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Search results for 'kolko'
26 April 2010

Interactions Magazine – May/June 2010 issue

Interactions
The latest issue of Interactions Magazine is about the spread of design into new areas, write editor Jon Kolko:

“The process of design is spreading into new areas of society and business, and as it does, our work gets more complicated and more rewarding. From the details of our interfaces to the focus of our efforts, this issue describes the complexity of the changing landscape of interactions.”

Here are the articles available for free online:

interactions: Business, Culture, and Society
Jon Kolko
The process of design is spreading into new areas of society and business, and as it does, our work gets more complicated and more rewarding. From the details of our interfaces to the focus of our efforts, this issue describes the complexity of the changing landscape of interactions.

Reframing health to embrace design of our own wellbeing
Rajiv Mehta, Shelley Evenson, Paul Pangaro, Hugh Dubberly
This article describes a growing trend: framing health in terms of well-being and broadening health-care to include self-management. Self-management reframes patients as designers, an example of a shift also occurring in design practice – reframing users as designers. The article concludes with thoughts on what these changes may mean when designing for health.

Depth over breadth: designing for impact locally, and for the long haul
Emily Pilloton
In the past few years, we designers have acknowledged the imperatives of sustainability and design for the greater good, and responded by launching initiatives that are often rife with widespread cheerleading rather than deep, meaningful work. [Yet] I firmly believe that lasting impact requires all three of the following: proximity (simply being there, in the place you seek to design with and for), empathic investment (a personal and emotional stake in collective prosperity), and pervasiveness (the opposite of scattershot – involvement that has impact at multiple scales).

Solving the world’s problems through design
Nadav Savio
Design Revolution is a fantastic sourcebook of inspiring designs and creative problem solving and a deeply humanistic call to arms. Pilloton wants nothing less than for designers to focus their energy, knowledge, and talent on making people’s lives better.

Natural user interfaces are not natural
Don Norman
Gestural systems are no different from any other form of interaction. They need to follow the basic rules of interaction design, which means well-defined modes of expression, a clear conceptual model of the way they interact with the system, their consequences, and means of navigating unintended consequences. As a result, means of providing feedback, explicit hints as to possible actions, and guides for how they are to be conducted are required.

Making face: practices and interpretations of avatars in everyday media
Liz Danzico
We’re starting to see more and more experiences that weave avatar with message, pairing the expression of intent with content. How will the mix of image and message further proliferate through everyday life? Will the image stand for the message or will face work still be work? What will be socially acceptable, and will new etiquettes emerge in segments that cross personal, professional, and mixed boundaries?

The ubiquitous and increasingly significant status message
Bernard J. Jansen, Abdur Chowdury, Geoff Cook
The status message has evolved from its lowly beginnings into a multidimensional feature and service addressing numerous social needs.

Back to the future: bleeding-edge IVR
Ahmed Bouzid, Weiye Ma
The glaring disconnect between what companies aim to achieve in deploying interactive voice response (IVR) systems (better customer service) and what they actually do achieve (customer frustration) can be squarely laid on the shoulders of shabby voice user interface (VUI) design and implementation. The vast majority of today’s IVRs are, simply put, shamefully unusable, and customers detest them.

Intentional communication: expanding our definition of user experience design
Kristina Halvorson
Design and content. Content and design. It’s impossible (and stupid) to argue over which one is more important than the other – which should come first, which is more difficult or “strategic.” They need each other to provide context, meaning, information, and instruction in any user experience (UX).

Content strategy for everybody (even you)
Karen McGrane
When done the wrong way, creating new content and managing the approval process takes longer and is more painful than anyone expects. But planning for useful, usable content is possible – and necessary. It’s time to do it right.

interactions cafe: on language and potential
Jon Kolko
The more we carefully select our words, the more comfortable we’ll be in making the wholesale shift toward the emerging role of design in healthcare – and in other arenas where social responsibility is growing, and designers are able to value the whole person.

11 April 2010

Interactions Magazine – March/April 2010 issue

interactions
The latest issue of Interactions Magazine is about a new intellectualism of design, write co-editors Richard Anderson and Jon Kolko: one that embraces discourse, dialogue, systems thinking, and the larger role of designers in shaping culture.

Here are the articles available for free online:

interactions: exploring aspects of design thinking
Richard Anderson, Jon Kolko
Popular discussion of “design thinking” has reached a point of frenzy. Unfortunately, there is often little depth to the discussion, and for many, the topic remains elusive and vague. While each issue of interactions has included articles about or reflecting the application of design thinking, this issue addresses the topic a bit more directly.

Evolution of the mind: a case for design literacy
Chris Pacione
As we come to the end of the first decade of the 21st century and what many consider the end of The Information Age, a recent flurry of books, articles, and initiatives seem to indicate that a new, pervasive mind shift is afoot. It’s called design, and like arithmetic, which was once a peripheral human aptitude until the industrial age forced it to be important for everyone, recent global changes and the heralding of a new age are positioning design as the next human literacy.

Design thinking in stereo: Brown and Martin
Paula Thornton
By 2006 an IIT Institute of Design interview with Roger Martin, titled “Designing Decisions,” told of his conversion to the concept when noting the language and behaviors of designer friends. That same year, Tim Brown presented fundamental thoughts on design thinking that also caught my attention. By the end of 2009 both Martin and Brown had released books on the topic.

Designing interactions at work: applying design to discussions, meetings and relationships
Roger Martin, Jennifer Riel
Ultimately, designers and business leaders want the same thing: transformative ideas that can be translated into real value. Yet, even with this common purpose, the interactions between design teams and business leaders often represent the biggest stumbling block to the development of breakthrough ideas. How often has a brilliant design idea been strangled in its infancy by a client who could not, or would not, “get it”? How often is breakthrough innovation stopped short by number crunchers who don’t understand the process of design or the insights afforded by it? And how often do business folks moan that designers lack even the most basic understanding of cost and strategy?

From Davis to David: lessons from improvisation
Liz Danzico
Improv is extending its practicality. Designers have been adopting improvisation design methods in their own practices. Made more visible by organizations such as IDEO and Pixar and the research of people from Elizabeth Gerber at Northwestern University and Steve Portigal at Portigal Consulting, we’re seeing how improvisation can be powerful in interaction design work. With collaboration activities in particular, improv becomes especially important when untangling complex problems that require teamwork or just getting a client unstuck.

Technology first, needs last: the research-product gulf
Don Norman
Design research is great when it comes to improving existing product categories, but essentially useless when it comes to breakthroughs.

Sugared puppy dog tails: gender and design
Elizabeth Churchill
Designers are not passive bystanders in the production, reproduction, reinforcing, or challenging of cultural values. We actively create artifacts and experiences. We design products with implicit or explicit assumptions about how products will be used and by whom. We mentally simulate the product user who is part of an imagined story of the product in use – these imaginary people are drawn from our everyday lives and usually have a gender, perhaps a shape, size, age and ethnicity. Thus we embed imagined, gendered others into our designs, inadvertently reproducing cultural norms because they seem so “natural.” And so in a chain of reification and reproduction, products are wired in subtle ways that reflect and reinforce existing cultural assumptions.

The lens of feminist HCI in the context of sustainable interaction design
Shaowen Bardzell, Eli Blevis
One might identify feminism’s central tenets as commitments to agency, fulfillment, identity, equality, empowerment, and social justice. I think these commitments make feminism a natural ally to interaction design. As computers increasingly become a part of everyday life, feminism is poised to help us understand how gender identities and relations shape both the use and design of interactive technologies – and how things could be otherwise, through design.

MyMeal: an interactive user-tailored meal visualization tool for teenagers with eating disorders
Desmond Balance, Jodie Jenkinson
Since patients with eating disorders (EDs) have demonstrably abnormal perceptions of the size of food, a meal-visualization tool could help patients with EDs feel more comfortable about portions by helping them understand what appropriate food portions look like in the context of a balanced meal.

On design thinking, business, the arts, STEM …
Jon Kolko, Richard Anderson
Why [is it] only now […] that the language related to the intellectual and intangible aspects of design is beginning to catch on?

1 March 2010

Interaction’10 videos online

Interaction10
Many videos of the Interaction10 conference are now online. Here are the one of the speakers mentioned in the recent review by Experientia partner Jan-Christoph Zoels.

Paola Antonelli – Talk to Me
Whether openly and actively, or in subtle, subliminal ways, things talk to us, and designers write the initial script that will let us develop and improvise the dialogue.

Richard Banks – The 40 Year-Old Tweet
Most entries on Twitter are throwaway. They’re mundane, in the moment, with an expected period of interest of only a few minutes. This is true of much of what we put online. Yet as we grow older, breadcrumb like these, little traces of what we did in the past, will become more and more important as a way of looking back, and reminiscing on our lives. What seems mundane now will likely seem odd and forgotten in the future, and play an important role in triggering our memories. I suspect we’ll want to see, in 30 or 40 years time, what we were motivated enough about in 2009 to Tweet.
There’s a danger, though, that when we get old the services we used to express ourselves, and make records of our interests and activities in the past will either no longer exist, or will have changed beyond recognition. Do you think Twitter will still exist in 2049?
This presentation will talk about the role of the digital objects, products and services we are designing today as they take over from physical things as the primary way we remember our past. What are our responsibilities as designers in making sure not only that people’s lives are preserved for reminiscing, but also that the record of their past can be passed on to their offspring and become part of a family’s history?

Matt Cottam – Wooden Logic: In Search of Heirloom Electronics
In this session Matt Cottam will present a recent project entitled Wooden Logic: In search of Heirloom Electronics. The project represents the first phase in a hands-on sketching process aimed at exploring how natural materials and craft traditions can be brought to the center of interactive digital design to give modern products greater longevity and meaning.
Where furniture and fine art are cared for and handed down through generations as heirlooms, the value of digital products rarely survives beyond their short useful lifespan. Their rapid obsolescence makes them seem poor candidates for the use of natural materials and time-consuming manufacturing techniques. Yet these objects also occupy a very privileged and intimate position among our possessions, often living in our pockets, handbags and at our bedsides.
For centuries artisans have had the ability to sketch with wood and hand tools to craft high-quality, precious objects. With digital technology the functionality of objects became less tangible and visible, and their making fell almost exclusively to engineers and computer scientists. It is only in the past decade or so that the community and tools have evolved to the point that designers can sketch with hardware and software. This project seeks to combine seemingly dissonant elements, natural, material and virtual, and explore how they can be crafted to feel as if they were born together as parts of a unified object anatomy that is both singular and precious.

Timo Arnall – Designing for the Web in the World
From NFC mobile phones to Nabaztag and Nike+, there is an entirely new class of consumer product that becomes almost useless when disconnected from the network. How can designers deal with the vast complexity of designing not only interactive physical products, but the connections and resulting interactions with the data that they produce? In the Touch project we have been working with designing interactive products and services that involve RFID, NFC and mobile devices. The project has developed useful models for designing across tangible and mobile interactions, networks and the web, that allow us to see where existing products succeed or fail, and to get to a grip on the design of new networked products.

Kevin Cheng – Augmented Reality: Is It Real? Should We Care?
This year, we’ve seen the mobile market make incredible strides in technology. The iPhone, Android and Palm platforms have increased their functionality well beyond just being a phone and have added critical functions such as faster internet connectivity, video cameras, GPS and compasses. Handheld gaming devices have also converged, adding cameras and accelerometers to their devices.
The combination of all of these pieces have made Augmented Reality—overlaying information and technology virtually over what you see—become a true possibility. Suddenly, science fiction has become much less fictional.

Gretchen Anderson – The Importance of Facial Features
The tactile controls of an electronic, interactive product form its most recognizable aspects, or “facial features.” Choosing which controls to use and how they appear has an enormous impact on the impact the product makes on first impression. The process of deciding on your product’s facial features is tricky; a team must collaborate closely across multiple disciplines to determine what controls are needed, how they should appear and how they relate to the product’s form. Even with touch- and gesture-based interfaces, people need cues that point to (or obscure) the function, value, and lust-factor of the product.
This session will look at some well-known products and illuminate best practices for integrating interaction designers, industrial designers, and engineers to make well-informed decisions about a product’s (inter)face. This session looks at how design teams can make sense of user research to inform the design of the user interface as well as the aesthetic expression. It will also look at how emerging interactive models (gesture, touch and voice) change the historical relationship of industrial and interaction design.

Peter Morville – The Future of Search
Search is among the most disruptive innovations of our time. It influences what we buy and where we go. It shapes how we learn and what we believe. It’s a wicked problem of terrific consequence and a radically cross-disciplinary, creative challenge. In this talk, we’ll define a pattern language for search that embraces user psychology and behavior, multisensory interaction, and emerging technology. We’ll identify design principles that apply across the categories of web, e-commerce, enterprise, desktop, mobile, social, and realtime. And, we’ll show how futures methods and user experience deliverables can help us to create better search interfaces and applications today, and invent the unthinkable discovery tools of tomorrow.

Tom Igoe – Open Source Design: Camel or Unicorn?
Open source development has taken hold in software design, and is beginning to show up in electronics hardware design as well. Thus far, however, open source has been limited mainly to the engineering side of development. Open source tools for design tend to be abysmal, largely because there are no designers working on them. And open source has not made a blip on consumer-facing issues like licensing, warranties, and customer support. Should it? What impacts could it have, and how can the design community help to bring that about? How does the open source “democratic project development” model fly in design? In this session, I’ll examine some current examples of how open source is expanding beyond software, and discuss ways in which is might continue to do so.

Nicolas Nova – From Observing Failures to Provoking Them
One of the reasons why product and technology failures are important is that they can be seen as “seeds of the future” or “good ideas before their time”. A common example lies in the use of personal communication with pictures, which failed several times in its phone instantiation, but is now a huge success with laptops, PCs, webcams and Skype.
In the context of design, this talk with discuss how failures can be explored through field research and eventually help creating innovative products or services.
The underlying rationale of field research in design is generally to conduct studies so that the results can bring out insights, constraints and relevant material to design inventive or groundbreaking artifacts. When it comes to failures, this investigation can be tackled through two approaches. On the one hand, research can observe design flops and identify symptoms of failures. On the other hand, I am interested by a much more radical approach: provoking product failures as a way to document user behavior. What I mean here is the conscious design of questionable prototypes to investigate user experience. The point is to have “anti-probe”: failed materialization of the principles of technology that can be shown to people to engage them in open-ended ways. This alternative to start dialogue with users highlight inspirational data about how people would really happened.
The presentation will describe different case studies about failures following these two approaches to shed some light on original design questions.

Nathan Shedroff – Meaningful Innovation Relies on Interaction and Service Design
Interaction designers can play a key role in creating a more meaningful, sustainable, and post-consumer world. come learn about frameworks and approaches that help designers make real change for customers.

Dan Hill – New Soft City
The way the street feels may soon be defined by the invisible and inaudible. Cities are being laced with sensors, which in turn generate urban informatics experiences, imbuing physical space with real-time behavioural data. The urban fabric itself can become reflexive and responsive to some extent, and there are numerous implications for the design and experience of cities as a result.
Multi-sensory interaction design merges with architecture, planning and an urbanism informed by the gentle ambient drizzle of everyday data. Drawing from projects in Sydney, Masdar, Helsinki, Seoul and elsewhere, I’ll explore the opportunities implicit in this new soft city – how we might once again enable a city alive to the touch of its citizens – and what this means for an urban interaction design.

Kendra Shimmell – Environments: The Future of Interaction Design
What is the future of interaction design? I propose that it’s movement — natural, fluid interactions — your body interfacing with the environment around you.
As an interaction designer, I understand the inherent drawbacks of hardware-based interfaces — the range of movement is limited and it is frankly kind of lame to be bound to a device.
In 2001 I became involved with the Environments Laboratory at The Ohio State University. Our focus was to explore movement analysis, motion capture, and interactive performance. Since then, I have befriended a few choreographers that have been developing very sophisticated tools to explore the reality of the human body as interface.
Some questions that I’ve been exploring: Can we obtain meaningful data on human motion? Is there a design research implication? What are the potential industry applications for this type of technology? Can gesture and movement be standardized (Laban Movement Analysis and American Sign Language)?
Join me in exploring the human body as interface. You will get to try it out (yes, control light and sound with your body), and I will lead you in a workshop to explore the more practical use cases for such a technology moving forward.

Dave Gray – A Grammar for Creativity and Innovation
We’re moving from an industrial to a knowledge economy, where creativity and innovation will be the keys to value. New rules apply. Yet two hundred years of industrial habits are embedded in our workplaces, our schools and our systems of government. How must we change our work practices to thrive in the 21st Century? Dave Gray will share insights from his upcoming book on the work of creativity and innovation, due to be published in the first quarter of 2010.

Christopher Fahey – The Human Interface (or:Why Products are People too)
In the half-century since the first transistor was invented we’ve seen radical changes in how humans interact with computers and digital systems: We’ve gone from punch cards to text commands, from mouse pointers to touchscreen gestures, from menus to voice recognition.
What all of these user experience innovations have in common is an inexorable movement towards interfaces that behave more and more like the way real humans have interacted with one another for millenia.
Our interactions with systems increasingly feel like interactions with real people because our systems are increasingly designed to sound, look, and behave just like humans do. We’re interacting with web sites and software on a conversational, physical, and emotional level. In a way, our interfaces are actually becoming more human.
We can no longer ask users to think like machines just to be able to use software. Instead, our systems must act more like people. User experience designers, in turn, need to stop thinking about interfaces as dumb control panels for manipulating machines and data and start thinking about them (in many ways literally!) as human beings.
This talk will explore diverse areas of non-digital human experience – including language and theater, neurology and sociology – in order to frame and showcase some of the most exciting current and emerging user experience design practices, both on the web and in other media such as video games and the arts. The objective is quite simply to inspire designers to humanize their interfaces. This new way of understanding user experience design crosses many disciplines, from branding and content strategy (your product’s voice and personality) to interaction design and information architecture (your product’s behavior and motivations), and has many practical applications at every point in current and future design scenarios.
More importantly, this kind of thinking can be framed as part of a longer term trend in interaction design generally: Looking even further ahead – but probably sooner than many of us might imagine – future UX designers will almost certainly be moving from designing screens to designing actual personalities, for example artificial intelligences, virtual characters, and even human-like androids. We’ll peek a little further out and look at what the next generation of human interfaces will be and discuss what skills future interaction designers will need to have.”

Ezio Manzini – Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability
1. In the last decades we have been witnessing a growing wave of social innovation. A multiplicity of institutions, enterprises, non-profit organisations, but also and most of all, individual citizens and their associations have been capable to move outside the mainstream models of living and producing and to invent new and sustainable ones.
2. Social innovation is driven by diffuse creativity and entrepreneurship. That is, by resources that, in a densely populated and highly connected world, are very abundant (if only they are recognized and valorised). In the next future, social innovation has high potentialities to become a major driver of change. But something has to be done to help the process.
3. Social innovation cannot be planned, but it can be made more probable creating favourable environments and empowering creative people. Creative people can be empowered by specifically conceived sets of products, services and communication artefacts, i.e by conceiving and developing enabling solutions, and in particular, enabling digital platforms.
The presentation articulates the previous statements and introduces the discussion on what interaction design can do to catalyse diffuse creativity for sustainable changes.

Jon Kolko – Keynote: My Heart is in The Work
In 1900, Andrew Carnegie quietly declared that his “heart is in the work” – that he had found an endeavor worth pursuing, and that he would passionately follow-through on that endeavor until it was complete. We interaction designers feel that passion on a daily basis, as we’ve found ourselves at the heart of industry, policy, and culture. Our endeavors are worth pursuing and we approach them with the whole of our hearts. We build the artifacts and frameworks that support engagement, that keep us entertained, aroused, engaged and productive. We are building the culture we live in, and we possess the capability to enable massive change in an increasingly fragmented and tense world.
This talk will examine our ability to affect change at the intersection of experience, behavior, meaning, and culture, and will emphasize our responsibility to approach our work with philanthropic enthusiasm that would make Carnegie proud.

Also online are:

14 February 2010

Conversations in a weekend village — Interaction10 impressions

Interaction10
Written by Experientia partner Jan-Christoph Zoels.

Interaction10 is over. Four days of presentations, workshops, games, installations stimulated vivid exchanges of ideas and reflections on the changing landscape of interaction design. Hosted in beautiful downtown Savannah by the international Interaction Design Association and Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), the conference set the stage for lively face to faces encounters, practice discussions and sensory southern food discoveries. Deep thoughts and constant twittering.

Co-chairs Bill DeRouchey (Ziba Design) and Jennifer Bove (Kicker Studio and a graduate of Interaction Design Institute Ivrea) moderated a salon style conference across several historic venues getting the participants out onto the squares and into the charming nooks of Savannah. SCAD has over the years preserved historic buildings and filled them with live through their educational programs such as those in Interaction Design and Service Design, led by professors such as Dave Malouf, Jon Kolko and Diane Miller. A great experience! The following notes give some impression on select highlights.

Learning from the past – Talk to me

Paolo Antonelli, senior curator of architecture and design at MOMA, laid out her exhibition plans charting the ‘subtle, subliminal ways, things talk to us’. Her talk showcased outstanding examples of how objects and interactions changed our way of seeing, mapping and explaining the world. She traced the impact of networks and systems on our capability to make and mix worlds to the shifting face of things. Examples range from Muriel Cooper‘s Visual Language workshop at MIT to Ben Fry‘s scientific information visualizations, and from the changing nature of prototyping via open source design tools Processing and Arduino, visionary scenarios such as Apple’s 1087 Navigator video to Applied Minds Touch landscapes. Take her title ‘Talk to me’ literally – Paola is looking for visionary artefacts from the history of interaction design.

Our scattered distribution of memories – The 40 year old tweet

Is there a life after the half hour half-life of tweets? How to approach your parents’ Flickr collection or find the heirloom experiences in your grand parents’ SMS exchanges? How does the web of metadata become part of our reminiscences years later? Richard Banks of Microsoft Research Cambridge explored in several prototypes the sentimental value, burden and sense of obligation digital exchanges will pose to future generations. Matt Cottam extends this search to heirloom electronics and our design capabilities to give modern products greater longevity and meaning.

Making it – Designing for the web in the world

Timo Arnall, Kevin Cheng, Ben Fullerton, Gretchen Anderson and Raphael Grignani offered diverse strategies to engage people’s experiences of physical products and digital services.

Timo Arnall explored in the Touch project controversial issues of technology usage such as leaking RFiD fields and the tangible experience of invisible data. Which kind of graceful interactions remain when a connected object goes offline or is without power? In his research and work with Berg, a London based interaction design studio, he proposes that interactive objects need to provide an immediate tangible experience even if not in use, that the purpose of being connected and data sharing should become obvious, and that long-term services and data visualizations provide feedback loops.

Twitter’s Kevin Cheng gave an excellent overview about the challenges and opportunities of Augmented Reality (see also his book in progress). He documented how context based smartphone applications expand our experience spaces such as in Yelp, Nearby, Layar, Arg DJ, Lego selections in retail stores, a USPS shipping box simulation, and ARhrrr games. Challenges are the lack of design patterns, glanceable interfaces and usability issues.

Gretchen Anderson, IxD director at Lunar, showcased our visceral reactions to facial features – ‘those key things your users see first’ – in products. What is the impression which we are giving? What can we understand at a first glance? Imbuing objects with a sophisticated character can enhanced the storytelling potential and interaction magic.

According to Bruce Sterling ‘Sense of wonders have short shelf life’. Our search capabilities have undergone dramatic change. Peter Morville of Semantic Studios spoke about the future of search. He introduced various behavioral and design patterns from his latest book Search Patterns. What we find, changes what we are looking for. How will we search in the future – feels like, tastes like, looks like, sounds like, smells like? Multi-sensory search is an untapped area of exploration – moving search beyond the web.

ITP professor Tom Igoe demanded to extend open source design to products and services to enable public knowledge and participation in the modification and/or reproduction of a product. Consequences might be flexible warranty agreements, impact on recycling and reverse engineering, or community patent reviews. Practical layers of openness need to include the whole value chain from physical construction, bill of materials, code, extendibility and reprogrammability, API’s and communication protocols, interoperability as well as design and interaction guidelines. This also requires to address frequent usability issues of open source projects.

From observing failures to provoking them was Nicholas Nova‘s contribution in addressing product non-usage, real-time accidents, traces and individual blame bias. ‘Failures are often overlooked in design research’. He proposed to actively provoke failures as a design tactic and to observe responding people’s behaviors.

Designing for the next billion

Nokia Design has over the years embraced ethnographic research and design discovery processes to shape mobile experiences and accelerate decision making processes. Raphael Grignani, head of Nokia’s San Francisco design studio, engaged workshop participants in exploring incremental and radical design innovation through community-based ethnographic design approaches. Nokia sends 3-4 times per year design teams to search for extreme behaviors in remote locations in Africa, Asia, Latin America and eastern Europe. Raphael guided us through the design process – discover, define, develop and deliver – with examples from the open studio project – My mobile phone, to Lifeblog to Remade and Homegrown.

See also:
Patterns in UX Research
Deconstructing Analysis Techniques
Mobile Literacy
Homegrown people planit profit

Processes and reflections – Design is the process of evoking meaning

Nathan Shedroff, chair of the MBA program in Design Strategy at California College of Arts in San Francisco, started of the row of thought leaders in situating meaning, behavioral change and sustainability as key challenges for interaction designers. How does a more meaningful world look like? Or a post consumer society?

Easy answers are difficult to come by. Next year’s conference needs a track of fast paced inspirational show & tells and the design thinking behind it. Dan Hill from Arup came closest in establishing a vision of a new soft city, merging multi-sensor interaction design ‘with architecture, planning and urbanism informed by a gentle ambient drizzle of everyday data’ – alive to the touch of its citizen. In his closing talk he exhibited a range of responsive well-tempered environments supporting civic relationships between individuals and communities around them. Examples of his call for civic sustainability feedback loops are projects in Barangaroo, the State Library of Queensland and the Sydney Metro in Australia, Arup’s contribution to the Masdar city centre, and the low2no carbon emissions project for Helsinki Harbor by Arup, Sauerbruch Hutton and Experientia.

A further exploration of the poetics of space were Kendra Shimmell‘s staging of interactive environments sensitive to movement and intent. Trained as a ballet dancer she presented motion capture studies in real time. Every movement unleashed auditory qualities in the space. A blink of an eye turned into sound, a raise of an arm provoked a tonal scale, fast movements elicit under her control musical compositions. Robert Wechsler provided the artistic motion tracking software.

‘You find things that you are nor looking for, when you are not looking’. Dave Gray continued the playful approach to innovation in his presentation of Knowledge Games: The visual thinking playbook. Fuzzy goals can lead to prospecting unexpected sensory, emotional and functional discoveries. Unfortunately he illustrated his engaging talk with a glorification of the AK47 as a ‘powerful tool of change’. His agnostic design philosophy hides an ethical ambivalence and repositions designers as hired hands of industry who do whatever is needed – even weapons of mass destruction. Can’t we find ethical examples which enable people, but don’t kill?

Chris Fahey applied the Uncanny Valley hypothesis of robotics to interface design. As interfaces behave eerily humanlike, people find them repulsive until they become more realistic representations of human behaviors. Human interface need to be ‘responsive to human needs and considerate of human frailties’. Qualities are sentience – the ability to feel subjectively, intimacy and personality. Character and personality may imbue interfaces with meaning and make them memorable. Now just watch your step, the uncanny valley is calling.

Ezio Manzini spoke about our growing desire for de-intermediated relationships between consumer and producers. Examples range from neighborhood markets and festivals, to community supported agriculture, urban farms, collaborative welfare servicesm etc. Digital platforms become catalysts of social resources and can support our vision of sustainable futures. Keywords to describe these futures are small-connected-local-open. Small-local interweaves issues of scale, relationships and identities, generally associated with control of a smaller set of variables and therefore supporting happiness. Open-connected outlines the rise of new organizational forms, whereas small-connected establishes nodes in a network society with the density of these links becoming important. Local-open: in a sustainable society the local is open, the connected local – resulting in an increase of cultural diversity and dialog between cosmopolitan participants. Manzini called on us to design enabling systems and engage in programs such as the US Social Innovation Fund, funded with 50 million USD by the US Government as announced by Michele Obama: “The idea is simple: Find the most effective programs out there and then provide the capital needed to replicate their success in communities around the country, … By focusing on high-impact, results-oriented nonprofits, we will ensure that government dollars are spent in a way that is effective, accountable and worthy of the public trust.”

If it’s not ethical, it is not beautiful. Jon Kolko expanded on Andrew Carnegie‘s “My heart is in the work” to ‘approach our work with philanthropic enthusiasm that would make Carnegie proud. Design for real cultural change starts by understanding how people really behave. He called on designers to emphasize with people, build trust and purposefully change behaviors. His heart is now in the new Austin Center for Design, a place for wicked problem solving.

Interaction11 is coming. See you on February 10-12, 2011 in Boulder, Colorado.

10 February 2010

Reflecting on the Interaction10 conference

Interaction10
Both Jon Kolko (frog design) and Rob Tannen (Bresslergroup) reflect on their experience at the Interaction10 conference that took place last weekend in Savannah, Georgia.

Jon’s thoughtful analysis starts with a reflection on why he thinks the profession of Interaction Design reaching a critical divide.

“The divide seems to break down around two forces of gravity, loosely identified as:
A. Design, as a discipline. A locus of study, similar to science or art in breadth and depth, and focused on criticism, behavioral change, craft, empathy, humanism, and reflection.
B. UX, as a form of applied design in the context of marketing, and focused on consumption, speed, innovation, and often, apparently, compromise.”

Rob on the other hand emphasises the retrospective nature of this year’s conference.

6 February 2010

Live at Interaction’10: day 1

Interaction10
Niklas Wolkert & Brad Nunnally report on Johnnyy Holland on the first day of the Interaction10 conference in Savannah, Georgia.

“If one thing had to describe the overall theme of the first day it would be the importance of providing meaning in the work that we do. Below are recaps of the opening and closing keynotes, as well as some of the sessions from the day.”

Check their review on presentations by Nathan Shedroff, Dave Gray, Nate Bolt, Matt Cottam, Kendra Shimmell, Nicolas Nova and Jon Kolko.

Read full story

4 January 2010

Latest issue of Interactions Magazine now available

interactions
The January-February edition of Interactions Magazine — exploring the evolving nature of experiences, people and technology — is online and some articles are available without subscription.

interactions: information, physicality, co-ownership, and culture
Richard Anderson, Jon Kolko
From tangible computing, to societal problem solving, to the trials and tribulations of user reserach – this issue explores the evolving nature of experiences, people and technology.

Tangible interaction = form + computing
Mark Baskinger, Mark Gross
The ability to merge physical and digital interactions has long been the goal of designers; the ubiquity of technology is now making that goal a reality. This piece from Mark Baskinger and Mark Gross explores that melding of physical and digital.

Why marketing research makes us cringe
Dan Formosa
What separates design research from marketing research is a core but elusive principle: There is a phenomenal distinction between evaluating a product before it is finalized, the focus of design research, and evaluating consumer response after a product is finalized.

Why designers sometimes make me cringe
Klaus Kaasgaard
Why is it that user experience design-often hailed on the covers of major contemporary business magazines as the creative savior of everything from product innovation to business operations-seems to prefer to paint a picture of itself as a misunderstood, misapplied, and unrecognized profession; a victim of ruthless market forces and incompetent business managers?

The transmedia design challenge: technology that is pleasurable and satisfying
Don Norman
I agreed to give a keynote address at the 21st Century Transmedia Innovation Symposium. Traditional dictionaries do not include the word “transmedia,” but Wikipedia does. Its definition introduced me to many other words that neither I nor my dictionaries had ever before heard (for example, “narratological“). Strange jargon aside, I do believe there is an important idea here, which I explore in this column.

The art of editing: the new old skills for a curated life
Liz Danzico
This age is not about writers learning new tools, nor is it about readers sift through content; it’s about editors experimenting and making meaning of stories for themselves and for their new audiences-whether those are small or large.

interactions cafe: on designers as catalytic agents
Richard Anderson, Jon Kolko

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.

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30 October 2009

Nov-Dec 2009 edition of Interactions magazine online

Interactions
The November-December edition of Interactions Magazine is online and some articles are available without subscription.

Unfortunately, the main menu page doesn’t say which articles are publicly available (although without images) and which aren’t (what about ‘affordances’ in web design?), so I have selected the six that are:

interactions: social, authentic, and interdisciplinary
Jon Kolko

Catalyzing a perfect storm: mobile phone-based HIV-prevention behavioral interventions
Woodrow W. Winchester, III

Implications of user choice: the cultural logic of “MySpace or Facebook?”
danah boyd

On authenticity
Steve Portigal, Stokes Jones

When security gets in the way
Don Norman

The authenticity problem
John Kolko

A seventh one, by my business partner Michele Visciola, can be downloaded in a pre-publication version from this blog.

2 July 2009

July-August issue of Interactions magazine is out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6 May 2009

Most Interaction09 conference videos now online

Francoise Bourdonnec
Most of the videos of the Interaction09 conference, that took place this February in Vancouver, Canada, are now available online (see also here). Here is a personal selection:

Kars Alfrink: Play in social and tangible interactions
Many of the interactions seen in tangible and social computing are essentially playful. Play can take on many forms, but they all involve people exploring a conceptual space of possibilities. When designing these “embodied” interactions, it is therefore helpful to have a good understanding of play – this session aims to do just that. We’ll compare the role of interaction designers to that of game designers, who concern themselves primarily with the creation of rule-sets.

Dave Malouf – Foundations of Interaction Design: Bringing design critique to interaction design
Foundation and critique are two core elements that separate design from other ways of thinking and practicing creation of ideas and solutions. Foundations are the core elements that we manipulate within our craft. Critique is the way we judge the results of that craft. For critique to be effective though it requires foundation. It is only through our understanding of what it is that makes up our craft, that we can bring consistency and consensus to design criticism. This 25min. presentation is meant to offer the beginnings of a discussion around what could be the foundations of interaction design, how they impact aesthetics of interaction and how they can be used for design critique within an interaction design practice.

Jon Kolko – Design synthesis
Interaction design research activities produce an enormous quantity of raw data, which must be systematically and rigorously analyzed in order to extract meaning and insight. Unfortunately, these methods of analysis are poorly documented and rarely taught. As a result, raw design research data is inappropriately positioned as insight, and the value of research activities is marginalized. Interaction design synthesis methods can be taught, and when selectively applied, visual, diagrammatic synthesis techniques can be completed relatively quickly. This talk will introduce various methods of Synthesis as ways to translate research into meaningful insights.

Aza Raskin – Designing in the open

Marc Rettig – How to change complicated stuff
In the midst of a global conversation about change, many designers are pondering their own impact in the world. How does our experience in software interfaces, web sites, and physical products prepare us to address the profound issues humanity is facing? These issues involve many complex systems, systems too big to fit into the scope of any single company or institution. Design methods are potent at large scale and scope, but what does it take to be effective as a practitioner, as a team, as a company? What is it like to actually achieve a meaningful, sustainable, positive difference in life?

Jared Spool and Friends – Hiring the next generation of Interaction Designers

Luke Wroblewski – Parti and the design sandwich
In architecture, parti refers to the underlying concept of a building. Will it be a public structure that provides safety or a commercial building focused on customer up-selling? Design principles are the guiding light for any parti. They articulate the fundamental goals that all decisions can be measured against and thereby keep the pieces of a project moving toward an integrated whole. But design principles are not enough. Every design consideration has a set of opportunities and limitations that can either add to or detract from the parti. This combination of design principles at the top and design considerations at the bottom allows interaction designers to fill in the middle with meaningful structures that enable people and organizations to interact, communicate, and get things done. In this talk, Luke Wroblewski will illustrate how the World’s most accessed Web page, yahoo.com, was redesigned with a parti and the design sandwich.

(see also earlier post with links to videos of presentations by Dan Saffer, Robert Fabricant and John Thackara).

29 December 2008

interactions magazine: time for some change

interactions
The January-February 2009 issue of Interactions Magazine has just been launched, which in itself is a celebration of the fantastic transformation of the magazine under the careful stewardship of Jon Kolko and Richard Anderson, now one year ago.

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.

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).

31 August 2008

The debate on open access to Interactions Magazine

Interactions 5
The September-October issue of Interactions Magazine has been published and is now shipping to all members of ACM’s Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction (SIGCHI).

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.

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)

12 May 2008

May/June edition of Interactions Magazine

Interactions
The May/June issue of Interactions Magazine just came out and some of the content is available online (and more will follow soon).

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!

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!

18 January 2008

Interactions Magazine – first impressions

Interactions
This morning I received a print copy of Interactions Magazine with the mail.

Wow.

It looks, feels, and reads exactly like a magazine for our profession should be. Why did no one think of this before? It contains a lot of in-depth articles by people I respect or others I am curious about. It is the ideal magazine to take with you and read on the road or on a couch.

Another first impression is that Richard Anderson and Jon Kolko, the editors-in-chief, have gone out of their way to transcend an American perspective on the profession: from the British Elizabeth Churchill, to the Austrian Telecommunications Research Center, and from Stefana Broadbent and Valerie Bauwens of Swisscom Innovations, to South African Gary Marsden and the Beijing-based Gabriel White. I applaud this commitment very much, especially since many USA-based blogs and publications do not take this global view, or assume – wrongly – that the American view equals the global view.

So bravo to the two editors in chief for the direction taken, and bravo to ACM, the publishers, of providing them with this opportunity.

The ACM advertising department has a golden opportunity now: the new “Interactions” approach is out there, but the advertising hasn’t caught up. It’s still very much old style. Some fresh and creative approaches there could make Interactions Magazine a really sustainable publication.

Once I have finished reading the whole magazine, I will definitely write something more in-depth. Meanwhile, Richard and Jon, keep on going in this direction. I hope ACM will take the logical next step: making the articles available online. I am also curious to hear where ACM (an abbreviation which stands for Association for Computing Machinery, a rather awkward name in this day and age) as an organisation wants to go with this, and how it wants to position itself in the new UX landscape. The magazine is silent on that topic. Perhaps ACM’s executive editor or group publisher can be prodded for an article on this in the March-April edition or on the website.

In any case, I strongly suggest the readers of this blog to subscribe to the magazine, if you haven’t already done so. It’s only 50 USD.

PS. In Boston – Next week my partner Michele Visciola and I (Mark Vanderbeeken) will be in Boston for a client meeting. We will arrive on the 23rd and leave on the 27th. If readers of this blog are in Boston then, it would be nice to meet. Please contact us at info at experientia dot com.

6 January 2008

Interactions Magazine relaunched

Interactions
A few weeks ago, I announced the new direction taken by Interactions Magazine under its new editors-in-chief Richard Anderson and Jon Kolko, and now the first issue is out.

The content looks very exciting indeed and the editors-in-chief have done a great job at getting some of the best people in the field to contribute.

Columns

Features

In addition, there are several “Forum” pieces and a few book reviews.

Unfortunately, the publishers (ACM) have taken a weird approach to the online version: while the site has all the trappings of an online publication (with a nice design, a good table of contents, commenting, and article blogposts), it contains hardly any content! They only have excerpts available online – you have to be an ACM member to read the full text – in the printed issue that is (at $50 for 6 issues). Also there is no information about the authors online. Not surprisingly, the site has very few comments and I doubt it has much traffic.

I hope the hard copy will arrive quickly here in Europe, but even more that Richard and Jon will be able to convince ACM that this is not a very good online policy.

6 January 2008

Life lessons from consulting to academia, and back again

Jon Kolko
Jon Kolko, an interaction design specialist, went from consulting (2000-2002) to academia (Savannah College of Art & Design, 2002-2007) and then back to consulting (frog design, 2007-). So what has he learned from these transitions? Well, not what you’d think. Here’s a taste:

“While teaching, I emphasized cohesive process and strong documentation because I saw the value of instilling a repeatable and user-centered design methodology as a base upon which individual design skills could then be built. Yet, this type of education occurs in an environment that is sheltered and artificial–by definition. Even the most industry-focused academic programs emphasize and teach a “clean” process, with deliverables that are defined in advance, requirements that generally don’t change, and participants who are competent, articulate and well-mannered. Students make “good” design decisions because they have a rigid and confined set of constraints in which to work, and as it should, the safety net of academia provides a positive environment in which to fail.

Design consulting operates in a dramatically different world. While a statement of work may attempt to define concrete deliverables, even the most well-intentioned presales and planning effort can’t cohesively estimate the proper amount of sketches, wireframes, documents, or deliverables that will “solve” a given design problem and communicate the solution. Changing requirements lead to slipped deadlines; changing budgets alter design scope in mid-step; even changing attitudes and the constant banging of the burn-rate drum begin to introduce arbitrary design constraints (such as emotions) into an already messy process.”

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