Posted: July 30th, 2009 | 4 Comments »
Awesome encounter the other day at the flea market in Geneva: Responsive environments: a manual for designers by Sue McGlynn, Ian Bentley, Graham Smith (1985). I bought it right away and started perusing this interesting compendium of urban design principles. Very practical and straight to the point, exemplified with illustrations and drawings, it shows how to crate environments that do not alienate but offer comprehensible, friendly and controllable places.
The whole book is about this:
“The design of a place affects the choices people can make, at many levels:
- Permeability: where people can go and where they cannot.
- Variety: the range of uses available to people
- Legibility: how easily people can understand what opportunities it offers
- Robustness: the degree to which people can use a given place for different purposes.
- Visual appropriateness: the detailed appearance of the place make people aware of the choices available.
- Richness: people’s choice of sensory experiences
- Personalization: the extent to which people can put their own stamp on a place.
For each of these, there are interesting assignments such as doorstep interviews or probing people at street corner with peculiar photographs:
Why do I blog this? surely some insightful material to chew on, will try to spend more time on it and connect these thoughts with Dan Hill‘s discussion of hackability and design. So far, I like how the book offer interesting models that can go beyond architecture or urban planning.
Posted: July 30th, 2009 | No Comments »
Playing with personal informatics’ devices lately. Such as Walk with me or On Life.
Walk with me enables you to track and monitor your daily walking routine, set certain goals, rate your day, etc. Onlife is meant to observe interactions with digital services (such as your web browser mailer, IM client, etc.). The two of these services belong to a category of applications called “personal informatics” that track people’s daily activities to eventually allow them to modify their behavior based on trends. Of course, there are plenty of others. Some are more well-known than others.
Why do I blog this? The two aforementioned examples are interesting as they reveal some patterns that people may not have noticed but two things struck me as important:
- Both examples depict a sort of limited visualization of the traces that has been collected. In these two examples the information architecture is very similar (though it represents various things on the y axis) and the Gantt-like aspect could be replaced by other metaphors.
- The overemphasis on quantification: in Walk with Me, most of the stuff here is about counting the number of steps, it allows to see accumulations (per day, etc.), cycles and holes during your days. However, life’s more than quantification, there are single and non-repeated events that can make sense to (weak signals coming from nowhere) and I wonder how they could be taken into account with a certain weight. To some extent… how the quality of traces could be more elaborate and not just represented with a scale. Let’s explore this more thoroughly
Posted: July 29th, 2009 | 1 Comment »
People interested in retro-computing (i.e. the use of early computer hardware and software today), may want to have a look at 101 Project: an independent creative platform to collect memories and archives in order to develop a documentary film. Selected at SIGGRAPH, it is a kind of collective memory incubator that will be first of all part of the film and it will live also apart and after the film as a web platform.
It’s possible to start dropping your memories here.
Posted: July 29th, 2009 | No Comments »
Right after the Lift Marseille edition, we had to get back to our pen and pencils to build up the upcoming edition in Che-Ju (Korea). The event is taking shape with “Serious Fun” as a theme. Make not mistake, the point of the conference is definitely not to address serious games but rather to adopt the following perspective:
“The Internet started as platform for academics, then it became a huge business platform. Now it is an entertainment playground for users. People spend time having fun on the Social Web, access virtual worlds on their cell phones or interact with robots and networked objects.
Now we believe these services and platforms go far beyond mere leisure: their usage may reveal new social practices that will spread in other contexts (business, education), and the services first targeted at entertainment can lead to original innovations. This year’s Lift Asia will focus on the lessons we can draw for fields such as innovation, sociology, management, business, design and education“
We already have a speaker roster with people such as Adrian David Cheok (Mixed Reality Lab, Singapore), Benjamin Joffe (Plus Eight Star, China), Julian Bleecker (Nokia Design, LA), Kohei Nishiyama (CUUSOO, Japan), Minsuk Cho (Mass Studies, Korea) or Rafi Haladjian (Violet, France) and others.
A side note for swiss entrepreneurs who may be willing to join, we organize again the “asia venture trip” that help start-ups develop and promote themselves on the Korean Market, meet potential clients, suppliers, partners, or investors. Last year we had the likes of Poken, Arimaz, KeyLemon, Secu4, Lighthouse, Pixelux. It resulted in more than half the start-ups developing strong ties with the country of the morning calm, some finding new clients, others new suppliers (especially if you work in electronics or robotics). Look at the call for project and send us your application!
Posted: July 27th, 2009 | 1 Comment »
(alex pang and graphjam):
Surely a great graph that connects with my interest in the constant “futures” delay (flying cars, mobile social software, “intelligent fridge”, etc.)
Posted: July 25th, 2009 | 2 Comments »
Julian Bleecker and myself are putting a final touch to a pamphlet entitled “A synchronicity: design fictions for asynchronous urban computing” in the Situated Technologies series. Here’s the blurb:
“Over the last five years the urban computing field has increasingly emphasized a so-called “real-time, database-enabled city.” Geospatial tracking, location-based services, and visualizations of urban activity tend to focus on the present and the ephemeral. There seems to be a conspicuous “arms” race towards more instantaneity and more temporal proximity between events, people, and places. In Situated Technologies Pamphlets 5, Julian Bleecker and Nicolas Nova invert this common perspective on data-enabled experiences and speculate on the existence of an “asynchronous” city, a place where the database, the wireless signal, the rfid tag, and the geospatial datum are not necessarily the guiding principles of the urban computing dream.“
Due for September 2009. A sort of updated version of near future laboratory thinking that builds upon various projects, discussions (and partly going beyond material from my french book). Stay tuned.
Posted: July 25th, 2009 | 2 Comments »
Definitely an awkward combination of services encountered in Chamonix last week: the weather board has been combined with a condom vending machine and a letter-box. As written on the green thing, the “Meteo” box (which means “weather” in french) is a curious cluster.
I take it as an example to express that correlation (i.e. a connection between two or more things) DOES NOT mean causation.
Posted: July 22nd, 2009 | 2 Comments »
Travelling very often in different european cities, I am always curious about Easyjet place recommendation to observe what sort of advices they bring to the table and how they renew their propositions over time.
One of the feature that interest me is the “Escape” part, the quick description of how to go out of the city you just landed and what sort of magical things you can discover in the surroundings. I generally look at various cities (Paris, Lyon, Geneva, Lisbon, Milan, etc.) and am sometimes struck by the granularity of the “escape” range. Sometimes, most of the time I should say, the recommendation is to visit something nearby. The term “nearby” or “vicinity” is not stated, yet it’s the basic assumption of the “escape paragraph”. Like you’re in Paris and one recommend you a quick hop to Eurodisney, not my thing but it’s fair enough, it’s quite close in termes of mileage (kilometers for the metric readers).
However, there are sometimes exceptions. In the example shown form a recent Easyjet trip, the description of the city of Lyon is filled with “escape” notes about the possibility to visit Camargue. Surely a nice place that I explore from time to time, but definitely not perceived as “nearby” from the continental europe standpoint… given that you must at least drive 3 hours from Lyon to get there.
Why do I blog this? This is definitely no big deal but it strikes me as revealing to what extent representations of “nearby escape” can be perceived. There is clearly here a gap between the writer’s mental model and reader’s representations. Of course, there is not just one type of reader and it may matter to escape from Lyon and go to Camargue. What is at stake here, and it’s a must-have question for location-based services designers, is the notion of spatial granularity which needs to be taken care of. Let me reformulate it here: if you want to provide people (“consumers”) with location-based information about what is relevant in the vicinity, how can you make sure what is hidden behind the term “in the vicinity” or “nearby”?
Posted: July 20th, 2009 | 2 Comments »
According to the thesaurus I use:
Definition: lack of success
Synonyms: abortion, bankruptcy, bomb, botch, breakdown, bungle, bust, checkmate, collapse, decay, decline, defeat, deficiency, deficit, deterioration, downfall, failing, false step, faux pas, fiasco, flash in the pan, flop, frustration, implosion, inadequacy, lead balloon, lemon, loser, loss, mess, misadventure, miscarriage, misstep, nonperformance, nonsuccess, overthrow, rout, rupture, sinking ship, stalemate, stoppage, total loss, turkey, washout, wreck
Antonyms: accomplishment, achievement, attainment, earnings, gain, merit, success, win“
Why do I blog this? writing a paper about design research and failures, looking for inspiring material and vocabulary.
Posted: July 20th, 2009 | No Comments »
Another one about post-related issues: the swiss Post just launched a new service called Swiss Post Box: the “electronic equivalent to your regular physical mail box”.
It allows subscribers to receive scans of their unopened envelopes by e-mail message and then decide which ones they want opened and scanned in their entirety, to be read or achieved online (or “shredded”). You pay a monthly fee and you get a a set number of scans,
at least one address for free and long-term archiving. There’s even a connection with a Miles program for flights.
An interface detail that struck me as curious too is the fact that the interface is only in english, which gives an interesting hint about the target groups of these services.
Why do I blog this an interesting service at the crossroads of the digital and the physical. I am pretty sure there could be lots of possibilities in terms of applications based on this kind of platform, both in terms of personal information management and less utilitarian purposes.
Besides, It’s intriguing to think about the implications in terms of need to have letters/mail in material format and the importance of physical space. Concerning the importance of paper, I’m curious to see how people would be react and what sort of routine can be put in place to choose between what should be sent online and what should be kept (and when because there are obviously lots of exceptions). Now about space, as the NYT piece puts it “There’s a huge amount of infrastructure”, the letters will no longer sit in a shoebox under your desk but they will be stockpiled in huge data-warehouse here and there, a sort of add-on to the post buildings. Eventually, it may also change the Post’s general process which are based on flow and less on accumulating data. I don’t mean here that Postal services never had to deal with keeping things but the scale may change with this sort of innovation.