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19 October 2012

EPIC conference videos online

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Most of the videos of this week’s EPIC Conference, hosted by the Savannah College of Art and Design [SCAD], are now online.

EPIC, which stands for Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference, promotes the use of ethnographic investigations and principles in the study of human behavior as they are applied in business settings.

The theme of the 2012 conference was renewal, focusing on the current turmoil in our world, and encouraging attendees to reflect on their own contribution to the field of applied ethnography and the role of EPIC in pushing communities forward.

Here are the videos in chronological order:

Opening keynote
Speaker: Emily Pilloton
Tell them I built this: A story of community transformation through design, youth, and education [51:15]
Emily Pilloton is the founder and executive director of Project H Design, a non-profit design agency founded in 2008 to use design and hands-on building for community and educational benefit. Trained in architecture and product design, Emily now spends most days teaching her high school Studio H design/build curriculum, in which students design and build full-scale architectural projects for their hometown. She is the author of the book Design Revolution: 100 Products That Empower People a compendium and call-to-action for design for social impact, and has appeared on the TED Stage as well as The Colbert Report.

Paper Session 1: Renewing ethnographic theory (curated by Stokes Jones)
Speaker: Tony Salvador, Intel Corporation
Epic Endings: The Key Is Renewal [20:59]
Innovation is about new ways to do old things and new ways to do new things. Yet, products, services, systems and even countries do end. As markets become increasingly volatile, we introduce the necessity of the concept of designing intentionally for things to end by purposefully designing the rituals to go with it generating renewal experiences and providing an emic potential for creative destruction.

Paper Session 1: Renewing ethnographic theory (curated by Stokes Jones)
Speaker: Sam Ladner, Copernicus Consulting Group
Ethnographic Temporality: Using Time-Based Data in Product Renewal [14:54]
Breathing new life into a flagging product requires a deep understanding of the rhythm of everyday life. When do customers begin to use this product? When do they stop? It is tempting to rely on the automatically collected time-data from “big data” to answer this question. But ethnography offers a unique cultural lens to understanding the temporal aspects of the product lifecycle. In this paper, I analyze several technological products using the concept of the “timescape” and its three dimensions of time to show how products succeed or fail. I then suggest how to integrate this with digital time-data.

Paper Session 1: Renewing ethnographic theory (curated by Stokes Jones)
Speakers: Min Lieskovsky, Charlie Hill and Morgan Ramsey-Elliot, ReD Associates
Function and change in China: Reviving Mauss’ “total social fact” to gain knowledge of changing markets [21:32]
This paper attempts to revive Mauss’ concept of the total social fact as a method to establish understanding of new markets. Our case study of alcohol in China illuminates the spirit baijiu’s connections to the total social facts of guanxi and hierarchy. We outline a methodology based on using total social facts as a heuristic device, removed from the problematic assumptions of classical functionalism.

Paper Session 1: Renewing ethnographic theory (curated by Stokes Jones)
Speakers: Fabian Segelström and Stefan Holmlid, Linköping University
One Case, Three Ethnographic Styles: Exploring different ethnographic approaches to the same design brief [17:51]
To inform the redesign of a Christmas market we employed three styles of ethnographic approaches. The three approaches were based on (social) anthropology, interaction design and mobile ethnography. We present the methodology chosen by each team and discuss the nature of the insights gathered by each team.

Pecha Kucha 1 (chaired by Michele Visciola, Experientia)
Renewals of Place [01:05:52] starts at 01:55
Presentations (in order):

  • Anthony Leonard (SCAD): The Resilience and Adaptation of OccupyDC
  • Jessica Grenoble (SCAD): Fading Into the Horizon: the disappearance of Appalachian hollow communities and culture
  • Arvind Venkataramani (SonicRim): Middle Perspectives: a walk through the High Line
  • Shubhangi Athalye, Stuart Henshall, Dina Mehta (Convo): Rebuilding Mumbai – Dreams and Reality
  • Chelsea Mauldin (Public Policy Lab): Public & Collaborative: Designing Services for Housing
  • Simon Roberts (ReD Associates): Peckham, Poundland, Post its and the Peace Wall: Staging a Post-Riot Renewal

> Presentation abstracts

Paper Session 2: Emerging Practices for Renewal (curated by Eric Arnould)
Speakers: Thomas Madsen and Laura Hammershoy, ReD Associates
Ethical dilemmas in business anthropology revisited: How a phenomenological approach to the practice of ethnography can shed new light on the topic of ethics [19:12]
Business anthropologists are caught between two ethical worlds: the ethics of the academy, and the ethics of the business community. While traditional discourses on ethical behavior are founded on universalistic ideas of morality, the paper presents an alternative ethics for our field that is contingent on the specifics of context.

Paper Session 2: Emerging Practices for Renewal (curated by Eric Arnould)
Speaker: Neal Patel, Google
If These Walls Could Talk: the Mental Life of the Built Environment [24:36]
This paper introduces a theory explaining why physical spaces become meaningful. Diverse modes of existence—exchange, retail experiences, lifestyles, identity—all occur in physical or virtual space. Yet ethnographers often divorce feeling at home or out of place from physical reality, as purely subjective mental forms. This paper argues the opposite, that there is a mental process which endows physical spaces with meaning. Renewing Lefebvre’s forgotten discussion of “rhythmanalysis,” I describe life in terms of overlapping, conflicting biological, cultural, and economic rhythms. I suggest human affinity with place depends on the extent that it provides refuge from such conflict, and increases relative to its restorative function.

Paper Session 2: Emerging Practices for Renewal (curated by Eric Arnould)
Speaker: Nicole Conand and Alicia Dornadic
The Ethnographer Unbounded: Considering Open Source in Corporate Environments [25:24]
Technological advances that enable seemingly endless information sharing, as well as various counter efforts that attempt to limit and control access to information, have prompted us to reexamine how industry-based practitioners of ethnography promulgate their research. A comparison of two distinct professional experiences reveals how varying degrees of information “openness” impact ethnographic work. One is an open source project supported by a Knight Foundation grant, and the second occurs within a large corporation in which research is proprietary and confidential. In doing so, we aim to discern which elements of open source ethnography have beneficial applications in corporate environments.

Invited Panel (curated by John Payne)
The Interaction of Ethnography and Design [01:00:44]
In keeping with the theme, EPIC has organized a panel of practitioners to reflect on how they use the combination of ethnographic and design practices to contribute to renewal in a variety of disparate areas of application, some established and some emerging. The panelists’ work sits at the intersection of ethnography and design in areas like technology, interaction design, service design, social entrepreneurship, and design of public services. They share some lessons learned and discuss the benefits and challenges they’ve encountered in bringing these two disciplines together.
The panelists are:
– Chelsea Mauldin, Executive Director, Public Policy Lab
– Shelley Evenson, Executive Director of Organisational Evolution at Fjord
– Dr. John Sherry, Director of Business Innovation Research, Intel Labs

Paper Session 3 (curated by Makiko Taniguchi)
Renewing Workplaces/ Organizations (video not yet online)

Paper Session 4 (curated by Dawn Nafus)
Visions of Renewal [01:02:47]
The works in this session all participate acts of envisioning the future. These visions, however, are not mere ocularcentric handwaving. No TED-style broad proclamations here. Each piece is grounded in specific evocative materials. One takes concrete—literally, concrete–as a site of envisioning what constitutes sustainability. Another investigates paper, space and embodied action as ephemeral materials that enact collective healing after a disaster. A third resituates “the digital” in relation to populations, social fields and city space to renew notions of civic participation. Through careful attention to materials, social processes and above all context, these papers all get beyond notions of vision as brash proclamation, and render new social dynamic conceivable in contextually-sensitive ways.
Presentations (in order):

  • Stokes Jones and Christine Miller (SCAD): STAND Where You Live: Activating Civic Renewal by Engaging Social Fields
  • Aki Ishida (Virginia Tech): Role of the Ephemeral in Recovery and Renewal
  • Laura Resendez de Lozano (Rice University): Concreting Sustainability: Renewing the Cement Industry through Sustainability Implementation

> Presentation abstracts

Paper Session 5: Renewing Places (curated by Ken Anderson)
Speaker: Fumiko Ichikawa, Hakuhodo, and Hiroshi Tamura, The University of Tokyo
Scaling-Out: An Ethnographic Approach to Revive Local Communities [19:35]
Between the 20th and the 21st century, what is considered innovations have changed from technologically-centered to human-centered. Taking Japan’s visions and potential recovery strategy as an example, we describe how Japan is to renew oneself and propose the power of ‘scaling-out’, where ethnography would play a central role in its success.

Paper Session 5: Renewing Places (curated by Ken Anderson)
Speaker: Colleen Heine, SCAD
Scene and Unscene: Revealing the Value of a Local Music Scene in Savannah, Georgia [20:48]
Throughout history, music has been central to the social fabric of communities, yet it is often perceived as an extraneous element in a city. “Scene and Unscene” is an ethnographic study of the local music scene in Savannah, Georgia. Interviews with key players and participant observation in local music events and venues, coupled with personal experience as a member of a Savannah-based band, provide an insider perspective on the local music scene—its current state and the collective vision for its desired future. The paper demonstrates the key roles a music scene plays in place-making, community building, and city life.

Paper Session 5: Renewing Places (curated by Ken Anderson)
Speaker: Siobhan Gregory, Wayne State University
“Detroit is a Blank Slate.” Metaphors in the Journalistic Discourse of Art and Entrepreneurship in the City of Detroit [18:28]
This paper is an investigation of metaphoric language in the contemporary discourse of Detroit’s “renewal.” News articles from local and national news sources from 2009-2011 provide evidence of critical and provocative metaphoric constructions found in the gentrification discourse of Detroit. As harbingers of gentrification, the discourse communities of artists and business entrepreneurs are the focus of this review. The author argues that metaphoric language in journalism must be critically evaluated and challenged to help ensure sustainable, equitable, and historically sensitive “renewal” of the city of Detroit and similar inner-city urban communities experiencing gentrification.

Paper Session 6 (curated by Shelley Evenson)
Renewing Services (video not yet online)

Pecha Kucha 2 (chaired by Suzanne Thomas)
Renewals of Culture [01:06:49]
Presentations (in order):

  • Daniel Goddemeyer (Unitedsituation): Exploring the analogue – digital legibility of our behaviors
  • Elisa Oreglia (UC Berkeley School of Information): 5 facts, 3 lessons, and 2 rules
  • Melissa Cefkin (IBM Research): Work and the Future
  • Richard Anderson: A Call to Action Regarding The Patient Experience
  • Robin Beers (Biz is Human) and Jan Yeager (Added Value Cheskin): Open Source Family | Implications for remaking and renewing notions of family
  • Carrie Yury: Don’t clean up and lie down: Ethnography and conceptual art

> Presentation abstracts

Artifacts Session (curated by Alicia Dornadic & Heinrich Schwarz)
Artifacts Introductions [34:49]
Features:
– Report by Heinrich Schwartz on EPIC Europe in Barcelona
– Introduction on the Artifacts by Alicia Dornadic

Paper Session 7 (curated by Nimmi Rangaswamy)
Renewing Our Discipline [01:25:13]
There always comes a time to reflect, explore and renew ethnographic praxis in industry. We face a felt need to cast a new light on praxis, be it broadening its coda, certifying its practioners or pushing boundaries of what are considered contexts of consumption. This panel will focus on three aspects of renewal: revitalizing practitioner ingenuity and expertise; pushing the limits of knowing consumers by enclosing broader discourses on context laden values; finally, incorporating an accreditation process to professionalize and certify a shared body of skills, methods and knowledge.
Presentations (in order):

  • Patricia Ensworth (Harborlight Management Services): Badges, Branding, and Business Growth: The ROI of an Ethographic Praxis Professional Certification
  • Arvind Venkataramani and Christopher Avery (SonicRim): Framed by ‘Experience’: Moving from User-Centeredness to Strategic Incitement
  • Susan Squires (University of N. Texas) and Alexandra Mack (Pitney Bowes): Renewing Our Practice: Preparing the next generation of practitioners

> Presentation abstracts

Closing keynote
Speaker: Philip Delves Broughton
Cracking The Marketplace Of Ideas (video not yet online)
Philip Delves Broughton is a journalist, management writer, and best selling author of two books. Philip was a journalist with The Daily Telegraph for ten years, latterly as Paris Bureau Chief (2002-04) before he took an MBA at Harvard, which became the subject of his first book, the best selling What They Teach you at Harvard Business School. Philip writes regularly for The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Spectator. From 2009-2010, he spent several months at Apple writing case studies for Apple University, its internal management program, and now works with The Kauffman Foundation for Entrepreneurship and Education. His most recent book The Art of the Sale: Learning from the Masters About the Business of Life is an ‘insightful scholarly treatise on sales’ with a global perspective on this critical business function.

21 August 2012

The first Informal Economy Symposium in Barcelona – October 12, 2012

THEIEECONOMY7

HOW WILL the informal economy impact the global business landscape?

The landscape of the Informal Economy is vast – from street vending to P2P networks, from piracy to ad-hoc businesses – it is the fastest growing sector of both emerging and developed markets. In fact, the global informal sector has been growing even in the face of economic recession.

  • If the global informal economy were a country, its GDP would be on the order of $10 trillion a year, which would make it the second largest economy on earth after the United States.
  • In Europe the informal sector amounts for 20% of the annual GDP. In developing countries in Asia and Africa this can go up to between 25 to 40%.
  • 1.8 billion of the total working force of the world – that means half of it – works in informal economy. This ratio is predicted to be 2/3 by 2020.
  • In countries like India, the ratio of informal workers can go up to 85% of the total working force.

This means that now is a critical moment for businesses to investigate the scope of the informal economy, and the challenges and opportunities it poses for them.

THE FIRST Informal Economy Symposium in Barcelona: October 12, 2012

A group of thinkers and doers, engaged in a variety of projects that challenge conventional views of the informal economy, are gathering for a day of keynotes and panels in Barcelona. Drawing inspiration from street-level ingenuity, alternative currencies, P2P networks, copy-cat innovation, crowdsourcing and other drivers in the informal economy, the symposium seeks to better understand the relationship between informal commercial practices and formal economic structures. A better understanding of this relationship is the first step towards new business models, innovation approaches, and collaborations within, across, and between the formal and informal.

Visit the Informal Economy website.

Confirmed speakers include

9 November 2009

Banking the unbanked Africans – the mobile initiatives

Banking the unbanked Africans
The November 2009 edition of Mobile Money Africa, “Africa’s leading online resource for mobile financial inclusion”, is entitled “Banking the unbanked Africans” and is entirely available for download.

The December edition will focus on Mobile Money and Payment technologies for Africa.

Download magazine (November 2009)

(via David Tait and Niti Bhan)

29 July 2009

Nokia in trouble? How fast can a mobile device giant react?

Nokia
Fascinating and seemingly very realistic tale on the potential of Nokia (and other device manufacturers) to be able to react to the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, based on the time frame of their product development cycles.

“When the iPhone was announced (January 2007), an analyst friend of mine calculated the competitive response from Nokia, based on his understanding on how companies of this size in this industry in general are able to change. For the purposes of this article, we tried to revisit the prediction to update it with anecdotal evidence. So far there has been seemingly little activity that has affected the trajectory. Or are we missing something?”

Conclusion: First products that are roughly comparable with iPhone version 1 will begin shipping in 2014, but the capabilities to compete effectively as a platform will only be in place by 2019.

Read full story

(via Niti Bhan)

23 July 2008

In three years…

Experientia
Three years ago we founded Experientia. It has been a very exciting ride since.

In three years we worked with some of the best companies in the field and some of the best people too.

Here they are in alphabetical order:

Our clients
Alcatel-Lucent (France, Spain), Area Association (Italy), Arits Consulting (Belgium), AVIS (Italy), Barclays (Italy, UK), Blyk (Finland, UK), Cittadellarte (Italy), City of Genk (Belgium), Condé Nast (Italy), Conifer Research (USA), CSI (Italy), CVS-Pharmacy (USA), Design Flanders (Belgium), Deutsche Telekom (Germany), Expedia (UK), Facem (Italy), Fidelity International (UK), Finmeccanica (Italy), Flanders in Shape (Belgium), Haier (China), Hewlett Packard (India), IEDC-Bled School of Management (Slovenia), IKS-Core Consulting (Italy), Istud Foundation (Italy), Kodak (USA), LAit (Italy), Last Minute (UK), Max Mara (Italy), Media & Design Academy (Belgium), Microsoft (USA), Motorola (USA), MPG Ferrero (Italy), Nokia (Denmark, France, Finland), Research in Motion (Canada), Samsung (Italy, Korea, UK), Swisscom (Switzerland), Tandem Seven (USA), Torino World Design Capital (Italy), Voce di Romagna (Italy), Vodafone (Germany, Italy, UK), and Whirlpool (UK).

Our collaborators (interns, consultants and staff)
Sven Adolph, Ana Camila Amorim, Andrea Arosio, An Beckers-Vanderbeeken, Josef ‘Yosi’ Bercovitch, Enrico Bergese, Niti Bhan, Elena Bobbola, Janina Boesch, Giovanni Buono, Donatella Capretti, Manlio Cavallaro, Gaurav Chadha, Dave Chiu, Raffaella Citterio, Sarah Conigliaro, Piermaria Cosina, Marco Costacurta, Laura Cunningham, Regine Debatty, Stefano Dominici, Saulo Dourado, Tal Drori, Dina Mohamed El-Sayed, Marion Froehlich, Giuseppe Gavazza, Valeria Gemello, Michele Giannasi, Young-Eun Han, Vanessa Harden, Yasmina Haryono, Bernd Hitzeroth, Juin-Yi ‘Suno’ Huang, Tom Kahrl, Erez Kikin-Gil, Ruth Kikin-Gil, Helena Kraus, Francesca Labrini, Alberto Lagna, Shadi Lahham, Jörg Liebsch, Cristina Lobnik, Maya Lotan, Ofer Luft, Davide Marazita, Claude Martin, Camilla Masala, Myriel Milicevic, Kim Mingo, Emanuela Miretti, Massimo Morelli, Peter Morville, Muzayun Mukhtar, Giorgio Olivero, Pablo Onnias, Hector Ouilhet, Christian Pallino, Giorgio Partesana, Magda Passarella, Romina Pastorelli, Danilo Penna, Andrea Piccolo, Rachelly Plaut, Laura Polazzi, Laura Puppo, Alain Regnier, Enza Reina, Anna Rink, Michal Rinott, Silvana Rosso, Emanuela Sabena, Vera de Sa-Varanda, Craig Schinnerer, Fabio Sergio, Manuela Serra, Sofia Shores, Massimo Sirelli, Natasha Sopieva, Yaniv Steiner, Riccardo Strobbia, Victor Szilagyi, David Tait, Beverly Tang, Akemi Tazaki, Luca Troisi, Raymond Turner, Haraldur Unnarsson, Ilaria Urbinati, Carlo Valbonesi, Marcello Varaldi, Giorgio Venturi, Anna Vilchis, Dvorit Weinheber, Alexander Wiethoff, Junu Joseph Yang, and Mario Zannone.

Our partners
Amberlight, Design for Lucy, Fecit, Finsa, Flow Interactive, Foviance, Italia 150, Launch Institute, Prospect, Savigny Research, Syzygy, Torino World Design Capital, UPA, URN, Usability Partners International, Usercentric, UserFocus, User Interface Design, and UXnet.

Our friends (insofar not covered by the above)
Nik Baerten, Valerie Bauwens, Toon Berckmoes, Ralf Beuker, Marco Bevolo, Daniella Botta, Stefana Broadbent, Francesco Cara, Jan Chipchase, Allan Chochinov, Elizabeth Churchill, Gillian Crampton-Smith, Regine Debatty, Federico De Giuli, Jesse James Garrett, Adam Greenfield, Hubert Guillaud, Wilfried Grommen, Laurent Haug, Bob Jacobson, Marguerite Kahrl, Anna Kirah, Simona Lodi, Peter Merholz, Bill Moggridge, Donald Norman, Nicolas Nova, Bruce Nussbaum, Laura Orestano, Vittorio Pasteris, Gianluigi Perotto, Carlo Ratti, Hans Robertus, Bruce Sterling, John Thackara, Joannes Vandermeulen, Lowie Vermeersch, Judy Wert, and Younghee Yung.

Thanks to you all!

Pierpaolo Perotto, Mark Vanderbeeken, Michele Visciola and Jan-Christoph Zoels
The Experientia partners

PS. We are constantly looking for great talent! We currently have openings for interaction designers, communication designer, information architect, IT staff, usability consultants, etc.

31 March 2008

The end of consumer culture?

Toothpaste
Hugh Graham asks some serious questions about the role designers in promoting consumer culture, in a wider context of sustainability.

“Should designers work toward the end of aspirational consumer culture? Can the design industry, broadly defined, reposition and reinvent itself to provide value and sustainability while still creating desire?” […]

“It occurs to me that there needs to be a new paradigm of consumption, one that will work for business, community, and environment. I don’t know what form this new paradigm will take, but I believe it has something to do with learning to appreciate the real value of things and their place in our world.

Designers have an opportunity to engage in this paradigm shift. Part of the story lies in creating products that have intrinsic and lasting value, products that I like to call artisanal. And part of the story lies in better communicating the value of the artisanal. I believe that designers have an ethical duty to work toward the end of disposable culture. Of course, this isn’t going to happen overnight, and it’s not going to happen in vacuum. But it is going to happen, whether we choose to be a part of the process or not. Better to engage the future rather than have it thrust upon us.”

Read full story

(via Niti Bhan on Core77)

23 March 2008

UK govt reveals design driven innovation strategy

Innovation nation
Last week’s Budget and two policy documents have put design firmly at the heart of the Government’s innovation strategy, reports Emily Pacey in mad.co.uk.

“In an orchestrated effort to boost innovation in public services, two Government departments published papers last week that include design – usually the preserve of culture and trade – on their agendas.The Budget’s stated commitment to support small, innovative enterprises springs from the Department for Innovation, Universities & Skills’ White Paper Innovation Nation [pdf, 923 kb, 101 pages] and the Department for Business Enterprise & Regulatory Reform’s new strategy, Enterprise: Unlocking the UK’s Talent [pdf, 4.7 mb, 105 pages]”.

“BERR’s report – labelled the most salient part of the Budget by Confederation of British Industry chairman Richard Lambert – notes the strength of the design industry and acknowledges that connections between design and business are weak. However, it is Innovation Nation that puts design at its heart, detailing three Government-backed projects run by, or involving, the Design Council.” […]

“Minister for Innovation Ian Pearson believes that design is central to innovation and that innovation is key to improving public services. ‘Building design into the services of local authorities and Government departments is going to be important for the future,’ he tells Design Week. ‘The contribution of design to innovation hasn’t been emphasised enough until now, but user-led innovation always clearly demonstrated the importance of design in developing new products, processes and new ways of working.'”

An article on Science|Business provides more background:

“Innovation is changing, and government policy needs to be updated to reflect this says the UK government in a White Paper published this week, which promises to put public procurement at the centre of innovation policy for the first time.”

“This will have an international dimension, with the government pledging to align its policies with the European Commission’s lead markets initiative.” […]

“Each government department will be expected to draw up an Innovation Procurement Plan as part of its commercial strategy, to drive innovation through procurement and use innovative procurement practices.” […]

“The EU’s lead market initiative has picked out electronic healthcare systems, protective textiles, sustainable buildings, recycling, bio-based products and renewable energy, as areas where Europe’s spending power can drive innovation. It plans to help by improving legislation, applying public procurement and developing standards.” […]

“The UK government has ditched the simplistic view of innovation as a disengaged process of investment in fundamental research leading to commercialisation by industry. Now it recognises that innovation draws on a wide variety of sources and is driven as much by demand as by supply.” […]

“Switching the focus to the demand side will drive innovation by encouraging innovators to meet new, advanced needs. “Early users, whether they be individuals, businesses or government itself, shape innovations in their most important phase of development and provide critical early revenue,” says the White Paper.”

(via Niti Bhan on Core77)

12 March 2008

The People’s Phone

People's Phone
The International Herald Tribune reports on a new very cheap mobile phone for emerging markets:

It looks a bit like a child’s toy, a walkie-talkie circa 1975, a cheap plastic throwback to the good old days when telephones were made for talking.

But to Spice Ltd., a telecommunications company in the world’s fastest-growing phone market, this new product embodies the latest, greatest innovation in cellphone technology today: a handset priced at less than $20.

Spice, which is based in Noida, India, unveiled what it is branding “the People’s Phone” at a wireless industry conference in Barcelona last month. The handset is an anomaly among mobile phones today: The number keys are big and bold. It is chunky and has no color screen – in fact, it has no screen at all. Nothing about it flips, folds or slides. It is, as Spice’s chairman, Bhupendra Kumar Modi, described it, “just a phone.” […]

And Spice, which is listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange, is not the only company looking at cheap handsets. In Barcelona, Nokia also introduced new “emerging market” models, and LG Electronics and Samsung are moving strongly into the low end as well. Some analysts argue that the most ferocious market share battles this year will take place not among the high-end “smart phone” category but down in the entry-level devices.

No screen? Comments Niti Bhan: “So the poor don’t want to send SMS or check the time?”.

Read full story

28 February 2008

Lessons from Europe

Lessons from Europe
The Design Council published a report from a fact-finding tour to the Netherlands, Denmark and Finland that explored how cross-disciplinary teaching and learning is changing the nature of design.

The tour members, which were academics and policy makers and also included design consultant and emerging markets specialist Niti Bhan, visited academic institutions (Technical University Delft, Design Academy Eindhoven, Technical University Eindhoven, KaosPilots, Aarhus School of Architecture, Workcamp07, University of Art and Design Helsinki, Helsinki School of Creative Entrepreneurship, and Helsinki University of Technology) and companies (Philips Design, Designit, Zentropa Workz, Nokia, Kone, and Desigence).

Download “Lessons from Europe” (pdf)

27 December 2007

Designing appropriate computing technologies for the rural developing world

Tapan Parikh
On this University of Washington video broadcast Tapan Parikh describes his experiences developing CAM – a toolkit for mobile phone data collection – in the rural developing world.

Designing technologies for an unfamiliar context requires understanding the needs and capabilities of potential users.

Drawing from the results of an extended participatory design study conducted with microfinance group members in rural India (many of whom are semi-literate or illiterate), he outlines a set of user interface design guidelines for accessibility to such users.

The results of this study are used to motivate the design of the CAM toolkit, which includes support for paper-based interaction; multimedia input and output; and disconnected operation.

Parikh discusses possible topics for future work and his long-term research vision.

Watch video

(via Niti Bhan)

11 December 2007

Mobile services in the developed world are a bit behind

Low-income banking
Paul Lamb reflects on the dire state of mobile services in America:

In Japan it is not uncommon for people to make everyday purchases using only a cell phones. A variety of secure mobile technologies alowing for easy transfer of money from one’s bank account or credit card to retailer have existed for some time. The trend is catching on in the developing world as well, where those who do not have bank accounts or credit cards can move or store money and credits via cell phones. A good review of some current M-banking and M-remittance services in the developing world can be found here.

In reading recenly about a bank sponsored program to help the “unbanked” poor in San Francisco open up banking accounts, I was struck by how far behind the curve we seem to be in America in leveraging the same mobile opportunities that are coming online around the globe.

- Read full story
Read also this reaction by Niti Bhan

3 December 2007

The mobile web is NOT helping the developing world… and what we can do about it

Africa phone
According to Niti Bhan, Nathan Eagle‘s post on the limitations of the current perception of the mobile internet experience for the developing world are “spot on and the most insightful I have come across to date”.

Here is a quote from his article on the Nokia Developer’s blog:

“I attend an increasing number of keynotes where CEOs and EVPs of both major mobile handset manufacturers and mobile operators trumpet their role in bringing the internet to the bottom of the pyramid in the developing world. It’s a total fallacy.

The phones that are designed and marketed for the ‘developing world’ today aren’t data enabled, they have no browser or any ability to function as a traditional data device. We’re dumping hundreds of millions of devices into these regions that are essentially crippled – and their legacy (the average life span of a phone in Africa is many times that of it’s Western counterpart) will affect mobile internet usage in these regions throughout the next decade. […]

This is not to say that these billions of mobile phones do not have the potential to access content from the web – rather, the traditional browser-based paradigm of internet usage does not cater to them. The idea that the mobile web consists exclusively of mobile devices running web-browsers identical to the web experience we are used to with IE/Firefox is simply wrong. Throwing more and more resources towards creating devices for the developing world that can emulate the PC browsing experience is misguided. The 2 billion phones being used in the developing world are really great at making and receiving voice calls and text messages: Why not shape the internet experience to meet the specs of every phone’s inherent functionality (voice!) rather than requiring devices to have specs that quite frankly aren’t going to be realistic for many years to come?”

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By the way, make sure to check out the website of EPROM:

EPROM (Entrepreneurial Programming and Research On Mobiles), part of the Program for Developmental Entrepreneurship within the MIT Design Laboratory, aims to foster mobile phone-related research and entrepreneurship. Today’s mobile phones are designed to meet Western needs. Subscribers in developing countries, however, now represent the majority of mobile phone users worldwide. We believe the adoption of new technologies and services within this vast, emerging market will drive innovation and help shape the future of the mobile phone.

28 September 2007

A mobile revolution is taking place in the developing world

Phone use in Africa
The mobile platform is currently undergoing somewhat of a revolution in the developing world — and so are people’s lives — with Africa now more advanced than the rest of the world in terms of mobile banking. The user experience challenges are only beginning to be addressed.

If you want to keep abreast on developments in this field, here is a crop of news stories from just this last week:

A recent special report in Business Week on how basic cell phones are sparking economic hope and growth in emerging — and even non-emerging — nations. The report takes a particular look at the micro- and macro-economic impacts of this development, and what it means for local entrepreneurs and major mobile operators. It also features an online extra on the use of mobile phones by artisans and tradespeople in rural India, a summary graphic and a slideshow;

A Reuters story on the beeping boom in Africa, what the social practices are, and how that is pushing mobile operators to innovate their services;

A post on the Vodafone R&D Betavine blog on the Mukuru Kash service that like Paypal will store funds that you pay to them online and then set up a voucher which can be redeemed at the petrol station for fuel;

Next: bridging the digital divide, a recent post by Niti Bhan, where she puts developments in the bigger picture of bridging the digital divide between the digital haves and have nots, and wonders what will happen if all these people in the developing world can also start accessing the internet from their mobile devices;

In a recent post on mobile banking, Barbara Ballard of Little Springs Design guides us to three blogs on the topic: Mobile Banking (news and analysis from Brandon McGee, a VP in charge of mobile banking), Mobile Money & Banking, and Mobile Banking, the blog of Hannes van Rensburg, CEO of a South African mobile banking provider Fundamo.

Note by the way that all the user research work by Jan Chipchase and others seems to have paid off: Nokia dominates the mobile handset landscape in India with an astonishing 74% market share.

25 September 2007

Universities, design, user experience and innovation

UIAH
Finland plans to merge their three leading universities in business, design and technology into ONE innovation university by 2009.

An article on Finnfacts states that “the aim is a world-class university that would be able to compete with the best foreign universities and be an interesting co-partner for them.”

The initiative for combining the expertise at the University of Art and Design Helsinki, Helsinki School of Economics and Business Administration and Helsinki University of Technology was taken by Yrjö Sotamaa, the principal of the art and design university, in the autumn of 2005.

“I firmly believe that Finland’s competitiveness in the future could be built on the ability to combine in a superior way the expertise in various fields in order to create innovations and successful corporate activity,” Sotamaa emphasises.

“Mere technical pre-eminence is not enough for creating successful innovations. Top-class design and business skills are also needed. The significance of experiencing and usability of technology will be given greater emphasis.” [My emphasis]

A keynote speech by Sotamaa at an innovation conference organised by the very forward looking “Better by Design” initiative in New Zealand can be downloaded here (pdf, 3.8 mb, 101 slides). In the speech Sotamaa discussed the fundamental change in thinking required for companies to really benefit from a design-led approach, and what is required to move design from being perceived as “beautiful, but not useful” or “rounding the corners”, to being deeply embedded in everyday business life and bringing substantial economic benefits when applied strategically.

Sotamaa’s design school organised last month the conference “User Experience Plus – Designing Pleasurable Products and Interfaces 2007“, with five thoughtful themes:

  • Skilled action, focussed on rich interactions and design for human dexterity;
  • New luxury, on innovative products and services that create an Emotion plus – effect;
  • The aesthetics of interaction, on how the interaction design itself can shape engaging experiences, through providing e.g. intriguing invitations, constructive disturbances, pleasant surprises, remarkable experiences etc.;
  • Illusion in interaction: If interaction is the ground in which the experience is constituted, then the question is how to design this ground for the experience so that the experience becomes pleasurable;
  • Social interaction about designs and their short or long term interpersonal effects.

Some conferences videos are also available.

Finally, January 2007 saw the start of the Helsinki School of Creative Entrepreneurship (HSCE), which is being looked on as the first step in the innovation university. According to the website, HSCE delivers tailor made programs to stimulate creative thinking as a basis for developing new and innovative product, service and experience offerings for customers.

In the UK meanwhile, NESTA is also exploring the issue of universities and innovation and just published a short paper on how to ensure that research funding encourages innovation.

(in part via Niti Bhan)

16 September 2007

Singapore Polytechnic’s diploma in experience design

Singapore Polytechnic's diploma in experience design
The Singapore Polytechnic now offers a new three-year degree in Experience Design (Interaction & Product).

Description:

Students are equipped with creative design skills backed by a strong foundation in technology and craftsmanship.

This course is a specialised design programme which focuses on engaging contemporary cultures, business and technology by exploring new strategies for generating design ideas using both digital and physical media. These ideas are then turn into reality with innovative craft, technical innovation, invention and professionalism.

The course is designed to support the Government’s initiative to produce multi-disciplinary specialists who are well equipped with skills to understand design, technological processes, and enterprise to propel the growth of the creative industries.

The aim of the programme is to train students to be an Experience, Product and Interaction Designer, who is able to conceive creative products and services, and the experiences associated with these, for contemporary cultures.

This is achieved by understanding the users’ experience, imagining new opportunities, testing and prototyping ideas, determining and applying appropriate materials, processes & technologies, and designing and crafting new interactive experiences and enterprises.

A full listing of the courses and their descriptions can be seen here.

Interestingly, the Singapore Polytechnic has also launched a new Experience Design Centre [no website]. Singapore Radio International has published a short interview with Liang Lit How, the centre’s director.

I am curious to hear if Niti Bhan, who just moved to Singapore, has some more insight on these initiatives.

2 July 2007

Recent stories on the Turin 2008 World Design Capital website

Torino 2008 World Design Capital
A few months ago Experientia partner Mark Vanderbeeken started doing some writing for the Turin 2008 World Design Capital website, and will continue to do so until the end of 2008.

The site has just been refreshed with an interview with Marie-Josée Lacroix, design commissioner of the City of Montreal; an essay on design and sustainability by Niti Bhan; a short overview of the history of the UK Design Council; and some stories from the international press.

For the first edition of the online magazine, Mark interviewed Ranjit Makkuni, wrote an essay on people-centred design, profiled the Nagoya Design Center, and zoomed in on the thinking of Mike Kuniavsky.

Feel free to contact us (mark followed by experientia dot com) with comments, suggestions, criticisms and proposals.

19 February 2007

Advanced programme of CHI 2007 available

CHI 2007
The CHI 2007 organisers have published an “advanced programme” of the conference, which will take place 28 April – 3 May in San Jose, California.

Some highlights:

Opening plenary: “Reaching for the intuitive” by Bill MoggridgeBill will attempt to show how design thinking can harnesses intuitive mental processes, leveraging tacit knowledge as well as the explicit knowledge of logically expressed thoughts. He will give examples of how designers and design teams learn by doing, allowing the subconscious mind to inform intuitions that guide actions. Some of the examples will come from his experience as Cofounder of IDEO, and others will be taken from his recent book Designing Interactions (www.designinginteractions.com), in which he interviews forty influential designers who have shaped our interaction with digital technology.

Interactive session: “Who killed design?: addressing design through an interdisciplinary investigation” with Bill Moggridge (IDEO), Bill Buxton (Microsoft Research), Terry Winograd (Stanford University) and Meg Armstrong (Parsons The New School for Design)This interactive session brings together significant voices from a variety of ‘design-engaged’ disciplines to lead a discussion about the oft-used, but seldom agreed upon notion of ‘Design’. The primary goal of this session is to address ‘Design’ from a much wider variety of perspectives than could occur within any singular discipline. In doing so, the session intends to re-visit [the definitions of] “Design”, “Designer”, and “Designed”.

Closing Plenary: “The mobile as a post-industrial platform for socio-economic development” by Niti BhanThe internet is the foundation of the world wide web of humanity online. Today, there is no such facility on the cellphone platform comparable as yet to the great degree of usability and freedom of movement that browsing currently offers those of us in “broadband nations”.

At the same time there is a great digital divide – between the haves and the have nots. Many have tried with different degrees of success to bridge this chasm, because they all see the potential for growth that unleashing the flow of wealth to and from the bottom-most segments of socioeconomic and geopolitical strata, can effect real change in the standard of living for a great majority on our planet rather than just the fortunate few.The numbers of cellphones sold in the past two years alone in the unexpected markets of the bottom of the pyramid, that includes a surprising numbers of luxury or high end mobiles, far more than any market survey could have predicted even two years ago, is a clear signal of the shift in economic activity. Look at what is already happening now in Bangladesh – microfinance and cellphones; South Africa – banking the unbanked through their cellphones; Uganda – microentreprise using the cellphone and more.The challenge before us today is to ask “What if…?” in the best traditions of creativity and imagination and visualise a near future, within the constraints of existing or installed technology, that could bridge this digital divide and develop the applications and the foundation to provide connectivity, commerce and community on the mobile platform. What kind of difference could this make?”

28 October 2005

Shopping for innovation

Shopping_for_innovation
What you need to know before hiring a design firm

Steve Portigal and Niti Bhan write about what you need to consider when bringing on strategic design services and hiring a design firm and focus on three key issues: The Problem (defining your needs), the People (who the players are), and the Partnership (the nature of the engagement).

Design firms are businesses, but with unique perspectives and unique work processes. Understanding a bit of the industry culture will go a long way in helping you to establish a successful engagement.

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