Posted: September 30th, 2007 | 7 Comments »
Stefana Broadbent gave a very insightful talk at Pic Nic 2007 (called “Trends in Communication and Entertainment”), in a misconception-countered-by-data fashion that I liked. She and her colleagues at Swisscom Innovation built a “observatory” which aims at following behavioral trends regarding communications and digital practices (through looking at 250 households/800 persons each year). They basically collect tons of data (timelines, diaries, how people fill their days, look at ipod content, make lists, check internet usage with people. This is then turned in a classic social-sciences way (although more descriptive than explicative) into pattern descriptions.
Some resulting patterns (sorry if I miss all the data that support these claims, like countries of origins):
- Writing communication preavails (over oral/mediated): people write more than they speak over the phone.
- Written channels are used as background to other activities (like working), mostly to keep contact with loved ones.
- People with digital video recorders do watch commercials, 40% of people with PVR or TiVO do not skip them.
- On-line video does not substitute TV: 33% indicated that they watched more TV, 13% decreased
- Concentrated viewing is short on TV (30 minutes) and even shorter on PC (5-7 minutes)
- Lots of activities in front of TV: talking, eating, reading… internet, playing video games (portable, mobile).
- Local radio are NOT dead, high level of consumptions. Less than 10% reports less time listening to local radio due to time spent on MP3 players.
- Newspapers are not dead, at least in their “free” form: +12% increase in the last 5 years. They’re free and they’re distributed at the consumption points.
Her message was then that there is no substitution, everything is added: more devices, more channels, more media and nothing is thrown out. What happens is that every media is moving in the background, becoming wallpaper: IM+email are ran in the background, Music IS the background, TV is being viewed in background, Daily newspapers are read in the background.
What I really enjoys in Stefana’s presentation is that she does not only feed you with plenty of data indicating new trends; she also goes deeper by connecting them to higher level issues (in that case, cognitive psychology). What does “in the background” mean, in terms of psychological processes: it means that media consumption is less conscious and that less attention is provided. This is done through the creation of routines: automatization of procedure. We then develop “media routines”: Radio channel: listen to during breakfast / News show before going to bed / webpage news skimmed through when arriving at work / call to mother on sunday / SMS to say I’m on my way.
The problem, as she described is that the whole industry is going against this “routine” trend (“Bye Bye routines”) through VOD, HDD recorders, ipTV, personalized radio/TV, VoIP or podcasts. As a matter of fact, users can only multitask if they are not required to give ALL their attention: choosing kills routines and require attention, it moves attention to the foreground and means commitment, and being in control means being focused.
Posted: September 30th, 2007 | No Comments »
Some quotes heard at Pic Nic 2007, in Amsterdam:
“At that time, Lisa was the female of Bart” – The Simpsons director.
“Games are about expectations and permissions slips: you give players the fact that everything is permitted” – Katie Salen.
“Lots of picture of the Wii are not picture of games but of players and their hands” – Julian Bleecker.
“How do we prioritize good content over garbage in mobile anotations? A classical question about user-generated content” – Matt Adams.
“The reality around us (…) the repeated module of doom: banks, dunkin donuts, nails, franchises” – Adam Greenfield.
“Play is about fluidity, work is about crystallization – Play as the negative space of work that allows work to continue” – Ben Cerveny.
Posted: September 30th, 2007 | No Comments »
“We cannot express its relation to ourselves in any other way than by imagining that we are in motion, measuring the length, width and depth, or by attributing to the static lines, surfaces, and volumes the movement that our eyes and our kinesthetic sensations suggest to us, even though we survey the dimensions while standing still. The spatial construct is a human creation and cannot confront the creative or appreciative subject as if it were a cold, crystallized form.”
- Schmarsow, August (1994)
Why do I blog this? I quite like how that quote reflects the importance of the body in space: it’s because we are embodied that we can create a spatial construct which corresponds to our reading of the spatial environment. An example? See this street spotted in Amsterdam below, if you’re a skateboarder, this quote will make sense: you felt the curved sidewalk only by seeing it, feeling how this would be experienced afterwards with your board. And indeed, the affordance is to make an ollie and use it to jump.
Now, what does that mean for the design of ubiquitous computing systems? I don’t have a unique answer but it certainly gives some inspiration about how to create affordances that can be bodily experienced through shapes, forms or representations.
Posted: September 29th, 2007 | No Comments »
A short collection of signs I encountered in Amsterdam this week:
Is there a pattern here? No, there are warnings of course
My favorite? certainly the “surprising toilets” one, with an awesome blue-to-red-meter visualization that I don’t really grasp.
Why do I blog this? certainly material for saturday discussions about affordances.
Posted: September 28th, 2007 | 2 Comments »
This morning, Julian Bleecker, Fabien Girardin, Dennis Crowley and myself participated in a panel called The Near Future of Pervasive Media Experience. Here is the annotated version of my slides from the PicNic talk (pdf, 9.5Mb):
The talk entitled “new interaction partners: perspectives on the pervasive media world for pets” was basically the proposition of bringing “new interaction partners” in the pervasive game model. A problem in that field is that designers actually took the technologies from ubicomp as well as the assumptions coming from that field: seamlessness, technology that is “pervasive” (everywhere, every moment)…
BUT, and yes there’s a “but”, the world is not like that. The reality is a bit more like a pig farm: it’s dirty, messy, accidents happened, technology sometimes fails, interoperability fails, etc. and above all: there are other beings that humans and technological artifacts. If we think about with whom we have most of our playful interactions, it’s simple: the environment (parks, sport areas, etc) and animals. My previous work has focused on the environment, I am now interested in animals as a way to renew the visions of pervasive gaming. What about having “new interaction partners”, i.e. including new beings such as pets?
I then presented various examples that I already blogged here such as Augmented Animals by Auger-Loizeau, Wim van Eck’s pacman with cockroaches, etc. as well as two projects I am doing with Julian Bleecker:
- we have a dwarf on World of Warcraft that is played by a dog (sensors track its physical activities). So this little character is running around and it has a very basic grammar of interactions in the game. What is interesting here is to study the implications for participants. There will be a new type of characters, which won’t be played by a human nor by and Artificial Intelligence (Non-Playable Character)
- A raddish toy meant to be employed by cats: when the cat touches the raddish, it sends a message on Twitter, when the owner sees it there, he/she ca reply and the toy would vibrate or glow. A two way relationship of some sort.
This talk was a little bit provocative and funny… meant to show that other sensations or desire could be mediated in a pervasive game. It’s not only about pets or even plants but also the weather, the environment, data feeds extracted from contextual events. The point is that to be rich and playful, pervasive gaming should benefit from other things than just human or computers actions.
Posted: September 27th, 2007 | No Comments »
… or how phone booths can be turned into bike parking lots… seen in Amsterdam today.
Why do I blog this? yet another usage of phone booths, at least in this case the phone itself is still there.
Posted: September 27th, 2007 | No Comments »
Concrete is a quite trendy store in Amsterdam, NL that sells clothes, toyz as well as designers’ accessories. Yesterday, it proposed some work by Casey Reas (viz/image design) and Cait Reas (dresses).
Why do I blog this? what was intriguing there was the presence of the book “Processing: A Programming Handbook for Visual Designers and Artists” (Casey Reas, Ben Fry) that is, essentially, the bible to employ this programming language, which allowed the design of the viz on the wall and the dress such as the one represented on the picture above. Physical-to-digital-to-physical translation.
Posted: September 27th, 2007 | No Comments »
Given that I am at PicNic, the “cross-media” topic is everywhere (from talks to random people met on streets of Amsterdam). Being interested by that topic as well, it made me think of this pdf that stands on my desktop for ages: “Transmedial Interactions and Digital Games, actually a description of a workshop organized by Shaowen Bardzell, Vicky Wu, Jeffrey Bardzell and Nick Quagliara.
Some excerpts that I found interesting:
“Transmedial access should not be confused with what is currently labeled as “cross-platform” games, where a particular game is developed for the console, PC, and mobile. Cross-platform games, are generally variants the same game, customized for a given set of user inputs, but they are not a single game experience accessible from multiple devices. For example, Prince of Persia: Warrior Within is available on Xbox, PC, and mobile phones, but they are three separate games, and a mobile phone user cannot access her or his Xbox version of the game from the morning train. Providing this ability to access and interact with a game anywhere, anytime is the primary goal of TMA,
Although any game with elements of persistence or community-driven content will benefit from transmedial interactions, persistent online worlds especially stand to benefit
Transmedial interactions offer an infinite variety of possibilities for game design, as the following examples illustrate:
- A collectible-card game, such as Perplex City which introduce players in an alternate reality
- A team-based alternate-reality simulation spread across diverse “stations,”
- Both Nintendo’s and Sony’s dabblings with GameBoy-GameCube and PS3-PSP connectivity
- A guild management tool, where increased connectivity leads to increased social networks and a richer, more
Beyond the games themselves are meta-game content, such as blogs, guild pages, and social network sites, strategy guides, mod sites, and so on. Most of this content is player-created and accessed through different mechanisms. Devices or interfaces that aggregate meta-game content in ways that help create coherent, if not seamless, game experiences represent another potential area for transmedial interactions to improve gaming.“
Why do I blog this? this is material for a new research projects I am starting about digital/physical worlds interconnections. I am quite interested in how to augment games with new layers of interactions (both in mobile and fixed contexts). But, as opposed to certain arguments in this paper (“Time investment for players must be reduced to achieve the market’s growth potential, recapturing those who quit because of demanding commitments in real life, and attracting those who never even made the effort to begin.“), I am more interested by the new forms of interactions that may appear than by market growth or filling every human’s free time with content.
Posted: September 25th, 2007 | 1 Comment »
Funny highlight of the day: Dan Saffer‘s talk at Design Research 2007 entitled “How to Lie with Design Research“. Have a look at the slides (.pdf, 9.5Mb) or watch the video.
The talk is a funny description of tips about how to lie in design research. Saffer describes how to “Deliberately misinterpret data”, ” Willfully confuse correlation and cause. Pick the reason you like the most”, ” Toss out data you don’t like” or “don’t be objective”, etc.
Further out, I was very intrigued by this presentation because of his first point. He started the talk by showing picture from Japan, describing their implications and finally throwing possible design principles… and then tell the audience “All the images you just saw, I collected off Flickr in one afternoon. Voila, saved myself a trip to Osaka. I’ve never even been to Japan.“. Which lead him to these tips:
“1. Don’t do any design research. Make it all up. / Don’t go into the field unless you have to. Why do research when you don’t really need to? Most of the time companies are just looking to have their
ideas validated. Why not give them what they want using carefully chosen photos and “stories” from the
internet. TIP: Wacky cultural practices always impress. For “international” research, be sure to throw in a couple of unexpected cultural practices to make people feel that they’ve really taken the time to consider diverse perspectives. TIP: Don’t lie about the easily (dis)provable.
This resonates with the discussion about second-hand data, their values and their implications in social sciences (leading to terms such as “armchair anthroplogists”). It made me think of what Anne wrote last year about design ethnography: “If armchair anthropology was a product of colonialism, then design ethnography is a product of capitalism” to some extent.
Why do I blog this? Working in academia and thinking about this hints with regards to social sciences methodology makes it even more hilarious. He makes here a really good point about how user/context research can be abused and to what extent results are skewed to meet the needs of researchers, companies or other stakeholder in the process. As usual, it’s not only fun but very relevant to see the mistakes, flaws and problems of a research process.
Posted: September 25th, 2007 | No Comments »
Alien Architecture: The Building/s of Extra-terrestrial Species – Pre-twentieth Century is a Georgia Leigh McGregor’s Honours Thesis from UTS. It deals with what kind of architecture is portrayed by pre-20th century “extra-terrestrial literature”. It’s basically a study of architectural imagination based on textual research (“. It includes both fiction and non-fiction and draws on a range of narrative and scientific works, including utopian, satirical, comedic, philosophical and adventure texts.“) that takes architecture as a “tool for understanding” the relationship between ourselves and an alien species, “proposing that architecture is one of the means by which the character of an alien species is read.”
Few curious insights from the conclusion:
“Consistently the architecture of alien beings has been the architecture of humanity with the wholesale transfer of architectural assumptions. The application of anthropometrics to alien forms, assuming a relationship between dimensions of an extra-terrestrial and their buildings, was made evident
In one way the architecture of extra-terrestrial civilisation has remained the same but different, to refer to Ben Jonson’s concept. The conventions of earthly architecture are repeated in space though changing and transforming
over time. The twentieth century would see an explosion in the quantity of other worldly literature and new media, with the advent of film and television, through which extra-terrestrial cultures would be portrayed. In the process many of these conventions would be reused and reinvented. Yet some of the most significant conventions arose prior to the twentieth century.
Extra-terrestrial architecture moved from representation at an individual level to a portrayal of society, as a whole, integrated with its urban fabric in this period. Architecture was used to create difference and to link to the familiar. Architecture and technology were confirmed as definitive evidence of an intelligent civilisation“
(“A View of the Inhabitants of the Moon” – Illustration from an 1836 English pamphlet, publisher unknown
- “Note the biped beavers on the right“)
Why do I blog this? my interest about space, technological implications in space and sci-fi led me to this paper. Lots of interesting stuff here (although it’s more food for thoughts than material for my research). I quite like the analysis of the implications as well as the description of the connections between the pieces of text and their context of production (in terms of scientific discovery, etc).