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Search results for 'giussani'
15 July 2007

Bruno Giussani on how free talk services lead to surprising user creativity

Skype
Bruno Giussani reports in his Business Week column on how some users of Skype and other free Internet services are exploiting the technology in creative and unconventional ways.

Give people unlimited cheap or free phone or voice-over-Internet service and what happens? Not much, according to research by sociologists and anthropologists. People don’t tend to increase the number or length of their calls significantly. There is only so much time you can spend talking, after all, and a phone call requires more commitment in terms of attention than, say, an instant messaging session—just try handling multiple phone conversations in parallel.

Yet there are exceptions. The rise of Skype, MSN, GoogleTalk, iChat and the other free Internet telephony and videotelephony services out there has led people to use voice and video communication in surprising, unconventional, and creative ways.

He goes on to list a whole range of “unpredictable” examples that are “all uses of Skype, MSN, and similar services that the engineers who developed them never intended, and the marketers never foresaw”.

Giussani concludes that “successful communication technologies are designed with this openness at their core, so that their real applications can be figured out not by the developers or the sellers, but by the actual users”.

Read full story (mirror)

27 September 2008

Experientia’s Jan-Christoph Zoels at Picnic /3

PICNIC
Experientia’s senior partner Jan-Christoph Zoels was this week at the Picnic conference in Amsterdam, and has been providing regular reports. Here is his third one, covering the Thursday afternoon sessions:

Making Love is Eskil Steenberg (Quel Solaar)’s take on a multi-player story adventure. Imagine seeing your favourite game inside a steam sauna. Beautifully rendered images provide an evocative and foggy background to players building and destructing their neighbourhoods. Social actions result in social pressures and player alliances. Do you want to be known for the destruction of a neighbourhood?

What will the networked city feel to its users? Adam Greenfield started his exploration of the Long Here and the Big Now by questioning new modes of place-making where new conditions of choice and actions are no longer physical but reduced to screen-based interactions. Information visualisation add a new digital sense of time extension to our live experiences in providing historical awareness and multiple views — a new parallelism of time. How can information about cities and patterns of use be visualised in ways to enable local awareness, on demand access and collective actions? Adam challenged the audience to design cities responding to the behaviour of its residents and other users in real time in moving form browsing urbanism to act upon it.

Tracking our world – A discussion brought together researchers exploring new ways to measure, visualise and make sense of changing environmental contexts to guide professional and governmental practices.

  • Stan Williams, director of the HP Information and Quantum Sytems Lab, described his labs intention to measure CeNSE – the Central Nervous System for the Earth (Fortune article | Bruce Sterling blog post) – via a variety of nanotechnology sensor systems. Imagine one trillion nanoscale sensors and actuators will need the equivalent of 1000 internets, creating huge demand for computing power but also providing energy efficiency.
  • Professor Euro Beinat showcased the effect of using people, their movement and activities as sensors in the CurrentCity.org project. Their Amsterdam visualisation explored the human agglomeration and activities across the city using aggregated and anonymous mobile phone location data.
  • Eco Map is a Cisco collaboration with three cities worldwide – Seoul, Amsterdam and San Francisco – to demonstrate the impact of real-time individual activities in aggregated views of our cities to foster individual and governmental actions. Explore the UV heat loss of your roof at night to inform insulation requirements or understand the solar capacity of the same roof and get installation advice. Wolfgang Wagner, Cisco, and Jared Blumenfeld, San Francisco, prototype how to use complex public data sets to inform individual desires for greener ways to live, work and play.

Bruno Giussani introduced the four finalists of the Picnic Challenge 08 to make a measurable impact on the reduction of carboemissions. Over 280 participants proposed their ideas competing for an award of 500,000 Euro funded by the Dutch Postcode Lottery.

The four finalists were:

  • RouteRank, who designed a web tool to find best travel routes for time, distance and environmental impact in one single view;
  • Smart Screen consists of a thermo-responsive, shape memory window screen to reflect sun rays and reduce air conditioning costs;
  • VerandaSolar are easy mountable and affordable solar screens for self installation to reduce your energy bills, empowering millions of small scale users to make a larger impact;
  • Greensulate, the Picnic Challenge 08 winner, engineered an organic, structural insulation panel made from local agricultural by-products.

The Design as a Collaborative Process session brought together Bill Moggridge, co-founder of IDEO, and Younghee Jung, senior design manager at Nokia, to document new creative and participatory design processes.

Bill showcased The Rockefeller Foundation and IDEO initiative Design for Social Impact, the Designers Accord and Shinichi Takemura’s Tangible Earth project. Each project guides its users to action – from design processes and methods, to codes of professional conduct, to understanding the global impact of local actions in an empathic information visualisation. To discover anew why globes changed world views over the last five hundred years, check out the Tangible Earth Demo Movie.

Younghee spoke about the choices and burdens of living with intimate technology – showcasing the results of participants in Mumbai, Rio and Acara designing mobile phones. They showed how diverse subjective views of what technology could be, how not to patronise usage patterns and how emotional touchpoints and usage patterns are formed.

What happens when we pay attention?Ethan Zuckermann, a co-founder of Global Voices, described in his talk Surprising Africa a range of social actions resulting in increased media attention. He challenged the audience to stop thinking about Africa in terms of aid, but to understand the changing political climate influenced by bloggers and citizen activists, the current infrastructure developments (community media, mobile banking, malls, etc), and the innovation capabilities of local research institutions.

For more Picnic reporting, check also Bruno Giussani, Hubert Guillaud (writing extensively and excellently in French), Ethan Zuckerman, Ernst-Jan Pfauth and Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten and Smart Mobs.

26 September 2008

Experientia’s Jan-Christoph Zoels at Picnic /2

PICNIC
Experientia’s senior partner Jan-Christoph Zoels is this week at the Picnic conference in Amsterdam and is sending regular updates. Here is his second one, covering the Thursday morning sessions:

Group actions just got easier!Clay Shirky jump-started the second day of PICNIC 08 with stories about the problems and challenges of social media. In each story he showed how social dilemmas or needs facilitate new ways of sharing, collaborating and social action. Sharing of social objects such as images, tools and questions enables the starting of a discussion leading to a gathering of an interested community with a trail of conversation. Group rules on Flickr ‘Black & White Maniacs‘ address the social dilemma of getting attention by asking people to comment on to previous photos in the act of posting their own, therefore spreading the opportunity of getting seen and acknowledged throughout the community of practice.

In a second example Shirky documented the re-emergence of simple tools to facilitate fast uptake, sharing and synchronization with others. Limited features and clear rules of engagement (no shouting – visual text changes) help to divide the attention across the bulletin board members.

His discussion of the Pluto page on Wikipedia showcased the powers of collaboration of reciprocal sharing and syncing in creating exhaustive content with extensive links. 5000 edits by over 2200 users showed the distribution of a long tail curve demonstrating an ecosystem where everybody can participate on the level they desire. The Galileo page on the other side has still the trappings of a five hundred years flame war resulting in the disabling of editing capabilities.

Lastly he demanded an extension of the power of social media to not only show how we think but to also cover how we can act. Harnessing collective actions require a built-in acknowledgement of the assembled insights and opinions and resulting new group structures.

100% of user on online dating sites lieGenevieve Bell, a leading anthropologist at Intel’s Digital Home Group, spoke about the complicated daily constructions of truth and lies in personal life on and off the web. How to resolve our daily Secrets & Lies in new engaging social media where the devices and media keep trails forever. The uncoordinated intentions of individuals and their revealing devices will lead to tensions between cultural practices and ideas about secrets and lies and ICT applications. This poses complicated questions for e-Gov, national security and reputation indices.

Mike Fries, president of Liberty Global, discussed O3B Networks – the other three billion initiative – of Google, HSBC and Liberty Global in bringing high-speed satellite telecommunication access to underserved populations in emerging markets. His Future of Television conversation focussed on the delivery of more tailored and personalised content supported by advertisements, changing viewer behaviours of random access to digital TV and time shifting viewing habits.

Michael Tchao, the manager of Nike Techlab, spoke in his Tools, Things and Toys presentation about how to use information to inspire runners and convert physical activities into digital connect and communities. The Nike+ collaboration with Apple focussed on supporting runner motivation in designing sexy tools, engaging interfaces, synched running cycles and community challenges. The Nike+ HumanRace initiative used web tools to connect individual aspirations with local running communities to organize a series of worldwide races on 31.8.08.

Nabaztag co-inventor Rafi Haladjian (blog) presented his search from connecting rabbits to connecting everything else. What will be the effortless, spontaneous information providers of the future? How will they enable limited attention bandwidth? In extending his hold on emotive objects he showcased the new and very cute Naonoztags. The newest Ztamps and Mirror by Violet is a passive RFID reader and sensors enabling fast connections between tangible object and web-based information. Examples shown were links between drug packages and your personal health site, direct access to news sites or personal photo collections.

For more Picnic reporting, check also Bruno Giussani, Hubert Guillaud (writing proficiently in French), Ethan Zuckerman, and Ernst-Jan Pfauth and Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten.

25 September 2008

Experientia’s Jan-Christoph Zoels at Picnic /1

PICNIC
Experientia’s senior partner Jan-Christoph Zoels is this week at the Picnic conference in Amsterdam and is sending regular updates. Here is his first one:

Create the Future – Collaborative creativity is the guiding theme of Picnic, Amsterdam’s Cross Media Conference, now in its third year with a fascinating rooster of speakers, workshops and artistic events. Putting People First will report on key events over the next three days.

Aaron Koblin, an artist from Los Angeles, showed the use of lasers to generate data clouds in his eerie video with Radiohead’s Home of Cards as a soundtrack. Lounged on Google’s Code section it enabled the remixing of audio and image tracks facilitated by the use of Processing, a visual software for designers and artists by Casey Reas and Ben Fry.

His latest collaboration with MIT’s Sensible City Lab is Currentcity.org, a data visualization of KPN cellphone data of SMS usage in Amsterdam during New Year’s Eve 2007 and Queen’s Day. The time based representation adds a new dimension to understanding people’s communication patterns in select locations during social events.

Dueling with Distance was Stefan Agamanolis‘ metaphorical comparison of fast and slow communication patterns. Drawing on poetic and provocative work done at MIT Dublin and at Distance Lab, he questioned how distraction-free and contextual use of space can support new communication patterns. Mutsugoto enabled poetic and intimate mobile interactions between partners over distance; Isophone suspended callers in sensory deprivation chambers resulting in an increase of stream of consciousness conversations; and Solar Vintage integrated traditional embroidery techniques, LED’s and solar cells in embellished objects. Stefan heads up DistanceLab.org, a research lab in Scotland.

Linda Stone presented a podium discussion on The Emerging Real-Time Social Web deploring the ludicrous notion of ‘friending’, fake friends and the social pressures of being available in social web networks.

  • Jyri Engeström, founder of Jaiku and now at Google, focussed on how social objects draw people together and may enable new ‘social peripheral visions’ in supporting social relevance beyond the documentation of activity streams.
  • Matt Jones, founder of Dopplr, recalled Jane Jacob’s request for a diverse spectrum of social roles to support the health of social cities. Dopplr supports asymmetric and informational relationships in letting other people’s travel plans emerge.
  • Addy Feuerstein presented Allofme.com, a time line-based personal image collection and annotation tool. In this social network recorder friends and family can collaborate in establishing time lines of themselves, compare individual memories and public events.
  • Philip Rosedale of Linden Lab interpreted Second Life’s maker culture as allowing for an increasing diversification of creativity. However, the scarcity of people’s attention and the missing of curatorial intentions resulted in images full of crafted objects devoid of avatar interactions.

The highlight of the evening was Itay Talgam‘s Conducting Creativity, a session dedicated to explore the creative leadership and collaboration style of famous conductors. Videos showing Zubin Mehta’s precise and autocratic conducting style, the stoicism of Richard Strauss, and the passion and emotional subtlety of Leonard Bernstein highlighted different approaches to guiding creative teams.

For more Picnic reporting, check also Bruno Giussani, Hubert Guillaud (writing proficiently in French), Ethan Zuckerman, and Ernst-Jan Pfauth and Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten.

5 September 2008

The techno-mobile life in our networked cities

LIFT09
Nicolas Nova and Bruno Giussani have been blogging two of the LIFT Asia conference sessions that took place in Seoul today.

Session: Networked city
The new digital layers provided by ICTs are transforming contemporary urban environments. What does that mean for its inhabitants? What changes can we expect? How will ubiquitous computing influence the way we live? « Everyware » author Adam Greenfield (Nokia Design, Finland), as well as architects Jeffrey Huang (EPFL, Switzerland) and Yang Soo-In (The Living, Korea) provided their vision on this not so distant future.
> Report by Nicolas Nova
> Report by Bruno Giussani

Session: Techno-nomadic life
Mobile technologies have freed us from the tyranny of “place”, but have they introduced new constraints? New behaviors? Is the mobile web going through the same process as the Web in the 90s?
Star design researcher Jan Chipchase (Nokia, Japan) will present some insights nomadic work/life practices enabled by mobile technologies, while i-mode father Takeshi Natsuno (Keio University, Japan) and Christian Lindholm (Fjord, UK) will talk about the future of mobile services.
> Report by Nicolas Nova
> Report by Bruno Giussani

26 August 2008

Privacy in an age of terabytes and terror

Privacy
Scientific American magazine (SciAm) devotes the whole September issue to privacy in an age of rapidly developing technology.

Privacy in an age of terabytes and terror
Introduction to SciAm’s issue on Privacy. Our jittery state since 9/11, coupled with the Internet revolution, is shifting the boundaries between public interest and “the right to be let alone”.

How loss of privacy may mean loss of security
Keynote essay by Esther Dyson
Many issues posing as questions of privacy can turn out to be matters of security, health policy, insurance or self-presentation. It is useful to clarify those issues before focusing on privacy itself.

Internet eavesdropping: a brave new world of wiretapping
As telephone conversations have moved to the Internet, so have those who want to listen in. But the technology needed to do so would entail a dangerous expansion of the government’s surveillance powers.

Tougher laws needed to protect your genetic privacy
In spite of recent legislation, tougher laws are needed to prevent insurers and employers from discriminating on the basis of genetic tests.

Beyond fingerprinting: is biometrics the best bet for fighting identity theft?
Security systems based on anatomical and behavioral characteristics may offer the best defense against identity theft.

Digital surveillance: tools of the spy trade
Night-vision cameras, biometric sensors and other gadgets already give snoops access to private spaces. Coming soon: palm-size “bug-bots”.

How RFID tags could be used to track unsuspecting people
A privacy activist argues that the devices pose new security risks to those who carry them, often unwittingly.

Data fusion: the ups and downs of all-encompassing digital profiles
Mashing everyone’s personal data, from credit card bills to cell phone logs, into one all-encompassing digital dossier is the stuff of an Orwellian nightmare. But it is not as easy as most people assume.

Cryptography: how to keep your secrets safe
A versatile assortment of computational techniques can protect the privacy of your information and online activities to essentially any degree and nuance you desire.

Do social networks bring the end of privacy?
Young people share the most intimate details of personal life on social-networking Web sites, such as MySpace and Facebook, portending a realignment of the public and the private.

Does an advertiser know you clicked on this story?
Facebook, Yahoo, and Google come under fire for allowing advertisers to follow online consumer behavior to create targeted messages.

International report: what impact is technology having on privacy around the world?
ScientificAmerican.com, with help from our international colleagues, highlights privacy and security issues in China, Japan, the Middle East, Russia and the U.K.

How I stole someone’s identity
The author asked some of his acquaintances for permission to break into their online banking accounts. The goal was simple: get into their online accounts using the information about them, their families and acquaintances that is freely available online.

Pedophile-proof chat rooms?
Can Lancaster University’s Isis Project keep children safe online without invading our privacy?

Industry roundtable: experts discuss improving online security
Experts from Sun, Adobe, Microsoft and MacAfee discuss how to protect against more numerous and sophisticated attacks by hackers; security professionals call for upgraded technology, along with more attention to human and legal factors.

(via Bruno Giussani)

1 July 2008

Frontiers of Interaction

Frontiers
Today I attended the Frontiers of Interaction IV conference in Turin, Italy, which — with some kind input from Bruce Sterling — has now reached quite an international level.

Speakers today were Jeffrey Schnapp (Stanford Humanities Lab – via video), Ashley Benigno (Global 3G Handset and Application Group at Hutchison Whampoa Limited), Nicolas Nova (LIFT conference), Bruno Giussani (TED – via video), David Orban (OpenSpime), Bruce Sterling (soon also to be known as “Bruno Argento”), Fabrizio Capobianco (Funambol), Adam Greenfield (Nokia), Bruno Mascaro (Sketchin), Elizabeth Churchill (Yahoo!), Stefano Sanna and Roberto Fraboni (beeweeb), Howard Rheingold (UC Berkeley and Stanford University – via video), Roberto Borri and Nico Sica (ITSME).

A full auditorium with among the attendees also Younghee Jung of Nokia, who will speak tomorrow at the World Congress of Architecture, in a session on “ubiquitous computing and the human context”, together with Nicolas Nova, Adam Greenfield and Jeffrey Huang.

Videos of all the presentations are now available online. Enjoy.

The conference was organised by a Leandro Agrò (Idearium.org) and Matteo Penzo.

14 February 2008

User experience session at the LIFT conference

LIFT08
Several blogs report on the user experience session of the recent LIFT conference.

Read what Nicolas Nova, Tom Hume, and Bruno Giussani had to say.

8 February 2008

LIFT videos online

LIFT08
The LIFT conference started on Wednesday and unfortunately I could not attend due to work pressures (our partner Jan-Christoph Zoels is there though). But there is a solution: fifteen presentations can already be viewed online.

Check out Genevieve Bell (Intel), Paul Dourish (UC-Irvine), Bruce Sterling and Younghee Yung (Nokia) to name just a few, or read up on what Bruno Giussani has to say.

17 December 2007

A designer at the intersection of physical architecture and information systems

Jeffrey Huang
Bruno Giussani posted his running notes of Jeffrey Huang’s inaugural lesson at EPFL, the Swiss Institute of Technology in Lausanne.

“Architecture and design, says my friend Jeffrey Huang (photo), are becoming the interface between physical and virtual lives. And that’s his field of study: how can constructs (buildings, cities and landscapes) incorporate digital communication systems? What are the effects of digitization on the typologies of cities today?

Last week, professor Huang — who among other things was instrumental in creating the Swiss House in Boston, now called Swissnex — gave his inaugural lesson at EPFL, the Swiss Institute of Technology in Lausanne, where he runs the Media and Design Lab (he was previously at the Harvard School of Design). Here my running notes.”

Read full story

27 October 2007

ComDays07 / Stefana Broadbent: The 20 people we communicate with

Stefana Broadbent
Bruno Giussani reports on a recent talk by Swisscom anthropologist Stefana Broadbent on how people really use technology. The talk was delivered at the 6th Communication Days conference in Bienne, Switzerland.

“In traditional marketing research, she says, if you ask what the main constraints on usage of communication services are, the obvious answer would probably be price and some personal attitudes towards tech. But what we find in our research, observing people closely, is that actually the real discriminants are time and social networks.

Time: we collect hundreds of timelines and logs, we ask people to reconstruct with us their previous day of communication: who they communicated with, how, etc. We ask them to describe their social environment. Let’s consider teenagers. The image adults have about teenagers online is lots of friends, connected all the time, etc. Swiss teenagers: all use instant messaging; e-mail is used only for communicating with adults and institutions; all of them have a mobile phone and send SMS daily; more than 50% have a profile page on social networking sites; they read blogs and use Youtube etc. BUT there is something very specific to the Swiss educational system. In Switzerland, there is a high proportion — 75% — of professional/vocational training (“apprentices”). Teenagers are in a professional setting; receive a salary; they are in constant contact with adults during the day; etc. If we compare the structure of the day of the teen apprentices and that of their parents, it’s often not that dissimilar, except for the evening hours. And their patterns of communication are also very similar: balancing between work and private life; have a rather limited set of contacts. Apart from instant messaging, in Switzerland from 13 to 50 year old the patterns of usage of communication channels are very similar.

The other factor that has an impact on communication behavior is social networks. The close circle of contacts is composed of about 20 people: 7 in the “intimate circle”, 13 in the “close circle”. A further 37 are “weaker ties”. This core of 20 is a number that’s consistent across countries in Europe and the US. Who’s in this core? About 60% are “given” contacts (family, schoolmates, work colleagues, neighbours), only 40% are “chosen”. If you look with whom people communicate, 3/4 of the contacts happen with the people within those 20 “core” contacts. What does this mean? It may look obvious, you only communicate with the people you know. But to me it means: those 20 people are our (telecom operator’s) playing field. When we think of services for our customers, we have to keep in mind that their space is 20 people wide.”

17 October 2007

The LIFT08 conference programme is out

LIFT08
Bruno Giussani reports on the press conference announcing the LIFT08 conference programme (backgrounder):

The conference LIFT08 will take place for the third time in Geneva, Switzerland, on 6-8 February 2008. The main structure of the programme has been presented tonight in a trendy bar downtown Geneva by organizer Laurent Haug and editorial producer Nicolas Nova.

And again, like last year, they seem to have got a knack of seeking out many new voices and speakers that haven’t made the rounds yet – but have interesting things to say. The programme is structured in thematic “tracks”, four per day on Thursday 7 and Friday 8. On Wednesday, a pre-conference will present a series of focused workshops. Thursday evening will feature the now-traditional fondue for 500+ people. Alongside the main conference there will be a “blogcamp”-like space for unplanned discussions and presentations, as well as an “off” space dedicated to design, art and games.

Here a quick rundown of the main tracks:

  • Internet in society — With Jyri Engestrom (he just sold microblogging platform Jaiku to Google), Jonathan Cabiria (on virtual environments and social inclusions) and others
  • User experience — With two tech anthropologists, Younghee Jung (Nokia, Tokyo) and Genevieve Bell (Intel, Seattle) and UC’s Paul Dourish.
  • Stories — With serial entrepreneur Rafi Haladjian and others.
  • A glimpse of Asia — With Marc Laperrouza, a specialist of new tech in China, Heewon Kim, a Korean researcher on teens and social networks, and others.
  • New Frontiers — With “cyborg” Kevin Warwick, Henry Markram who’s trying to simulate the functioning of brain cells, and Holm Friebe talking about new forms of cooperation and collaborative work.
  • Gaming — With Robin Hunicke (who worked on games for the Nintendo Wii) on gaming trends, and others.
  • Web and entreprises — With David Sadigh and David Marcus on how the web is reshuffling work practices.
  • Foresight — With future researchers Scott Smith (Changeist) and William Cockayne (Stanford) and Nokia designer Francesco Cara.

Haug also announced that LIFT is exporting itself to Asia: after a successful small launch event a few weeks ago in Seoul, South Korea, they’re now planning a full LIFTAsia in September 2008, again in Seoul.

I am very pleased to notice that Genevieve Bell, Paul Dourish and Francesco Cara are amongst the speakers.

2 October 2007

BT futurologist on new needs hierarchy and feminisation of work

Ian Pearson
BT’s futurologist Ian Pearson sets out some interesting ideas on the future at a recent conference in Rome, as reported by Bruno Giussani.

He suggests a different reading of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs , saying that the value is now in the top layers (self-actualisation, esteem, social – see image on Giussani site). “Tech helps people to do more, interact more, have more fun, be more, and feel better about themselves”.

We can produce in 15 years’ time a virtual world that’s so realistic that you can’t tell if you’re in real life or in that world. Link nervous system, record a handshake or an orgasm and replay it. Education via time travel (any time period, any weather, no tourists, no erosion — take your kids back to Stonehenge; full sensory environments will allow even more).

Duality, a whole new market, where the virtual world and everything you can do on the internet are overlayed into the real world. People and buildings can emit an interactive digital aura (wireless LAN). Artificial intelligence and productivity: today: human big, machine small; tomorrow: we can make machines up to a million times smarter than a human being. Information economy will largely move into the machine world. People will have access to machine enhancements of their creativity. Most of the “male” jobs of today will be automated, taken over by artificial intelligence. In the “care age”, that will follow the “information age”, this will lead to a feminisation of work.

27 September 2007

Picnic07: Swisscom anthropologist on why everything is moving into the background

Stefana Broadbent
Swisscom anthropologist Stefana Broadbent [see also these previous posts] spoke today at the Picnic07 conference in Amsterdam and Bruno Giussani was there to report on it:

“Anthropologist Stefana Broadbent talks about trends in entertainment and communication. With her team of sociologists and psychologists she observes people closely and collects a whole set of data (diaries, bookmarks, playlists, they ask people to keep logbooks of communication and media usage, etc). She is a great speaker and a much-needed tech myth buster.”

According to Giussani, she showed a set of apparently disconnected data that all point in the same direction: there is no substitution – everything is added. “There is more and more media piling on, more devices, more channels. What’s happening is that everything is moving into the background, everything is becoming wallpaper. [... There is] a constant flow of “open channel interaction”.

“Now, there is a problem: the whole industry is trying to say bye-bye to routine. The whole ICT industry today has to do with putting people in total control and deliberate choice of everything that they will listen to, look at, etc: VOD, HDD recorders, IPTV archives, podcasts, videocasts, personalized radio stations, layout skins, etc.

But users can only multitask if we don’t ask for all their attention. Choosing kills routines and requires attention — the moment you choose you commit to something — it moves the activity to the foreground; being in control means being actively focused.”

- Read full story
Read review on Pasta & Vinegar (by Nicolas Nova)
All Picnic07 videos

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

20 July 2007

Research on smartphones and the work-life balance

Blackberry on the train
According to research conducted by Research In Motion, BlackBerry devices and other smart phones may have had a huge impact on executive and employee productivity, but they also have a negative impact on work-life balance by making it more difficult to switch off from the office, according to a recent survey.

The USA Today article reporting the research highlights how these devices increase efficiency, reduce stress, and “swing the work-life balance to the company side of the scales”.

These results stand in contrast with Swisscom research recently reported by Bruno Giussani in The Economist, which makes one wonder to what extent the validity of the Research in Motion study is limited to senior managers only.

“Stefana Broadbent, an anthropologist who leads the User Adoption Lab at Swisscom, Switzerland’s largest telecoms operator, has been looking at usage patterns associated with different communications technologies. [...] Although the rise of the BlackBerry has prompted concern about work invading private life, the opposite actually seems to be true: private communications are invading the workplace. Workers expect to be plugged into their social networks while at work, whether by e-mail, IM or mobile phone. Last year at a food-processing factory near Geneva, the workers revolted when the director tried to ban mobile phones from the factory floor, and he was forced to relent. Their argument was that they wanted to be reachable during the day, just as people who sit at desks are.”

8 June 2007

The Economist features work by Swisscom anthropologist Stefana Broadbent

The Economist on Stefana Broadbent
The Economist published an article today on anthropologists who are investigating the use of communications technology and particularly on the sometimes surprising conclusions coming from Swisscom anthropologist Stefana Broadbent.

“Stefana Broadbent, an anthropologist who leads the User Adoption Lab at Swisscom, Switzerland’s largest telecoms operator, has been looking at usage patterns associated with different communications technologies. She and her team based their research on observation, interviews, surveys of users’ homes and asking people to keep logbooks of their communications usage in several European countries. Some of their findings are quite unexpected.”

The article, which was written by Bruno Giussani, features six of Stefana’s interesting research results:

  • A typical user spends 80% of his or her time communicating with just four other people.
  • People are using different communications technologies (fixed-line calls, mobile calls, texting, IM, VOiP) in distinct and divergent ways.
  • There is a flattening in voice communication and an increase in written channels.
  • Instead of work invading private life, private communications are invading the workplace.
  • People generally do not work while on the move: hotel rooms and airports are not seen as an appropriate environment for substantive work and are mainly used for e-mail.
  • Migrants are the most advanced users of communications technology.

Read full story

9 February 2007

LIFT07: the private is invading the workplace, not the other way around

LIFT 07
Bruno Giussani (interview) reports on a LIFT conference panel on "dealing with technological overload", that included Stefana Broadbent, head of the User Adoption Lab at Swisscom , Fred Mast, professor of cognitive psychology at the university of Lausanne, and Nada Kakabadse, professor at Northampton Business School; moderated by Matthias Luefkens (interview), media manager at the World Economic Forum.

Broadbent contributes some interesting reflections:

“I’m seeing much more the arrival of the private into the workplace than the workplace into the private sphere. What we are seeing through empirical research is that people are increasingly using IM, e-mail and SMS to keep in touch with their group/family/friends/community, and it’s becoming an expectation to be able to keep our social network alive, and be plugged into it, over work time.”

Giussani comments that, paradoxically, Broadbent is observing and measuring this the country – Switzerland – where the roots of protestant work ethic are.

“She asks who in the room checks private e-mail at work, and all hands go up (although it’s not clear where the border of private and public is). People are happy to be able to continue to bring their social life/network along wherever they go. There is something in the type of channels people are using.

The most fascinating discovery I [i.e. Bruno Giussani] have made this year: a reduction of voice and increase in written channels (SMS, IM, e-mail, tagging, blogging). Everybody expected that with Skype people would be speaking for hours a day, but that’s not happening. It’s more engaging, you have to commit more, you can’t multitask – while requires less commitment, and you can multitask.

I ask Stefana whether rather than to tech the addiction is maybe to social relations: to friends and family and colleagues and where they are and what they do and what they think. In the research we do, she answers, we ask people to keep a diary of whom they communicate with and how. People that are not heavily online, their average number of contact is about 20. People that are online, it goes to 70 upwards. The difference is obviously that the cost of maintaining contacts decreases. 20 is what you can handle with a one-to-one channel; as soon as you add asynchronous channels, we can handle more.

How do we unplug, asks the moderator? Stefana: that’s not a theme. If I unplug, I lose my social intelligence. We looked at small companies, and the availability and reachability of their employees. There was a radical difference between startups and more established companies. The people in the latter can switch the phone off, or answer tomorrow; the former felt they had to be reachable at all time.”

Read full story

7 February 2007

Jumping jack flash – new forms of interactions

LIFT 07
My Experientia business partner and friend, Jan-Christoph Zoels, is one of the main speakers at LIFT 07, a conference that starts today in Geneva, focused on the “challenges and opportunities of technology in our society”.

In his talk tomorrow entitled “Jumping jack flash – new forms of interactions“, Jan-Christoph will present “some key trends and design ideas for our interactions with devices, services or applications”.

“As more and more devices support location-aware, contextual or rich media, how will we interact with them, choose content, navigate or connect multiple sources of information? The presentation explores gestural, haptic and other sensorial interfaces for a variety of applications. The success of Nintendo’s Wii game controller exemplifies the migration of traditional task-based interfaces into the realm of explorative and entertaining interactions. What will the poetic interfaces of tomorrow be?”

Other speakers include Robert Scobble, vice president of media development at Podtech; Régine Debatty of we-make-money-not-art; Stefana Broadbent, head of User Adaption Lab at Swisscom; Jan Chipchase, principal scientist at Nokia Research Center; Bruno Giussani, writer; and Sister Judith Zoebelein, editorial director of the Internet Office of the Holy See; to name just a few.

UPDATE:
Tom Hume’s notes on Jan-Christoph’s talk
Jan-Christoph Zoels : quelles nouvelles formes d’interaction ? French summary by Daniel Kaplan
Audio interview of Jan-Christoph Zoels by Nicole Simon

29 January 2007

Harvard Business Review features user-centered innovation as breakthrough idea for 2007

Harvard_shieldbusiness_1
The Harvard Business Review has published its annual list of Breakthrough Ideas for 2007, written out in “twenty essays that will satisfy our demanding readers’ appetite for provocative and important new ideas”.

Eric von Hippel wrote the entry entitled “An Emerging Hotbed of User-Centered Innovation“.

Eric von Hippel is the T Wilson Professor of Innovation Management at MIT’s Sloan School of Management in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the scientific director of the Danish User-Centered Innovation Lab in Copenhagen. He is the author of Democratizing Innovation (MIT Press, 2005).

“In an array of industries, producer-centered innovation is being eclipsed by user-centered innovation—the dreaming up, development, prototyping, and even production of new products by consumers. These users aren’t just voicing their needs to companies that are willing to listen; they’re inventing and often building what they want.”

“[...] This process of users’ coming up with products is increasingly well documented, and some companies, at least, are actively trying to take advantage of it. But what about governments?”

“[...] Government support has typically come in the form of R&D grants for scientific researchers and R&D tax credits for manufacturers. This focus on technology push has not attracted much controversy. But recent research shows that the 70% to 80% of new product development that fails does so not for lack of advanced technology but because of a failure to understand users’ needs. The emergence of user-centered innovation clearly shows that this near-exclusive focus on technological advance is misplaced.”

“Denmark is taking this sea change in the nature of innovation to heart. In 2005, the Danish government became the first in the world to establish as a national priority, in the words of a government policy statement, ‘strengthening user-centered innovation.'”

“By championing a new innovation paradigm, the Danish government is encouraging numerous methodological flowers to bloom—from programs that improve manufacturers’ understanding of users’ needs (through ethnographic research, for example) to techniques for identifying user-developed innovations that manufacturers can produce.”

Duncan J. Watts wrote another thought-provoking essay, “The Accidental Influentials,” in which he argues that “social epidemics” are not in large part driven by the actions of a tiny minority of special individuals, as is the dominant belief.

“We studied the dynamics of social contagion by conducting thousands of computer simulations of populations, manipulating a number of variables relating to people’s ability to influence others and their tendency to be influenced.”

“Our work shows that the principal requirement for what we call “global cascades”—the widespread propagation of influence through networks—is the presence not of a few influentials but, rather, of a critical mass of easily influenced people, each of whom adopts, say, a look or a brand after being exposed to a single adopting neighbor. Regardless of how influential an individual is locally, he or she can exert global influence only if this critical mass is available to propagate a chain reaction.”

Understanding that trends in public opinion are driven not by a few influentials influencing everyone else but by many easily influenced people influencing one another should change how companies incorporate social influence into their marketing campaigns. Because the ultimate impact of any individual—highly influential or not—depends on decisions made by people one, two, or more steps away from her or him, word-of-mouth marketing strategies shouldn’t focus on finding supposed influentials. Rather, marketing dollars might better be directed toward helping large numbers of ordinary people—possibly with Web-based social networking tools—to reach and influence others just like them.”

Duncan J. Watts is a professor of sociology at Columbia University in New York. He is the author of Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age (Norton, 2003)

(via Bruno Giussani’s Lunch over IP)