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Putting People First

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7 June 2014

Sharing City Seoul: a model for the world

MayorParkEar

The Seoul city government has officially embraced the sharing economy by designating Seoul a Sharing City and is working in partnership with NGOs and private companies to make sharing an integral part of Seoul’s economy.

The city is now creating an official sharing ecosystem and, led by the Seoul Innovation Bureau within the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG), they are seeing promising early results.

Using its IT and civic infrastructure, in addition to strong public-private partnerships, the Sharing City project is working to connect people to sharing services and each other, recover a sense of trust and community, reduce waste and over-consumption, and activate the local economy.

7 June 2014

IKEA’s Life At Home report

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Core77 has drawn my attention to IKEA’s newly launched Life At Home report, which explores the home lives of people all over the globe, with a focus on the morning routines, habits and wishes of those who live in Berlin, London, Moscow, Dubai, New York, Paris, Shanghai and Stockholm.

As Core77 correctly points out, with a focus purely on the numbers, the study is “absent any cultural explanations, and is therefore subject to misinterpretation; for example, upon reading that 59% of Londoners start their mornings with a shower or bath while only 8% of Shanghaiers do, one might conclude that the latter city is filled with unwashed masses. But those familiar with East Asian culture will realize it’s much more common to do the washing-up there before bedtime.”

Still, the study is very wide in scope and has some great photography easily accessible in a visually striking site.

1 June 2014

“Savages”, an exhibition by Marguerite Kahrl in Torino

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Now and then we use this blog to announce activities that are dear to us and deserve some promotion. Today it is the exhibition of artist Marguerite Kahrl, who is the wife of Experientia partner Jan-Christoph Zoels. The show opens on Thursday evening in the Alberto Peola Gallery in Turin.

Alberto Peola is pleased to present the second solo exhibition by the American artist Marguerite Kahrl with the gallery.

An unusual invention by any standard. The series Noble Savages by Marguerite Kahrl, inspired by Goya’s Los Caprichos (a series of eighty etchings published in 1799), are busts celebrating monstrous figures, not in marble as might be supposed, but in stuffed hemp fabric, a humble cloth made from a plant that until quite recently was grown in many areas of Italy. Ever monsters, but soft monsters whose ears can be affectionately tweaked, they are in a strange way comforting, rendered homely by the rough, handwoven material. These are domestic monsters, tamed and placed on pedestals a little too slender to suggest solidity, and they observe the world with a blind eye, squinting benignly with their lumpy features and lopsided grins.

Marguerite Kahrl is a neoconceptual artist from New York with a strong commitment to the environment and convictions anchored in the principles of permaculture, a design philosophy that seeks to incorporate ecologies based on observing natural patterns, taking responsibility for the Earth, caring for people, and practicing sustainable development. This holistic attitude allows her to keep together her concern about an ever more complex and overloaded world and artwork that never succumbs to pure activism.

Her soft cloth monsters are in fact the product of research on the properties of industrial hemp, which was once cultivated in many parts of Italy, including the Canavese valley in the Piedmont region of Northern Italy, where Kahrl lives for part of the year. Kahrl was fascinated by this versatile traditional plant, which was once employed for all sorts of domestic purposes, from sheets to nightwear, and even for less well-known culinary uses such as oil and other foodstuffs. Its environmentally friendly properties are many and varied – hemp can even provide a petroleum substitute – and it is no coincidence that she chose it as a metaphor for sustainable living.

But all serious-minded intentions apart, I can only imagine the great time she must have had sewing up her monsters’ features, pulling the cloth this way and that to modify their grimaces. Who are these guys? In actual fact they are not as close to Goya’s Los Caprichos as you might think. His nightmarish creatures are a biting caricature of the moral and social abjection of his day. Kahrl’s Noble Savages are, I believe, closer in spirit to the kind of parody of human failings we find in the work of Honoré Daumier, although they retain the ghoulish appearance of Goya’s irrational and highly hermetic etchings.

As with Claes Oldenberg, hard objects turned soft make people smile; they have lost their edge, taking on the tactile properties of a soft toy, touchable, almost huggable. Vaguely zoomorphic, like Goya’s donkey-headed figures of authority, Kahrl’s savages remain nonetheless curiously aloof, powerful figures that might somehow help us mediate between our reasonable waking world on the one hand, and an invisible irrational world of fantasy and fear on the other.

Perhaps it should not come as a surprise that Kahrl takes her cue from a particular period in European history. Challenging the implicitly current postmodern thinking, the title Noble Savages she confers on her monsters is no mean claim, bringing to the fore all sorts of implications, most of which evoke the Enlightenment or, as the English prefer to call it, the Age of Reason. Not only a reference to Dryden, who first coined the phrase, the name has a very Rousseauesque ring to it. Rousseau was the first of the Philosophes to condemn in no uncertain terms the depravity of his era, asserting at the same time the moral superiority of the savage – she who has not yet been contaminated by the corrupting influence of society but maintains pristine innocence and nobility.

(From the text Soft Monsters in an Age of Unreason by Anna Detheridge)

We hope you can join us for the opening.

1 June 2014

German psychologist aims to debunk behavioural economics (a.k.a. the “nudge” approach)

Illustration by Jack Hudson.

Daniel Kahneman, the ‘godfather’ of behavioural economics, has been challenged by rival psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer, director of the Centre for Cognition and Adaptive Behaviour at the Max Planck institute in Berlin, who claims that Kahneman presents ‘an unfairly negative view of the human mind’.

Gigerenzer’s book Risk Savvy: How to Make Good Decisions debunks the behavioural economics of Daniel Kahneman, and Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler, authors of the bestselling book “Nudge”, who, along with the authors of Freakonomics, were once David Cameron’s pet thinkers.

Tim Adams reports on it all in the Observer.

“In an increasingly complex and specialised world, Gigerenzer preaches a gospel of greater simplicity. He suggests that the outcome of decisions of any complexity – a complexity of, say, trying to organise a successful picnic or greater – are impossible to accurately predict with any mathematical rational model, and therefore more usefully approached with a mixture of gut instinct and what he calls heuristics, the learned rules of thumb of any given situation. He believes, and he has some evidence to prove it, that such judgments prove sounder in practice than those based purely on probability.” [...]

“Though Kahneman himself carefully limits its potential political application, his argument that we are irretrievably in thrall to our fallacies, in Gigernzer’s view, only strengthens the argument for such paternalism from government. Nudge theory becomes the more palatable expression of a deliberate wider manipulation. It makes us weaker and less questioning citizens.

Gigerenzer proposes an alternative solution. He believes, with education, the teaching of critical thinking about statistical probability, people can become more usefully ‘risk savvy’”

Related:
- Videos of Gerd Gigerenzer at TEDxZurich (2013) and TEDxNorrköping (2012)
- “Risk Savvy” book reviews in The Financial Times | The Economist | Times Higher Education
- An older, but in-depth review on the debate by Nick Dunbar

31 May 2014

Design thinking – what is it in practice?

 

Promoted heavily by academic institutions and consultancies alike, design thinking has been a big buzzword during the past decade, turning some people on and others off. Though design thinking has actually been around for half a century, when asking creative professionals how they define it; Soren Petersen always gets “completely different answers and most are an inch deep and a mile wide”.

He then invited creative professionals to share their experience with design thinking on online social platforms, and he writes critically about what he learned.

“Plenty of case stories hail the virtues [of design thinking], however no objective evaluations of its performance is available.

As we push further into the future application of design thinking, we will see new ways to better understand and use statistical data models in design (i.e. better mathematical programs that are easier to understand and use). With better tools and methods to build, acquire and apply data sets, designers and design thinkers will be able to forecast with better accuracy how their convergent thinking decisions will affect potential growth, culture and scalability.

Only the design thinking that is adopted by industry creates value for society, so, for broad acceptance and maximum impact, design thinking needs to be understandable and collaboratively used by all stakeholders. For it to survive, it must continuously evolve and demonstrate measurable improvement over existing approaches. Unless it can also provide breakthrough innovations, it will remain a tool for incremental improvement of business as usual and soon lose its appeal.”

31 May 2014

The future of modern marketing is human-centered

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Before the turn of the 20th century into the 21st century, a movement began. This movement called for a more user-centered approach, or also commonly referred to as human-centered, to designing products, software, digital interactions, and design concepts. It is rooted in the belief, which is by understanding human goals and behaviors; we can design concepts empathetic to the user – or humans. More than a decade later, these concepts are becoming increasingly important to marketing, writes Tony Zambito in B2C.

Modern marketing, as it responds to the overwhelming tentacles of the exploding digital economy, now requires the important element of design thinking. With the rapid growth of content marketing, modern marketing CMO’s now have to think about creating as well as designing the digital interaction experiences surrounding content.

31 May 2014

[Book] Foundations for Designing User-Centered Systems

foundations

Foundations for Designing User-Centered Systems: What System Designers Need to Know about People
by Frank E. Ritter, Gordon D Baxter and Elizabeth F. Churchill
Springer, 2014, Paperback
442 p. 108 illus.

Interactive technologies pervade every aspect of modern life. Web sites, mobile devices, household gadgets, automotive controls, aircraft flight decks; everywhere you look, people are interacting with technologies. These interactions are governed by a combination of: the users’ capabilities; the things the users are trying to do; and the context in which they are trying to do them. All of these factors have to be appropriately considered during design if you want your technology to provide your users with a good experience.

Foundations for Designing User-Centered Systems introduces the fundamental human capabilities and characteristics that influence how people use interactive technologies. Organized into four main areas — anthropometrics, behaviour, cognition and social factors — it covers basic research and considers the practical implications of that research on system design. Applying what you learn from this book will help you to design interactive systems that are more usable, more useful and more effective.

The authors have deliberately developed Foundations for Designing User-Centered Systems to appeal to system designers and developers, as well as to students who are taking courses in system design and HCI. The book reflects the authors’ backgrounds in computer science, cognitive science, psychology and human factors. The material in the book is based on their collective experience which adds up to almost 90 years of working in academia and both with, and within, industry; covering domains that include aviation, consumer Internet, defense, eCommerce, enterprise system design, health care, and industrial process control.

31 May 2014

UK Government told to put people at centre of ‘digital revolution’

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Digital services in the public sector must have user-centred design as a ‘primary focus’ if people are to benefit from IT growth, the report “Designing the Digital Economy” claims.

The report, commissioned by the British Parliament’s Design and Innovation Group, describes designers as “critical agents able to mediate between people, places and technology”.

“They have the ability to ask bigger questions that put people at the centre of the digital economy – not the technology itself.

But designers need to wrestle back the innovation agenda and work with technologists to create new forms of social and economic value in the evergrowing Digital Economy.

Chief User Officer…

The recommendations of Designing the Digital Economy

*Appointing a Head of Design for digital platforms in each government department.

*Government should find ways to embed designers in testbed big data projects.

*Large infrastructure projects such as HS2 should appoint a Chief User Officer to ensure the effective, relevant and transparent use of big data.

*The design sector should be encouraged to partner technologists and regional development mechanisms to develop Digital Design Clusters which work together to develop networks of design-led digital activities.

*Children, further education students and undergraduates should be taught using up-to-date design software or open source platforms.

*Whilst the UK will be the first country in the world to teach children how to code as part of the curriculum (from 2015), there are still measures that can be taken to close the skills gap now.

*Expand and develop the Research Councils UK funding work on linking design to the digital economy.

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

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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

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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.