Tag Archive for social processing

Group Color Preferences

Red Head Festival, crowd shot

The Color of the Redhead Festival… …is NOT red! An annual festival of redheads has been taking place in Breda, Holland, was held on 3 September of this year. Almost 2000 red heads from 52 countries gathered together to share and revel in their DNA, BBC corresponded Tim Allman reported. In the sea of red, what stands out is a clear preference for color green. Somehow, the color green become the unofficial uniform of the red-headed. It’s not like they all thought: “I think everyone will be wearing green, so should I.” More likely, redheads believe they look better in green. But when every one in the group shows up in green, it strengthen the bond. Red Delegates, Blue Delegates Check out this crowd shot of the republican convention. Notice any color that stands out? How about at the democratic convention? And here’s a lighting scheme for the democratic convention: The convention organizers used color as a reenforcement of political unity for the delegates at both conventions. Using Color to Cement Group Affiliation There are certain professions that signal group membership with color: white used to be the preference for doctors and scientists working at a lab; green or blue…

Designing an Optimum Nudge

Tornado Exhibit at the Exploratorium

I’m sitting by a window looking out at a rainy Paris street, thinking of cultural differences between Paris and San Francisco, taking advantage of bad weather to do some writing. Over two decades ago, I did some ethnographic research a Exploratorium, looking at how different visitors interacted with the museum’s hands-on exhibits. I was looking for ways to improve the visitors’ experience, raise understanding of the phenomena they were observing. What I saw was different ways in which visitors experienced failure: p-prims that got in a way; folksy wisdom that caused confusion; lack of affordances that led to bottlenecks; permission giving that set up strange expectations; etc. The results of this study turned into a Master Thesis for UC Berkeley. Now, I would like to explore some of the ideas that surfaced during my Exploratorium research and apply them to design of nudging — carefully crafted affordances and perceptual cues that manipulated users into acting a certain way while maintaining the illusion of freedom of action. Let me start with a bit of history — a quick summary of some of the results of Exploratorium study. Permission Giving Two decades ago, “hands-on” exhibits were still novel in the museum world.…

Cultural Barriers to Success

Tim Buton Exhibition at La Cinémathèque in Paris

Man-made Disasters in a Wake of Tsunami This month, The Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission issued its final report on the disaster: It was man-made! Here’s a quote from the report: What must be admitted — very painfully — is that this was a disaster “Made in Japan.” Its fundamental causes are to be found in the ingrained conventions of Japanese culture: our reflexive obedience; our reluctance to question authority; our devotion to ‘sticking with the program”; our groupism; and our insularity. Had other Japanese been in the shoes of those who bear responsibility for this accident, the result may well have been the same. The last sentence is particular insightful — the blame was not rested on the shoulders of a particular individual, as tempting as that might be, or even on the shoulders of some manager. The fault was places on the cultural context in which the incident played out. Museums in Paris We just got back from seeing a Tim Burton exhibit at the La Cinémathèque, in Paris. The content of the exhibit, as one could imagine, is quite wonderful. But there were many, many human failures in making the visit an enjoyable experience. And yes,…

Special Preview: Socio-Technical System Design

Segway Tours in SF

Brian Whitworth and Adnan Ahmad contributed a chapter on Socio-Technical System Design for the free Interaction-Design textbook. This is a very interesting, if technical discussion of the subject. While reading it, I kept thinking about how I would love to debate some of the points raised in this Chapter in person. But lacking this opportunity, below are my ideas and thoughts on the subject of Socio-Technical System Design. First, let me give a quick summary of what is a socio-technological system paraphrasing a bit from Whitworth and Ahmad own words: Socio-technology is about technology and people. Technology is any device. IT system is then a combination of software AND device(s). Human computer interaction (HCI) is a person plus an IT system. Introduction of “person” brings physical, informational and psychological levels into the combined system. And finally, socio-technical system (STS) is merger of community and HCI(s). A Bit of Historical Perspective When my son was in third grade, he was given an assignment: compare some technology from today with that of 100 years ago. He chose transportation. Here’s his insight: 100 years ago, going from San Francisco to Berkeley took a very long time. There were no bridges. People had to drive their…

30,000 Years of Logo Evolution

Logos have undergone an amazing amount of visual change in the last 30,000 years — obvious statement, isn’t it? But if you look at the change, all grouped together, what we are seeing is the evolution of visual language. The way we relate to icons and what we want them to be is changing continuously. From “I was here” hand print on the wall of an ancient cave to the modern version of Apple logo, we are just trying to make a brand that the current generation of users finds visually appealing.

Special Preview: Wearable Computing (Steve Mann)

The next chapter in the Interaction-Design.org tome on human-computer interaction design is now up for an early review to my readers. This chapter takes on Wearable Computing and is written by Steve Mann. Mostly, this is a historical review of Prof. Mann’s experimentations with wearable computing devices, and for those unfamiliar with this subject area, this is an interesting introduction. On the left, you can see an early version of wearable computing: Steve Mann’s backpack based system from the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. But as always, I have a slightly different take on this topic… The Little Mac That Saved My Son’s Life Almost 18 years ago, I went into a preterm labor. At 24 and a half weeks into gestation, this was very scary. At the time, San Francisco Children’s Hospital was pioneering a program for high risk pregnancies (which mine just turned out to be). Two doctors, Dr. Kuts and Dr. Maine, figured out how to use an old Mac SE, a modem, a telephone, a subcutaneous pump, and a belt which measures contractions to allow women like me to stay at home as much as we could (as opposed to spending months in the hospital). Here’s…

Flattery — the Social Lubricant

Gentle Readers, As you have been undoubtably aware for some time, this blog aims for audience with well above average vocabulary and IQ. You and your fellow readers are a very select group with strong interest in science and product design. You are scientists, engineers, and intellectuals. You have an amazing sense of style and fashion. You are able to see patterns and spot details that escape most of those around you. How do I know? I can see the strong engagement with the material on this blog — it’s all there in black and white numbers provided helpfully by Google day in and out. Some of you might think this letter cynical. But all of you know that this content appeals directly your amygdala — you are as happy to be recognized for your brilliance as I’m for your continued readership of my writing. You all know you are special, and you want to be acknowledged as such by those around you. And not only are you all above average, you are also extraordinarily lucky. Some might call this the “optimism bias”, but you and I know that your chances of success are much higher than the average Joe…