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Posts in category 'Virtual world'

24 September 2009

Augmented reality gets off to a wobbly start

 
The New Scientist reviews the current state of Augmented Reality and is a bit concerned:

“While some who back the technology think its time has now come, after more than a decade in development, others warn that undercooked applications or “apps” are set to disappoint users, potentially damaging the market.

The momentum building behind AR has been fuelled by the growing sophistication of cellphones. With the right software, devices like the iPhone can now overlay reviews of local services or navigation information onto scenes from the phone’s camera. [...]

Amid all the hype, however, there is a big problem: the sensors that the apps depend on are not always up to the job.”

Read full story

22 September 2009

“La realité augmentée”, and other Paris 2.0 themes

Paris 2.0
Tomorrow I will be speaking at an informal, but high energy Paris conference, called (somewhat predictably) Paris 2.0.

The conference takes a total of four days, and is attended by a young, edgy French crowd. I am unfortunately only here for an afternoon and a morning, and arrived in the middle of a session devoted to marketing themes – which is not my greatest passion.

One little gem in this fast paced environment was a short presentation by Sonia Hecquet, who is responsible for interaction design at SQLI/la machine créative, a small French agency. Sonia is greatly intrigued by gestural interfaces and augmented reality tools, and gave her audience a high level overview of the latest developments in the field (which I hope to share with you later).

More to follow tomorrow, when the focus will be on design.

22 September 2009

Enhancing user interaction with first person user interface

Sensors 1st person
Luke Wroblewski, an internationally recognized Web thought leader and Senior Director of Product Ideation & Design at Yahoo! Inc., provides a comprehensive overview of augmentation as a user interface, complete with real-world examples.

“Though many computer applications and operating systems make use of real-world metaphors like the desktop, most software interface design has little to do with how we actually experience the real world. In lots of cases, there are great reasons not to directly mimic reality. Not doing so allows us to create interfaces that enable people to be more productive, communicate in new ways, or manage an increasing amount of information. In other words, to do things we can’t otherwise do in real life.

But sometimes, it makes sense to think of the real world as an interface. To design user interactions that make use of how people actually see the world -to take advantage of first person user interfaces.

First person user interfaces can be a good fit for applications that allow people to navigate the real world, “augment” their immediate surroundings with relevant information, and interact with objects or people directly around them.”

Read full story

(via Bruce Sterling)

8 September 2009

Josephine Green and Ezio Manzini featured in Philips magazine

Chulha
From pyramids to pancakes
The era of elitism, top-down management and deterministic ideals is over. We are now living in an age of social innovation and sustainability that opens up the future to the many, not just the few. Mass consumerism has given way to mass creativity, which is transforming how we think about and how we engage with the world around us. It is a transformation that Philips Design’s Josephine Green calls the ‘Pyramids to Pancakes’ model, in which the hierarchical 20th century has given way to the flattened, more co-creative 21st.

A few words with Ezio Manzini
Ezio Manzini, Professor of Industrial Design at Politecnico di Milano, Director of the Research Unit Design and Innovation for Sustainability and coordinates the Masters in Strategic Design and Doctorate in Industrial Design programmes. He works on strategic design and design for sustainability, with a focus on scenario building and solution development. He has written several books on product-service systems and sustainability.

On structures and relations, real and virtual
As we are changing and transforming the world, we look for something capable of organizing everything within it, something that configures all its components into meaningful relations.
By Andreas Fruchtl, Director Strategic Futures Design

23 July 2009

How the digital world is changing the rules of modern courtship

Newsweek
As part of a feature series on Facebook (see below), Newsweek explores how the digital world is changing the rules of modern courtship:

“It wasn’t so long ago that the idea of a college romance playing out online—for better or for worse—would have been deemed weird, nerdy, or just plain pathetic. As the thinking went, if you had to go to the Web to find a mate, or break up with one, it must have meant you weren’t capable of attracting anyone in the real world. But then MySpace came along, and Facebook took over—and today, courtship has become a flurry of status messages, e-mail flirtation, and, not so uncommonly, breakups that play out publicly for all 400 of your not-so-closest friends.”

Read full story

Other stories in this series:

  • Facebook at Age Five
    The social networking site now boasts 250 million users, but has yet to make a single dollar in profit. Five years after its inception, a look at whether it can last another five.
  • The Salacious Story Behind Facebook
    What the company doesn’t want you to know about its ignominious start.
  • The Father of Social Networking
    With Facebook, 25 year-old Mark Zuckerberg, turned a dorm-room diversion into a cultural phenomenon. His next goal? To finally turn the company profitable.
  • Face-to-Facebook (video)
    Newsweek talks to Facebook users (and a few self-proclaimed addicts) about how the social networking site fits into their lives.
20 April 2009

Nokia’s IdeasProject site on four major future themes of computing

IdeasProject
Nokia’s IdeasProject site contains this week a video interview with Don Tapscott, and four feature articles that integrate some of the ideas presented thus far on the site:

Also of interest is this reflection on virtual communications by Valerie Buckingham, Nokia’s director of technology marketing.

20 March 2009

Tish Shute interviews Mike Kuniavsky on things as services

Bicycle rider data shadows
Tish Shute’s UgoTrade website is quickly becoming one of the prime sites in the field.

In the last months she interviewed Andy Stanford-Clark (IBM Master Inventor), Robert Rice (CEO of Neogence), Usman Haque (architect and director of Haque Design + Research and founder of Pachube), Adam Greenfield (Nokia’s head of design direction for service and user-interface design), and Chris Brogan (president of New Marketing Labs).

Her interviews are as well-researched and in-depth as they come, and each one of them is a highly recommended read.

Her most recent talk with Mike Kuniavsky of ThingM came after his presentation “The dotted-line world, shadows, services, subscriptions” at ETech 2009.

The interview covered “dematerializing the world, shadows, subscriptions and things as services”.

“I presented on essentially the combination of being able to identify individual objects and the idea of providing services as a way of creating things… the servicization of things …turning things into services is greatly accelerated by network technologies and the ability to track things and what leads this to the potential of having fundamentally different relationships to the devices in our lives and to things like ownership.

Like we now have the technology to create objects that are essentially representatives of services – things like City Car Share. What you own is not a thing but a possibility space of a thing. This fundamentally changes the design challenges. I am pretty convinced that this is how we should be using a lot of these technologies is to be shifting objects from ownership models to service models. We can do that but there are significant challenges with it. What is happening is that we have had the technology to do this for a while, but we haven’t be thinking about how to design these services. We haven’t been thinking about how to design what I call the avatars of these services – the physical objects that are the manifestation of them, like an ATM is the avatar of a banking service. It is useless without the banking service it is a representative of, essentially.”

19 March 2009

Phone designers to improve reality

Computational photography
Rik Myslewski of The Register reports on augmented reality on mobile devices:

Future phones will recognize buildings and people by sight and replace reality with something better. They’ll also have roll-out HD displays. Or projectors. Or they’ll dock with your PC’s display.

At least, that’s the vision of some visual-computing visionaries at this week’s Multicore Expo, inspired by the graphic and computing power of high-performance multicore embedded processors that will power tomorrow’s smartphones.

Kari Pulli, who heads the Visual Computing and User Interfaces research team at the Nokia Research Center in Palo Alto, California, described a prototype phone that his company has developed that visually recognizes buildings and people. The object, as he puts it, is to “make the device aware of its surroundings and react to it; to connect the digital and real world.”

Read full story

19 January 2009

Taken Out of Context: American teen sociality in networked publics

danah boyd
danah boyd is a a PhD candidate at the School of Information (iSchool) at the University of California (Berkeley) and a Fellow at Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

She just published her dissertation entitled “Taken Out of Context: American Teen Sociality in Networked Publics“. It examines how American teenagers socialize in networked publics like MySpace, Facebook, LiveJournal, Xanga and YouTube, and how the architectural differences between unmediated and mediated publics affect sociality, identity and culture.

Abstract

As social network sites like MySpace and Facebook emerged, American teenagers began adopting them as spaces to mark identity and socialize with peers. Teens leveraged these sites for a wide array of everyday social practices – gossiping, flirting, joking around, sharing information, and simply hanging out. While social network sites were predominantly used by teens as a peer-based social outlet, the unchartered nature of these sites generated fear among adults. This dissertation documents my 2.5-year ethnographic study of American teens’ engagement with social network sites and the ways in which their participation supported and complicated three practices – self-presentation, peer sociality, and negotiating adult society.

My analysis centers on how social network sites can be understood as networked publics which are simultaneously (1) the space constructed through networked technologies and (2) the imagined community that emerges as a result of the intersection of people, technology, and practice. Networked publics support many of the same practices as unmediated publics, but their structural differences often inflect practices in unique ways. Four properties – persistence, searchability, replicability, and scalability – and three dynamics – invisible audiences, collapsed contexts, and the blurring of public and private – are examined and woven throughout the discussion.

While teenagers primarily leverage social network sites to engage in common practices, the properties of these sites configured their practices and teens were forced to contend with the resultant dynamics. Often, in doing so, they reworked the technology for their purposes. As teenagers learned to navigate social network sites, they developed potent strategies for managing the complexities of and social awkwardness incurred by these sites. Their strategies reveal how new forms of social media are incorporated into everyday life, complicating some practices and reinforcing others. New technologies reshape public life, but teens’ engagement also reconfigures the technology itself.

Download dissertation

29 November 2008

Social media in closed societies

closed societies
Ethan Zuckerman, a researcher on the impact of information technology in developing nations, reports on his blog on a recent panel discussion, organised by the Open Society Institute, on new media in authoritarian societies.

The discussion started from the premise that our understanding of the effects of online media on society “are largely based on research in open societies, especially in the U.S. But there’s lots less work on the effects of new media in other parts of the world, especially in closed societies, and much of the work that’s done is incomplete and sometimes inaccurate.”

Aside from Zuckerman himself, panels included John Kelly, founder of Morningside Analytics, who talked about the emerging networked public sphere and presented his maps of online social networks in Iran, Egypt, Russia, and China; Evgeny Morozov, who is writing a book on the Internet in authoritarian countries; and Porochista Khakpour, an Iranian-American writer who discussed how the Iranian diaspora uses the Internet..

Read full story

(via Worldchanging)

20 November 2008

The world as the interface – location data and the mobile web

wwwtomtomcom
Jonathan Follett, president and CEO of Hot Knife Design, Inc., a Boston based UX and web collaborative, shares his thoughts on the hybrid experience of interacting with on-line data in the physical world, through the mobile geospatial web.

The article was published in the current issue of Vodafone’s Receiver Magazine, which is all about space, exploring how we are using the world itself as our interface.

“There is a world of information that we can’t immediately see in the streets we walk and drive in, and in the buildings in which we work, play, and live. The great potential of the mobile geospatial web is to reveal this hidden world to us, by adding geospatial and timing data to the user experience in an instant. But this immediacy also presents challenges we must weigh carefully, if we are to successfully create geospatial mobile experience.”

Read full story

11 November 2008

The Caryatids: a new book by Bruce Sterling

The Caryatids
The Caryatids (hardcover)
by Bruce Sterling
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Del Rey (February 24, 2009)

During a speech at Mobile Monday Amsterdam, Bruce Sterling announced his next book “The Caryatids”.

According to Sterling, the book which will be published in February, is an “internet of things” book, set in the 2060′s, that “tries to describe what life is like in a working internet of things”.

Promo copy
In the vein of William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition and Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, The Caryatids looks at the near future and forecasts not just our problems, but incredible solutions using technology currently under development. The caryatids are three identical clone sisters: Vera, a pollution expert who’s dealing with worldwide cleanup efforts; Mila, media star extraordinaire and member of the most powerful family-firm in southern California; and Sonja, a medical specialist stationed deep within China’s Gobi Desert. All three have the brains and the talents desperately needed to save a world suffering from global warning, runaway pollution, and uncontrolled political maneuvering. Too bad their explosive family history has left them hating each other…

9 September 2008

Book: Coming of Age in Second Life – an anthropologist explores the virtually human

Coming of Age in Second Life
Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human (Hardcover)
by Tom Boellstorff
Princeton University Press
Hardcover, 2008, 328 pages

Millions of people around the world today spend portions of their lives in online virtual worlds. Second Life is one of the largest of these virtual worlds. The residents of Second Life create communities, buy property and build homes, go to concerts, meet in bars, attend weddings and religious services, buy and sell virtual goods and services, find friendship, fall in love–the possibilities are endless, and all encountered through a computer screen. Coming of Age in Second Life is the first book of anthropology to examine this thriving alternate universe.

Tom Boellstorff conducted more than two years of fieldwork in Second Life, living among and observing its residents in exactly the same way anthropologists traditionally have done to learn about cultures and social groups in the so-called real world. He conducted his research as the avatar “Tom Bukowski,” and applied the rigorous methods of anthropology to study many facets of this new frontier of human life, including issues of gender, race, sex, money, conflict and antisocial behavior, the construction of place and time, and the interplay of self and group.

Coming of Age in Second Life shows how virtual worlds can change ideas about identity and society. Bringing anthropology into territory never before studied, this book demonstrates that in some ways humans have always been virtual, and that virtual worlds in all their rich complexity build upon a human capacity for culture that is as old as humanity itself.

Tom Boellstorff is associate professor of anthropology at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of A Coincidence of Desires: Anthropology, Queer Studies, Indonesia and The Gay Archipelago: Sexuality and Nation in Indonesia (Princeton).

Amazon page
Book reviews: The Guardian | Scientific American | Times Literary Supplement

4 August 2008

Mobile phones and the digital divide

Digital divide
Ken Banks writes in PC World on the capacity of the mobile phone to bridge the digital divide.

While developed markets get excited by the iPhone, N95, BlackBerry, 3G, WiMax and Android, in developing countries, most excitement centers around the proliferation of mobile phones — any phones — into poorer rural, communication-starved areas and their potential to help close the digital divide. Handset giants such as Nokia and Motorola believe that mobile devices will “close the digital divide in a way the PC never could.” Industry bodies such as the GSM Association run their own “Bridging the Digital Divide” initiative, and international development agencies such as USAID pump hundreds of millions of dollars into economic, health and educational initiatives based around mobile technology. With so many big names involved, what could possibly go wrong? [...]

So, if we’re serious about using mobile to help some of the poorest members of society, how about diverting international development funding toward providing a subsidized, fully Internet-ready handset for developing markets? (It’s been tried before but lacked coordination.) Aid donors are already providing funds to the network operators, after all. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Malawi, Sierra Leone and Uganda, for example, the International Finance Corporation (an arm of the World Bank) provided US$320 to Celtel to help expand and upgrade its mobile networks. Network coverage, important as it is, is only part of the equation. From the perspective of the digital divide, who’s addressing the handset issue other than companies responding to market forces (which I’ve already argued are often more fixed on price)?

Ken Banks devotes himself to the application of mobile technology for positive social and environmental change in the developing world, and has spent the last 15 years working on projects in Africa. Recently, his research resulted in the development of FrontlineSMS, a field communication system designed to empower grassroots nonprofit organizations.

Read full story

28 April 2008

How Club Penguin turned 750,000 British kids into penguins

Digital youth
The (UK) Times reports on the successful networking site for tweens.

The features of Club Penguin, one of the most successful virtual worlds aimed specifically at children, may defy logic – and gravity – but they represent the new frontier of children’s entertainment, where the whimsy and colour of traditional kids TV blends with computer game-style tasks, and the networking power of the internet.

Some 750,000 British children aged between 6 and 14 are estimated to inhabit Club Penguin, the brainchild of two Canadian entrepreneurs who as parents became frustrated with the lack of the options for kids who wanted to play computer games but also meet friends online.

Read full story

26 April 2008

New Linden Lab CEO announces user-centred vision for Second Life

Mark Kingdon
Earlier this week, Linden Lab, creator of the well-known virtual world Second Life, announced a new CEO: Mark Kingdon, currently CEO of digital marketing firm Organic. He will be taking over in mid-May.

Technology Review assistant editor Erica Naone spoke with Kingdon earlier this week about his plans for Second Life.

A lot of new users seem to have trouble getting to that place. They get confused by the controls, and aren’t sure what to do inside the world. Do you have any thoughts about how to make it easier to get started?

I’ve got a lot of background in the kind of user-centered design work that’s going to be important for Second Life, especially as you look at the first-hour experience. I haven’t come to any specific conclusions yet, but I think it starts with understanding what the resident needs in order to make a powerful experience, and looking at the kinds of people that you want to attract and bring in-world. The answers will emerge very clearly from that.

How do you plan to get different types of users acclimated? For example, business users might just want to get in-world quickly to have a meeting, while other users might be looking for a more playful experience.

I think the first thing that I need to do … is really immerse myself in the different user bases and then think about if, by giving them additional tools, they can create that entry point for themselves, or if it’s something we need to encourage, or if it’s something that we need to create for them. I think the question is, how do you make that happen without becoming the primary content creator?

Read full interview

23 April 2008

Cultures of virtual worlds

Cultures
A two-day conference this week will bring together scholars, developers and participants in virtual worlds to discuss the emerging cultures being created from a range of online communities.

Event organizers theorize that virtual worlds can be studied by researchers in the fields of humanities and social sciences.

Cultural anthropologist Mimi Ito, Intel anthropologist Genevieve Bell, UCI informatics professors Paul Dourish and Bonnie Nardi, Intel researcher Maria Bezaitis and UCI anthropologist Tom Boellstorff will lead the discussions.

The event is sponsored by Intel Research and UCI’s Department of Anthropology and Center for Ethnography.

Tom Boellstorff, one of the conference organizers, is the author of Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human. His is the first book to take a look at Second Life from a purely anthropological perspective.

- Press release
- Event website

10 April 2008

Videos online of Potsdam interaction design conference

Videos
Last year’s conference “Innovation Forum Interaction Design” focused on all aspects of interface and interaction design: mobile telephone and media interfaces, problem solutions and product visions, web pages and virtual worlds, art and commerce, business and science.

Speakers included Gillian Crampton Smith, Anthony Dunne, Tim Edler, Frank Jacob, Gesche Joost, Bernard Kerr, Patrick Kochlik, Kristjan Kristjansson, Bill Moggridge, Dennis Paul, Mike Richter and Bruce Sterling.

The videos are now online.

(via Bruce Sterling)

1 April 2008

Online chat, as inspired by real chat

Meebo founders
The New York Times writes about a new wave of Silicon Valley companies that are bringing live socializing into online social networking Web sites:

Compared with other forms of human interaction, online social networking is really not all that social.

People visit each other’s MySpace pages and Facebook profiles at various hours of the day, posting messages and sending e-mail back and forth across the digital void. It’s like an endless party where everybody shows up at a different time and slaps a yellow Post-it note on the refrigerator.

Now a new wave of Silicon Valley companies is bringing live socializing back into a medium that has, in the parlance of the technologists, grown overly asynchronous.

The article covers Vivaty, TokBox and Meebo.

Read full story

2 February 2008

Australian research on user led innovation

user led innovation
Darren Sharp of the Smart Internet (Australia) contacted me about the new research ‘User-led Innovation: A New Framework for Co-creating Business and Social Value,’ that he co-authored with Mandy Salomon.

Abstract

The sources of innovation are shifting rapidly from the traditional 20th century model of commercial R&D labs, elite universities, private companies and government agencies to user-led innovation. Today’s users have much greater input into the creation and dissemination of the media, knowledge and culture they consume. Open Source software, virtual worlds and media-sharing communities are at the forefront of new modes of user-led innovation that challenge established boundaries between producers and consumers.

This new CRC report reveals the major drivers of user-led innovation and explores how it is affecting organisations’ relationships with key stakeholders. It investigates how user-led practices generate business and social value through a major case study of the virtual world Second Life. The report canvasses a number of pathways for organisations to leverage the participation of their audiences, customers and citizens in the interest of co-creating new products, services and platforms.

The research draws on extensive interviews with some of the world’s leading thinkers on the social, economic and legal aspects of user-led innovation including: Eric von Hippel (MIT), Yochai Benkler (Harvard), Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia), Siva Vaidhyanathan (Virginia), John Howkins (Adelphi Charter), Michel Bauwens (P2P Alternatives) and Mitch Kapor (Linden Lab).

Download study (pdf, 2.4 mb, 57 pages)