“A product is actually a service. Although the designer, manufacturer, distributer, and seller may think it is a product, to the buyer, it offers a valuable service. The easiest example is the automatic teller machine (ATM), or as many people think of it, a cash dispenser. To the company that manufactures it as well as to the bank that purchases it, the ATM is a product. But to the customer, the ATM provides a service. In similar fashion, although a camera is thought of as a product, its real value is the service it offers to its owner: Cameras provide memories. Similarly, music players provide a service: the enjoyment of listening. Cell phones offer communication, interaction, and other pleasures.
In reality a product is all about the experience. It is about discovery, purchase, anticipation, opening the package, the very first usage. It is also about continued usage, learning, the need for assistance, updating, maintenance, supplies, and eventual renewal in the form of disposal or exchange.”
From idea to experience – the founding of a company
We begin the story at Interaction Design Institute Ivrea, where both Mark Vanderbeeken and Jan-Christoph Zoels were working, Mark as Communications Manager and Jan-Christoph as Senior Associate Professor. Based in Italy, the two friends were busy strategising about building an experience design consultancy, which could compete with leading design agencies in Europe.
At that time Michele Visciola was working as an international usability expert, teaching at Milan Polytechnic and collaborating with Pierpaolo Perotto of Finsa Consulting. He had previously founded an Italian usability company that was bought by a major software company, and now wanted to start an international company.
In April 2003, Michele co-organised a conference on the semantic web at the Interaction Design Institute. Speaking with Mark, he talked about his ambition to found a company; the story began to take on a shape of its own. Before long, Mark had introduced Michele to Jan-Christoph, and they had met up with Pierpaolo. With a gestation period of two years, including meetings in Rome, Milan, Turin and the Ivrea countryside, the idea of an experience design company was developed. In the spring of 2005 the four met for a one and a half day conference, and brainstormed on the philosophy, concepts and strategies that would underlie the business. Michele came up with the name, with inspiration striking him in the train station of Milano Centrale on the way back from a business meeting!
After finding the name, the next important step was securing the right website address. Experientia.com was owned by BuyDomains, a domain name trader, and was for sale at a cost of US $2800. Pierpaolo dictated his personal credit card details over the phone to Mark, in order to quickly buy the domain name – the first official Experientia transaction!
On the 21st July 2005, at the offices of their notary, Experientia was officially born.
The early days
The first challenge was to find a home for the company. The partners soon moved into the fourth floor of Via Cesare Battisti 15, overlooking the charming piazza Carlo Alberto in the heart of historical Turin. Within a year, they found that they had outgrown the space, and began looking for new, more spacious offices. The search took them all over Turin, including an eerie 17th-century building which housed the ex-offices of the Inquisition! Finally the search led them in a full circle, when the partners noticed a sign for the current office space on the second floor of the same building. In March 2007 they moved into the new offices, without even needing to change the business cards!
All over the world
The Experientia staff have always had an international flavour, with current team members coming from as far away as Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Germany, Israel, Japan, Korea and the USA just to name a few. The staff, just like the clients, were originally sourced from the partners’ wide networks, built over twenty years of professional experience each.
The atmosphere at Experientia is open and collaborative, with a horizontal structure, and a hands-on approach from the partners, who choose to be strongly involved in the projects. The partners each bring a different area of expertise to the mix, as do the staff, with experts in strategy, design, usability and communications.
The client roster now boasts an impressive list of new and past clients, including some of the biggest names in telecommunications, technology and fashion, from all over the world. The Experientia reputation has grown over the years through word of mouth, based on innovative processes, creative solutions and high quality deliverables This is also due to the active communications and outreach strategy of the partners, which includes the highly successful blog Putting People First, presentations at conferences and workshops, and articles in such well-known industry journals as Interactions Magazine.
To the next four years… and many more
As Experientia continues to grow, the team strives to bring user research and design together, and to communicate the message that companies and public services must start putting people first. The vision for the future includes continued growth, despite the economic slowdown, with the possible setting-up of business units that deal with specific areas, such as health care, or public governance, and regional offices. Part of this expansion will be a greater emphasis on service design, experience prototyping, the integration between international usability and design, and the development of design strategies.
The last four years have been an unforgettable experience for all involved, positioning Experientia for exciting opportunities in the years ahead.
Adaptive Path (USA), Alcatel-Lucent (France, Spain), Area Association (Italy) with project site DiTo, Arits Consulting (Belgium), Arup (UK), AVIS (Italy), Barclays (Italy, UK), Blyk (Finland, UK), Casa.it (Italy), Cittadellarte (Italy), City of Genk (Belgium), Condé Nast (Italy) with project site Style.it, Conifer Research (USA), CSI-Piemonte (Italy), CVS-Pharmacy (USA), Dada.it (Italy), Design Flanders (Belgium), Deutsche Telekom (Germany), Expedia (UK), Facem Tre Spade (Italy), Fidelity International (UK), Finmeccanica (Italy), Flanders in Shape (Belgium), Foviance (Italy), Fujitsu-Siemens (Germany), Haier (China), Hewlett Packard (India), Idean (Finland), IEDC-Bled School of Management (Slovenia), IKS-Core Consulting (Italy), Istud Foundation (Italy), Keep Sight (USA), Kodak (USA), LAit (Italy), Last Minute (UK), La Voce di Romagna (Italy), Max Mara (Italy), Media & Design Academy (Belgium), Microsoft (USA), Motorola (USA), MPG Ferrero (Italy), Nokia (Denmark, Finland, France), Red Hat (USA), Research in Motion (Canada), Samsung (Italy, Korea, UK), Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo (Italy), Swisscom (Switzerland), Syneo (Italy), Tandem Seven (USA), Techno System S.p.A (Italy), Thomson CompuMark (USA), Torino 2008 World Design Capital (Italy), Usability Professionals’ Association (Italy), Vodafone (Germany, Italy, UK), and Whirlpool (UK).
A recommended read.
“User centric design ought to be oriented to the framing of experience, and in social media particularly, common and shared frames of experience. Also common frames of reference, frames of communication, recognizable frames of action (games, rituals, pastimes etc), and temporal frames (routines and episodes).
Are we losing our frames? In terms of the user experience, is his or her experience running away from us? Can we no longer anticipate the user’s experience, due in part to the level of interconnectedness among social media? Can we no longer assess the user’s experience, due in part to the increased ambiguity surrounding his or her use of (our) applications and services? Can we no longer manage the user experience, insofar as there is now a high level of arbitrariness in the information selected, actions acted, communications created and sent, among users of social media?
If the user experience escapes us, if it is not possible to anticipate uses, to design and forward use cases, to define and order user interests, goals, and use benefits — what can we know of how social media will be used? Not knowing how they will be used, how can we anticipate consequences well enough to design for them?”
Editorial: Interactions: Time, Culture, and Behavior
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
“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
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?
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
“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.
“We have entered an unimagined culture. In this world of search engines and cross-links, of keywords and networks, the solid smokestacks of yesterday’s disciplines have blown out. Instead of being armored in technique, or sheltered within subculture, design and science fiction have become like two silk balloons, two frail, polymorphic pockets of hot air, floating in a generally tainted cultural atmosphere.”
Thank you Bruce.
Genius design may well work for something that will be built—whether software, hardware, furniture, an environment, or any other tangible form our design might take. But how well does it work when we design for less tangible experiences? If there is nothing that can be seen, touched, or used that clearly embodies the whim of the designer, how does the role of the designer change?
The (relatively) recently developed practice of service design seeks to address exactly these types of problems, concerning itself with applying the thinking learned from crafting well-considered, tangible experiences to those that do not terminate in a single product at a single moment in time, such as our experience of interacting with our cell phone provider, using our bank account, or when we visit a hospital.
Formerly a designer at live|work, Ben has been active in evangelizing service design in the United States, speaking at the Berkeley iSchool and Adaptive Path, facilitating workshops and recording a podcast with Jennifer Bove.
(via Design for Service)
Beyond the engineers and business’ discourse about the future, what is it designers can propose? What sort of alternatives are they envisioning? What’s the role of design thinking in creating more meaningful futures?
With Fabio Sergio, James Auger and Anab Jain and open stage talks by Fabian Kalker and Felix Koch, and Bill Thompson.
Note: this post contains embedded video which might now not show up in your rss feed.
(Note that the above video is actually in English, and not in French, and that it doesn’t always load).
At LIFT he presented a designing for social impact project: Masiluleke (which means “lend a helping hand” in Zulu), a breakthrough approach to reversing HIV and TB in South Africa and beyond.
Frog was asked to conduct a project on this in New York and Sergio is simply relaying the project approach and results (he didn’t work on it himself).
Based on on-the-ground research, it became clear to t he designers that HIV is primarily a problem of information and social stigma in South Africa.
The methodology used was the normal Frog one of shaping the user experience, which goes from immersion, to synthesis, to concept development, and to service design.
In South Africa more than 80% of the population has access to a mobile device. So one of the key ideas of the Masiluleke project is to broadcast sms in the unused space of the “Please Call Me” (PCM) text messages (a special, free form of SMS text widely used in South Africa and across the African continent). These messages can connect mobile users to existing HIV and TB call centres, and remind patients to take theirs drugs.
But the project also wanted to facilitate local testing, so they created a low cost in-home self-test kit with mobile support, that was conceived for easy local production and assembly.
Design, says Sergio, is “how it works” not “how it looks”. When we talk about design as a future shaping discipline, you have to understand people and their behaviour. We don’t call this testing, but verification, as testing implies standing out of the activity.
The secret ingredient to it all is empathy. People-centred design goes beyond usage or consumption. It is also about culture and seeing people how people react to things within their culture.
Technology in this context is just a material to sketch with.
James Auger is a partner in the critical design practice Auger-Loizeau whose projects explore the role of technology as a mediator and modifier of the human experience in both contemporary and future societies. He teaches on the Design Interactions course at the Royal College of Art in London and is currently undertaking a design practice based PhD looking into the role of robots in the home environment.
James talks about another way of approaching design. Some call it critical design, others discursive or speculative design. By removing the commercial content, we are free to dream and to see things in a slightly different way than they are done at the moment.
The mibEC was an audio tooth implant that looked at the ramifications of biotechnology. This implant, which was positioned as a real product, could be inserted during normal dental surgery and would give you superhuman capabilities. It gathered a huge amount of press attention and was voted as best invention of 2002 by Time Magazine (who never talked to James).
At Medialab Europe, Auger-Loizeau critiqued our immersive use of mobile technology, and created the IsoPhone, an immersive environment for deep social conversation. The 40 to 50 people that tried it at Ars Electronica all said it really changed the way they thought about telecommunications.
Now they are working on a new provocative, discussion-generating project: the carnivorous domestic entertainment robots, that explore the idea of evolution, value and aesthetics.
All these robots are based on microbial fuel cells, which turns organic matter into electrical potential.
What kind of services exist in real life environments that do that that could inspire our designs? Many people own a vivarium, where they feed real life animals to other animals.
James and Jimmy (Loizeau) developed a series of prototypes taking this idea to the extreme, such as the Flypaper Robotic Clock, the Lampshade Robot, the Fly Stealing Robot, the UV Flykiller Parasite Robot, and the Coffee Table Mousetrap Robot.
Anab Jain (blog | website) is an independent designer and film maker. She likes to tell speculative stories of possible near futures at the intersection of the technological and sociological. She also likes to make these stories tangible by using design objects as props and narratives. Most of all, she likes to play with tomorrow by engaging with people in every possible way. Until recently she was design lead on a project at Microsoft Research Cambridge, which attempted to rethink notions of machine intelligence by developing product and service scenarios around biotechnology and RFID. Currently she works as a service and interaction designer at Nokia Design in London, while developing her emerging design practice ‘Superflux’.
Anab Jain’s talk, entitled “Learning to play with Tomorrow“, was according to me (together with Bill Thompson – see below), one of the best of this conference.
She talked about design futurescaping, which is using design methods like storytelling, experience prototyping, making scenarios tangible, and talking to people on a daily basis, to influence how our near future will turn out.
Anab started off with referring to some historic examples of designers for whom the process of sketching has been hugely influential in their thinking, and allowed them (and us) to think outside of the box.
Two projects Anab worked on in the recent past illustrate this new way of thinking.
“The future of work“, a project for Colebrook, Bosson & Saunders, a product design and office furniture company, explored the nomadic nature of work in contemporary life. The client wanted an open-ended project, that created new ways of thinking about the future of work, and opened up new spaces for product innovation. They were particularly interested in the home worker, the nomadic worker and the office worker, and in the demographic of the elderly worker.
Anab decided that the best way to find out what this future would be was to put these people in the future, and she created personas which she projected fifteen years into the future. She invented new jobs for them and placed them in a fictional space, which she called Little Brinkland. By having a new job, they needed new work places, new products and new services, which Anab chronicled about. Many practical service ideas and scenarios came out of this project.
The other project she talked about was loosely titled “Rethinking machine intelligence” (a.k.a. Life and Death in Energy Autonomous Devices and Objects Incognito), a project done in collaboration with Alex Taylor at Microsoft Research in Cambridge.
The group at Microsoft Research that Anab Jain was part of was quite critical of smart homes of the future, simply because the way intelligent machines work may change drastically. Their concept was that the everyday ideas of intelligence are not fixed, but are active in the world. Anab designed a small number of interventions that can show how material things are imbued with intelligence. Perhaps we can even start thinking of new objects and new kinds of computing machines.
To explore better what intelligence means, she designed four objects, the Gubbins, that are mini single-track robots. They are storytelling devices that can be situated through scenarios in people’s everyday lives, and are meant to get people think about ‘smart objects’ in the home.
One of the ideas that came out of the research is that people associate intelligence with living things. This brought up the question how to embed this quality of life, of biological “livingness”, in everyday objects.
So they created the Eco Board, which is an autonomously powered robot, which powers itself. This was then further iterated in objects that are made of sugared and powered things in our homes, but had a fixed lifespan, and in a big radio that can live forever as long as you feed it.
Open stage talk: Fabian Kalker and Felix Koch
In five minutes Felix and Fabian went through their wittily called presentation “Who has no knife may not eat pineapples. An off-topic tour d’horizon on the literacy of cutting“, and shared their insights about cutting-culture ( and the most memorable/painful experiences acquiring it ).
This pure and simple user experience presentation was for many in the audience one of their favourites. A must to see on video.
Open stage talk: Bill Thompson
Bill Thompson is a UK technology critic and commentator and his talk, entitled The death of privacy and why we should welcome it., was just marvellous, bringing together philosophical concepts with the mundane tasks of dealing with privacy on Twitter, in a series of thought-provoking questions.
The enlightenment idea of privacy is breaking apart under the strain of new technologies, new social tools, new practices, new ways of seeing things.
Bill thinks that instead of worrying about it, we should embrace it as an opportunity to rethink what we understand by ‘personality’, and perhaps even to find new ways of being human.
how we engage and interact with others and where the boundaries can be put between the public and private, because those of us who live our lives in the open are the avant-garde: we can take on those who believe in the old truths, and we can a find way to live in the new world.
Every Twitterer, Tumblr, Dopplr or Brightkite user at Lift is sharing more data with more people than even the FBI under Hoover or the Stasi at the height of its powers could have dreamed of. And you are doing it voluntarily, willingly, because you are hoping to benefit in a variety of ways. You believe that this unwarranted disclosure will in the end produce some public good, or even some private benefit.
Those of us who are ahead of the curve when it comes to the adoption and use of technologies that undermine the old model of privacy, should start thinking about what it means.
We can offer advice and support to those who might be less happy to have their movements, eating habits, friendships and patterns of media consumption tracked and made available to all.
We can begin to explore what it might be like to be a post-private human, or perhaps a human in recovery from the stultifying burden of privacy.
Bill Thompson is telling the “great God Google” everything about himself, and has no expectation that that data is or will remain private.
The reason he objects to the encroachment of the database state is because he is aware of the power that the asymetrical relationship gives the state at the moment.
Yet to some extent the power only exists because we believe there is a border between public and private. But this only matters if we believe in the individuals, if we believe in people that have behaviours, characteristics and personalities instead of accepting that each one of us is simply a contingent set of responses to stimuli, that we are defined by the people and situations around us.
The idea of the monolithic personality is in fact a mistake. We do not exist in the sense that we think we exist, and therefore we do not require privacy in the sense that we currently think about it. It is a necessary illusion.
We have a legal framework that is based on assumptions of individuality, existence and personality, that encourages us to draw lines. Bill Thomson is not sure those lines should be drawn any more.
We need to think about it again. The technologies we have around us now are challenging the enlightenment way of thinking, and what it means to be a human being at all. We have the option now of taking the big risk of living life in the open, and to embrace it. Privacy is over already.
This will not work for everyone. Some will suffer. That may be the price we have to pay for finding a new enlightenment, a digital enlightenment, that is far more powerful and important even than the first enlightenment was. But in order to do we have to get over the idea of privacy.
Here are some of the treasures:
The Counterfeit You
If safeguarding our strings of numerical identifiers is important, what is the value of managing our online identities-the information, stories, and images that portray us, on the Web?
On trusting your socks to find each other
As I think about whether I would or would not trust my semi-sentient socks, I realize that, for me, the cloud on the horizon of this dream world of sentient (or at least semi-sentient) objects is trust in all its forms.
Identity theft and the challenges of caring for your virtual self
The full text of this article isn’t yet available online, but will be soon.
Interacting with advertising
As we are supposedly increasingly enlightened and empowered as consumers, where do we draw the line with what advertisers are allowed to do?
The magazine also contains a number of feature stories – by such writers as Ben Fullerton; Kraig Finstad, Wei Xu, Shibani Kapoor, Sri Canakapalli and John Gladding; Molly Steenson; Colleen Murphy; Brad S. Minnery, Michael S. Fine; and Experientia partner Mark Vanderbeeken — but they are not yet available online.
Luckily there is the Donald Norman column “Memory Is more important than actuality“, which is fully online and deals with the psychological reasons that makes us want to repeat and recommend experiences, even though they were not all good, and what that implies for design.
Here is a short and personal selection:
What is interaction? Are there different types?
Written for Interactions magazine by Hugh Dubberly, Usman Haque and Paul Pangaro – 1 Jan 2009
When we discuss computer-human interaction and design for interaction, do we agree on the meaning of the term “interaction”? Has the subject been fully explored? Is the definition settled?
An evolving map of design practice and design research
Written for Interactions magazine by Liz Sanders. Edited by Hugh Dubberly – 1 November 2008
Design research is in a state of flux. The design research landscape has been the focus of a tremendous amount of exploration and growth over the past five to 10 years. It is currently a jumble of approaches that, while competing as well as complementary, nonetheless share a common goal: to drive, inspire, and inform the design development process.
Design in the age of biology: shifting from a mechanical-object ethos to an organic-systems ethos
Written for Interactions magazine by Hugh Dubberly – 1 September 2008
In the early twentieth century, our understanding of physics changed rapidly; now, our understanding of biology is undergoing a similar rapid change. [...] Recent breakthroughs in biology are largely about information—understanding how organisms encode it, store, reproduce, transmit, and express it—mapping genomes, editing DNA sequences, mapping cell-signaling pathways. [...[ Already we can see the process beginning. Where once we described computers as mechanical minds, increasingly we describe computer networks with more biological terms—bugs, viruses, attacks, communities, social capital, trust, identity.
The experience cycle
Written for Interactions magazine by Hugh Dubberly and Shelley Evenson - 1 May 2008
In this article, we contrast the “sales cycle” and related models with the “experience cycle” model. The sales cycle model is a traditional tool in business. The sales cycle frames the producer-customer relationship from the producer’s point of view and aims to funnel potential customers to a transaction. The experience cycle is a new tool, synthesizing and giving form to a broader, more holistic approach being taken by growing numbers of designers, brand experts, and marketers. The experience cycle frames the producer-customer relationship from the customer’s point of view and aims to move well beyond a single transaction to establish a relationship between producer and customer and foster an on-going conversation.
The analysis-synthesis bridge model
Written for Interactions magazine by Hugh Dubberly, Shelley Evenson, and Rick Robinson - 1 March 2008
The simplest way to describe the design process is to divide it into two phases: analysis and synthesis. Or preparation and inspiration. But those descriptions miss a crucial element—the connection between the two, the active move from one state to another, the transition or transformation that is at the heart of designing. How do designers move from analysis to synthesis? From problem to solution? From current situation to preferred future? From research to concept? From constituent needs to proposed response? From context to form?
Cybernetics and service-craft: language for behavior-focused design
Written for Kybernetes by Hugh Dubberly and Paul Pangaro - 19 January 2007
Argues [that] design practice has moved from hand-craft to service-craft and that service-craft exemplifies a growing focus on systems within design practice. Proposes cybernetics as a source for practical frameworks that enable understanding of dynamic systems, including specific interactions, larger systems of service, and the activity of design itself. Shows [that] development of first- and second-generation design methods parallels development of first- and second-generation cybernetics, particularly in placing design within the political realm and viewing definition of systems as constructed. Proposes cybernetics as a component of a broad design education.
What big ideas will matter most? What technologies and applications will enable to most disruptive changes? How can our communications and interactions have the most positive impact? Where are the best opportunities for inventors and entrepreneurs? What does it mean? Where are we headed next?
IdeasProject, a project of Nokia, brings together the most visionary and influential ‘big thinkers’ to contemplate exactly these questions, in a new kind of conversation platform aimed at uncovering not only the big ideas that matter most to the future of communications, but also the connections these disruptive ideas. The conversation contemplates what technologies, applications and themes will most change out culture and communications — and shows us the ideas, the people, and how their ideas are connected – sometimes in the most surprising ways.
This site makes the best and most insightful contributions and connections from thinkers across the digital world available. Over time, we plan to add more content and contributors, as well as build in more capabilities to enable a deeper level of participation site visitors.
People featured are Chris Anderson (editor, Wired Magazine), Yochai Benkler (professor, Harvard University), Ron Conway (special partner, Baseline Ventures), Peter Diamandis (chairman & CEO, XPRIZE Foundation), Esther Dyson (chairman, EDventure Holdings), Dewayne Hendricks (CEO, Tetherless), Carl Hewitt (associate professor, MIT), David Hornik (partner, August Capital), Ari Jaaksi (VP of Maemo software, Nokia), Loic Le Meur (CEO, Seesmic), Jerry Michalski (consultant, Sociate), Leonard Shustek (chairman, Computer History Museum), and Vernor Vinge (science fiction author).
You can also browse the site (which contains many links to external content)
- by theme: Business/Investing, Enabling Technologies, Deep Thoughts, New Applications, Impact, and Experience;
- by technology: Cloud Computing, DNA Sequencing, Entrepreneurial space initiatives, Global Brain, Internet Applications, Internet of Things, Localizers, Location-based services, Microprocessor Density, Mobile devices, Mobile video, Multi-core Microprocessors, Online Advertising, Page Rank, Smartdust, Social media, Storage Virtualization, and Wireless networks; and
- by idea: A world of connected objects; All applications will be social; An economy based on ‘free’; Cloud computing is disruptive technology; Evolving into space; Genetic information is extremely disruptive; Making computing location-independent; Moore’s Law; Sharing changes everything; Social production; Superhumanly intelligent critters; The Internet and the real world become the same place; We are inventing a global brain; and The Internet of things
(via Nokia Conversations)
This transformation is never complete of course. With a wink to a recent political campaign, it’s also “time for some change” at Interactions Magazine. Five new contributing editors join the magazine, and Experientia partner Mark Vanderbeeken is very proud to say that he is one of them. Here are their introductions:
Elaine Ann joins us from Asia. She is the founder of Kaizor Innovation, a strategic innovation consulting company uniquely positioned to help develop appropriate innovation strategies, research, and designs for the emerging Chinese market.
Lauren Serota is a design researcher with Lextant in Columbus, Ohio, where her work incorporates an ever-present passion for cultural diversity and objectivity in the acquisition and analysis of consumer insights for product and service development.
Mark Vanderbeeken is one of four founding partners of the young and dynamic international experience design consultancy Experientia in Italy. Mark is a specialist in visioning, identity development, and strategic communications, as reflected in his wonderful blog, “Putting People First.”
Molly Wright Steenson, forever the “girlwonder,” is an interaction designer and design researcher with roots in Web, mobile, and service design. Molly was an associate professor of connected communities at the Interaction Design Institute in Ivrea, Italy.
Marc Rettig, former chief experience officer at Hanna Hodge, is cofounder of Fit Associates. Marc’s 20-plus-year career has been guided by an interest in people, systems, communication, and the power of design. Marc served as features editor for interactions during the mid-’90s.
The March-April issue will feature Mark’s first contribution as contributing editor, followed by a number of guest pieces in the issues after that.
Although most content is not freely available, you can subscribe to the magazine for 55 USD (less than 40 euro). A bargain.
Meanwhile check out the excellent cover story, which is fully online: The washing machine that ate my sari – mistakes in cross-cultural design.
User Experience is the quarterly magazine of the Usability Professionals’ Association (membership is a modest 100 USD) and its latest issue is devoted to usability in transportation. Here are the titles of the feature articles and you can find the abstracts online:
Taxi: Service Design for New York’s yellow cabs
By Rachel Abrams
Safer Skies: Usability at the Federal Aviation Administration
By Ferne Friedman-Berg, Ph.D, Kenneth Allendoerfer, Carolina Zingale, Ph.D, Todd Truitt, Ph.D.
Listen Up: Do voice recognition systems help drivers focus on the road?
By David G. Kidd, M. A., David M. Cades, M. A., Don J. Horvath, M. A., Stephen M. Jones, M. A., Matthew J. Pitone, M. A., Christopher A. Monk, Ph. D.
Get Your Bearings: User perspective in map design
By Thomase Porathe
Lost in Space: Holistic wayfinding design in public spaces
By Dr. Christopher Kueh
A Really Smart Card: How Hong Kong’s Octopus Card moves people
By Daniel Szuc
Recommendations on Recommendations: Making usability usable
By Rolf Molich, Kasper Hornbæk, Steve Krug, Josephine Scott and Jeff Johnson
Disclosure: my business partner Michele Visciola is on the editorial board of this magazine.
Interactions is the bimonthly publication of ACM. Better designed than User Experience, it has become, under the thoughtful leadership of Richard Anderson and Jon Kolko, both profound in its analysis and broad in its interests. At 55 USD for six issues, it is also a bargain.
Here is the latest harvest of articles, some of which you can actually find online:
Designing Games: Why and How
An Evolving Map of Design Practice and Design Research
Signifiers, Not Affordances
User Experience Design for Ubiquitous Computing
Cultural Theory and Design: Identifying Trends by Looking at the Action in the Periphery
Understanding Children’s Interactions: Evaluating Children’s Interactive Products
Janet C. Read, Panos Markopoulos
An Exciting Interface Foray into Early Digital Music: The Kurzweil 250
Richard W. Pew
Some Different Approaches to Making Stuff
Design: A Better Path to Innovation
A Call for Pro-Environmental Conspicuous Consumption in the Online World
Of Candied Herbs and Happy Babies: Seeking and Searching on Your Own Terms
Experiencing the International Children’s Digital Library
Benjamin B. Bederson
Taken For Granted: The Infusion of the Mobile Phone in Society
How Society was Forever Changed: A Review of The Mobile Connection
Audiophoto Narratives for Semi-literate Communities
David Frohlich, Matt Jones
Think Before You Link: Controlling Ubiquitous Availability
Karen Renaud, Judith Ramsay, Mario Hair
Disclosure: As of next year, I will be a contributing editor to the magazine (and I feel honoured to be in such esteemed company).
The user experience design of most everyday ubiquitous computing devices—things you see in gadget blogs—is typically terrible. That’s because we do not address ubicomp user experience design as a distinct branch of interaction design, much as we did not treat interaction design as separate from visual design in the early days of the Web.
In the last couple of years, I have conducted research for and designed a number of ubicomp user experiences. In the process, I’ve seen some of the seams between industrial design, interaction design, architecture, and ubiquitous computing user experience design. In this article, I have tried to pull together some approaches that seem particularly valuable in the ubiquitous computing user experience world. None is unique to it: They’re all general design guidelines, but they seem to apply particularly well to the particular design challenges of this field.
The final article is only available to subscribers, but he published a preprint version of it on his blog.
In a new presentation he explores the current shift in technology from screen-based interaction to physical interaction with the world around us.
In the same way as the web is quickly extending onto the mobile platform, we are starting to see the web moving further into the physical world. Many emerging technologies are beginning to offer physical-world inputs and outputs; multi-touch iPhones, gestural Wii controllers, RFID-driven museum interfaces, QR-coded magazines and GPS-enabled mobile phones.
These technologies have been used to create very useful services that interact with the web such as Plazes, Nokia Sports Tracker, Wattson, Tikitag and Nike Plus. But the technologies themselves often overshadow the user-experience and so far designers haven’t had language or patterns to express new ideas for these interfaces.
This talk will focus on a number of design directions for new physical interfaces. We will discuss various ideas around presence, location, context awareness, peripheral interaction as well as haptics and tangible interfaces. How do these interactions work with the web? What are the potentials and problems, and what kinds of design approaches are needed?
The rest of us can access some limited content online (three articles in the current issue).
Now that Interactions has become a highly valuable UX resource, thanks to the strong leadership by the editors Richard Anderson and Jon Kolko, this restriction seems out of date and self-defeating. At least to me.
Elizabeth Churchill and I wrote an article where we make the case for open access to the contents of Interactions Magazine, which has been published in the current magazine (and is also available online):
In their reaction, Richard and Jon leave the argument open and do not yet take a clear position on the matter:
Richard: I admire the thinking underlying both OLPC and agile development, just as I admire the thinking underlying the concept of open access to intellectual content, as discussed by Elizabeth Churchill. But just as OLPC and agile development have their limits, so, too, does open access. Indeed, I don’t see it as appropriate for interactions magazine, at least not yet.
Jon: The first two ideas are nonobvious attempts at solving obvious problems. The third – open access – might be a novel idea to a nonissue. It could be argued that interactions magazine should cost money because the content in it is worth something: The content has value. I suppose it could also be argued that the magazine should be free so that value can be shared by the masses. To which argument do you subscribe?
Richard: Neither. The content in interactions is worth something – it has great value, but that alone doesn’t mean that the magazine should cost money. And though you and I are working to broaden the scope and readership of the magazine, it isn’t intended for the masses, and it can be argued that we can extend the reach of the magazine more effectively if it does cost money. Open access to interactions content might become appropriate. Indeed, we’ve already begun to increase access in a couple of ways. My point is that wicked problems don’t have simple solutions, an argument Don Norman makes in this issue.
What about you? Please join the debate by adding your comments at the end of either one of the articles (yes, commenting is enabled!).
And if you can access the contents, make sure to read the rest of the magazine, which is again a treasure trove.
“Jon Kolko facilitated an important discussion between Elizabeth and special guest Mark Vanderbeeken about the concept of open access to intellectual content and its relevance to interactions magazine. (Sorry that Mark’s head is largely obscured by Elizabeth’s in the nearby photo.) One might argue that open — i.e., free — online access to interactions magazine content would in and of itself help to bridge the communities for which interactions magazine is of relevance. However… (Portions of and extensions to the CHI 2008 discussion will appear in Elizabeth’s column and in “interactions cafe” in the September+October issue; both of those articles will be made available via the interactions website to all, facilitating everyone’s opportunity to respond and share his or her perspective.)”
Read full story (with SlideShare presentation)
The result is a series of podcasts that further examined the issues that the sessions revealed.
The podcasts include interviews with Richard Anderson (editor-in-chief of Interactions Magazine), Björn Hartmann (editor-in-chief, Ambidextrous magazine), and Michael Recchiuti (about chocolate and user experience), as well as a round table with with Adaptive Path and Boxes and Arrows (Chris Baum, Brandon Schauer, Sarah Nelson, Henning Fischer, and Ryan Freitas).
The issue is all about “colliding worlds” with “interactions disciplines” becoming “more appropriately integrated into other creative disciplines (e.g. architecture and music), into business, and into the new business models that will shape the 21st and 22nd centuries,” as described by the editors Richard Anderson and Jon Kolko in their editorial.
It also features contributions by Allison Arieff (Sunset), Eli Blevis (Indiana University at Bloomington), Shunying Blevis (Indiana University at Bloomington), Benjamin H. Bratton, Valerie Casey (IDEO), Elizabeth Churchill (Yahoo! Research), Dave Cronin (Cooper), Allison Druin (Human-Computer Interaction Lab), Hugh Dubberly, Shelley Evenson (Carnegie Mellon University), Jonathan Grudin (Microsoft Adaptive Systems and Interaction group), Zhiwei Guo (Adobe Systems Inc.), John Hopson (Microsoft’s Games User Research group), Steve Howard (University of Melbourne), Tuck Leong (University of Melbourne), Zhengjie Liu Dalian Marine University), Bob Moore, Donald Norman, Steve Portigal, Scott Palmer (University of Leeds), Sita Popat (University of Leeds), Kai Qian, Laura Seargeant Richardson (M3 Design Inc.), Richard Seymour (Seymourpowell), Frank Vetere (University of Melbourne), Huiling Wei, and Ning Zhang (Dalian Marine University)
Interactions Magazine is the bimonthly publication of the ACM [Association of Computing Machinery] and is distributed to all members of SIGCHI [Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction].
It recently underwent a complete makeover the inspiring and volunteer (!) leadership of Richard Anderson and Jon Kolko who turned it into a publication full of timely articles, stories and content related to the interactions between experiences, people, and technology — the must have magazine for the user experience community!
I was only there for a day and a half, and this being my first CHI conference, I am not in a position to give it a solid review.
One thing that stands out of course is that it has a strong academic angle, which can make some of the presentations and discussions quite irrelevant for practitioners such as me. On the other, there was a lot of emphasis on the term “user experience”, which came back in titles, abstracts, presentations and papers.
Combing through the (Mac unfriendly) conference DVD, I found quite a few treasures, and I selected 40 papers out of a total of 556, that I will be presenting in ten separate posts, under the headings: emerging markets, mobile banking, mobility, product design, security, social applications, social context, strategic issues, sustainability, and usability.
The conference is not set up in order to help you meet new people, and this is a real pity. You just tend to meet those you know already, or those whose presentations you attended. (Unless you are lucky enough to be a speaker of a well attended session, so everyone else knows you.)
During CHI, I conducted interviews with Bill Buxton (Microsoft), Elizabeth Churchill (Yahoo!) and Mike Kuniavsky (ThingM), on which I will report in the coming weeks. Also in the coming weeks I will publish reviews of the books: Sketching the User Experience by Bill Buxton and Keeping Found Things Found by William Jones.
Because of this blog, and in particular a post of praise, I was part of a panel (others were Elizabeth Churchill, Richard Anderson and Jon Kolko) on the relaunched Interactions Magazine, now under the inspiring and volunteer (!) leadership of the latter two. Check out the magazine!