counter

Putting People First

Daily insights on user experience, experience design and people-centred innovation
Audience Business Culture Design Locations Media Methods Services Social Issues

Children


Disabled


Elderly


Gender


Teens


Advertising


Branding


Business


Innovation


Marketing


Mechatronics


Technology


Architecture


Art


Creativity


Culture


Identity


Mobility


Museum


Co-creation


Design


Experience design


Interaction design


Presence


Service design


Ubiquitous computing


Africa


Americas


Asia


Australia


Europe


Italy


Turin


Blogging


Book


Conference


Media


Mobile phone


Play


Virtual world


Ethnography


Foresight


Prototype


Scenarios


Usability


User experience


User research


Education


Financial services


Healthcare


Public services


Research


Tourism


Urban development


Communications


Digital divide


Emerging markets


Participation


Social change


Sustainability


Search results for 'greenfield'
6 October 2009

Charles Leadbeater and Tim Berners-Lee on the digital revolution

Digital revolution
Digital Revolution (working title) is an open source documentary, due for transmission on BBC Two in 2010, that will take stock of 20 years of change brought about by the World Wide Web.

The BBC intends to tell the story of the web in four one-hour programmes. Programme one — Power on the web — will illustrate the explosion of user-generated content on the web of the early to mid 2000s. Programme two — The fate of nations — looks at the relation between the web and the nation state. The cost of free is the title of programme three which asks if we are trading our privacy for a ‘free’ web. Finally programme four — The web and us — explores what impact the web is having on who we are.

Over the last few weeks several clips and video rushes of the last programme have been posted online:

Aleks Krotoski on the web rewiring us, our relationships, and our addictions
Presenter Aleks Krotoski and Programme 4 director Molly Milton talk about the themes being explored for the fourth episode of Digital Revolution.

Susan Greenfield – is the web changing our brains?
Baroness Susan Greenfield introduced her main concerns with the web’s effect upon human being’s adaptable brains and behaviour at the Web at 20 event, asking some of the challenging questions that feature in the developing themes of programme four – is the web changing us?

Charles Leadbeater and David Runciman: generation gaps and learning with the web (interview clips)
These clips are very much around the theme of education and learning between the generations.

Charles Leadbeater interview – London (rushes)
Charles Leadbeater is a British author and former government advisor, who has written widely on the impact of the social web. This is one of several general ‘talking head’ interviews that were filmed on September 15th. The interviewer was Series Producer Russell Barnes.

Tim Berners-Lee and Shami Chakrabarti: web privacy and obsession (interview clips)
Rushes from interviews with Tim Berners-Lee and Liberty’s Shami Chakrabarti have come in and we’re able to supply a couple of brief clips straight away to whet your appetites for more content to come.

Tim Berners-Lee interview – London (rushes)
Tim Berners-Lee invented the web, 20 years ago. Since then he’s been at the forefront of efforts to create web standards, that mean we have one web worldwide. He’s also a Director of the World Wide Web Foundation, which strives for more widespread use of the web globally. There are two rushes sequences here. The first mainly covers questions about how people think when using the web, and the ‘spirit of the web’. The second mainly covers questions about the impact of the web on nation states, and web censorship.

2 July 2009

July-August issue of Interactions magazine is out

Interactions
The July-August issue of Interactions magazine is out and more and more content is publicly available online (thank goodness):

Editorial: Interactions: Time, Culture, and Behavior
Jon Kolko
Over the past 10 issues, interactions has, with a great deal of conscious repetition, investigated themes of global influence, sustainability, temporal aesthetics, behavior change, and the design for culture. These issues are at the heart of the human condition – whether exploring, solving, or celebrating the relationships between people and society. These themes continually combine to offer a glimpse into designing for interaction – the ability to forge connections and bridge gaps between experiences, people, and technology.
This issue of interactions is no different, but it exemplifies a new and subtle duality: impending doom and slight optimism.

Cover story: The Waste Manifesto
Victor Margolin is professor emeritus of design history at the University of Illinois, Chicago. He is a founding editor and now co-editor of the academic design journal Design Issues. From this position, Margolin offers us an informed and historically grounded manifesto on the nature of garbage. Deemed The Waste Manifesto, Margolin describes the economics of waste, and offers a call to arms. As he writes, “At stake in attempting to create a sustainable waste economy is the issue of whether or not we can avoid social obesity, something that can paralyze us logistically, physically, and economically.”

“At The End of the World, Plant a Tree”: Six questions for Adam Greenfield
Adam Greenfield is Nokia’s head of design direction for service and user-interface design, as well as the author of Everyware: The Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing and the upcoming The City Is Here for You to Use. He is also a compelling speaker and articulate blogger, and has become an authority in thinking about the impact of future ubiquitous technologies on people and society. In a lengthy interview with Tish Shute recently published on UgoTrade.com, Greenfield covered numerous topics including augmented reality, Usman Haque’s Pachube project, the networked book, the networked city, and what to do at the end of the world. The interview is dense and rich, with many of the questions raised relevant to our audience. We asked Greenfield to expand on some of his answers for interactions.

–> Although not publicly available on the Interactions site, this article (which I facilitated and has clearly inspired Jon Kolko’s thinking, as becomes clear in the above editorial), can be found on Adam Greenfield’s personal site. Make of his introduction what you want.

Column: Designing the Infrastructure
Don Norman
“It is time to work on our infrastructure, which threatens to dominate our lives with ugliness, frustration, and work. We need to spend more time on infrastructure design. We need to make it more attractive, more accessible, and easier to maintain. Infrastructure is intended to be hidden, to provide the foundation for everyday life. If we do not respond, it will dominate our lives, preventing us from attending to our priority concerns and interests. Instead, we’ll just be keeping ahead of maintenance demands.”

–> Unfortunately the online version of the article comes without the figures that Norman refers to in his text.

Column: The Golden Age of Newsprint Collides With the Gilt Age of Digital Information Distribution
Elizabeth Churchill
Churchill is “screaming for a better news-reading experience on my desktop and mobile devices.”
“Certainly I love having access to so much information, but the reading experience is just not the same as the structured, well-designed experience of newspapers. News websites are like buckets of Internet storm-drain runoff, all laid out in some distorted version of their print counterparts.”

Column: Ships in the Night (Part II): Research Without Design?
Steve Portigal
In Part I Portigal looked at some different approaches to design that do or do not succeed by omitting research. Here, he examines some of the limitations of doing research without design. His conclusion: “Rather than treat research and design as separate activities (sometimes performed by siloed departments or vendors), I would encourage all the stakeholders in the product development process to advocate for an integrated approach in which design activities and research activities are tightly coordinated and aligned.”

Column: On Hopelessness and Hope
Jon Kolko
“A number of individuals -a group that is small in number but significant in its contributions- have managed to deliver on projects broad and deep. They do act as renaissance individuals, and they do manage to tackle problems that are complex and whose solutions result in important contributions.” In working with and observing these types of people, Kolko sees several commonalities.

11 June 2009

“Singing the body electric” by Fabio Sergio and other talks at Frontiers of Interaction

Frontiers of Interaction
Fabio Sergio, a design and user experience strategist, creative director at frog design, and former associate professor at Interaction Design Institute Ivrea, was one of the speakers at the Frontiers of Interaction conference that took place on Tuesday in Rome, Italy.

“Given the themes of the conference and who else was speaking I decided to steer clear of potential irrelevance, and had fun superficially exploring an area actually at the frontier of the day’s very themes.
When the smart city will come to be – if it has not already – what will it mean for its human inhabitants?
Even more vertically: what will living in such a techno-cultural milieu do to people’s first-life avatar – to their body – and to their very perception of it?
I briefly touched upon “the body as a terminal” and “the body as a node”, and left “the body as a conduit” for a longer timeframe.”

View presentation notes and slides (alternate link)
View presentation video (24:59)

You can also watch other Frontiers of Interaction resentations in English (skip the Italian introduction):

See also my earlier post on Matt Jones’ talk at the same conference.

20 March 2009

Tish Shute interviews Mike Kuniavsky on things as services

Bicycle rider data shadows
Tish Shute’s UgoTrade website is quickly becoming one of the prime sites in the field.

In the last months she interviewed Andy Stanford-Clark (IBM Master Inventor), Robert Rice (CEO of Neogence), Usman Haque (architect and director of Haque Design + Research and founder of Pachube), Adam Greenfield (Nokia’s head of design direction for service and user-interface design), and Chris Brogan (president of New Marketing Labs).

Her interviews are as well-researched and in-depth as they come, and each one of them is a highly recommended read.

Her most recent talk with Mike Kuniavsky of ThingM came after his presentation “The dotted-line world, shadows, services, subscriptions” at ETech 2009.

The interview covered “dematerializing the world, shadows, subscriptions and things as services”.

“I presented on essentially the combination of being able to identify individual objects and the idea of providing services as a way of creating things… the servicization of things …turning things into services is greatly accelerated by network technologies and the ability to track things and what leads this to the potential of having fundamentally different relationships to the devices in our lives and to things like ownership.

Like we now have the technology to create objects that are essentially representatives of services – things like City Car Share. What you own is not a thing but a possibility space of a thing. This fundamentally changes the design challenges. I am pretty convinced that this is how we should be using a lot of these technologies is to be shifting objects from ownership models to service models. We can do that but there are significant challenges with it. What is happening is that we have had the technology to do this for a while, but we haven’t be thinking about how to design these services. We haven’t been thinking about how to design what I call the avatars of these services – the physical objects that are the manifestation of them, like an ATM is the avatar of a banking service. It is useless without the banking service it is a representative of, essentially.”

31 January 2009

35 Picnic conference videos

PICNIC
On Vimeo you can find no less than 35 videos of the Picnic conference. They are great.

My personal favourites (quite a few):

Jim Stolze: The virtual happiness project
“Virtual Happiness” is a research project that aims to provide insights on the relationship between internet usage and happiness.
– Jim Stolze specializes in new thinking on digital communication.

Matt Hanson: Celebrating Collaborative Creativity
Matt Hanson, a filmmaker, working on the open-source movie project A Swarm of Angels

Panel Discussion: Celebrating Collaborative Creativity
In this fast paced session, several examples of collaborative creativity are under review- what processes and business models appear? What changes will occur in the movie, music, ppublishing and advertising industry?
Moderator: Laurent Haug, entrepreneur and co-founder Liftlab
– Matt Hanson, a filmaker, working on the open-source movie project A Swarm of Angels
– Ton Roosendaal, founder of Blender, an open-source, cross-platform suite of tools for 3D creation
– Katarina Skoberne is the co-founder and managing director of OpenAd.net, ‘The biggest Creative Department’
– Pim Betist, a music lover and founder of Sellaband, an audience supported business model for bands.
– Eileen Gittens, founder and CEO of Blurb, has built a creative publishing platform that makes it easy for anyone to design, publish, share and sell real bookstore-quality books

Ben Cerveny: Can you see what I know?
Artists, scientists and designers are exploring a new world of software aesthetics and developing new languages for interactive and visual expression. How can we make information intuitively meaningful?
– Ben Cerveny is a strategic and conceptual advisor to Stamen, specialists in creative visualization. He is highly regarded experience designer and conceptual strategist.

Stefan Agamanolis: Dueling with Distance
Based on his work at MIT and Distance Lab, Stefan Agamanolis reports on hot trends in communication and connectedness that are doing battle with distance in unexpected ways, ranging from sports games you play over a distance to telephones crossed with flotation tanks.
– Stefan Agamanolis is the Chief Executive and Research director of Distance Lab

Matt Jones: The Emerging Real-Time Social Web
Matt Jones is a creative director and user experience designer who worked a Sapient and the BBC before founding travel service Dopplr

Jyri Engestrom: The Emerging Real-Time Social Web
Jyri Engestrom is a social scientist as well as the founder of the Finnish mobile presence service Jaiku, which was acquired by Google in 2007; his subsequent move to Silicon Valley resulted in his renewed attention to social processes in new media platforms.

Conversation the Emerging Real-Time Social Web
With ubiquitous internet connections and a surge of connected mobile services, slices of reality can be saved that people could not capture before. Saving and sharing our presence, we can feel those of others as well. We are on the verge of a reality with ‘social peripheral vision’, in which ambient friendships flourish and life stories and life’s details are stored, shared and searchable.
– Matt Jones is a creative director and user experience designer who worked a Sapient and the BBC before founding travel service Dopplr
– Philip Rosedale is founder of the 3D online world Second Life and a pioneer in virtual worlds
– Addy Feuerstein is the co-founder and CEO of AllofMe, a service that allows you to create digital personal timelines form digital assests such as pictures, videos, and blogs.
– Jyri Engestrom is a social scientist as well as the founder of the Finnish mobile presence service Jaiku, which was acquired by Google in 2007

Younghee Jung: Design as a Collaborative process
New interactions develop into new design practices; new processes induce new forms of creativity. How can creators involve the peopele they want to create for in their work?
– Younghee Jung, a senior design manager at Nokia, shows how users are imagining new products.

Bill Moggridge: Design as a Collaborative Process
New interactions develop into new design practices; new processes induce new forms of creativity. How can creators invovle the people they want to create for in their work?
– Bill Moggridge is founder of IDEO, one of the most successful design firms in the world and of the first to integrate the design of software and hardware into the practice of industrial design.

Ethan Zuckerman: Surprising Africa
A presentation on vibrant and fast-moving tecnological and creative developments in cities and rural areas across Africa, from mobile naking to new communication patterns.
– Ethan Zuckerman, the co-founder of Global Voices, a research fellow at the Berkman Center, and a prodigious blogger interested in hte impact of technology on the developing world.

Conversation with Ethan Zuckerman, Helen Omwando and Binyavanga Wainaina: Surprising Africa
An update on vibrant and fast-moving technological and creative developments in cities and rural areas across Africa, from mobile banking to new communication patterns.
– Ethan Zuckerman, the co-founder of Global Voices, a research fellow at the Berkman Center, and a prodigious blogger interested in the impact of technology on the developing world
– Helen Omwando, head of market intelligence for Royal Philips Electronics
– Binyavanga Wainaina, Kenyan author and journalist

Clay Shirky: Here Comes Everybody
A revelatory examination of how the spread of new forms of social interaction enabled by technology is changing the way humans form groups and exict within them. Our age’s new technologies of social networking are evolving- and causing us to evolve into new groups doing new things in new ways.
– Clay Shirky is a leading Internet thinker, the author of Here Comes Everybody, and a sharp analyst of social media developments.

Wolfgang Wagener and Jared Blumenfeld: Eco Map
What can we do with an open source collaboration platform that enables citizens and business to see collective results of their actions?
– Wolfgang Wagener, Director, Sustainable Cities Connected Urban Development, CISCO and Jared Blumenfeld, Director, Department of the Environment, City and County of San Francisco

Euro Beinat: The Visible City
What if we could view an entire city from above, as if from an airplane – and see not only the buildings and squares but also all the human beings populating it, oudoors and indoors?
– Euro Beinat, professor of location awareness at Salzburg University, CEO if Geodan Mobile Solutions, and founder of the Senseable Future Foundation

Stan Williams: Tracking our World
CeNSE: The Central Nervous System for the Earth is based on the believe that nanotechnology has the potential to revolutionise human interaction with the Earth as profoundly as the Internet has revolutionised personal and business interaction.
– Stan Williams, HP senior fellow; director, HP Information and Quantum Systems Lab

Adam Greenfield: The Long Here, the Big Now, and other tales of the networked city
Future urban life will thrive on new modes of perception and experience, based on real-time data and feedback. What will the networked city feel like to its users? How will it transform our sense of the metropolitan?
– Adam Greenfield , head of design direction for Nokia and author of Everyware

Charles Leadbeater – We Think: The Power of Mass Creativity
The conflict between the rising surge of mass collaboration and the attempts to retain top-down control will be one of the defining battles of our time. An exploration of what this means for our culture, the way we work, government, science and business.
– Charles Leadbeater, thinker, famed policy advisor to former UK prime Minister Tony Blair, and author of We Think, a groundbreaking analysis of a changing world

Charles Leadbeater in conversation with Clay Shirky
The conflict between the rising surge of mass collaboration and the attempts to retain top-down control will be one of the defining battles of our time. An exploration of what this means for our culture, the way we work, government, science and business.
– Charles Leadbeater, thinker, famed policy advisor to former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, and author of We Think, a groundbreaking analysis of a changing world,
– Clay Shirky, leading Internet thinker

(via Laurent Haug)

29 January 2009

Pachube: connecting environments, patching the planet

Pachube
Pachube is a web service that enables you to connect, tag and share real time sensor data from objects, devices, buildings and environments around the world.

The key aim is to facilitate interaction between remote environments, both physical and virtual. Apart from enabling direct connections between any two environments, it can also be used to facilitate many-to-many connections: just like a physical “patch bay” (or telephone switchboard) Pachube enables any participating project to “plug-in” to any other participating project in real time so that, for example, buildings, interactive installations or blogs can “talk” and “respond” to each other.

Pachube is a little like YouTube, except that, rather than sharing videos, Pachube enables people to monitor and share real time environmental data from sensors that are connected to the internet. Pachube acts between environments, able both to capture input data (from remote sensors) and serve output data (to remote actuators). Connections can be made between any two environments, facilitating even spontaneous or previously unplanned connections. Apart from being used in physical environments, it also enables people to embed this data in web-pages, in effect to “blog” sensor data.

Tish Shute of Ugotrade has been conducting a lengthy interview with Pachube founder, Usman Haque, which just got published. The interview describes how Haque was influenced by Dutch architect Constant Nieuwenhuys and thinkers such as Adam Greenfield and Bruce Sterling, how Pachube was founded in response to current predicaments within the field of ubiquitous computing and how “an ethically driven business model [will] allow a diverse group of companies and individuals to transition to the internet of things”.

Sensor/actuator integrations are a part of what Pachube is about, and an interest in home automation and energy management is giving a lot of early momentum to Pachube.

But Usman makes clear Pachube is about “environments” rather than “sensors.” “An ‘environment’ has dynamic frames of reference, all of which are excluded when simply focusing on devices, objects or mere sensors”. A central part of Pachube is the development of the Extended Environments Markup Language. [...]

Pachube is here to make it easier to participate in what I expect to be a vast ‘eco-system’ of conversant devices, buildings & environments.

Pachube will facilitate the development of a huge range of new products and services that will arise from extreme connectivity. It’s relatively easy for large technology companies like Nike and Apple to transition into the Internet of Things, but Pachube will be particularly helpful for that huge portion of smaller scale industry players that *want* to become part of it, but which are only now waking up to the potentials of the internet — small and medium scale designers, manufacturers and developers who are very good at developing their products but don’t have the resources to develop in-house a massive infrastructure for their newly web-enabled offerings.

Basically, having built a generalized data-brokering backend to connect physical (and virtual) entities to the web, others can now start to build the applications that make the connections really useful.

And here is the phrase I think is most important of all:

“It’s relatively easy for large technology companies like Nike and Apple to transition into the Internet of Things, but Pachube will be particularly helpful for that huge portion of smaller scale industry players that *want* to become part of it, but which are only now waking up to the potentials of the internet — small and medium scale designers, manufacturers and developers who are very good at developing their products but don’t have the resources to develop in-house a massive infrastructure for their newly web-enabled offerings.”

Read full interview

(via Bruce Sterling)

9 December 2008

The Situated Technologies project

Too smart city
A year ago I wrote about Adam Greenfield’s pamphlet Urban computing and its discontents.

Adam’s pamphlet was the firsts in a nine-part series that aims to explore the implications of ubiquitous computing for architecture and urbanism: How are our experience of the city and the choices we make in it affected by mobile communications, pervasive media, ambient informatics, and other “situated” technologies? How will the ability to design increasingly responsive environments alter the ways we conceive of space? What do architects need to know about urban computing, and what do technologists need to know about cities? How are these issues themselves situated within larger social, cultural, environmental, and political concerns?

Two other pamphlets have been published meanwhile:

Urban Versioning System 1.0
by Matthew Fuller and Usman Haque
What lessons can architecture learn from software development, and more specifically, from the Free, Libre, and Open Source Software (FLOSS) movement? Written in the form of a quasi-license, Urban Versioning System 1.0 posits seven constraints that, if followed, will contribute to an open source urbanism that radically challenges the conventional ways in which cities are constructed.

Situated Advocacy
A special double issue featuring the essays “Community Wireless Networks as Situated Advocacy” by Laura Forlano and Dharma Dailey, and “Suspicious Images, Latent Interfaces” by Benjamin Bratton and Natalie Jeremijenko.

They are part of Situated Technologies, a project by Omar Khan, Trebor Scholz, and Mark Shepard, is a co-production of the Center for Virtual Architecture, The Institute for Distributed Creativity (iDC), and the Architectural League of New York.

The project also organised a symposium and is planning a major exhibition in September 2009.

Architecture and Situated Technologies was a 3-day symposium in October 2006 that brought together researchers and practitioners from art, architecture, technology and sociology to explore the emerging role of “situated” technologies in the design and inhabitation of the contemporary city.

Participants at the symposium featured Jonah Brucker-Cohen, Richard Coyne, Michael Fox, Karmen Franinovic, Anne Galloway, Charlie Gere, Usman Haque, Peter Hasdell, Natalie Jeremijenko, Sheila Kennedy, Eric Paulos, and Kazys Varnelis. Videos are available online.

Situated Technologies: Toward the Sentient City is a major exhibition, curated by Mark Shepard and organized by the Architectural League of New York, that will imagine alternative trajectories for how various mobile, embedded, networked, and distributed forms of media, information and communication systems might inform the architecture of urban space and/or influence our behavior within it. It will examine the broader social, cultural, environmental and political issues within which the development of urban ubiquitous/pervasive computing is itself situated.

The exhibition will combine a survey of recent work that explores a wide range of context-aware, location-based and otherwise “situated” technologies with a series of commissioned projects by multi-disciplinary teams of architects and artists, including:

  • Too Smart City by Joo Youn Paek (artist and interaction designer, artist in residence, LMCC) and David Jimison (founder Mobile Technologies Group, Georgia Tech and Honorary Fellow, Eyebeam)
  • BREAKOUT! Escape from the Office by Anthony Townsend (research director, Technology Horizons Program, Institute for the Future), Tony Bacigalupo (co-founder, CooperBricolage), Georgia Borden (associate director, DEGW), Dennis Crowley (founder dodgeball.com), Laura Forlano (Kauffman Fellow in Law, Information Society Project, Yale Law School), Sean Savage (co-founder, PariSoMa) and Dana Spiegel (executive director, NYCwireless)
  • Natural Fuse by Haque Design + Research (led by Usman Haque)
  • Trash Track by MIT’s SENSEable City Lab (led by Carlo Ratti)
  • Amphibious Architecture by David Benjamin and Soo-in Yang (architects and co-directors, Living Architecture Lab, Columbia University), and Natalie Jeremijenko (artist, director, xdesign Environmental Health Clinic, New York University)

(via Fabien Girardin)

1 October 2008

LIFT Asia 08 vides online

LIFT09
The first LIFT Asia 08 are online. My favourites:

Mobiles and the urban poor – Bruce Sterling

Bruce Sterling’s talk at LIFT Asia, about how the poor are moving to cities, using mobile technologies to access services like payment, was impressive.

But what made it simply brilliant was his discussion on how the future collapse of North Korea will present South Korea with a challenge of enormous proportions, and how mobile technology and mobile payment can be part of the solution:

“When you are working on cell phones, when you are working on the web, when you are working on electronic money and payment systems, you need to think: What if my user is a North-Korean? How would I do this differently if I knew my user was from Pyongyang, that his regime had collapsed, that his economy had collapsed, he was completely bewildered, and he had never seen a cell phone or a computer in his life, and I intended to make him a productive and happy fellow citizen in ten years, what kind of technology would I give that person, what kind of trading system, economic system?”

According to LIFT organiser Laurent Haug he moved a large part of the audience, leaving a strange silence in the room as they came out for the break.

The Long Here, the Big Now, and other tales of the networked city – Adam Greenfield

Adam Greenfield, head of design director at Nokia, talks about the emotional aspects of living in a networked city. What happens when the choices of action in the city are not only physical, but also influenced by an invisible overlay of networked information?

29 September 2008

Thoughts on the Euro Information Architecture Summit 2008

Euro IA Summit
Victor Lombardi was at the Euro IA Summit in Amsterdam, and reports on it on his blog Noise Between Stations.

The article reviews presentations by Adam Greenfield (Head of Design Direction, Nokia and keynote speaker), Ruud Ruissaard (Informaat), Chris Fahey (Behavior), Eric Reiss, James Kalbach (Lexis-Nexis), Joe Lamantia (Media Catalyst), Peter Van Dijck and John Ferrara, as well as Victor’s own.

29 September 2008

On re-posting negative articles

Speedbird
A few days ago, I reposted excerpts from a rather negative piece on Adam Greenfield.

Posting such articles is always a difficult call to make, and I am the first to admit that I don’t always make it right.

Putting People First is a blog with news about what is happening in the field, and is widely read therefore. It is also a blog run by someone who is part of the experience design community – rather than a neutral observer – and managed by an experience design company that depends on that community.

When reporting controversy, I have to make a judgement call on whether the controversy is intellectually valid or weak, and make a decision on whether to publish it or not. Usually I am able to make these decisions correctly – the 2,500 posts so far have led to very few complaints – but on a few occassions I did made mistakes.

Re-posting the negative Adam Greenfield review was such a mistake, as it was an intellectually weak piece, and didn’t do justice to Adam’s work.

Unfortunately once something is published, it is out there. So it doesn’t make sense now to remove the post. Hence this further reflection, which is also an apology to Adam.

Putting People First is and remains a work in progress, done largely in my free time. I can only ask to let me know – as Adam did – when you feel wronged by what is written, because that is the only way for me to improve this online resource.

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.

8 September 2008

Nokia presentations at LIFT 08

LIFT09
Two of the three Nokia presentations at the LIFT Asia conference are now online.

Raphael Grignani (Nokia Design, USA) talked about how Nokia Design addresses environmental and social issues including recycling, energy and making the benefits of mobile technology available to more people, as exemplified by the Homegrown project.
Presentation (with audio)

Jan Chipchase (Nokia, Japan) explains the trends that will shape the future social, when we will have to evolve new use-practices and put a greater emphasis on communicating our intended use to people in proximity.
Presentation

Now Adam Greenfield (Nokia Design, Finland) still.

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

25 August 2008

The song of context

Speedbird
Adam Greenfield has written a truly excellent post — in fact more like a short essay — on the difference between location and context, calling the first one positivist and the second one phenomenological.

“But it [the positivist tradition] stands in stark contrast to the phenomenological take on things, which is premised on the instability and subjectivity of the things we perceive, and on the irreducible importance of these perceptions as they register on the lived body, i.e. you, now, here, in your own skin, heir to your own history of experience. On the phenomenological side of the house, all of the grandeur resides in the act of interpretation – which is always somebody’s interpretation, crucially inflected by their situation. [...]

The phenomenological approach – and this is the worldview that stands, either explicitly or otherwise, behind the entire field subsuming design and user research and ethnography, at least as those things are practiced by the people I know – insists that the world in its richness cannot be reduced to datasets. Or not, anyway, without doing fatal damage to everything that truly matters.

But Dourish ["What We Talk About When We Talk About Context?", Paul Dourish, 2004] argues (persuasively, I think) that this is the wrong question. For him, this mysterious thing context is something that only be arrived at through interaction – “an achievement, rather than an observation; an outcome, rather than a premise.” It’s relational in the deepest sense of the word, a state of being that arises out of the shared performance and understanding of two or more parties (actors, agents, what have you).

And why do we want to characterize this state of being in the first place? “[T]o be able to use the context in order to discriminate or elaborate the meaning of the user’s activity.” That’s it.”

This is highly recommended reading. Thank you, Adam.

Read full story

24 August 2008

Draping the city in data and dodging augmented urban spam

Urban nerds
Russell Davies is concerned that “we’ll end up blundering into cities plastered with the equivalent of flash banners and microsites.”

“Technologists are busying themselves turning buildings into displays, or at least draping them with informatics (whether physically or via various forms of augmented reality.) It’s all really exciting, thoughtful, stuff with tons of thrilling prototypes and sketches, it reminds me of early webiness. Because, unless I’m missing something, there’s not a lot of sophisticated thinking about how this intersects with commerce, marketing and advertising. (And I’m very willing to believe I’m missing something, this is why this is a bit of a voyage of discovery. And I just noticed today that Adam Greenfield’s talking about it here.) The city is already festooned with persuasion, screens are already talking to phones and animating transport systems but it’s not being done by thoughtful UI experts it’s being done by poster contractors at the behest of advertising agencies.” [...]

“Is there some connection to the (admittedly unformed) notion of pre-experience design? How cool would it be if the data that’s draped around the city leaks back into communications, and if those communications helped to explain and contextualise that data.”

Read full story

(via AHOi)

24 August 2008

Cities are all about difficulty

Adam Greenfield
The PICNIC conference website has posted a short but intriguing interview with Adam Greenfield, Nokia’s new head of design direction. An excerpt about the urban experience, technology and solitude:

“You know, I believe that cities are all about difficulty. They’re about waiting: for the bus, for the light to change, for your order of Chinese take-out to be ready. They’re about frustration: about parking tickets, dogshit, potholes and noisy neighbors. They’re about the unavoidable physical and psychic proximity of other human beings competing for the same limited pool of resources….the fear of crime, and its actuality. These challenges have conditioned the experience of place for as long as we’ve gathered together in settlements large and dense enough to be called cities.

And as it happens, with our networked, ambient, pervasive informatic technology, we now have (or think we have) the means to address some of these frustrations. In economic terms, these technologies both lower the information costs people face in trying to make the right decisions, and lower the opportunity cost of having made them.

So you don’t head out to the bus stop until the bus stop tells you a bus is a minute away, and you don’t walk down the street where more than some threshold number of muggings happen – in fact, by default it doesn’t even show up on your maps – and you don’t eat at the restaurant whose forty-eight recent health code violations cause its name to flash red in your address book. And all these decisions are made possible because networked informatics have effectively rendered the obscure and the hidden transparent to inquiry. And there’s no doubt that life is thusly made just that little bit better.

But there’s a cost – there’s always a cost. Serendipity, solitude, anonymity, most of what we now recognize as the makings of urban savoir faire: it all goes by the wayside. And yes, we’re richer and safer and maybe even happier with the advent of the services and systems I’m so interested in, but by the same token we’re that much poorer for the loss of these intangibles. It’s a complicated trade-off, and I believe in most places it’s one we’re making without really examining what’s at stake”.

Read interview

Meanwhile Greenfield posted on his own blog about the difference between context-aware applications and location-based services.

Referring to the prototypes by designer Mac Funamizu, Greenfield writes:

“The device’s capabilities and available interface modalities at any given moment are largely if not entirely determined by the other networked objects around it. If you pair the device with a text, it’s a reader; at the checkstand, it provides a friendly POS interface; aimed at the skyline, it augments reality.

Why this argument is so self-evident to longterm IxD folks and so relatively hard for anyone else to grok is, I believe, a function of the fact that we already take for granted the (rather significant) assumption from which it proceeds: that the greater part of the places and things we find in the world will be provided with the ability to speak and account for themselves. That they’ll constitute a coherent environment, an ontome of self-describing networked objects, and that we’ll find having some means of handling the information flowing off of them very useful indeed. [...]

The second thing Mac got right is more subtle, and it’s a line about the evolution of mobile devices that I think is deeply correct. It’s that the device is of almost no importance in and of itself, that its importance to the person using it lies in the fact that it’s a convenient aperture to the open services available in the environment, locally as well as globally.

Mac happens to have interpreted this metaphor particularly literally, but there’s nothing wrong with that; it’s certainly a defensible choice. The business lesson that drops out of it, though – and of course I would think this – is that the crafting of an impeccable user experience is virtually the only differentiator left to a would-be player in this market, with clear implications for allocation of organizational effort and resources.”

Read full story (and clarification)

23 July 2008

In three years…

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

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

Here they are in alphabetical order:

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

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

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

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

Thanks to you all!

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

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

9 July 2008

Polite, pertinent and… pretty

Polite, pertinent and... pretty
Polite, pertinent and… pretty: designing for the new wave of personal informatics” was the title of a talk given by Matt Jones (Dopplr) and Tom Coates (Yahoo! Brickhouse) at the recent Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco.

Summarising their talk is not an easy thing to do, but I will give it a try. In any case the 81 slides with speaker notes are available on SlideShare.

Jones and Coates start from the premise that information is now becoming so pervasive, omni-present, localised and personalised that we can not only increase our awareness but also constantly use it to our advantage. These data come from big databases, but also from our own behaviours. Our own devices sense, record and sample data, and share these with other devices and with us and other people. They call this “personal informatics”. But this poses a huge user experience challenge, which requires a sophisticated design solution:

“The discipline of informatics is based on the recognition that the design of this technology is not solely a technical matter, but must focus on the relationship between the technology and the use in real-world settings.”

“That is, informatics designs solutions in context, and takes into account the social, cultural and organisational settings in which computing and information technology will be used.”

But what does that mean concretely? How should we design? Jones and Coates propose “three pegs to hang some thoughts off” and they all start with a P.

In defining the concept of politeness (to be thought of as the “softer ying to the hard yang of ‘privacy’), they lean on such thinkers as Adam Greenfield (and in particular his recent book “Everyware“), Mimi Ito, Leisa Reichelt, Matthew Chalmers, Anne Galloway and of course their own practice.

Pertinence is about “disclosing information that is timely and as ‘in context’ as possible”. To define this better, they refer to the ‘movement’ metaphor that Matt Webb of Schulze & Webb recently described in a talk. Webb posits that we are moving from a web of ‘places’ to “something more like a web of organisms or engines connecting and fuelling each other”.

So the issue here is to show small pieces of information in the right context at the right time, “delivered in increasingly pertinent ways, depending on our habits and contexts”.

And finally there is prettiness:

“The vast quantities of information that personal informatics generate need not only to be clear and understandable to create legibility and literacy in this new world, but I’d argue in this first wave also seductive, in order to encourage play, trial and adoption”.

So what is the future of personal informatics? Aren’t we creating our own “participatory panopticon” (Jamais Cascio)? Or are we moving to a world filled with “spimes” (Bruce Sterling)? At the moment it’s often artists who are exploring the boundaries of this unknown future.

In a long post, Alex Steffen of Worldchanging presents his own – excellent – summary of the Jones/Coates talk, but takes their analysis a step further by connecting it with sustainability and adding a fourth P (“Protection”):

“Ubiquity and sustainability could turbocharge each other. Ubiquity enables revealed backstories, observed flows and shared services, making it easier to live well at a minimum of expense and ecological impact. Sustainability, particularly in the form of compact urbanism with bright green innovation, concentrates human interactions with each other and networked systems, making it easier to suffuse daily life with the sort of intelligence that allows data to be gathered, shared and connected. The Net and the public square, as Castells wrote, are symbiants.” [...]

“PSS [product-service systems] offer enormous potential sustainability benefts. Indeed, I’d argue that it will be impossible to deliver sustainable prosperity without the widespread adoption of shared/sharing systems. But they can also have a real downside, for PSS rely on a more intimate connection with their users, and where that intimacy is not backed by protected relationships, real disaster can result.” [...]

“So, I would add a fourth P, “Protection.”

If we are going to interact with companies in intimate ways — in ways that impact our deepest life choices — those interactions ought not only to be held to a higher standard of transparency and public accountability; they ought to be safe-guarded in formal ways as well by having corporate decision-making structures that protect the user rights of the people involved.”

Steffen keeps on surprising me by the depth of his thinking.

4 July 2008

From ubiquitous technology to human context (videos)

UIA World Congress of Architecture
On Wednesday 2 July Nicolas Nova (LIFT lab) moderated a session at the World Congress of Architecture in Turin, Italy, entitled “From ubiquitous technology to human context – Technology applied to architecture and design: does it solve problems or create needs?”.

Speakers were Adam Greenfield (Head of Design Direction, Nokia), Jeffrey Huang (Director, Media and Design Laboratory, EPFL, Switzerland) and Younghee Jung (senior design manager, Nokia).

Videos: About ten minutes into the session, I realised that no provisions had been made by the organisers to videotape the presentations, so I started recording everything myself, from a small handheld Nokia N95. Obviously image quality is not so great but the sound is quite good. I uploaded everything on Google Video: Adam Greenfield, Jeffrey Huang and Younghee Jung.

Two apologies: first to Nicolas for not having taped his session too – as I said, I realised too late that the organisers were not doing it themselves – but luckily Nicolas has posted a summary and his slides on his own blog. The second apology goes to Younghee, whose presentation is only half recorded, because the N95 battery died.

The session unfortunately ended a bit in chaos. As it had started late, it also ran a bit over time and people from the next session started filling up the seminar room and at one point hackled the last speaker – Younghee Jung – to finish things up. A fragile Younghee – during her talk she shared a personal event with the audience that was very close to her emotionally – suddenly had to summarise 30 slides in 2 minutes and this is luckily not on video. Perhaps she can send us her presentation still.

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.