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Search results for 'interactions magazine'
11 November 2008

Two UX magazines for subscribers only

UX Mags
Two user experience magazines landed on my desk this week. They are available only to subscribers, both in print and online. But subscriptions are relatively cheap.

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
Sus Lundgren

An Evolving Map of Design Practice and Design Research
Liz Sanders

Signifiers, Not Affordances
Don Norman

User Experience Design for Ubiquitous Computing
Mike Kuniavsky

Cultural Theory and Design: Identifying Trends by Looking at the Action in the Periphery
Christine Satchell

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
Steve Portigal

Design: A Better Path to Innovation
Nathan Shedroff

A Call for Pro-Environmental Conspicuous Consumption in the Online World
Bill Tomlinson

Of Candied Herbs and Happy Babies: Seeking and Searching on Your Own Terms
Elizabeth Churchill

Experiencing the International Children’s Digital Library
Benjamin B. Bederson

Taken For Granted: The Infusion of the Mobile Phone in Society
Rich Ling

How Society was Forever Changed: A Review of The Mobile Connection
Brian Romanko

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).

20 June 2008

Bridging communities via interactions

Elizabeth Churchill and Mark Vanderbeeken
Richard Anderson reports on a discussion session that Elizabeth Churchill and Experientia partner Mark Vanderbeeken participated in, held at the recent CHI conference in Florence, Italy, that dealt with the role of interactions magazine in bridging communities – “something essential for “user experience” to play the role it should be playing in business”.

“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)

30 January 2007

Sentimental journey: on computers and emotions [CIO Magazine]

Boring
“New computer software applications—in the labs and in the market—are using emotion as data input and responding to it”, writes Esther Schindler in CIO Magazine.

“For business purposes, it isn’t necessary for a computer to emote—as long as it can respond to our emotions.

We want companies (and the systems they build, whether silicon- or carbon-powered) to acknowledge and respect our feelings, particularly when those feelings are strongly felt. Enterprises are starting to see good dollars-and-cents reasons to take action on emotion. “Research shows that if you respond to a customer within 24 hours of an angry experience, you are likely to recover the customer and to create [vendor] loyalty,” says Bar Veinstein, NICE Systems’ director of product marketing.

The intent isn’t to create an empathic artificial intelligence that experiences emotion. In these applications, the software analyzes human behavior and helps humans to make better business decisions. Many of these projects are still in the research labs, but a few are available as enterprise products.

“According to Dr. Marc Schröder, a senior researcher involved with the W3C Emotion Incubator Group, the computer experience must become more natural, or the average user will be unable to cope with increasing human-machine interaction complexity. Schröder explains, “By ‘natural,’ I mean closer to the type of human interactions that we all have every day, with friends, family, strangers, bosses, employees, etc. You know from the twitch in your boss’ face that now would be a good moment to stop contradicting…and you know from the face of your wife that today was a good day. Words are not needed for you to understand this.”

Read full story

12 April 2005

User Experience Magazine

2005spring_140x181
User Experience Magazine is the global publication of the UPA, Usability Professional Association. It comes out three times a year and is written in the easy reading style of Interactions Magazine.

Go to website

4 April 2012

Transformative UX – Beyond Packaged Design

SAP

Markus Latzina, SAP AG, and Joerg Beringer, SAP Labs, LLC. have republished an article they have written for Interactions Magazine on the Transformative User Experience.

“Instead of designing for many discrete applications, the Transformative User Experience approach aims to natively support a larger variety of task flows by replacing application boundaries with elastic, situational environments that allow transitions between different task states. Imagine businesspeople who work collaboratively on a large display to discuss business issues and make decisions (see Figure 1). This display must be able to surface relevant content. During the discussion, content may be moved, clustered, annotated, or synthesized to analyze information and capture insights. Areas on the display might represent certain task contexts typical for knowledge-intensive work, such as prioritizing, querying, inspecting, and displaying analytical information.”

Read article

> Check this video to find out more about the SAP User Experience team

10 November 2011

Craftmanship

 
John Kolko reflects on design education and the importance of craftmanship in an article for Interactions Magazine.

“Based on my experience reviewing portfolios from recent business school graduates, I would argue that one of the most fundamental failings of “design thinking” education is the _lack of craftsmanship_. Students don’t appear to learn a honed, tacit, and careful “innate” sensibility for making, and simultaneously, they don’t appear to have developed an intimate understanding of the medium they are responsible for shaping. Instead, they are equipped with a toolkit of methods.”

Read article

(via InfoDesign)

2 September 2010

To win over users, gadgets have to be touchable

Touch
Researchers say that touch screens are the start of a trend to make computers more open to human gestures, argues the New York Times.

“Device makers in a post-iPhone world are focused on fingertips, with touch at the core of the newest wave of computer design, known as natural user interface. Unlike past interfaces centered on the keyboard and mouse, natural user interface uses ingrained human movements that do not have to be learned. “

Read article

Really? It is thought provoking from a UX point of view to read this article after first reading the criticism on gestural interfaces by Donald Norman and Jakob Nielsen in the current issue of Interactions magazine (see also previous post).

5 December 2009

The dignity and courage of Donald Norman

Donald Norman
There is true dignity in the continuous engagement of Donald Norman, the Nestor of the user experience community, as well as courage is his willingness to question some of his (and our) profound beliefs. In short, Don — in defiance of his age (Don was born on Christmas day in 1935) — keeps on pushing the envelope for all of us, and we like him all the more for that.

Today, three stories landed in my inbox. A first one dealt with the search for new contributing editors for interactions magazine, that Don reacted to with considerable attention.

The second was his latest column for the same magazine. Technology First, Needs Last advocates that “design research is great when it comes to improving existing product categories but essentially useless when it comes to new, innovative breakthroughs.” It goes against many things we like to believe in, is provocative, and therefore highly useful.

Finally, Don was interviewed yesterday by the Irish Times on where he thinks the next focus of design should be. “Ecosystems,” he said, “where eco means not only the product, but also the environment, the planet.”

Thank you, Don, and keep up the pace.

1 December 2009

Our misguided focus on brand and user experience

Branded UX
If there is a future for designers and marketers in big business, it lies not in brand, nor in “UX”, nor in any colorful way of framing total control over a consumer, such as “brand equity”, “brand loyalty”, the “end to end customer journey”, or “experience ownership”. It lies instead in encouraging behavioral change and explicitly shaping culture in a positive and lasting way, argues Jon Kolko in a long piece on Johnny Holland.

“The focus on brand and control of the user experience is an attempt to avoid the above commoditization and irrelevance of artifact, and it references a dated model of dominance – one where a company produces something for a person to consume. This is the McDonalds approach to production, where an authoritative voice prescribes something and then gains efficiencies by producing it exactly as prescribed, in mass. The supposed new model is to design something for a person to experience, yet the allusion to experience is only an empty gesture. An experience cannot be built for someone. Fundamentally, one has an experience, and that is experience is always unique.

Interaction design is the design of behavior, positioned as dialogue between a person and an artifact. A person commonly doesn’t talk to an object; they use it, touch it, manipulate it, and control it. Usage, touching, manipulation and control are all dialogical acts, unspoken but conversational.”

Jon Kolko is an Associate Creative Director at frog design. He has worked extensively in the professional world of interaction design solving the problems of Fortune 500 clients. Prior to working at frog, Kolko was a Professor of Interaction and Industrial Design at the Savannah College of Art and Design, sits on the Board of Directors for the Interaction Design Association (IxDA), and is the Co-Editor-in-Chief of interactions magazine, published by the ACM. Kolko is the author of Thoughts on Interaction Design, published by Morgan Kaufmann, and the forthcoming text tentatively entitled Exposing the Magic of Design: A Practitioner’s Guide to the Methods and Theory of Synthesis, to be published by Oxford University Press.

Read full story

30 October 2009

Experientia partner Michele Visciola on people-centred innovation as culture evolution

Michele Visciola
Experientia partner Michele Visciola, who is also the president of Experientia, has written an article entitled “People-centered innovation or culture evolution?” that got published in the November-December edition of Interactions magazine.

Here is the abstract:

“The biological theory of evolution and its applications to cultural anthropology (Cavalli Sforza, 2006) create an interesting framework with which to regard user research practices and innovation strategies. Mutation (i.e., a significant abrupt change in a given value system) is a rare event but can occur in any culture. Natural selection is the pressure that operates on a given system of values and beliefs in order to select those behaviours that fit to the environmental conditions of use. Migration is the meshing of behaviours and attitudes that can lead to a change of values. Finally, Drift is the barrier to the entrance of new values in a given cultural system. A deep understanding of these forms of cultural evolution will allow companies to better frame innovation models. Whether it is based on participatory and voluntary shifts in usage conditions (i.e. mutation), or on integrating new services and features into existing products (creating conditions for migration and drift), innovation should favour the natural selection of people’s idea selection so that it can resist and endure.”

The full article is available for subscribers only, but you can download a pre-publication version here.

2 September 2009

Donald Norman on products as services and experiences

Yachting
Donald Norman’s latest column for Interactions Magazine explores systems thinking and service design.

“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.”

Read full story

21 July 2009

Happy birthday Experientia

Experientia
On 21 July 2009, Experientia turns four years old. From four friends and business partners to an office of over twenty staff and collaborators, Experientia has grown quickly. It’s a far cry from the early days of meeting in partners’ homes, but it has been an interesting journey.

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.

Client roster
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).

31 March 2009

Co-creation in service design

Sunderland
Ben Fullerton has an article out in the March/April issue of Interactions magazine on Co-creation in Service Design. It focuses on the “Make It Work” project for the Sunderland City Council and live|work’s efforts to collaborate on the design of a program for the long-term unemployed.

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.

Download article

(via Design for Service)

13 February 2009

Dubberly Design articles

Dubberly Design Office
Hugh Dubberly is a forum editor at Interactions Magazine, which means that he writes, co-writes or edits articles for the magazine. The website of his company, Dubberly Design Office, contains all of these excellently written and very thoughtful articles.

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.

10 November 2008

User experience design for ubiquitous computing

Wine rack
Mike Kuniavsky of ThingM wrote an article on ubiquitous computing user experience design for ACM’s interactions magazine.

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.

24 May 2008

Leading designers to new frontiers

Personal TV
Jeff Parks and Chris Baum of Boxes and Arrows sat down with several of the speakers and organisers of Adaptive Path’s San Francisco conference: MX San Francisco: Managing Experience through Creative Leadership, that took place on April 20-22.

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).

3 May 2008

Reviewing the CHI 2008 conference

CHI 2008
A few weeks ago I attended the CHI conference in Florence, Italy.

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!

1 April 2008

Next week at CHI 2008 in Florence, Italy

CHI 2008
Next week on 8 and 9 April I will be at CHI 2008, the international conference that this year is taking place in Florence, Italy.

On Wednesday afternoon you can find me in the panel on Interactions Magazine, that Richard Anderson invited me on.

If one of you is attending the conference on those days, please drop me a line at mark at experientia dot com.

14 March 2008

When Users “Do” the Ubicomp

Present-day ubicomp
When Users “Do” the Ubicomp is the great sounding title of an article by Finnish researcher Antti Oulasvirta in the March-April issue of Interactions Magazine.

Abstract: Computers have become ubiquitous, but in a different way than envisioned in the 1990s. To master the present-day ubicomp-a multi-layered agglomeration of connections and data, distributed physically and digitally, and operating under no recognizable guiding principles-the user must exhibit foresight, cunning and perseverance. Preoccupation with Weiserian visions of ubicomp may have diverted research toward problems that do not meet the day-to-day needs of developers.

The article builds on the work done by Genevieve Bell and Paul Dourish, and in particular their article Yesterday’s Tomorrows. Like them, Oulasvirta argues that there are two ubicomps: the idealised one presented at conferences and the “real ubicomp”, described as “a massive noncentralized agglomeration of the devices, connectivity and electricity means, applications, services, and interfaces, as well as material objects such as cables and meeting rooms and support surfaces that have emerged almost anarchistically, without a recognized set of guiding principles.”. This infrastructure is therefore “not homogenous or seamless, but fragmented into several techniques that the user has to study and use.”

He then takes his analysis a step further and actually shows “the many ways in which it is the users who have to ‘do’ ubicomp; that is, actively create the resources for using an application in a heterogeneous, multicomputer environment.”

Oulasvirta concludes with “a laundry list of approaches to improving ubicomp infrastructures:”

1) minimizing overheads that create temporal seams between activities;
2) making remote but important resources, such as connectivity or cables, better transparent locally and digitally;
3) propagating metadata on migration of data from device to device;
4) supporting ad hoc uses of proximate devices’ resources like projectors, keyboards, and displays;
5) triggering digital events like synchronization of predetermined documents with physical gestures; and
6) supporting appropriation of material properties for support surfaces“

To read the entire article, you need an ACM Digital Library subscription.

18 February 2008

Interfaces are where the fun lies

Donald Norman
Apparently Donald Norman, who is coming to Torino, Italy in less than a month, has made a deal with Interactions Magazine to allow him to publish his contributions online, even before the magazine comes out.

His newest delightfully written piece is about the unavoidability of waiting. A short quote:

“To the analyst, such as me, interfaces are where the fun lies. Interfaces between people, people and machines, machines and machines, people and organizations. Anytime one system or set of activities abuts another, there must be an interface. Interfaces are where problems arise, where miscommunications and conflicting assumptions collide. Mismatched anything: schedules, communication protocols, cultures, conventions, impedances, coding schemes, nomenclature, procedures. it is a designer’s heaven and the practitioners hell. And it is where I prefer to be.”

Read full story