Posted: November 30th, 2011 | No Comments »
Preparing my course about interaction design next week, I got back to the work by Bill Gaver about cultural probes:
“Tactics for using returns to inspire designs
1 Find an idiosyncratic detail: Look for seemingly insignificant statements or images.
2 Exaggerate it: Turn interest into obsession, preference to love, and dislike to terror.
3. Design for it: Imagine devices and systems to serve as props for the stories you tell.
4. Find an artefact or location. – Deny its original meaning. What else might it be? – Add an aerial, what is it? – Juxtapose it with another, what if they communicate?“
Why do I blog this? Although the quote above is about probes, this is exactly the sort of direction I try to show as an alternative to “standard” (or utilitarian) user-centered design. As a design exercise, it would be good to use this in a cadavre-exquis way (observation/design/observation/design…).
Posted: November 25th, 2011 | No Comments »
A fascinating interface design seen yesterday in Lausanne. Although the aesthetical quality of this is a bit weird, I am fascinated by the way the physical metaphor is employed here.
Posted: November 25th, 2011 | No Comments »
Always good to do some weeknotes once in a while, as a way to reflect what has been done in the past few days.
Monday was devoted to Lift12, working on the program of the upcoming conference in Geneva… getting the ducks lined up, discussing with the last speakers, calling people interested in workshops.
Tuesday was a conference day, at the Serious Game Expo in Lyon, France, where I participated in a session about location-based games with Mathieu Castelli, as mentioned in my earlier post. It was also a good occasion to catch up with him and test his new project called Meatspace invasion. The rest of the day (4 hours of train and the whole afternoon) has been spent on data analysis: videos and picture from a field research projects that involves mobiles phones and 3D.
Wednesday was a mix of discussion with masters students at HEAD-Geneva about their masters thesis, the monthly meeting with colleagues and… a session of data analysis (for the aforementioned projects)… and a 3-hours workshop at EPFL in which we engaged engineers in a series of creative activities to design an accessory for book reading (based on assignments such as post-its brainstorming and drawing exercises with storyboards).
Thursday was a combination of client meetings, data analysis, fondue with the friend at Bookap in Lausanne and a workshop with a client (an electricity utility) that finished with a cooking workshop in Vevey.
Today was a conference day, the annual Swiss Design Network conference in which I participated in a panel about design research, games and cognitive sciences. It was a good opportunity to meet up with like-minded people such as Gesche Joost, Martin Wiedmer, Alain Findeli, Massimo Botta and the guys from emphase.ch.
Posted: November 22nd, 2011 | 1 Comment »
Today, I made a quick trip to Lyon, to give a talk about location-based applications in the context of serious games. The talk was made with Mathieu Castelli, that P&V readers may know because he was one of the founder of Newt Games which created the first commercial location-based game: Mogi.
Slides from the presentation are available on Slideshare:
The discussion at the end of the panel revolved around the fact that there’s definitely a return of location-based games nowadays.
Posted: November 15th, 2011 | No Comments »
This week, I’m in Paris for few things:
- A workshop at ENSCI-Les Ateliers with Raphael Grignani (Method). It’s a week-long training in field research for design. We basically engage students in a short-but-intense observation session followed by analysis and prototyping steps. This time, the brief is the following: Bike share programs like Velib are becoming more and more popular around the world which leads novice cyclists and tourists to take the road… more often than not carelessly. In this engagement, you will observe and document how various demographics use Velibs in Paris – you are free to set the parameters of your observations. From these observations and insights, you will design a product or service that improves the overall Velib experience (safety, navigation, attachments, availability, etc.). The solution should somehow be based on disruptive practices, found problems or curious behavior. You have 5 days.
- A panel at IxDA Paris with Raphael and Moka Pantages Wednesday evening at Le Lieu du Design
- A short speech at ENSCI this Thursday at 1pm in the cafeteria (brownbag seminar!) about “unmet needs as an innovation Holy Grail”
Posted: November 15th, 2011 | No Comments »
Yesterday I went to le Grand Palais in Paris to attend “Game Story“. This exhibit organized by the RMN (a French museum institution) and MO5 (an associated devoted to video-game and computer platforms) addressed the history of video games, from “big white squares” to 3D displays, from arcade box to mobile consoles.
The exhibit is not just about looking at old cubic machines scattered in the magnificent palais since people can also play with most of the devices. This is actually quite interesting as there are two things that attracted my attention there: the game platform and the way people used it. As most of the pieces are not brand new (and given that people could use them) you could see traces of dust and dirt here and there… which is always a good indicator of an artifact relevance. Those traces of human activity reminds us that these pieces make sense to people and they really enjoy using them.
Observing how people “use” with pieces in museum is generally limited to Contemporary art exhibit with interactive artifacts… and perhaps it’s far less interactive than a whole aisle made of video-games. Even security members chatted with visitors to discuss the pluses and minuses of game controllers and specific titles.
Interestingly, the exhibit is not just about platforms; you also have plenty of artefacts from what shaped the video game culture : RPGs, toys, magazines among other pop-culture objects. This is quite good as it allows the attendants to draw some comparisons between contextual elements (that could be related to kawai or heroic-fantasy content) and what’s exposed on the game console per se.
Such an exhibit also reminds us of the difficulty to maintain this sort of non-tangible material. Most of the pieces presented are based on cartridges and electronic devices (with some CD/DVD-based games) but it becomes harder with cassette and even more impossible if you want to consider early network-based platforms (Minitel games, the beginning of the Web).
Why do I blog this? On a more personal note, I definitely enjoyed spending time there because of the game controller book project. No big surprise for sure but it was an occasion to see the artifacts I am writing about and to observe how people interact with them.
Posted: November 14th, 2011 | No Comments »
Found in “Design as art” by Bruno Munari, Penguin, 2009
“Go into the kitchen and open the first drawer you come to and the odds are you’ll find the wooden spoon that is used to stir soups and sauces. If this spoon is of a certain age you will see it no longer has its original shape. It has changed, as if a piece had been cut obliquely off the end. Part of it is missing.
We have (though not all at once, of course) eaten the missing part mixed up in our soup. It is continual use that has given the spoon its new shape. This is the shape the saucepan has made by constantly rubbing away at the spoon until it eventually shows us what shape a spoon for stirring soup should be.
This is a case (and there are many) in which a designer can learn what shape to make the object he is designing, especially if it is a thing destined to come into frequent contact with other things, and which therefore takes it particular shape according to the use to which it is put.“
Why do I blog this? I find that this excerpt is a good example about how objects (reflecting traces of human activity) can lead to inspiration in design. Will try to use this in the workshop at ENSCI tomorrow.
Posted: November 13th, 2011 | 2 Comments »
(Via Tom Ewing and metagaming) An intriguing question addressed on blackbeardblog:
“So presumably the removal of game mechanics from things which possess them might also have an effect on those things. And then I had to ask: would the effect of that removal – that degamification – always be undesirable? I think it wouldn’t.
Part of the reason I think this, I admit, is my own experiences playing Dungeons and Dragons and other tabletop games in the 80s and 90s, when the more I immersed myself in the hobby the more I was drawn to rule-light or even rule-free systems. D&D has – as you’ll know if you ever played it – a vast and hydra-headed system of rules. At first we would modify them, as almost all players did – dropping the ones that weren’t fun. But eventually we abandoned the rules entirely, shifting to what used to be known as “freeform” gaming – something more like interactive storytelling.
The reason we did this is that we’d reframed the aim of the activity to be creative rather than simply competitive or even co-operative. Once we’d done that, the game mechanics became a hindrance to play, rather than a spur.“
Why do I blog this? The idea of “degamification” as a design tactic is interesting and the author presents it in a compelling way. What I find important here is that the removal of certain external rewards can be relevant for participants over time, “handing over more responsibility and autonomy” as said in this blogpost.
For those wondering about how this “subtraction”-oriented design approach can be applied, the author also gives an example:
“Tumblarity – the short-lived popularity measure on Tumblr introduced back in 2009, which had the effect of radically jacking up engagement and activity but in directions Tumblr management allegedly didn’t expect or like. So they degamified the site, removing Tumblarity, and found that the popularity of their service continued to grow but that the artificial metric no longer distorted the content on it quite so much. The behaviour Tumblarity artificially encouraged – chasing popularity, content inflation, and so on – didn’t go away, but its levels stayed manageable. Degamification rewarded its creative users at the expense of its game-playing ones.“
Posted: November 11th, 2011 | 1 Comment »
Interesting insight from William Gibson in this interview:
“The strongest impacts of an emergent technology are always unanticipated. You can’t know what people are going to do until they get their hands on it and start using it on a daily basis, using it to make a buck and using it for criminal purposes and all the different things that people do. The people who invented pagers, for instance, never imagined that they would change the shape of urban drug dealing all over the world. But pagers so completely changed drug dealing that they ultimately resulted in pay phones being removed from cities as part of a strategy to prevent them from becoming illicit drug markets. We’re increasingly aware that our society is driven by these unpredictable uses we find for the products of our imagination.“
Why do I blog this? This is a common lesson in sociology or in history of science and technology but it’s always intriguing to see it formulated by a fiction writer. What I find interesting here is the final sentence, in which Gibson argues about how our society is increasingly driven by these unanticipated uses.
Posted: November 10th, 2011 | No Comments »
Preparing my Interaction Design course at HEAD Geneva about social computing, I received a timely email from Mads Soegaard about an highly relevant series of video about this very topic. It’s actually written by Tom Erickson an interaction designer and researcher in the Social Computing Group at IBM’s Watson Labs in NY.
The video is going to be public pretty soon and it’s good to see a preview of this material. It basically consists in a good overview of the design and social issues at stake in social computing; a domaine that can be defined as following:
“when we speak of social computing we are concerned with how digital systems go about supporting the social interaction that is fundamental to how we live, work and play. They do this by providing communication mechanisms through which we can interact by talking and sharing information with one another, and by capturing, processing and displaying traces of our online actions and interactions that then serve as grist for further interaction.“
Interestingly, videos are commented by various researchers from this field such as Elizabeth Churchill, David W. McDonald and Andrea Forte. A comment from Churchill’s caught my attention as it exemplifies what I show to students and clients: the role insights coming from field research and their use in design:
“The idea of conducting field investigations that open our eyes to differences in ways of thinking and different norms for social action is not new, but it is easy to forget to look out for how our technologies are being adopted, adapted and indeed appropriated. Tom reminds us to move beyond simple characterizations of other perspectives and to field our technologies with a view to being surprised. Indeed, he suggests if we are notsurprised, perhaps we are not designing well enough. The humility of this approach is very appealing to me.“
Why do I blog this? I have only watched half of the videos but they present a rich overview of Social Computing. From Slashdot to Chatroulette, from CSCW to social media, it’s good to see this sort of panorama that show the evolution of this field. Especially given that it considers early projects and posit that platforms such as FB or Twitter embed traces (and design issues) already at stake 10 or 20 years go in other computing domains.
Thanks Mads for letting Pasta and Vinegar readers to access this material before the public release.