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.
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.
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.
“Is Adam Greenfield A Communist Or…?” is the provocative title of an article by Jeroen Elstgeest (interaction designer at Informaat) on InfoDesign, who reflects on Adam Greenfield‘s keynote at the coming EuroIA Summit in Amsterdam.
“Adam said people are pulling back from social interaction because of technology (e.g. iPods, cell phones, etc.) and he likes to counter that with yet more technology? It’s true, you can fight fire with fire, if you do it right. Done wrong the fire gets bigger. Is this the right way?”
“In a sense, that makes him a socialist. He believes in an utopia. And like Ben said: “An utopia for one (single group) isn’t the utopia for society as a whole”, unless you enforce it in some way. Or put into other words, you could design it! Call in the interaction designers, whose natural tendencies are towards controlling everything, the whole user experience. But Adam won’t allow that, because he already recognized that trait and tries to neutralize it with three simple words: ‘Underspecify, underspecify and underspecify.’”
Please note: The above article should be read in conjunction with this one.
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.
Now Adam Greenfield (Nokia Design, Finland) still.
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
“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.
“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.”
“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”.
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.”
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
More than 4000 participants have registered already. There are over 70 sessions with more than 360 speakers.
The topic chosen for the 2008 congress is “Transmitting Architecture“, or as the organisers say “the strength and ability architecture has of expressing and communicating values, feelings and diverse cultures through time.”
For Leopoldo Freyrie, General Speaker of the Torino 2008 UIA congress, this also indicates the desire and will to bring architecture out of a sort of isolation in which buildings and even gorgeous solutions are designed without any real connection to surrounding reality.
In fact during the press conference today Freyrie was quite adamant about the social and ethical role of the congress, which according to him had a duty to confront the major environmental, social, demographic, economic and migration challenges our planet is facing and that are often so concentrated in its urban environments.
The three days dedicated to the congress themes are planned to include the following contents:
- June 30th 2008, CULTURE, the project’s culture, talent and training, history and the Past, the transmission and protection of the architectural heritage, restoration.
- July 1st 2008, DEMOCRACY, the construction of an urban democracy in the Present, participation, the decision-making process, the territory’s transformation, communication and mediation.
- July 2nd 2008, HOPE, environmental sustainability and safeguard as ethical duty of architects, the search for a Future with a still inhabitable world, technological innovation.
One session will be of particular interest to readers of this blog: on 2 July Nicolas Nova (LIFT lab) will be moderator of a session entitled “From ubiquitous technology to human context – Technology applied to architecture and design: does it solve problems or create needs?”. Invited speakers are Adam Greenfield (Nokia), Jeffrey Huang (Media and Design Laboratory, EPFL, Switzerland) and Younghee Jung (Nokia).
A very nice gesture is the low-cost registration: 100 euros for professionals and 50 for students.
According to the BBC, “it is one of the predictions in a Microsoft-backed report drawn from the discussions of 45 academics from the fields of computing, science, sociology and psychology.”
It predicts fundamental changes in the field of so-called Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). By 2020 humans will increasingly interrogate machines, the report said. In turn computers will be able to anticipate what we want from them, which will require new rules about our relationship with machines.” [...]
Our “digital footprint” – the sharing of more and more aspects of our lives through digital photography, podcasting , blogging and video – is set to get bigger and this will raise key questions about how much information we should store about ourselves.
The ever-present network will channel mass market information directly to us while disseminating our own intimate information.
The report dubs this the era of so-called hyper-connectivity and predicts it will mean a growth in “techno-dependency”.
This ever more intimate relationship between humans and computers will be a double-edged sword, it suggests.
The report compares the widespread introduction of the calculator – widely blamed for a fall in the standard of mental arithmetic – with what may happen as computers become more intelligent and take on new responsibilities.
“Without proper consideration and control it is possible that we – both individually and collectively – may no longer be in control of ourselves or the world around us,” the report warns.
Read full story
(The video is not too impressive though, as all examples are technology-driven rather than people-driven).
The report the BBC refers to are the proceedings of HCI 2020, a forum organised by Microsoft Research, that brought together leading lights in computing, design, philosophy of science, sociology, anthropology and psychology to debate, contribute to, and help formulate the agenda for Human Computer Interaction (HCI) in the next decade and beyond. It can be downloaded here (pdf, 3 mb, 100 pages).
Moving into the 21st century, there are murmurings in the research and design communities signalling the need for a change: a change that puts more emphasis on placing users –people—front and centre in that agenda; a change that is less about pervasive, “smart” computing and more about technology that enables and recognizes human values.
This new agenda raises all kinds of key questions: What is the role of technology in the 21st century, or what would we like it to be? How as researchers, designers and practitioners should we orient to this role? What are the key questions for Human-Computer Interaction as we move forward? What are the new paradigms and research agendas that emerge as a result? What are the human values we are designing for, and what does this mean for the evaluation of technology?
Speakers at this invitation-only event that took place in Seville, Spain, were Barry Brown (Glasgow University), Matthew Chalmers (University of Glasgow), Thomas Erickson (IBM, T.J Watson Research Centre), David Frohlich (Digital World Research Centre), Bill Gaver (Goldsmiths College), Adam Greenfield (New York University, Interactive Telecommunication Program), Lars Erik Holmquist (Swedish Institute of Computer Science), Kristina Höök (Stockholm University), Steve Howard (Melbourne University), Scott Jenson (Google), Matt Jones (Swansea University), Sergi Jorda (University of Barcelona), Rui José (University of Minho), Joseph Kaye (Cornell University), Wendy Kellogg (IBM, T.J Watson Research Centre), Boriana Koleva (University of Nottingham), Steven Kyffin (Philips), Paul Luff (Kings College), Gary Marsden (University of Cape Town), Tom Moher (University of Illinois), Kenton O’Hara (HP Labs), Jun Rekimoto (Sony, Interaction Lab), Tom Rodden (University of Nottingham), Yvonne Rogers (Open University), Mark Rouncefield (Lancaster University), Wes Sharrock (University of Manchester), John Thomas (IBM, T.J Watson Research Centre), Michael Twidale (University of Illinois), Alessandro Valli (iO), Geoff Walsham (Judge Business School, University of Cambridge), Steve Whittaker (Sheffield University), Adrian Woolard (BBC Future Media & Technology), Peter Wright (Sheffield Hallam University), and Oren Zuckerman (MIT), as well as Christopher Bishop, A.J. Brush, Jonathan Grudin, Richard Harper, Andrew Herbert, Shahram Izadi, Abigail Sellen, Alex Taylor, Jian Wang, and Ken Wood of Microsoft Research.
On the website of Microsoft Research Cambridge you can read a really good interview with Richard Harper, the conference organiser. Here are a few quotes:
About the conference: “We were surprised how both excited and apprehensive participants were about the prospects of designing for human values. That’s good and bad news. It means the burden of doing things well and properly is greater than it used to be. But part of the problem we have in designing for values is that we need to make our preferences and values clearer, and in some cases, differences between values are not clear-cut and can’t necessarily be objectively ascertained. Sometimes, there are profound differences in peoples’ values, and both sides have good reasons for those differences. As we move forward in HCI research, accounting for differences of opinion and differences of desire requires bigger shoulders for the researchers to lift the arguments—and the design possibilities—all the way to solutions.”
About developing technology: “For many years, technology has been developed, and then society shapes it and polishes it. Now, society’s hopes and goals and people need to be involved in the process of developing technology from the outset, because it makes a big difference to what the technologies end up becoming. There’s no longer a line between technology and invention and development and society, no longer a line between what the technology might do and what the user can do. What human endeavor might be and what social endeavor might be must be considered from the very bottom of the firmware in devices and in the infrastructures that link different devices right through to the GUI on the outside.”
(also via Adam Greenfield)
They have an interesting programme, with some speakers I really like. They are called “Relatori” on their English website, which non-Italians should obviously know means “Speakers”. A small detail, of course, because they got names like Peter Eisenman, Massimiliano Fuksas, Adam Greenfield, Jeffrey Huang, Nicolas Nova, Dominique Perrault, Renzo Piano, and Hani Rashid. To name just a few.
Registration is cheap. 100 euro. So I want to go. But then the trouble starts.
First you go to the website where any button “Registration” is missing. OK, you find out that it’s actually called “Participation”.
Then you have to create a personal account. Of course, I completely forgot that I had done this months ago to receive a newsletter. So I got an Italian language error message – on the English site of an international event – when I entered my normal email address.
Next step: a whole bunch of personal information. To enter your company name however, you have to hit a radio button which I of course missed. So I entered my information as an individual, and clicked “Update data”, which didn’t do much more than refresh the screen with the data I just entered.
Hmmm. What now? The left side menu has 16 clickable menu options. I click the most obvious one: “Registration and Payment”.
Wrong, of course. I arrive at a huge screen with lots of information. None of which I need.
At the bottom of that screen: “Go to subscription”. I click that.
New screen: “Add partecipants” (That’s the spelling!).
But I registered as an individual! Not as a company. I just added all my individual information and don’t want to add another “partecipant”.
This is clearly not a good choice. Next one up: “Your registered members”. Interesting! I am curious what the membership of an individual might mean. But I have no choice. So I click that.
Now the system says that I have no registered members. Strange: I just registered!
Maybe it’s a good thing. I don’t want “members” of myself anyhow. I just want to register. Please let me pay my 100 euros.
So I click on “Proceed to payment”.
Back to the huge screen with lots of information that I don’t need.
This is getting terribly irritating.
I guess the system requires me to be a “registered member” of myself. So now I have to register even more personal data, such as my identity card or passport number. I also need to select a country (not sure which one: country of citizenship or country where I live). I choose Italy. Now I also need to select which “Professional bodies of architect” (sic) I am from. It’s obligatory. But what comes up is a bit baffling: a list of Italian provinces and the word “Nessuno” which I know to mean “None”. Good luck, German or American! Perhaps, I was just stupid enough to list Italy as my country of residence.
Once I have done gone through all of that (remember that I registered as an individual), the system asks me again to “add partecipants”. Yes, I know: the spelling. I don’t want to “add partecipants” anyhow.
By now, I figured out that this stupid system requires me again to click on “Registered members” in the left menu, and discover that I am now a registered member of myself.
But how can I pay? It’s baffling. I managed to figure it out this afternoon — after 20 minutes of deep frustration. Now I tried again in order to write this post, using a different email address, but for the life of me, I can’t find the solution anymore. I CAN’T PAY. I have no clue at all anymore on how to do it.
The procedure I managed to find this afternoon has disappeared. I remembered that I somehow found a check box next to my name, which was the key to get into the actual payment system, but that’s gone now.
Guys, this is hopeless. How can you manage an international congress this way? And an interesting one at that! Your registration process is horrible. HORRIBLE! No wonder you have so few registrations. YOU HAVE TO FIX THIS IMMEDIATELY!!!
In short, I am more than just a little angry.
(And can someone now remove my duplicate pre-registration, so that I don’t get all your emails twice?).
Says Greenfield: ” I’ll be working on some terribly exciting and important problems, with people for whom I have a tremendous amount of admiration (and in many cases personal fondness of long standing), in a context where our efforts together might actually make a difference.”
“Palpable computing”, a term coined by Morten Kyng, a researcher at the University of Aarhus in Denmark, refers to pervasive computer technology that is also tangible and comprehensible to its users.
Ubiquitous computing, in the traditional sense, is based on the vision of making the computers invisible, Kyng suggests. “The problem is that when the technology is invisible you can’t see what it is doing, how it functions or comprehend it.”
By making the technology visible when it needs to be and comprehensible all the time, palpable computing reduces the complications of using the technology, while opening the door to developers creating new applications more easily.
The vision of ubiquitous computing has focused on tools honed through use over time and well suited to what they are designed to do, comments Kyng. “The problems arise when you want or need to do something new or different from what the designers intended: the user is not really in control,” he adds.
“The City Is Here For You To Use takes everything explored in Everyware as a given, and a point of departure. It assumes that emergent technologies like RFID, mesh networking and shape-memory actuators – all of which are explained for the non-technically-inclined reader – will simply be part of how cities will be made from now on, and seeks to understand what impact they’re likely to have on metropolitan form and experience.
You can think of it as a substantially expanded investigation into many of the themes and concerns raised in our pamphlet Urban Computing and its Discontents, notably:
- How will our understanding of the city change when touchless payment infrastructures, “intelligent” access-control systems and dynamic advertisements are the stuff of everyday urban life?
- How might we use these new technologies to create liveable, humane, sustainable and vibrant places?
- Will we be able to do so while managing the inevitable new orders of frustration and inconvenience they’ll occasion – to say nothing of their unsettling, inherent potential for panoptical surveillance and regulation?
Through interviews, case studies, analysis and illustration, The City Is Here makes the case that these technologies can help us rediscover public space, then suggests how we might use them to reclaim that space as a common good and a resource for all.
Threading between kneejerk Luddism and blithe techno-utopianism, and forgoing all but the necessary minimum of technical jargon, I intend The City Is Here For You To Use to be an eminently accessible overview of a subject with implications for literally anyone who lives in the cities of the developed world, or plans to. I can promise that architects, designers, urban planners, and anyone interested more generally in understanding how the emergence of ubiquitous and ambient informatics will shape urban communities, physically and experientially, will find plenty to sink their teeth into.”
The book will be offered both as a premium, professionally printed and bound book, and as a free downloadable version in PDF, available concurrently, probably at the very beginning of 2009.
Adam Greenfield is the author of Everyware: The dawning age of ubiquitous computing. He is principal of New York City-based, strategic design consultancy Studies and Observation.