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Search results for 'cottam'
11 December 2007

Interview with Hilary Cottam

Hilary Cottam
It took Experientia partner Mark Vanderbeeken quite some effort to schedule an interview with Hilary Cottam, UK Designer of the Year 2005 and former director of RED [archive site], the meanwhile closed innovation unit of the UK Design Council, and now one of the founding partners of Participle. But it was worth it.

Participle (which now finally has a webpage) is a new social enterprise designing the next generation of public services, with a focus on the big and seemingly intractable social issues of the 21st century. The two other Participle co-founders are Charles Leadbeater, the internationally renowned thinker and innovator, and author of the book We-Think, and Colin Burns, designer and formerly the CEO of IDEO London. The initiative is supported by NESTA, where Participle has its offices.

In the 30 minute interview which covered as much ground as a normal person can do in 60 minutes – Hilary is a fast talker – we discussed many of the areas that are dear to this blog, including co-creation with end-users, the power of design to transform public services and provide new approach to address seemingly difficult problems such as diabetes, and how to constructively deal with an ageing population. She also talks about her new Participle venture of course.

The interview was published on the website of Torino World Design Capital, where the author of this blog provides monthly contributions.

Read full story

14 June 2010

Engineering a brighter future

Loops
Alice Rawsthorn, design critic of The New York Times, reports on Loops, an experimental project created by Participle, the British social design group, that aims to help young people to become more confident, ambitious and resourceful.

“[Hilary] Cottam [, co-founder of Participle,] and her colleagues are at the forefront of the increasingly influential discipline of social design, whereby designers collaborate with specialists from other fields, like ethnographers, psychologists and anthropologists, to try to develop more efficient, inspiring and cost-effective ways of dealing with social problems.

Rather than using design to produce visible things, such as objects or images, social designers apply the principles of design thinking to address social, political and humanitarian crises. They also use their instinctive flair for identifying the causes of problems and inventing ingenious ways of solving them, as well as their ability to “sell” those solutions clearly and persuasively.”

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16 May 2010

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

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

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

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30 April 2010

Design driven prison development in Belgium

prison
Flanders InShape, the Flemish/Belgian competence centre for product development and industrial design, is supporting a new research project on the development of a requirements programme for future prison design in Belgium.

On 25 March Flanders InShape organised the “Towards a 21st Century Prison” conference in collaboration with the architecture department of the Artesis School Antwerp. The audience of architects, policy makers, designers, lecturers and students was treated to a demonstration of the power of design driven innovation in the prison sector.

British architect Simon Henley (2008 UK Healthcare Architect of the Year) presented a research project that he conducted together with Hilary Cottam (2005 UK Designer of the Year) within the RED research unit of the UK Design Council. The audience quickly became convinced that an alternative way of looking at existing problems can lead to new solutions.

That’s how the idea came about that this should also be possible in Belgium. With the planned construction of seven new prisons in mind, a research programme on the matter was created within Flanders InShape. The currently running Artesis School research on new prisons provided a healthy starting point.

Flanders InShape is currently looking for additinal participating companies [disclosure: Experientia has also been contacted]. In exchange for participation, the companies obtain limited project influence by being part of the user committee. They also have a strategic advance by sitting at the forefront when new opportunities for their companies are being developed. Because we want to keep the group limited and workable, we ask you to react quickly. We have three slots open still.

Architects, construction companies, furniture builders, suppliers, caterers and service providers of all sorts are are welcome to contact Flanders InShape.

(Dutch press release)

22 March 2010

Participatory systems, moving beyond 20th Century institutions

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

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

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

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

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1 March 2010

Interaction’10 videos online

Interaction10
Many videos of the Interaction10 conference are now online. Here are the one of the speakers mentioned in the recent review by Experientia partner Jan-Christoph Zoels.

Paola Antonelli – Talk to Me
Whether openly and actively, or in subtle, subliminal ways, things talk to us, and designers write the initial script that will let us develop and improvise the dialogue.

Richard Banks – The 40 Year-Old Tweet
Most entries on Twitter are throwaway. They’re mundane, in the moment, with an expected period of interest of only a few minutes. This is true of much of what we put online. Yet as we grow older, breadcrumb like these, little traces of what we did in the past, will become more and more important as a way of looking back, and reminiscing on our lives. What seems mundane now will likely seem odd and forgotten in the future, and play an important role in triggering our memories. I suspect we’ll want to see, in 30 or 40 years time, what we were motivated enough about in 2009 to Tweet.
There’s a danger, though, that when we get old the services we used to express ourselves, and make records of our interests and activities in the past will either no longer exist, or will have changed beyond recognition. Do you think Twitter will still exist in 2049?
This presentation will talk about the role of the digital objects, products and services we are designing today as they take over from physical things as the primary way we remember our past. What are our responsibilities as designers in making sure not only that people’s lives are preserved for reminiscing, but also that the record of their past can be passed on to their offspring and become part of a family’s history?

Matt Cottam – Wooden Logic: In Search of Heirloom Electronics
In this session Matt Cottam will present a recent project entitled Wooden Logic: In search of Heirloom Electronics. The project represents the first phase in a hands-on sketching process aimed at exploring how natural materials and craft traditions can be brought to the center of interactive digital design to give modern products greater longevity and meaning.
Where furniture and fine art are cared for and handed down through generations as heirlooms, the value of digital products rarely survives beyond their short useful lifespan. Their rapid obsolescence makes them seem poor candidates for the use of natural materials and time-consuming manufacturing techniques. Yet these objects also occupy a very privileged and intimate position among our possessions, often living in our pockets, handbags and at our bedsides.
For centuries artisans have had the ability to sketch with wood and hand tools to craft high-quality, precious objects. With digital technology the functionality of objects became less tangible and visible, and their making fell almost exclusively to engineers and computer scientists. It is only in the past decade or so that the community and tools have evolved to the point that designers can sketch with hardware and software. This project seeks to combine seemingly dissonant elements, natural, material and virtual, and explore how they can be crafted to feel as if they were born together as parts of a unified object anatomy that is both singular and precious.

Timo Arnall – Designing for the Web in the World
From NFC mobile phones to Nabaztag and Nike+, there is an entirely new class of consumer product that becomes almost useless when disconnected from the network. How can designers deal with the vast complexity of designing not only interactive physical products, but the connections and resulting interactions with the data that they produce? In the Touch project we have been working with designing interactive products and services that involve RFID, NFC and mobile devices. The project has developed useful models for designing across tangible and mobile interactions, networks and the web, that allow us to see where existing products succeed or fail, and to get to a grip on the design of new networked products.

Kevin Cheng – Augmented Reality: Is It Real? Should We Care?
This year, we’ve seen the mobile market make incredible strides in technology. The iPhone, Android and Palm platforms have increased their functionality well beyond just being a phone and have added critical functions such as faster internet connectivity, video cameras, GPS and compasses. Handheld gaming devices have also converged, adding cameras and accelerometers to their devices.
The combination of all of these pieces have made Augmented Reality—overlaying information and technology virtually over what you see—become a true possibility. Suddenly, science fiction has become much less fictional.

Gretchen Anderson – The Importance of Facial Features
The tactile controls of an electronic, interactive product form its most recognizable aspects, or “facial features.” Choosing which controls to use and how they appear has an enormous impact on the impact the product makes on first impression. The process of deciding on your product’s facial features is tricky; a team must collaborate closely across multiple disciplines to determine what controls are needed, how they should appear and how they relate to the product’s form. Even with touch- and gesture-based interfaces, people need cues that point to (or obscure) the function, value, and lust-factor of the product.
This session will look at some well-known products and illuminate best practices for integrating interaction designers, industrial designers, and engineers to make well-informed decisions about a product’s (inter)face. This session looks at how design teams can make sense of user research to inform the design of the user interface as well as the aesthetic expression. It will also look at how emerging interactive models (gesture, touch and voice) change the historical relationship of industrial and interaction design.

Peter Morville – The Future of Search
Search is among the most disruptive innovations of our time. It influences what we buy and where we go. It shapes how we learn and what we believe. It’s a wicked problem of terrific consequence and a radically cross-disciplinary, creative challenge. In this talk, we’ll define a pattern language for search that embraces user psychology and behavior, multisensory interaction, and emerging technology. We’ll identify design principles that apply across the categories of web, e-commerce, enterprise, desktop, mobile, social, and realtime. And, we’ll show how futures methods and user experience deliverables can help us to create better search interfaces and applications today, and invent the unthinkable discovery tools of tomorrow.

Tom Igoe – Open Source Design: Camel or Unicorn?
Open source development has taken hold in software design, and is beginning to show up in electronics hardware design as well. Thus far, however, open source has been limited mainly to the engineering side of development. Open source tools for design tend to be abysmal, largely because there are no designers working on them. And open source has not made a blip on consumer-facing issues like licensing, warranties, and customer support. Should it? What impacts could it have, and how can the design community help to bring that about? How does the open source “democratic project development” model fly in design? In this session, I’ll examine some current examples of how open source is expanding beyond software, and discuss ways in which is might continue to do so.

Nicolas Nova – From Observing Failures to Provoking Them
One of the reasons why product and technology failures are important is that they can be seen as “seeds of the future” or “good ideas before their time”. A common example lies in the use of personal communication with pictures, which failed several times in its phone instantiation, but is now a huge success with laptops, PCs, webcams and Skype.
In the context of design, this talk with discuss how failures can be explored through field research and eventually help creating innovative products or services.
The underlying rationale of field research in design is generally to conduct studies so that the results can bring out insights, constraints and relevant material to design inventive or groundbreaking artifacts. When it comes to failures, this investigation can be tackled through two approaches. On the one hand, research can observe design flops and identify symptoms of failures. On the other hand, I am interested by a much more radical approach: provoking product failures as a way to document user behavior. What I mean here is the conscious design of questionable prototypes to investigate user experience. The point is to have “anti-probe”: failed materialization of the principles of technology that can be shown to people to engage them in open-ended ways. This alternative to start dialogue with users highlight inspirational data about how people would really happened.
The presentation will describe different case studies about failures following these two approaches to shed some light on original design questions.

Nathan Shedroff – Meaningful Innovation Relies on Interaction and Service Design
Interaction designers can play a key role in creating a more meaningful, sustainable, and post-consumer world. come learn about frameworks and approaches that help designers make real change for customers.

Dan Hill – New Soft City
The way the street feels may soon be defined by the invisible and inaudible. Cities are being laced with sensors, which in turn generate urban informatics experiences, imbuing physical space with real-time behavioural data. The urban fabric itself can become reflexive and responsive to some extent, and there are numerous implications for the design and experience of cities as a result.
Multi-sensory interaction design merges with architecture, planning and an urbanism informed by the gentle ambient drizzle of everyday data. Drawing from projects in Sydney, Masdar, Helsinki, Seoul and elsewhere, I’ll explore the opportunities implicit in this new soft city – how we might once again enable a city alive to the touch of its citizens – and what this means for an urban interaction design.

Kendra Shimmell – Environments: The Future of Interaction Design
What is the future of interaction design? I propose that it’s movement — natural, fluid interactions — your body interfacing with the environment around you.
As an interaction designer, I understand the inherent drawbacks of hardware-based interfaces — the range of movement is limited and it is frankly kind of lame to be bound to a device.
In 2001 I became involved with the Environments Laboratory at The Ohio State University. Our focus was to explore movement analysis, motion capture, and interactive performance. Since then, I have befriended a few choreographers that have been developing very sophisticated tools to explore the reality of the human body as interface.
Some questions that I’ve been exploring: Can we obtain meaningful data on human motion? Is there a design research implication? What are the potential industry applications for this type of technology? Can gesture and movement be standardized (Laban Movement Analysis and American Sign Language)?
Join me in exploring the human body as interface. You will get to try it out (yes, control light and sound with your body), and I will lead you in a workshop to explore the more practical use cases for such a technology moving forward.

Dave Gray – A Grammar for Creativity and Innovation
We’re moving from an industrial to a knowledge economy, where creativity and innovation will be the keys to value. New rules apply. Yet two hundred years of industrial habits are embedded in our workplaces, our schools and our systems of government. How must we change our work practices to thrive in the 21st Century? Dave Gray will share insights from his upcoming book on the work of creativity and innovation, due to be published in the first quarter of 2010.

Christopher Fahey – The Human Interface (or:Why Products are People too)
In the half-century since the first transistor was invented we’ve seen radical changes in how humans interact with computers and digital systems: We’ve gone from punch cards to text commands, from mouse pointers to touchscreen gestures, from menus to voice recognition.
What all of these user experience innovations have in common is an inexorable movement towards interfaces that behave more and more like the way real humans have interacted with one another for millenia.
Our interactions with systems increasingly feel like interactions with real people because our systems are increasingly designed to sound, look, and behave just like humans do. We’re interacting with web sites and software on a conversational, physical, and emotional level. In a way, our interfaces are actually becoming more human.
We can no longer ask users to think like machines just to be able to use software. Instead, our systems must act more like people. User experience designers, in turn, need to stop thinking about interfaces as dumb control panels for manipulating machines and data and start thinking about them (in many ways literally!) as human beings.
This talk will explore diverse areas of non-digital human experience – including language and theater, neurology and sociology – in order to frame and showcase some of the most exciting current and emerging user experience design practices, both on the web and in other media such as video games and the arts. The objective is quite simply to inspire designers to humanize their interfaces. This new way of understanding user experience design crosses many disciplines, from branding and content strategy (your product’s voice and personality) to interaction design and information architecture (your product’s behavior and motivations), and has many practical applications at every point in current and future design scenarios.
More importantly, this kind of thinking can be framed as part of a longer term trend in interaction design generally: Looking even further ahead – but probably sooner than many of us might imagine – future UX designers will almost certainly be moving from designing screens to designing actual personalities, for example artificial intelligences, virtual characters, and even human-like androids. We’ll peek a little further out and look at what the next generation of human interfaces will be and discuss what skills future interaction designers will need to have.”

Ezio Manzini – Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability
1. In the last decades we have been witnessing a growing wave of social innovation. A multiplicity of institutions, enterprises, non-profit organisations, but also and most of all, individual citizens and their associations have been capable to move outside the mainstream models of living and producing and to invent new and sustainable ones.
2. Social innovation is driven by diffuse creativity and entrepreneurship. That is, by resources that, in a densely populated and highly connected world, are very abundant (if only they are recognized and valorised). In the next future, social innovation has high potentialities to become a major driver of change. But something has to be done to help the process.
3. Social innovation cannot be planned, but it can be made more probable creating favourable environments and empowering creative people. Creative people can be empowered by specifically conceived sets of products, services and communication artefacts, i.e by conceiving and developing enabling solutions, and in particular, enabling digital platforms.
The presentation articulates the previous statements and introduces the discussion on what interaction design can do to catalyse diffuse creativity for sustainable changes.

Jon Kolko – Keynote: My Heart is in The Work
In 1900, Andrew Carnegie quietly declared that his “heart is in the work” – that he had found an endeavor worth pursuing, and that he would passionately follow-through on that endeavor until it was complete. We interaction designers feel that passion on a daily basis, as we’ve found ourselves at the heart of industry, policy, and culture. Our endeavors are worth pursuing and we approach them with the whole of our hearts. We build the artifacts and frameworks that support engagement, that keep us entertained, aroused, engaged and productive. We are building the culture we live in, and we possess the capability to enable massive change in an increasingly fragmented and tense world.
This talk will examine our ability to affect change at the intersection of experience, behavior, meaning, and culture, and will emphasize our responsibility to approach our work with philanthropic enthusiasm that would make Carnegie proud.

Also online are:

14 February 2010

Conversations in a weekend village — Interaction10 impressions

Interaction10
Written by Experientia partner Jan-Christoph Zoels.

Interaction10 is over. Four days of presentations, workshops, games, installations stimulated vivid exchanges of ideas and reflections on the changing landscape of interaction design. Hosted in beautiful downtown Savannah by the international Interaction Design Association and Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), the conference set the stage for lively face to faces encounters, practice discussions and sensory southern food discoveries. Deep thoughts and constant twittering.

Co-chairs Bill DeRouchey (Ziba Design) and Jennifer Bove (Kicker Studio and a graduate of Interaction Design Institute Ivrea) moderated a salon style conference across several historic venues getting the participants out onto the squares and into the charming nooks of Savannah. SCAD has over the years preserved historic buildings and filled them with live through their educational programs such as those in Interaction Design and Service Design, led by professors such as Dave Malouf, Jon Kolko and Diane Miller. A great experience! The following notes give some impression on select highlights.

Learning from the past – Talk to me

Paolo Antonelli, senior curator of architecture and design at MOMA, laid out her exhibition plans charting the ‘subtle, subliminal ways, things talk to us’. Her talk showcased outstanding examples of how objects and interactions changed our way of seeing, mapping and explaining the world. She traced the impact of networks and systems on our capability to make and mix worlds to the shifting face of things. Examples range from Muriel Cooper‘s Visual Language workshop at MIT to Ben Fry‘s scientific information visualizations, and from the changing nature of prototyping via open source design tools Processing and Arduino, visionary scenarios such as Apple’s 1087 Navigator video to Applied Minds Touch landscapes. Take her title ‘Talk to me’ literally – Paola is looking for visionary artefacts from the history of interaction design.

Our scattered distribution of memories – The 40 year old tweet

Is there a life after the half hour half-life of tweets? How to approach your parents’ Flickr collection or find the heirloom experiences in your grand parents’ SMS exchanges? How does the web of metadata become part of our reminiscences years later? Richard Banks of Microsoft Research Cambridge explored in several prototypes the sentimental value, burden and sense of obligation digital exchanges will pose to future generations. Matt Cottam extends this search to heirloom electronics and our design capabilities to give modern products greater longevity and meaning.

Making it – Designing for the web in the world

Timo Arnall, Kevin Cheng, Ben Fullerton, Gretchen Anderson and Raphael Grignani offered diverse strategies to engage people’s experiences of physical products and digital services.

Timo Arnall explored in the Touch project controversial issues of technology usage such as leaking RFiD fields and the tangible experience of invisible data. Which kind of graceful interactions remain when a connected object goes offline or is without power? In his research and work with Berg, a London based interaction design studio, he proposes that interactive objects need to provide an immediate tangible experience even if not in use, that the purpose of being connected and data sharing should become obvious, and that long-term services and data visualizations provide feedback loops.

Twitter’s Kevin Cheng gave an excellent overview about the challenges and opportunities of Augmented Reality (see also his book in progress). He documented how context based smartphone applications expand our experience spaces such as in Yelp, Nearby, Layar, Arg DJ, Lego selections in retail stores, a USPS shipping box simulation, and ARhrrr games. Challenges are the lack of design patterns, glanceable interfaces and usability issues.

Gretchen Anderson, IxD director at Lunar, showcased our visceral reactions to facial features – ‘those key things your users see first’ – in products. What is the impression which we are giving? What can we understand at a first glance? Imbuing objects with a sophisticated character can enhanced the storytelling potential and interaction magic.

According to Bruce Sterling ‘Sense of wonders have short shelf life’. Our search capabilities have undergone dramatic change. Peter Morville of Semantic Studios spoke about the future of search. He introduced various behavioral and design patterns from his latest book Search Patterns. What we find, changes what we are looking for. How will we search in the future – feels like, tastes like, looks like, sounds like, smells like? Multi-sensory search is an untapped area of exploration – moving search beyond the web.

ITP professor Tom Igoe demanded to extend open source design to products and services to enable public knowledge and participation in the modification and/or reproduction of a product. Consequences might be flexible warranty agreements, impact on recycling and reverse engineering, or community patent reviews. Practical layers of openness need to include the whole value chain from physical construction, bill of materials, code, extendibility and reprogrammability, API’s and communication protocols, interoperability as well as design and interaction guidelines. This also requires to address frequent usability issues of open source projects.

From observing failures to provoking them was Nicholas Nova‘s contribution in addressing product non-usage, real-time accidents, traces and individual blame bias. ‘Failures are often overlooked in design research’. He proposed to actively provoke failures as a design tactic and to observe responding people’s behaviors.

Designing for the next billion

Nokia Design has over the years embraced ethnographic research and design discovery processes to shape mobile experiences and accelerate decision making processes. Raphael Grignani, head of Nokia’s San Francisco design studio, engaged workshop participants in exploring incremental and radical design innovation through community-based ethnographic design approaches. Nokia sends 3-4 times per year design teams to search for extreme behaviors in remote locations in Africa, Asia, Latin America and eastern Europe. Raphael guided us through the design process – discover, define, develop and deliver – with examples from the open studio project – My mobile phone, to Lifeblog to Remade and Homegrown.

See also:
Patterns in UX Research
Deconstructing Analysis Techniques
Mobile Literacy
Homegrown people planit profit

Processes and reflections – Design is the process of evoking meaning

Nathan Shedroff, chair of the MBA program in Design Strategy at California College of Arts in San Francisco, started of the row of thought leaders in situating meaning, behavioral change and sustainability as key challenges for interaction designers. How does a more meaningful world look like? Or a post consumer society?

Easy answers are difficult to come by. Next year’s conference needs a track of fast paced inspirational show & tells and the design thinking behind it. Dan Hill from Arup came closest in establishing a vision of a new soft city, merging multi-sensor interaction design ‘with architecture, planning and urbanism informed by a gentle ambient drizzle of everyday data’ – alive to the touch of its citizen. In his closing talk he exhibited a range of responsive well-tempered environments supporting civic relationships between individuals and communities around them. Examples of his call for civic sustainability feedback loops are projects in Barangaroo, the State Library of Queensland and the Sydney Metro in Australia, Arup’s contribution to the Masdar city centre, and the low2no carbon emissions project for Helsinki Harbor by Arup, Sauerbruch Hutton and Experientia.

A further exploration of the poetics of space were Kendra Shimmell‘s staging of interactive environments sensitive to movement and intent. Trained as a ballet dancer she presented motion capture studies in real time. Every movement unleashed auditory qualities in the space. A blink of an eye turned into sound, a raise of an arm provoked a tonal scale, fast movements elicit under her control musical compositions. Robert Wechsler provided the artistic motion tracking software.

‘You find things that you are nor looking for, when you are not looking’. Dave Gray continued the playful approach to innovation in his presentation of Knowledge Games: The visual thinking playbook. Fuzzy goals can lead to prospecting unexpected sensory, emotional and functional discoveries. Unfortunately he illustrated his engaging talk with a glorification of the AK47 as a ‘powerful tool of change’. His agnostic design philosophy hides an ethical ambivalence and repositions designers as hired hands of industry who do whatever is needed – even weapons of mass destruction. Can’t we find ethical examples which enable people, but don’t kill?

Chris Fahey applied the Uncanny Valley hypothesis of robotics to interface design. As interfaces behave eerily humanlike, people find them repulsive until they become more realistic representations of human behaviors. Human interface need to be ‘responsive to human needs and considerate of human frailties’. Qualities are sentience – the ability to feel subjectively, intimacy and personality. Character and personality may imbue interfaces with meaning and make them memorable. Now just watch your step, the uncanny valley is calling.

Ezio Manzini spoke about our growing desire for de-intermediated relationships between consumer and producers. Examples range from neighborhood markets and festivals, to community supported agriculture, urban farms, collaborative welfare servicesm etc. Digital platforms become catalysts of social resources and can support our vision of sustainable futures. Keywords to describe these futures are small-connected-local-open. Small-local interweaves issues of scale, relationships and identities, generally associated with control of a smaller set of variables and therefore supporting happiness. Open-connected outlines the rise of new organizational forms, whereas small-connected establishes nodes in a network society with the density of these links becoming important. Local-open: in a sustainable society the local is open, the connected local – resulting in an increase of cultural diversity and dialog between cosmopolitan participants. Manzini called on us to design enabling systems and engage in programs such as the US Social Innovation Fund, funded with 50 million USD by the US Government as announced by Michele Obama: “The idea is simple: Find the most effective programs out there and then provide the capital needed to replicate their success in communities around the country, … By focusing on high-impact, results-oriented nonprofits, we will ensure that government dollars are spent in a way that is effective, accountable and worthy of the public trust.”

If it’s not ethical, it is not beautiful. Jon Kolko expanded on Andrew Carnegie‘s “My heart is in the work” to ‘approach our work with philanthropic enthusiasm that would make Carnegie proud. Design for real cultural change starts by understanding how people really behave. He called on designers to emphasize with people, build trust and purposefully change behaviors. His heart is now in the new Austin Center for Design, a place for wicked problem solving.

Interaction11 is coming. See you on February 10-12, 2011 in Boulder, Colorado.

6 February 2010

Live at Interaction’10: day 1

Interaction10
Niklas Wolkert & Brad Nunnally report on Johnnyy Holland on the first day of the Interaction10 conference in Savannah, Georgia.

“If one thing had to describe the overall theme of the first day it would be the importance of providing meaning in the work that we do. Below are recaps of the opening and closing keynotes, as well as some of the sessions from the day.”

Check their review on presentations by Nathan Shedroff, Dave Gray, Nate Bolt, Matt Cottam, Kendra Shimmell, Nicolas Nova and Jon Kolko.

Read full story

26 November 2009

Beyond the experience: In search of an operative paradigm for the industrialisation of services

Nicola Morelli
Nicola Morelli (blog), an associate professor at the School of Architecture and Design at Aalborg University in Denmark, reflects on the two inspirations for a service design discipline:

“The contributions to the definition of a disciplinary corpus for service design come from two main directions: the first focuses on real cases, developing projects that are advancing the practice of service design and making service design visible to private business and public administrations (Cottam & Leadbeater, 2004; Parker & Heapy, 2006; Thackara, 2007). The second area concerns the definition of a methodological framework for service design. The main concern in those studies is on the development of methodological tools for analysing, designing and representing services. (Cottam & Leadbeater, 2004; Morelli, 2003, 2009; Sangiorgi, 2004)

The two areas mentioned above are developed along different disciplinary traditions, from engineering, which emphasise organisational and technical aspects in designing services (Hollins, 1993; Ramaswamy, 1996), to interaction design, which focuses on experiential issues, mainly related to service encounter (Parker & Heapy, 2006; Sangiorgi, 2004), linking service providers and customers. The focus on interaction design, though, has been dominating in several cases of innovative social and public services, whereas engineering studies are defining a clear methodological approach in existing business services. The divergence between the two approaches has inhibited the dialogue between the two areas. The consequences of this are that business services, which are very much rooted in the industrial tradition, focus on production processes rather than on user experience, whereas public services are often very innovative, but cannot overcome the local dimension, because their dominating logic is much closer to craftsmanship than industrial production.”

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(via PSST)

7 July 2009

Innovative service design for all

A hole in the wall
Re-Public, an online journal focusing on innovative developments in contemporary political theory and practice, has just launched its latest special issue, entitled “Innovative Service Design for All“.

Applicable culture: Towards future services for the city of Milan
Walter Aprile, Henrik den Ouden Runshaug and Eyal Fried
This paper briefly introduces an Id-Lab project for the design of the future services for the city of Milan. It touches on the principles of the methodology formalized while realizing the project, proposing an adaptive system for need-prediction and design of future services based on cultural criteria, diverse human resources and innovation use of available technological platforms.

Reflections on how service experiences arise
Mikael Runonen, Sakari Tamminen, and Petri Mannonen
Services are all around us and we all use them. Some of them are of mundane, routine type and we don’t necessarily even consider ourselves as users of them, as it is with, for example, mail delivery. Some services, like services in a spa, we crave for and use with delight. There are also services that we don’t want to use unless it is absolutely necessary. Not many of us are pleased to visit the doctor or the police.

Mind the gap: Theories and practices in managing stakeholders in the service design process
Qin Han
This paper presents on-going PhD research that explores an emerging design field – Service Design, where designers with service organisations from public and private sectors develop service offerings that create value for both customers and providers at different levels.

Beyond the experience: In search of an operative paradigm for the industrialisation of services
Nicola Morelli
The contributions to the definition of a disciplinary corpus for service design come from two main directions: the first focuses on real cases, developing projects that are advancing the practice of service design and making service design visible to private business and public administrations (Cottam & Leadbeater, 2004; Parker & Heapy, 2006; Thackara, 2007). The second area concerns the definition of a methodological framework for service design. The main concern in those studies is on the development of methodological tools for analysing, designing and representing services. (Cottam & Leadbeater, 2004; Morelli, 2003, 2009; Sangiorgi, 2004)

Service design for India: The thinking behind the design of a local curriculum
Soumitri Varadarajan
I have been working on the design of a curriculum for service design for a university in India. What follows is a reflective account of my thinking through the design. I write in the first person to stay true to the thought process that resulted in this specific design. The text is in three parts; I set up the background as a dip into the development discourse in design practice, I then go on to construct a proposition for a university design program, and finally I sketch a program in service design in three steps.

Inclusive governance strategy for urban services delivery: A case analysis from a medium sized city in a low income developing country
Saleh Ahmed
The urban politics in low income developing countries is very much precarious in nature. Improper institutional capacity and insufficient resources usually result in bad management outputs and influence the quality of life. Poor people are the main victims of this situation. This paper highlights the effective role of peoples’ initiatives and their involvements for framing an innovative and locally adaptable service design in context of a medium sized city in a low income developing country.

Secondary education for all: The case of specific learning difficulties (dyslexia)
Gioulina Kokkalia and Aristotelis Skamagkis
Design has the potential to better the societies we live in. In this context, this article argues that design of educational services can improve the educational process. More specifically, we describe our study on secondary education private tutoring schools called “frontistiria” and the inclusion of children with Specific Learning Difficulties. As we are currently running the first phase of the design process we will try to present some specifications for the design of a dyslexia-friendly classroom.

Ceremonial Olympism: Towards an art of democratic dialogue?
Rodanthi Tzanelli
I remember the euphoria that swept round Greece when the Olympiad of 2004 was crowned with Jacques Rogge’s and other global players’ long-awaited congratulations. Recognition is always οn the cards for Olympic ‘hosts’, no matter how marginal the country they inhabit. But the devil hides in details, and once in the political limelight, the host becomes vulnerable to an all-embracing criticism. The organisers have to play their cards right to win the day: from public security, to entertaining global audiences and athletes alike, to forging artworks of beauty and educational value to collecting gold medals, the dream slowly turns into a political nightmare. Since their nineteenth-century inception, the Olympic Games operated as a platform on which nations articulate their own version of modernity, producing universally palatable masks and performing their public Selves for external and internal consumption.

Cohousing: A new form of urban community-based network services
Matthieu Lietaert
The last fifty years have witnessed a radical transformation of the urban contexts, influencing people’s daily lives. On the one hand, this has gone along with the rise of individual’s freedom; but on the other hand, it also went with a manifest collapse of the community. This double phenomenon is not only unprecedented in History; it is also connected to an important paradox: individuals are losing their ties with their community at a period when they might need them increasingly more than before. In fact, many enjoy the positive sides of their urban individual freedom, whereas they also feel increasingly more exhausted as they struggle to face, on their own, the daily soaring stress level, competitive working contexts, changes in family unit (especially single women with children), reduced mobility and social isolation of contemporary urban life.

(via Design for Service)

3 January 2009

“Transformation” a better concept than “innovation” to guide us forward

Bruce Nussbaum
At the beginning of last year, we at Experientia worked with a Belgian regional authority on developing the concept for a new design centre, called the Transformation Factory (read more about it in this paper).

Now also Business Week’s Bruce Nussbaum is publicly advocating the concept of transformation, rather than innovation, as the approach we currently need.

A first post on the matter was written on New Year’s Eve, and is recommended reading not just because of Nussbaum’s thinking itself, but also because of the many and sometimes very polemic comments that various readers have been contributing (many of whom are concerned about the introduction of a new buzz word).

“Transformation” captures the key changes already underway and can help guide us into the future. It implies that our lives will increasingly be organized around digital platforms and networks that will replace edifices and big organizations (students already know this, university presidents still have edifice-complexes, which is why so many of them are getting the boot). […]

The concept of “Transformation” […] implies radical transformation of our systems—education, health-care, economic growth, transportation, defense, political representation. It puts the focus on people, designing networks and systems off their wants and needs. It relies on humanizing technology, not imposing technology on humans. It approaches uncertainties with a methodology that creates options for new situations and sorts through them for the best quickly.

Most importantly, “Transformation” accepts the notion that we are in a post-consumer society, defined by two groups of economic players: manufacturers and consumers. “Transformation” deals with a new Creativity Society, in which we are all both producers and consumers of value.

In today’s post “The Transformation Conversation” (no comments as of yet), Nussbaum attempts to integrate and structure the debate by a more systematic outline of why he thinks “the concept of “transformation” is of great[er] utility and power than “innovation” at this point in time”.

Unfortunately all of Nussbaum’s examples come from the USA and he presents the concept as an entirely new neologism, with strict relevance to the corporate world, which of course it isn’t.

Even in design, I need only refer to the paper that Colin Burns, Hilary Cottam et al. published in early 2006 – currently available here.

UPDATE: Reaction by Idris Mootee

21 November 2008

Service design in tourism

Live
DIT-Design in Tourism was an EU-funded project to develop tools suitable for everyday use within the tourism industry and to promote service design competencies from terminology to strategies and concepts.

The project has – up till now – not been very well communicated (the site has a lot of empty pages), but a book is in the making and one of the chapters is finished and it is strong. Very strong. Although it doesn’t have much to do with tourism.

In the 19-page article, CID Group design strategist and futurist Jari Koskinen (website) advocates an entirely new vision on tourism:

“Wellness and safety are mega-trends closely associated with innovation in service design. Slow-city and slow-food life philosophies are global trends. There are numerous natural opportunities for slowing down in an authentic, natural environment in Finland and Estonia. The dynamic increase of wellness tourism is mostly a question of marketing – the need already exists.”

Koskinen, who clearly has an eclectic mindset to just about everything, takes a resolutely Finnish cultural angle, and makes remarkable connections: Alvar Aalto and Naomi Klein, Hilary Cottam (Participle) and the Finland Futures Research Centre, a book published in 1923 (“Scientific Advertising” by Claude Hopkins) and the discipline of interaction design, the Finnish Red Cross and digital fabrication.

I really like this piece of writing. The article is conceptual in nature, calls upon interdisciplinary approaches, and is just a highly refreshing and intellectually stimulating read:

“In regard to design, the conceptualisation and increasing complexity of work is obvious. The amount of manual work and artistic activity decreases as the proportion of concept design and strategic development requiring more versatile know-how increases.

The theme of this article, service design, is essentially intertwined with conceptualisation and increasing complexity. In the evolution of competence, there is a gradual shift from product design to service design. This change can also be understood through the changes apparent in social structures. The service sector is in a state of dynamic growth in Europe.”

Read article

(via InfoDesign)

12 November 2008

Using design to crack society’s problems

Hilary Cottam
Hilary Cottam is the 2005 UK Designer of the Year and former director of RED [archive site], the meanwhile closed innovation unit of the UK Design Council. I interviewed her last year for Torino World Design Capital site. And she is suddenly hot.

She made it last week into the International Herald Tribune, and now you can read another story about her company Participle in Fast Company magazine. Both stories are written by the same author Alice Rawsthorn, but have a somewhat different angle.

Participle isn’t a conventional bunch of social workers or do-gooders. It’s a design team. Participle’s interdisciplinary crew includes anthropologists, economists, entrepreneurs, psychologists, social scientists, and a military-logistics expert, but it is driven by design techniques and headed by Cottam, 42, who also has used such strategies to tackle the shortcomings of Britain’s school and health systems. “Hilary’s — and my — favorite kind of design has to do with making people’s lives better, often taking account of their mundane daily concerns,” says Paola Antonelli, senior curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. “Her projects not only work, they give people a sense of hope and strength.”

Cottam is one of a new wave of design evangelists who are trying to change the world for the better. They believe that many of the institutions and systems set up in the 20th century are failing and that design can help us to build new ones better suited to the demands of this century. Some of these innovators are helping poor people to help themselves by fostering design in developing economies. Others see design as a tool to stave off ecological catastrophe. Then there are the box-breaking thinkers like Cottam, who disregard design’s traditional bounds and apply it to social and political problems. Her mission, she says, is “to crack the intractable social issues of our time.”

Read full story

28 January 2008

Four speakers debate the future of design

Activmob
Alice Rawsthorn, the design critic of the International Herald Tribune, chaired a debate last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, about the future of design.

Other participants were Paola Antonelli, senior curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York; Hilary Cottam, who develops design solutions to problems in education, health care and other public services as co-founder of the London-based agency Participle; and John Maeda, the digital design star and newly appointed president of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), have to say about the future of design.

The brief was simple: identify three themes that, you believe, will define design in the future.

Here is what they came up with:

Alice Rawsthorn

  • designing for the underprivileged majority
  • dematerialisation
  • guiltless consumption

Paola Antonelli

  • 3D printing
  • the yearning for privacy
  • translating the advances in science and technology into things we need or want

Hilary Cottam

  • addressing the big social issues of our time
  • tackling social problems through mass collaboration
  • policy making

John Maeda

  • moral responsibility
  • simplicity
  • appreciating the beauty of the everyday objects and places

Read full story

18 January 2008

Charles Leadbeater on self-directed public services

Self-directed services
Demos, the UK think tank “for everyday democracy”, has published a new report on “self-directed public services”, entitled “Making It Personal“.

Abstract

his report advocates a simple yet transformational approach to public services – self-directed services – which allocate people budgets so they can shape, with the advice of professionals and peers, the support they need. This participative approach delivers personalised, lasting solutions to people’s needs at lower cost than traditional, inflexible and top-down approaches, by mobilising the intelligence of thousands of service users to devise better solutions.

The self-directed services revolution, which began in social care with young disabled adults designing and commissioning their own packages of support, could transform public services used by millions of people, with budgets worth tens of billions of pounds. From older people to ex-offenders, maternity to youth services, mental health to long-term health conditions, self-directed services enable people to create solutions that work for them and as a result deliver better value for money for the taxpayer.

Self-directed services can be taken to scale safely while minimising fraud and risk. They can also be good for equity because they empower those people who are the least confident and able to get what they want from the current system. Self-directed services give people a real voice in shaping the service they want and the money to back it up. Previous approaches to public service reform have reorganised and rationalised public services. Self-directed services transform them.

Charles Leadbeater is a Demos Associate, author of We-Think, a visiting fellow at NESTA, the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts, and a partner in the new start-up Participle (the other partners are Hilary Cottam and Colin Burns). The two other authors, Jamie Bartlett and Niamh Gallagher, are researchers at Demos.

Download publication (pdf, 56 pages, 2-sided)

In an article in The Guardian, Leadbeater makes the report more concrete and provides this summary of his approach:

Self-directed service turns traditional public services on their head. In social care, for example, if someone is eligible for local authority funding, social workers devise a care plan that allocates the individual to services that are paid for and are commissioned by the local authority. It is rare for the individual to have much of a say in how services are designed, but self-directed services put the person at the centre of the action. Professionals help an individual assess their eligibility, and the person is then given an approximate budget so they can design services that make sense for them. Once the plan is approved by the authority, the money flows to the individual and on to the service providers of their choice.

20 October 2007

Participle, a new type of social enterprise

Hilary Cottam
Hilary Cottam, UK Designer of the Year 2005 and former director of RED [archive site], the meanwhile closed innovation unit of the UK Design Council, is now one of the founding partners of Participle, a new social enterprise designing the next generation of public services, with a focus on the big and seemingly intractable social issues of the 21st century.

The two other Participle co-founders are Charles Leadbeater, the internationally renowned thinker and innovator, and author of the book We-Think, and Colin Burns, designer and formerly the CEO of IDEO London. The initiative is supported by NESTA, where Participle has its offices.

Participle designs public services that provide systemic solutions not only to the persistent problems of inequality, poverty and exclusion but also to the ‘new’ problems resulting from changing demographics, new lifestyles and global resource constraints: chronic disease and long term health conditions, learning cultures beyond the school, new approaches to crime and security, new approaches to community collaboration and social isolation and new energy systems. A brief presentation is available for download (pdf, 560 kb, 3 pages).

The Participle methodology is one of transformation design (pdf), a hybrid approach which combines people-centred methodology with systemic policy thinking:

“We start from the individual, unlocking a unique set of insights and motivations, which we then apply to the broad systemic problems we are seeking to answer.

Our hybrid approach also means we test and scale in a different way. We rapidly apply our thinking and insights to the development of ‘prototypes’. Prototypes differ from pilots: they involve early service models developed in situ, which are then tested and improved in rapid cycles, again in situ. This approach reduces risk and tends to result in new services that work and can be scaled as well as important new policy insights.

Our hybrid approach and our person centred starting point enables us to work beyond existing service silos, efficiently harnessing a broader set of resources contributing to the development of affordable whole system solutions.”

In an interview I conduced last week, an extremely fast talking Hilary said:

“In a situation where now one in five Britons has got a chronic disease it will be more important to think about how we begin to design new services which engage with people’s behaviours, emotions and lifestyles and help them either prevent the onset of a chronic disease or at least manage better that disease within their daily lives. […]

What is really important is that we can very rapidly move concepts into action [by using] a design process. The way designers prototype and mock up things very fast in real time, is very different from the traditional piloting approach in the policy world, where models are often built in a very artificial environment, which then usually do not scale very satisfactorily.”

A full text version of the interview with Hilary, who has a social sciences background and once worked for the World Bank, will be published shortly on the website of Torino World Design Capital.

Given the dire state of UK healthcare, Participle has got work to do.

4 September 2007

People regularly featured on this blog

In alphabetical order:

A
Marko Ahtisaari
Ken Anderson

B
Nik Baerten
Genevieve Bell
Chris Bernard
Tim Berners-Lee
Ralf Beuker
Nina Boesch
Danah Boyd
Stefana Broadbent
Tyler Brûlé
Bill Buxton

C
Jan Chipchase
Hilary Cottam
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Alistair Curtis

D
Uday Dandavate
Liz Danzico
Regine Debatty
Paul Dourish

E
Jyri Engeström
Richard Eisermann

G
Jesse James Garrett
Fabien Girardin
Anand Giridharadas
Bruno Giussani
Adam Greenfield

H
Laurent Haug

I
Mizuko Ito

J
Bob Jacobson
Matt Jones

K
Jonathan Kestenbaum
Anne Kirah
Dirk Knemeyer
Jon Kolko
Mike Kuniavsky

L
Loïc Lemeur
Dan Lockton
Victor Lombardi

M
Nico Macdonald
John Maeda
Ranjit Makkuni
Ezio Manzini
Roger Martin
Stefano Marzano
Simona Maschi
Bruce Mau
Grant McCracken
Jess McMullin
Peter Merholz
Crysta Metcalf
Bill Moggridge
Peter Morville
Ulla-Maaria Mutanen

N
Jakob Nielsen
Donald Norman
Nicolas Nova
Bruce Nussbaum

P
Steve Portigal

R
Carlo Ratti
Howard Rheingold
Louis Rosenfeld
Stephen Rustow

S
Dan Saffer
Nathan Shedroff
Jared Spool
Yaniv Steiner
Bruce Sterling

T
John Thackara

V
Marco van Hout
Rob van Kranenburg
Mark Vanderbeeken
Joannes Vandermeulen
Jeffrey Veen
Timo Veikkola
Michele Visciola
Eric von Hippel

W
Tricia Wang
Luke Wroblewski

Z
Paola Zini
Jan-Christoph Zoels

9 February 2007

Demos project on user-led service design in local authorities

Demos Project
Demos, the UK think tank for everyday democracy, is starting a project with three local authorities: Lewisham, Knowsley and Bristol, to work out how change happens in local authorities.

The project will focus on two policy areas: young people not in education, employment or training (NEET), and parental engagement in their children’s learning.

“The work has a number of phases. First, we will map the formal services available to NEET young people and to parents in each local authority. Then, we will work with both groups to see the kinds of informal support they access, from family to friends, church or peer groups. The third phase of the project will bring service providers – schools, colleges and social services – together with service users – NEET young people and parents – to collaboratively design a service that works for both of them. The services will then be piloted by each local authority and evaluated by Demos.”

Researchers involved are Matthew Horne, former director of the UK Design Council’s RED unit (whom I presume will take the lead), together with Niamh Gallagher and Hannah Green. Together with Hilary Cottam, Charles Leadbeater, David Albury and Colin Burns, and the rest of the RED team, Horne is currently setting up a social business to design and deliver the next generation of public services. (See also this post).

As well as the services in each local authority Demos will also produce a handbook on how to make change happen in local authorities based on the experiences in Lewisham, Knowsley and Bristol.

The researchers anticipate that this guide will be used by other local authorities interested in the process of change and by national policy makers keen to understand the culture and practices of local authorities.

5 February 2007

Participle, a new social venture to design the next generation of public services

Participle
Hilary Cottam, UK Designer of the Year 2005 and former director of RED, the meanwhile closed innovation unit of the UK Design Council, is currently setting up Participle, a new social venture to design the next generation of public services, working with Charles Leadbeater, the internationally renowned thinker and innovator, and author of the book We-Think, and Colin Burns, designer and formerly the CEO of IDEO London.

From Hilary Cottam’s website:

Participle will be a unique hybrid bringing together systemic policy thinking and transformative ideas with a project methodology which enables us to harness the broader creativity and latent solutions visible on the ground to service users, front line workers and communities: we call this transformation design.

We will engage in three closely linked types of work: transformational projects: ‘proof of concept’ solutions that work at scale; you will be able to see and measure the difference we have made at the neighbourhood level, in cities and rural communities nationally; transformational ideas: world leading, rigorous new analysis and proposals to influence the development of policy; transformation design: training in the tools and methodology of our inter-disciplinary team’s approach to any issue.

We will work in partnership with the private, public and third sector organisations.”

UPDATE: RED was set up in 2004 by the Design Council to tackle social and economic issues through design led innovation. The people in the unit left the Design Council in December and will be aggregating around Participle. A RED project archive site can be found here.