Lady Greenfield of Oxford University has stepped up her campaign for an inquiry into “mind change” caused by computers and the internet. [...]

Lady Greenfield said the possible benefits of modern technology included a higher IQ, better memory and quicker processing of information. But she is more worried about the potential negative side. For example, social networking sites might reduce the empathy that young people felt towards others; using search engines to find facts might hinder the ability to learn; and computer games in which it was possible to start from the beginning, no matter how many mistakes were made, might make us more reckless in our day-to-day lives, she said.”

Read article

29 September 2010

US market research: Few Americans are consuming digital media

Digital devices
Connected devices are still having trouble finding a mass audience, a new report from market-research firm The NPD Group has found. But that is likely to change over time.

“According to NPD, a whopping 75 percent of all U.S. consumers did not connect to or download multimedia content, including games, music, video, or e-books, over the past three months. The majority of consumers who did search for and download such content–15 percent–did so mostly on their PC or Mac as opposed to other types of connected devices, such as video game consoles, mobile devices, or Blu-ray players.”

Read article

29 September 2010

In study, children cite appeal of digital reading

Scholastic
Many children want to read books on digital devices, while parents worry that technology will distract young bookworms, according to a survey by the publisher Scholastic. The New York Times reports:

“Many children want to read books on digital devices and would read for fun more frequently if they could obtain e-books. But even if they had that access, two-thirds of them would not want to give up their traditional print books.

These are a few of the findings in a study being released on Wednesday by Scholastic, the American publisher of the Harry Potter books and the “Hunger Games” trilogy.

The report set out to explore the attitudes and behaviors of parents and children toward reading books for fun in a digital age. Scholastic surveyed more than 2,000 children ages 6 to 17, and their parents, in the spring.”

Read article

18 September 2010

Cutting edge sharing and bartering in Brooklyn

Bartering at Bushwick
From farming to art, practices like sharing and bartering are being revived and updated for the Twitter age. The New York Times reports from Brooklyn.

“Concepts like sharing and bartering — whether it’s fabric at Etsy Labs in Dumbo or powerboats at SailTime on the Chelsea Piers — are being revived and updated for the Twitter age.

“The groundswell of social technology today is creating unprecedented opportunities to share and collaborate,” said Rachel Bosman, an author of the new book “What’s Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption.” “Farmers’ markets and Facebook have a lot in common. All around us we’re seeing a renewed belief in the importance of community, in both the physical and virtual worlds.”

Despite the lingering hippie connotations, collectives, which might be described as self-managed groups of people with similar interests working toward a common goal, are a thoroughly modern phenomenon.”

Read article

18 September 2010

Values in technology design and use: ethnography’s contribution

Tricia Wang
A couple of months ago former Nokia ethnographer Tricia Wang gave a talk at the Nokia Research Center in Palo Alto, CA, and she just posted the slideshow and the abstract on her blog.

“My talk today is about how I came into my research at Nokia wanting to answer the question: how can ethnographers contribute to the product design process of a mobile device? Ethnographically grounded research for technology use is a method that aims to reveal users’ values, beliefs, and ideas. Nokia was one of the first mobile companies to concertedly hire ethnographers as part of its design process, In the mid to late nineties, Nokia changed the mobile industry forever by creating affordable, user friendly phones. More than a decade later, the hardware mobile phone market is nearing saturation. With Nokia transitioning from a company that produces hardware to software, how can ethnographically driven research provide strategic insights for this shift?”

Poking around on Tricia’s site, I discovered some more inspiring and excellently written treasures to savour:

The Great Internet Freedom Bluff of Digital Imperialism: thoughts on cyber diplomacy, cargo cult digital activism… and Haystack
The Haystack Affair, like the recent Google-China Saga is just another technology that has been caught in the digital geo-politics of neo-informationalism. Neo-informationalism is the belief that information should function like currency in free-market capitalism—borderless, free from regulation, and mobile. The logic of this rests on an ethical framework that is tied to what Morgan Ames calls “information determinism,” the belief that free and open access to information can create real social change. [...] Neo-informationalist policies, such as the new “internet freedom” foreign policy to ensure free and flowing information, compliment neoliberal practices in corporate welfare to keep markets free and open to the US and all of our allies who benefit from our work. But it’s not free for all when it’s just free for some.

Check also these related posts:

  • Evgeny Morozov: Were Haystack’s Iranian testers at risk?
    Haystack is the Internet’s equivalent of the Bay of Pigs Invasion. It is the epitome of everything that is wrong with Washington’s push to promote Internet Freedom without thinking through the consequences and risks involved; thus, the more we learn about the Haystack Affair while it’s still fresh in everyone’s memory, the better.
     
  • Sami Ben Gharbia: The Internet Freedom fallacy and Arab digital activism
    This article focuses on grassroots digital activism in the Arab world and the risks of what seems to be an inevitable collusion with U.S foreign policy and interests. It sums up the most important elements of the conversation I have been having for the last 2 years with many actors involved in defending online free speech and the use of technology for social and political change. While the main focus is Arab digital activism, I have made sure to include similar concerns raised by activists and online free speech advocates from other parts of the world, such as China, Thailand, and Iran.

Three useful perspectives on technology, design, and social change (and countering the ICT4D hype)
As someone who researches the social side of technology, I am constantly trying to find new ways to talk to technologists that technology itself does not create social change, rather it’s how technology is socially embedded in a variety of institutions and cultural contexts. [...] Three resources have been very useful to me lately.

17 September 2010

Context-aware devices that become our natural extensions

Intel inside
Much coverage on the presentation by Justin Rattner (video), Intel’s CTO at the Intel Developer Forum, where he discussed a future with so-called context-aware computers and mobile devices. (Make sure to see the full video).

PC Magazine
Rattner describes the future of context-aware computing
The real question, Rattner said, is: Is the market ready for all of this context? Intel Fellow Genevieve Bell (who also led the Day Zero events) arrived onstage to explain that all users have “ambivalent and complex” relationships with technology, and that discovering what people truly love is the key to making context-aware computing work. The process involves conceptualizing and designing potential products, validating that in the real world, integrating the changes, and repeating the process until the users are satisfied. This will involve, Bell said, talking more to users, but also helping them understand that context and life are not different contexts—watching a baseball game, seeing a road sign, or using multiple devices in a living room are all examples of context that can help devices learn more about you and what you need. Bell said, “If we get context right—even a little bit right—it propels an entirely new set of experiences.”

Wired.com > Gadget Lab
How context-aware computing will make gadgets smarter
Small always-on handheld devices equipped with low-power sensors could signal a new class of “context-aware” gadgets that are more like personal companions. Such devices would anticipate your moods, be aware of your feelings and make suggestions based on them, says Intel.
Researchers have been working for more than two decades on making computers be more in tune with their users. That means computers would sense and react to the environment around them. Done right, such devices would be so in sync with their owners that the former will feel like a natural extension of the latter.

Computerworld
Intel: Future smartphones will be assistants, companions [alternate link]
Rattner said that as devices begin to understand the way their users live their lives, they will turn into personal assistants. Within five years, smartphones will be aware of the information on a user’s laptop, desktop and tablet systems, and they will use that knowledge to help guide them through their daily activities.

Fast Company
Coming soon: mind-reading cell phones
Eventually, Intel might actually produce truly psychic cell phones. Earlier this summer, we learned about Intel’s Human Brain Project–a collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh that uses EEG, fMRI, and magnetoencephalography to figure out what a subject is thinking about based entirely on their neural activity pattern. The technology won’t be ready for at least a decade–and that’s just fine with us.

And there is much more

15 September 2010

On the importance of social interaction design for social startups

Gravity7
On his Gravity7 blog, Adrian Chan tries to convince startups and social application companies to embark on in-house social interaction design

“The problem, as I see it, is that many small startups, and even some larger social media companies and efforts, lack user-centric and objective definitions of their goals and objectives. Companies are started to extend existing practices or applications, to take advantage of emerging market and social technology trends, and to explore opportunities in the marketplace. Those are either product or business-centric approaches, and they take user participation and interest for granted.

But the participation of users is precisely what will shape a company’s success. Social interaction design should be an essential step in vetting and defining product and service features. It can be relatively quick, and is not a full-time requirement. But insofar as it supplements the skills already covered by engineers, front-end designers, and business sense, it is a role that should not be overlooked.”

Read article

15 September 2010

The impact of design ethnography and WordPress

Kristina Krause
Kristina Krause has recently finished a master’s degree in social anthropology at the University of Kent, with a thesis titled: The impact of design ethnography and WordPress | Client – web designer relationships in the nonprofit sector.

“The increasing rate of technological innovation and integration into the daily lives of many online users has spurred both the reconceptualization of the digital divide, and the promotion of user-centered research methods; that emphasize the significance of variability in technology acquisition. No longer is technology to be considered an external tool, where success depends on basic functionality, but an integrated player affected by the social relations and environment in which it resides. Through Niklas Luhmann’s systems theory in combination with actor-network theory, this study aims to look first at the systems in which nonprofits and web designers separately operate; how their processes are altered with the introduction of design ethnography and WordPress; and finally which human and nonhuman actors may be utilized in the creation of websites for nonprofits who desire technological self-sufficiency.”

Read thesis