Objectified: A Documentary Film by Gary Hustwit

Objectified is a feature-length documentary about our complex relationship with manufactured objects and, by extension, the people who design them. It’s a look at the creativity at work behind everything from toothbrushes to tech gadgets. It’s about the designers who re-examine, re-evaluate and re-invent our manufactured environment on a daily basis. It’s about personal expression, identity, consumerism, and sustainability.

Through vérité footage and in-depth conversations, the film documents the creative processes of some of the world’s most influential product designers, and looks at how the things they make impact our lives. What can we learn about who we are, and who we want to be, from the objects with which we surround ourselves?


Everything will be about interaction design

All that is solid melts into air!!

Transforming Grounds: The Year of Interaction!

So, we are at the beginning of a new year. I just read a list of dominating trends in information technology development. There was nothing really new on the list. I guess we all understand and can see that the “cloud” takes care of storage, that we are moving into the era of “streaming” instead of downloading, and that we will have internet connection everywhere and all the time.

With these trends, the rest is all about interaction! With ever present access and with streaming data and information, use becomes all a question of how will we interact with this world of bits.

So, my prediction of when it comes to the future of computing (not unique in any way) is that most of what we see as traditional computing issues (computation, storage, access, etc) are moved into the background and becomes invisible infrastructure and services. For the individual user, these services will not be interesting since they will be always there. For the individual, it will be vene more about the “thing” or the artifact that is the window into the infrastructure/services, that is, the interaction. Everything will be about interaction design, not just this year but every year from now on!!!

The 10 things user experience design is NOT…

I’ve just begun following Whitney Hess – prompted by an interesting piece she did in Mashable. See it here.

Pleasure and Pain » Improving the human experience one day at a time

The 10 things user experience design is NOT…

1. …user interface design
2. …a step in the process
3. …about technology
4. …just about usability
5. …just about the user
6. …expensive
7. …easy
8. …the role of one person or department
9. …a single discipline
10. …a choice

The opportunities in an Economic Downturn for Designers

I keep hearing of people being laid off – Designers are losing their jobs in the current downturn. So what do they do. I have a few ideas for things you can do as you wait for the economy to turn around:

1. Go back to uni and do a Masters degree. So you get to skill up, retrain, have fun and wait out the downturn.

2. Start a social innovation venture. I have a few ideas for this and have been talking to colleagues about doing a series of workshops to help interested people to get a venture up and running.

3. Start a Blog and write in your free time. In this way you can develop a byline and an online portfolio of thoughts – which will be useful when you go looking for work in time.

4. Do blue sky projects and post them online.

5. Retrain as a Social Innovator, Interaction Designer or Service Designer.

6. Become A Green Loans Home Sustainability Assessor. Follow this link to see more.

Now if any of these ideas appeal to you do comment and we can start a conversation.

Economic Downturn Boosts Work at Home Opportunities – Web Design Melbourne

Work at home opportunities or home based businesses will soar over the next few years. This is not just because people will have to work from home because they have been laid off – had to retire- or feel uncertain about the future. It is because this is the economic trend.

Diabetes and Interaction Design

I saw charmr (you can say Charmr on youtube to watch the video) by Adaptive Path and was quite intrigued. I have students doing similar projects. This is ‘gadgets that help’.

I am in diabetes for a different reason – I want to change health outcomes for the, say, 40 million Indians and further 40 million chinese. In India and China health outcomes are really bad and amputation is routine. So I have been developing an alternative service model – alternative to the government’s health service model – that marginalizes the doctor and makes a nurse practitioner the primary carer. Then both India and China spend very little money on health care – so the model is user pays. In this sits the need for technology that has very low operating costs. This is the technology agenda.

I describe the above just to check – is anyone interested in this project?

How do you program a VCR?

Its 1991. I am sitting on the grass at the Katsuta factory of Hitachi. It a factory that makes TVs. And I am sitting with factory workers – one of them says he goes home late so that his son can record a TV program. Because he dosnt know how to program the VCR. We all have a laugh. Zannen!

Not many know how to record on a VCR. But kids do!

Transforming Grounds: Grand Challenge for HCI: Growing Ecologies of Interactive Artifacts

“Some 48% of technology users usually need help from others to set up new devices or to show them how they function. Many tech users encounter problems with their cell phones, internet connections, and other gadgets. This, in turn, often leads to impatience and frustration as they try to get them fixed.”

There are other interesting numbers in this report, numbers that should make all interaction designers around the world embarrassed. Numbers that show that there are a lot of angry and tired “users” out there. This is a sign of something we could label as a Grand Challenge for HCI and interaction design.

The IxDA is pleased to announce its second annual conference-Interaction’09|vancouver.

Would love to go to this event.

IxDA Interaction 09 | Vancouver > Main

Interaction’09|vancouver will be held from February 5-8, 2009 in stunning Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, in conjunction with Simon Fraser University’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology. Join several hundred Interaction Designers from around the world as we address the design of interactive systems of all types: applications (web and desktop), mobile, consumer electronics, digitally enhanced environments, and more. Start your year off with stimulating talk, fun parties, and smart discussions about our growing field.

Interaction 09 will feature three days of inspirational and tactical sessions geared at anyone who practices Interaction Design, as well as a day of pre-conference workshops.

Conference registration will open on October 6 and will include the full announcement of the conference program.

the most exciting and promising research opportunities for the future

Quasi-nerds only: interesting little compare and contrast – James Fallows

Two of America’s tech powers — IBM and Microsoft — have given glimpses of what they consider the most exciting and promising research opportunities for the future. Their lists are fascinating in their own right but also in a comparative sense, for what they show about the two companies.

There will be more to say about specific items later on. For now, you can see IBM’s list of “Five Innovations That Will Change Our Lives in the Next Five Years” here, and a Network World report on 10 hot projects from Microsoft’s research center here. I think much about both companies is revealed by the comparison — not to mention the implications for all of us if these visions are fulfilled.*

Reviving Experimental Design, by Scott Klinker

Beyond Fashion: Reviving Experimental Design, by Scott Klinker – Core77

Today, if any realm can claim the conceptual high ground of design research, it is interaction design–the perfect intersection of objects, systems, and social behaviors. Interaction design has become a separate branch of design discourse, a friendly sibling of industrial design with it’s own unique vocabulary and community of practice. IAD contains a universe of new theoretical questions that promise to transform daily experience. As physical stuff is enabled by networked data, a world of new experiences and cultures open up, along with the anxieties and fears triggered by accelerated change. Who will be best qualified to explore these concepts? Architects? Object makers? Interface makers? Social scientists? And which of these is likely to build a truly human poetics of interaction? Pioneering hybrid thinkers, and hybrid teams already begin to point the way.

An Evolving Map of Design Practice and Design Research

Love this way of drawing maps and explaining this. Have  done it for years – and the stopped. In this paper – which I read online – I see Liz trying to get a comprehensive take on design research going. Its great – but I doesn’t work for me totally for I may be grounded in a different way of thinking. So I did a bit of background research – and way quite impressed with the background and approach that enable Liz to do a take on design.

Now this is something I struggle with often because the exquisite fuzziness of design must not be cleaned up so much. But I can see that there are places where design has to look like a machine – atleast in so far as we need categories – as in now we have ‘user centered’ as a category. Even though we said you must not call people users. And also I am not coming from interaction design at-least not exclusively. I preferred the 1999 sketch of Liz’s – not sure about the colors in this one. Take a look at that paper on maketools.

Now if you have a larger canvas – where you lose some of the detail (for which I will read Liz’s article as a companion piece) – then your map looks a bit different. I will post that next – but first I have to get a napkin-like photograph of the map!

Research Methods
interactions magazine

An Evolving Map of Design Practice and Design Research by

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. Conflict and confusion within the design research space are evident in the turf battles between researchers and designers. Online communities reveal the philosophical differences between the applied psychologists and the applied anthropologists, as well as the general discontent at the borders between disciplines. At the same time, collaboration is evident in the sharing of ideas, tools, methods, and resources in online design research communities. We can also see an increase in the number and quality of global design research events and a growing emphasis on collaborative projects between industry and the universities, particularly in Europe…

Interaction Design Curriculum

Cooper Journal: So You Want To Be An Interaction Designer

The first thing to keep in mind is that interaction design is a new discipline that is still being defined in the academic setting. There are only a few institutions in the world offering degree programs specifically in “interaction design,” and while their curricula share similarities, they are by no means standardized (which may very well be a good thing). Most of these and other “computer-related,” “human-computer interaction,” or “new media” design programs are outgrowths of either art schools or technical departments (often architecture or computer science departments) at larger institutions, each of which brings its own history, perspective, and preconceptions to its teaching approach.

The Ford Fusion SmartGauge: Good Stuff, Missed Opportunities

Cooper Journal: The Ford Fusion SmartGauge: Good Stuff, Missed Opportunities

There’s been a certain amount of buzz in automotive circles about the new SmartGauge dash display in the Ford Fusion hybrid. What’s so cool? According to Ford, the car encourages fuel-efficient driving habits by giving users constant feedback. What’s not to love about encouraging cleaner driving (if we can’t get people out of their cars entirely)? Then there’s the customizable LCD, which is what really has the car geeks going (check out this video of how it works).

Digital Industrial Design

Can we visualize a new kind of Industrial Design education – called for a bit “Digital Industrial Design Education”?

Where the process of design is:

1. Primarily digital – so its not then about hand drawing, or workshop practice.

2. Independent of ‘manufacturing’ priorities – and so is significantly ‘form’ and ‘shape’ orientated.

3. Similar to graphic design in that it lives in the computer environment.

4. Similar to set and ‘fantastic’ object design – like design is for Syd Mead and the other designers who do not take current reality as a constraint.

Do you think such a picture is scary or soul-less? But keep this thought in your mind for a bit and then speculate on the good things that can be done in design with this orientation.

Would you like to see a program in Digital Industrial Design?

Design today

Walking to work today I thought of design today as having three key energies – the technological, the artistic and the social – and that every design project or orientation (curriculum too) as a combination of how each of these is enerised. So in a sense the 1850s to the 1950s is a period when the ‘artistic’ dominated – where you got pronouncements like Morris, Bauhaus and others who talked of need for ‘artists’ to go into ‘industry’ to make things better. From the 50s to the 90s you have the ‘technological’ – where you have Ulm, Dreyfuss and Rams talking about ‘product’ design as a practice where the designer mediated between the maker and the buyer. In this period did the ‘artistic’ survive? Totally – it survived but moved into the realms of furniture or architecture orientated objects – the designers in this cultural cluster had their eyes firmly fixed upon the museums in big cities. From the 90s to now we have the social emerging and I would like to see it dominating – but it struggles with the dormant artistic and technological. The technological masquerades as the social – to win points – by calling itself Service Design. But we know thats that same techno-centric approach – and not genuinely social at all.

So you still have designers – who will pledge themselves to the ‘functional product’ (though now these peope can be seen more and more spouting such ideas in the field ‘interaction’ design).

The question then is how does one marginalise the artistic and the technological – so that design can emerge as the social (which incorporates sustainability and inclusivity which we (I) see as the way forward)?

A unified approach to visual and interaction design

Cooper Journal: A unified approach to visual and interaction design

At the end of the day, as designers, we want to look for a set of attributes that tells a comprehensive story that resonates with both stakeholders and users, and has a healthy amount of tension which will be productive for exploring and establishing boundaries. For example, the attributes innovative and mature create some natural, productive tension. This contrast establishes a continuum that we can explore between the attributes, while establishing an extreme for each opposing attribute. For instance, a design language that takes the concept of innovation to the bleeding edge can no longer be considered stable and mature, and therefore falls outside the boundaries of the strategy defined by the overall attribute set.

A set of four experience attributes, along with their supporting terms.
A good attribute set always contains productive tension that is good
for establishing the boundaries of a design language strategy.

A set of four experience attributes, along with their supporting terms. A good attribute set always contains productive tension that is good for establishing the boundaries of a design language strategy.

Along these lines, it is often as productive to describe the negative space as it is to discuss the positive. In other words, make sure you spend some time discussing and explaining what it is categorically not, as well as what it is. For instance, the product should be brilliant, but not “bleeding edge.” An ideal negative attribute is one that represents a good thing taken to its extreme, rather than an inherently negative concept. For all experience attributes, but especially for expressing the significance of negative attributes, providing a visual reference can be very effective.

Map of interaction design education in Europe

I looked at this and I thought it would be a good idea to do this for a paper on australian design education, then also for a design school vision for India.

designswarm thoughts » Blog Archive » Map of interaction design education in Europe

So I thought I’d map out the interesting academic environments where one might find a course that relates in some way shape or form to interaction design in the broadest sense possible (notice there aren’t any web courses here). I’m interested in how these schools form the professionals of tomorrow and how the field will find it’s way on the overall market. I’ll evenutally try to do the same with the interaction design businesses.

Note that this map is publicly editable so if I’m missing something, do add to it!

Map is here.

Jeremy Yuille Explores IxD Education at Adaptive Path

I am very curious about Adaptive path – especially their work -‘charmr’ – on diabetes. I needed to see this about Jeremy – to jog me to speak to him.

Jeremy Yuille Explores IxD Education at Adaptive Path | jamin.org

Adaptive Path recently hosted a brown bag lunch with Jeremy Yuille regarding interaction design education. I skirted up from my Nokia office a few blocks away to take advantage of AP’s open invitation. It took me a while to realize that Jeremy is on the IxDA board, and that I had met him at the IxDA conference last February during a discussion about future IxDA conferences.

Jeremy is also Program Manager at ACID, Digital Media Coordinator at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology Communication Design, Interaction Designer at overt.creation, according to LinkedIn. And he is working on a PhD in design, which was the impetus for coming to AP to talk about interaction design. To paraphrase, he wanted to talk to industry stakeholders before making claims about interaction design as an academic.

Evenson Lecture: Service Innovation, Strategy, and Design

Service Innovation, Strategy, and Design – Garysguide.org – The #1 Tech & Media Events Calendar

Shelley Evenson will discuss how to design services, how businesses can benefit from the increased value of well-designed services, and how we can continue to define this emerging design field. Shelley will also engage the group in how technologies such as sensors and ubiquitous communication will shape the future service experience.
About Shelley Evenson

Shelley Evenson is an associate professor and director of graduate studies at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design. Evenson teaches in the area of interaction design. Her work has always focused on tapping into the needs of constituents, defining the best opportunities to respond to those needs, quickly prototyping the response, and iteratively reshaping it based on feedback.

Prior to her academic career, Evenson was vice president and chief experience strategist for Scient, director of design at DKA/Digital Knowledge Assets, director at Doblin Group, and vice president of Fitch. She has published many articles and presented papers at numerous conferences on design languages in hypermedia, interaction design, design research, and service design. Her current interests include design strategy, languages, prototyping, and what lies beyond user-centered design.

Facebook and all the online presences (and absences)

I just finished reading My Best Day: Presentation of Self and Social Manipulation in Facebook and IM, (Naomi S. Baron, American University Washington, DC, Paper presented at Internet Research 8.0 Association of Internet Researchers, Vancouver, British Columbia, October 1720, 2007) and enjoyed it thoroughly. Here is a snippet from that paper.

Back in the late 1950s and the 1960s, the sociologist Erving Goffman introduced the notion of “presentation of self” as a formal social construct. Goffman argued that in everyday life, people consciously or unconsciously present themselves to others as if they were actors on a stage. Do I want to appear assertive? vulnerable? sophisticated? available? From his Preface to The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1959): “I shall consider the ways in which the individual in ordinary work situations presents himself and his activity to others, the ways in which he guides and controls the impression they form of him, and the kinds of things he may and may not do while sustaining his performance before them (p. xi)”

Goffman’s work faded from prominence in the final decades of the twentieth century, but his notion of “presentation of self” has found a new audience among Internet researchers, who are interested in understanding how we use non-face-to-face media in establishing social rapport.

Now lets look at the issue of friends:

How many friends does an “average” Facebook user have? There is considerable variation from clique to clique, campus to campus, agegroup to agegroup, and across time. Our sample yielded an overall average of 229 friends, with males substantially edging out females
(males: 263; females: 195). Vanden Boogart’s average came out at 272. A study by Scott Golder, Dennis Wilkinson, and Bernardo Huberman, which encompassed millions of Facebook accounts, calculated 178. The Michigan State study found the number was between 150-200 (Ellison, Steinfield, and Lampe 2006). Given how casually most Facebook users accept “Friends”, I was curious to see how
these online trophies measured up with students’ circles of “real” friends. After asking how many Facebook Friends our subjects had, we followed up with this question: “Of these ‘Friends’, how many are real friends (e.g., you might go to a movie or dinner together)?” Not surprisingly, the numbers plummeted. Females reported an average of 65 “real” friends, and males, an average of 78, yielding an overall average of 72 people with whom the students might actually socialize. The number 72 is a far cry from 229.

Which in my case – from 345 total – the actual friends is in the region of 35 or so – or maybe 50 at best. And to close with what Naomi says: “While amassing Facebook Friends can be an online sport, joining (or starting) Facebook Groups introduces elements of humor and sometimes audacity.”

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I am on to Twitter now

I embraced twitter today. This is new – and I do it in the spirit of inquiry. I HAD TO get on to twitter because Fallows and Ambinder of Atlantic Monthly were on to it. That took the geekiness out of it – and made it an instrument to post. Then I had to do it to keep up with Jeremy.

Let us see what some others say about it – and leave it for a bit to come back to it when the obituary of Twitter needs to be written: Recently I started using Twitter. I must confess I wasn’t very fond of it. I just didn’t understand what use I couldtwitter.png get out of it. Even though I’m still not a great fan of the service, I have to admit that it gives me some value. Many people try to describe Twitter, and most of them end up saying that it’s like a chat (irc, icq, etc.). My own definition would be that “Twitter is a slow motion chat where you get to decide who talks in it“. The key and really interesting part is the decision of who talks in the chat. For me that’s a huge difference between irc and Twitter.

From a business perspective I use Facebook to see what key people in my industry are doing. I can monitor which events they are going to, with whom they are talking, what posted items they are sharing. Again, the good thing about Facebook is that I choose who I want to be friends with. Nevertheless, one of the differences between Facebook and Twitter is that, for Facebook I always need the friendship to be approved, while on Twitter (except for protected accounts which are rare) I can follow whoever I want.

As for the quality of the information I must say that it’s just different. If you want to write about something and it’s long enough (be it more than 2 phrases) you’ll probably write it down in your blog. But if it’s just a link you want to share or an idea about something, you don’t have a tool to share it to a wide audience. Granted that you could write it as a blog post, but you risk burning your readers with a high frequency of posts with very few content. So, that’s where Twitter gets into action. It allows you to post your short musings to a different kind of audience. Getting back to the quality of the information, the good part of it is that you get to choose high profile twitters that you think might say or share interesting things. For example, Martin Varsarsky, Jeremiha Owyang or Mike Butcher are good examples of that. Again, if you don’t like someones content you can always “unfollow” them with no repercussion.

Finally, while reading a book from Ricardo Semler (Angel, thank you so much for the recommendation), I read a very good quote from Mark Twain: “I’m sorry I wrote a long letter, I didn’t have time to write a shorter one“. It holds an awful big truth, it’s harder to write small but meaningful texts than big cluttered ones. So that got me thinking about Twitter and its repercussions on heavy users. How will a 140 character restriction will transform there way of writing and even thinking? I suppose this is something we won’t see at first, but in the long row. I know that I’ve changed the way I listen to people. I’m so used to crawl hundreds of blog posts a day that I look for the essence of things and only if I like the essence, then I’ll read the whole post. This way of working is transcending into my offline life. Now I always find myself telling people to cut the crap and to get to the bottom line (I must say that people in general and in Spain specifically talk, way too much and say way too little).

I also think that, in the same way bloggers evolve and the way they write posts change with time (for better I hope), the same principle applies for Twitter. At first users just write about there life, and then they start to shift away from that and into a more information rich environment (this doesn’t applies to everybody though).

In conclusion, Twitter covers a different niche than blogs or Facebook dies and it targets a different audience. That being said, I recommend people that consider themselves information junkies to give it a try if you haven’t. You can follow me on my Twitter account and hopefully I’ll start changing what I write there. Twitter should read: “What are you thinking?” instead of “What are you doing?”.

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Minilogue/Hitchhikers Choice – Video

White Board Stop Motion Animation: I was looking at this as a possible method – not at this level of complexity or sophistication – as a possible alternative to paper prototyping.

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