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Putting People First

Daily insights on user experience, experience design and people-centred innovation
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30 May 2014

How to use ethnography for in-depth consumer insight

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Spending a weekend sitting in someone else’s house reporting when, why and how much they ate, drank, bathed, watched TV or used their mobile phone isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time, but for a marketer it is one of the best ways to gain deeper customer insight, according to a feature article in Marketing Week.

The process, often referred to as ethnography, can result in breakthroughs for brands, offering an insight into what people are really like, rather than what they want researchers to think they are like.

28 May 2014

Renting isn’t lending: the ‘sharing economy’ fallacy

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The sharing economy is a harmful misnomer, writes John Harvey, a researcher at the University of Nottigham. It conflates people who actually share with those who make money through collaborative consumption.

“It is true that much of the work within the broad gamut of the sharing economy is important in terms of sustainability and worthy of further advocacy. But the disparate values that resource sharing brings to the economy should not be clumsily lumped together. Sharing in the presence of money and sharing in its absence are two entirely different forms of economic morality.”

28 May 2014

When big data meets dataveillance: the hidden side of analytics

 

Among the numerous implications of digitalization, the debate about ‘big data’ has gained momentum. The central idea capturing attention is that digital data represents the newest key asset organizations should use to gain a competitive edge. Data can be sold, matched with other data, mined, and used to make inferences about anything, from people’s behavior to weather conditions. Particularly, what is known as ‘big data analytics’ — i.e. the modeling and analysis of big data — has become the capability which differentiates, from the rest of the market, the most successful companies. An entire business ecosystem has emerged around the digital data asset, and new types of companies, such as analytical competitors and analytical deputies, are proliferating as a result of the analysis of digital data. However, virtually absent from the big data debate is any mention of one of its constitutive mechanisms — that is, dataveillance. Dataveillance — which refers to the systematic monitoring of people or groups, by means of personal data systems in order to regulate or govern their behavior — sets the stage and reinforces the development of the data economy celebrated in the big data debate. This article aims to make visible the interdependence between dataveillance, big data and analytics by providing real examples of how companies collect, process, analyze and use data to achieve their business objectives.

Degli Esposti, Sara. 2014. When big data meets dataveillance: The hidden side of analytics. Surveillance &
Society 12(2): 209-225. http://www.surveillance-and-society.org | ISSN: 1477-7487
© The author(s), 2014 | Licensed to the Surveillance Studies Network under a Creative Commons
Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives license.

28 May 2014

Open government requires having the end user in mind

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Simply making data available online isn’t enough – it needs to be created with the end user in mind, writes Jed Miller in The Guardian.

“But online or off, the measure of a tool’s value is it usefulness to the people it is meant to reach. Whether your particular jargon calls them users, readers, audiences, customers or beneficiaries, their needs must be the blueprint of your strategy.”

24 May 2014

Left to our own devices

alone

Our well-being centers on the meaningfulness of our relationships: our intimate ties, our associations with a larger circle of people, and our sense of interconnectivity with a collective tribe. Technology has become deeply embedded in how we build these relationships and define ourselves. It is undeniable that we can use technology in ways that are alienating—texting while talking, for example.

As a clinical psychologist creating and studying technology for Intel, Margie Morris has been impressed by how people draw on their devices to enhance their relationships—in particular their capacities for being alone, interconnected, and attuned.

21 May 2014

Taschen publishes infographics by Experientia collaborator

Infografica Infovis e Datavis_albero 2_cs3

The infographics “What Are InfoVis And DataVis About?”, designed by Experientia collaborator Eloisa Paola Fontana, was selected and published in the book “Information Graphics“, by Sandra Rendgen and Julius Wiedemann, published by Taschen.

“The idea was to create a friendly and very simple metaphor to facilitate the visualization and communication of this very theorical infography. The stylized “tree” shows the theoretical origins and the branches of disciplines. The watering can indicate the future trends to help the “tree” “grow up” in a prosperous way.”

Information Graphics
Sandra Rendgen, Julius Wiedemann
Hardcover with poster, 24,6 x 37,2 cm, 480 pages

Our everyday lives are filled with a massive flow of information that we must interpret in order to understand the world we live in. Considering this complex variety of data floating around us, sometimes the best — or even only — way to communicate is visually. This unique book presents a fascinating perspective on the subject, highlighting the work of the masters of the profession who have created a number of breakthroughs that have changed the way we communicate. Information Graphics has been conceived and designed not just for graphics professionals, but for anyone interested in the history and practice of communicating visually.

The in-depth introductory section, illustrated with over 60 images (each accompanied by an explanatory caption), features essays by Sandra Rendgen, Paolo Ciuccarelli, Richard Saul Wurman, and Simon Rogers; looking back all the way to primitive cave paintings as a means of communication, this introductory section gives readers an excellent overview of the subject. The second part of the book is entirely dedicated to contemporary works by today’s most renowned professionals, presenting 200 graphics projects, with over 400 examples — each with a fact sheet and an explanation of methods and objectives — divided into chapters by the subjects Location, Time, Category, and Hierarchy.

> Interview with author Sandra Rendgen

21 May 2014

Video of Experientia talk at Moleskine’s “Notes for the Future” event

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There are endless choices when it comes to recording and sharing our ideas. Reliable analog tools are converging with innovations in technology to produce new ways of working. So what’s the future of note-taking?

In celebration of 150 years of the Politecnico di Milano, Moleskine invited various creative thinkers – including Mark Vanderbeeken of Experientia – to share their thoughts on the subject in the first of a series of gatherings called “Notes for the Future“.

Moleskine has now compiled the outcomes of the first edition in a voicemap and a video, thus seeking to remain faithful to the theme at the center of Notes for the Future: converging audio, visual, analog and digital ways to record and share the ideas of the future.

21 May 2014

World Economic Forum reports on personal data focus on trust, privacy and framework

 

The World Economic Forum has released three new reports on strengthening trust, transparency and privacy in personal data usage.

Rethinking Personal Data: A New Lens for Strengthening Trust, prepared in collaboration with A.T. Kearney, looks at how to enhance transparency and accountability in the use of personal data. It argues that a user-centred approach is the best way of achieving this. Individuals must have more of a say in how their data is used and should be able to use the data for their own purposes.

Supporting this analysis are two quantitative studies that look at the issues of trust, privacy and framework through the eyes of users. Rethinking Personal Data: Trust and Context in User-Centred Data Ecosystems, an empirical study across different countries, examines the importance of context-aware data usage and how it impacts trust.

The Internet Trust Bubble: Global Values, Beliefs and Practices uses the results from a survey of 16,000 respondents to assess the attitudes and behaviour of internet users globally.

21 May 2014

Food safety and older people: the Kitchen Life ethnographic study

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Foodborne illness is a major public health problem in the UK. Recent increases in cases of listeriosis in older people have focused attention on consumer food-related practices. Previous studies highlight poor relationships between what people know, what they say they do and what they actually do in the kitchen. The aim of the Kitchen Life study was to examine what actually happens in the domestic kitchen to assess whether and how this has the potential to influence food safety in the home. Drawing on a qualitative ethnographic approach, methods included a kitchen tour, photography, observation, video observation, informal interviews and diary methods. Ten households with older people (aged 60+) were recruited across the UK. It was found that trust in the food supply, use of food-labelling (including use-by dates), sensory logics (such as the feel or smell of food) and food waste were factors with the potential to influence risk of foodborne illness. Practices shifted with changing circumstances, including increased frailty, bereavement, living alone, receiving help with care and acquiring new knowledge, meaning that the risk of and vulnerability to foodborne illness is not straightforward.

The research was conducted by the University of Hertfordshire, UK, and commissioned by the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA).

> Summary article
> Scientific paper

19 May 2014

People use phablets differently than smartphones and tablets

 

A new study from Opera Mediaworks found that people use these larger-screen devices — which combine a smartphone’s instant access to information with the tablet’s richer viewing experience — in ways that are distinct from how they use other portable gadgets.

“Social networking dominates use on phablets, accounting for nearly 54 percent of activity on these devices, Opera Mediaworks found. While that’s similar to smartphones, it’s much higher than global average for all mobile devices.”

But what if the people buying phablets are people who like social networks far more than the average? And why would they then be so attracted to phablets?

10 May 2014

Anthropologists as scholarly hipsters

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Can looking at the hipster tell us something about the anthropologist and the academy?

Alex Posecznick (anthropologist at the University of Pennsylvania) explores the role of anthropologists in academia from a parallel hipster point of view. With his blog posts Posecznick hopes “to contribute to an ongoing dialogue about scholarly subjectivities in anthropology vis-à-vis the cultural trope of the contemporary, urban ‘hipster.’”

Part I: What is a hipster?
What precisely is a “hipster” and does it actually exist as a meaningful category?

Part II: Critiques from the margins
In this second post, Posecznick focuses on a common characteristic that is both productive and frustrating for anthropologists and hipsters alike: their position at the margins.

Part III: The anthropological brand
In this third post, Posecznick wants to take a brief moment point to what anthropologists wear and the images they cultivate.

Part IV: Authenticity and Privilege
Examining the endless search for authenticity.

Alex Posecznick (@AlexPosecznick) serves as manager of the Division of Education, Culture and Society at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education while also holding an academic appointment therein, where he teaches courses in Anthropology and Education, Qualitative Modes of Inquiry and Merit and America. His scholarly work focuses on the ethnographic examination of neoliberalism, public policy, and the culture of meritocracy vis-à-vis institutions of higher education.

And related: Conference Chic, or, How to Dress Like an Anthropologist

9 May 2014

Mayo Clinic study highlights potential of mobile technology to transfer patient rehabilitation

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In a recent study out of the Mayo Clinic (reported on by iMedicalApps), patients undergoing cardiac rehabilitation post-MI were offered the opportunity to use an app that provides the ability to track their progress and delivers daily supportive messaging as well as education material. In addition to greater improvements in body weight, blood pressure, and quality of life when compared to a non-user population, they also found a significant reduction in rehospitalization.

9 May 2014

[Book] Handbook of Anthropology in Business

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Handbook of Anthropology in Business
Editors: Rita M. Denny and Patricia L. Sunderland
Left Coast Press
752 pp. / May, 2014

In recent years announcements of the birth of business anthropology have ricocheted around the globe. The first major reference work on this field, the Handbook of Anthropology in Business is a creative production of more than 60 international scholar-practitioners working in universities and corporate settings from high tech to health care. Offering broad coverage of theory and practice around the world, chapters demonstrate the vibrant tensions and innovation that emerge in intersections between anthropology and business and between corporate worlds and the lives of individual scholar-practitioners. Breaking from standard attempts to define scholarly fields as products of fixed consensus, the authors reveal an evolving mosaic of engagement and innovation, offering a paradigm for understanding anthropology in business for years to come.

> Table of contents
> Excerpt

4 May 2014

New research on the use of tablets in schools

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NAACE

NAACE, a UK association of educators, technologists and policy makers who share a vision for the role of technology in advancing education, has published two studies on the role of tablets in secondary school education:

Evolving Pedagogies for Mobile Technology in Schools
A study of how tablets are being used in schools by Naace on behalf of Besa (British Educational Suppliers Association)
January 2014
This project was not a large scale research project but provides an insight into how tablets are being used in school and the direction of travel that pedagogies take within the first year of tablet implementation. Check out the summary of the findings and the full study.

The iPad as a Tool for Education
A study of the introduction of iPads at Longfield Academy, Kent
July 2012
In the first two terms of implementing an iPad programme, Longfield Academy in Kent have noticed a great impact on teaching and learning. The research was carried out on behalf of Naace and supported by 9ine consulting.

TABLETS FOR SCHOOLS

Check also these downloads from Tablets for Schools, a UK charity that presents itself as being “supported by industry leaders in education and technology” and “believes in the transformative effect of tablets on teaching and learning, aiming to share best practice about implementing and using tablets successfully in the classroom.”

Stage 3 Research Report
April 2014
This report attempts to quantify some of the findings in the previous reports. The Stage 3 objectives were to examine teacher, student and parent engagement, and impact on pedagogy. The research also measured teacher, student, and parent perception of benefits and drawbacks, in addition to reviewing the process of introducing tablets, and summarising the global picture of the use of educational tablets.

19 case studies on the introduction of one-to-one tablets in UK schools
April 2014
In spring 2013, Family Kids and Youth identified a total of 24 secondary schools across the UK that had introduced or were in the process of introducing one-to-one Tablets. These included the schools from Stage 1 and Stage 2 of the research. Twenty-one of these schools responded to a comprehensive online questionnaire. Twenty schools allowed our team of researchers to visit them and during these visits interviews were carried out with Leadership and ethnographic observation was carried out in classes that were using one-to-one Tablets. From these interviews and observations, and the completed questionnaires, as well as on-going dialogue with the schools, nineteen individual case studies have been compiled.

Updated Literature Review on the Use of Tablets in Education
14 April 2014
An increasing number of publications have debated the effects these devices have on teachers and pupils. The following report, carried out by independent researchers Family, Kids & Youth, updates the findings from previous publications and discusses the findings from recent studies, as well as the limitations of the research to date. It also discusses how tablets in particular contribute to learning benefits as well as the issues surrounding tablet use in different educational contexts ranging from nurseries to universities.

2 May 2014

Aiming for open source technology that is gorgeous and provides great UX

 

Designer and social entrepreneur Aral Balkan believes it is time to build an alternate future where we own our own tools, services, and data. And to do this we must create a new category of design-led, experience-driven ‘technology’.

That’s the point Balkan made at a talk (video) at RSA London recently.

The talk, entitled “Free is a Lie,” sets out the argument that in these times of all encompassing corporate and governmental data grabbing and surveillance, we shouldn’t think about privacy as about “having something to hide” but as about “the right to control what you want to share and what you want to keep to yourself.”

In other words, the cost of free (within the corporate, closed model) is our privacy, our civil liberties, our human rights.

The only answer, he says, is open tools that people can own, rather than being de facto forced to “rent from corporations”.

The big problem with open tools today is that they have poor user experience, because they are features-led.

Balkan argues that we need to create a new category of free and open products that are experience-driven and that are built by design-led organizations. Such products and technologies are a prerequisite to empower regular people to own their own tools and data. Balkan calls this independent technology or indie tech and has just launched an Indie Tech Manifesto.

But it doesn’t stop there, Balkan and his team are using these principles to build an operating system, indieOS, a personal cloud, indieCloud, and an actual phone, indiePhone.

1 May 2014

Looking ahead in automotive UX with Mercedes

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Steve Tengler recently sat down the user experience folks at Mercedes’ Research and Development Center in Sunnyvale, California, and interviewed Paolo Malabuyo (Vice President of Advanced UX Design), Vera Schmidt (Senior Manager of Advanced UX Design), and Viviane Eide (Manager of UX Research).

An excerpt:

With customers in the connected world being bombarded with nearly throwaway, evolving, mobile electronics, does that change your traditional advanced research development view from 10-12 years in advance to 2-3 years?

PAOLO: Seven years ago the iPhone didn’t exist, right? So I think it would be hubris for any of us to say we know exactly how things are going to turn out 12+ years in the future. But there are realities that we need to deal with that bridge the 2-to-12-year gap. One end of the spectrum is the supply chain necessary to support the creation of these amazingly complex things that require tens of thousands of parts that get sourced from raw materials, which require a kind of planning and institutional muscle memory that companies like Mercedes have. The opposite end of the spectrum—the tech sector—moves much faster and is an ecosystem with nearly zero risk aversion. For instance, you just had to restart your [phone’s] recording app. That’s a product that came about in that ecosystem. Can you imagine having to pull over and restart a Mercedes after a fifteen minute drive ‘cause, well, a few things just went wrong? Completely unacceptable. So it’s up to us to figure out where the right experience bar is, and then work with the people who are experts on moving things through this process, negotiating between them and the people saying, “OK, the future looks like .”

VERA: You can see really well that we are trying to bridge this gap with the Digital Car. We are looking really far ahead—sometimes 15 years or more. We are trying to envision our ideas. This is really important because the technology is going so fast that if you always think, “OK, next year it’ll be this technology,” or “In five years, it’ll be …” then you will always be behind something else instead of coming up with your own ideas. And the connected device really [enables that]. If you have ideas now and you want to bring it to the vehicle soon—not only in 10 years—we try to accomplish it with this team by taking advantage of mobile devices and connecting them to the car to bridge that gap.

VIVIANE: I think it helps—as we are confronted with the issue that technology moves at autobahn speed—if you think about it this way: we are ultimately designing for the user, and humans don’t change that quickly. Our core desires remain fairly stable. So if I had to predict what would be a core desire in 2020, people probably [still won’t] want to waste time in traffic. So we like to think about those human, core desires and how can we use technology to meet them. But one distinguishing factor, even if we are developing faster and [creating] apps, is that we do not release beta versions and test them in the market. That is obviously not acceptable in the automotive market for safety reasons.

27 April 2014

The challenge of the car interface

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Three articles – all published on Medium – confront the challenge of designing an effective car user interface:

The State of In-Car UX
by Geoff Teehan, Teehan+Lax
No matter the price or the brand, the interfaces that adorn today’s vehicles are in a bad place. Thankfully, there’s hope.
[Long, insightful article with lots of examples and visuals]

The State of Car UI
by Jonathan Shariat
Why can’t quality brands get it right? (Hint: It’s hard)

Why Your Car’s UI Sucks
by Neil Johnston

25 April 2014

Why VC firms are snapping up designers

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Irene Au, former head of Google’s User Interaction Team, is the latest designer to make her way to a venture capital firm. Here’s why VCs are so hot for designers and how consumers could ultimately benefit from the trend.

“It’s a common misconception that VCs are just check writers who buy a piece of young companies, disappear for a few years, then come to collect when those small companies grow into big companies. In reality, modern VC firms not only carefully invest money, they offer any and all resources at their disposal to ensure their investments pay off. VC firms work closely with their companies to refine business and marketing plans, recruit talented staff, and even work side-by-side to turn products into hits. Designers, of course, can do at least two of these three tasks well. Recruiting new design talent was a responsibility of every design partner we talked to.”

25 April 2014

There’s a backlash against nudging – but it was never meant to solve every problem

Smog over a California freeway

Sceptics fail to grasp that this is a strategy that improves lives while treating citizens with dignity – unlike coercion, argues Cass Sunstein.

It is true that nudges are not a sufficient approach to some of our most serious problems, such as violent crime, poverty, and climate change. Nonetheless, they have five major advantages over coercive approaches.

First, people’s situations are highly diverse. By allowing people to go their own way, nudges reduce the costs of one-size-fits-all solutions.

Second, public officials have limited information. If official nudges are based on mistakes, the damage is far less severe than in the case of bans, because people remain free to ignore them.

Third, public officials do not always have the purest of motivations. They may be affected by the influence of well-organised private groups. If so, it is a major safeguard that people can go their own way.

Fourth, people may feel frustrated and angry if deprived of the ability to choose. When a government provides information or offers a warning, it simultaneously tells citizens that in the end they have the right to make their own decisions.

Fifth, freedom of choice can be, and often is, seen as an intrinsic good that a government should honour if it is to treat people with dignity. This is not a point about the subjective experience of frustration and anger. It is a matter of respect.

Cass Robert Sunstein is an American legal scholar who was the administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Obama administration. Sunstein co-authored Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness with economist Richard Thaler.

25 April 2014

What if doctors could prescribe behavior change?

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Doctors have known for decades that, in order to prevent disease or its complications, they were going to have to get into people’s living rooms and convince them to change everyday behaviors that would very likely kill them.

The world urgently needs better ways to bring behavior change therapies to the masses, and advancements in digital tech are finally enabling us to orchestrate the necessary ingredients to make that happen in a clinically meaningful way: “digital therapeutics.”

“A handful of medically-minded visionaries have put real clinical rigor into every aspect of their design. For instance, David Van Sickle, a former CDC “epidemiologist intelligence officer,” and now the CEO and Co-Founder of Propeller Health, built a GPS-enabled sensor for asthma inhalers that links to an elegantly designed app — every puff is mapped and time-stamped, allowing patients and doctors to spot patterns in ‘random’ attacks and identify previously unknown triggers.

Another example is Jenna Tregarthen, a PhD candidate in clinical psychology and eating disorder specialist. She rallied a team of engineers, entrepreneurs, and fellow psychologists to develop Recovery Record, a digital therapy that helps patients gain control over their eating disorder by enabling them to self-monitor for destructive thoughts or actions, follow meal plans, achieve behavior goals, and message a therapist instantly when they need support.”