Tag Archive for social value

2013 Think Tank Presentation on Socio-Technical System Design

I’m about to leave for Washington D.C. for a Think Tank on Citizen Engagement in Biomedical Research. I have only five minutes to talk during the introductory speed geeking event, where all of us get to know about each other and each other’s projects. I’m going there to talk about our lessons learned from designing complex socio-technical systems that required intense participation from their users. I’ve been working on designing such systems for many years now. Some projects were/are very successful, some not so much. I’m not sure I will be able to give a full account of what we’ve learned, so I’m putting up a long(ish) version of my presentation here — if I had 15 minutes, this is what I would say to our very interesting group of participants. I chose these four complex socio-technical systems because all of them were in some measure educational ventures and all required outside users to contribute large amounts of data. I will start with Ushahidi. Ushahidi was born during the 2007 Kenyan election. That election was bloody and the violence, in many cases perpetrated by the government, was not being reported. Ushahidi was a grass-roots effort to tell their countrymen and…

Daniel Kahneman, Customer Service, and Perception of Quality

Last week, we went to listen to a talk by Daniel Kahneman and by coincidence I’ve just finished reading his book, Thinking Fast and Slow, just a few months ago. The ideas in the book are amazing and worth a read (it would be great if the two academic papers included in the back of the book and for which Dr. Kahneman received his Nobel Prize in Economics were printed in a font larger than 8 points!). And a few days after the lecture, I was struck by an obvious application of his ideas, or more to the point, how his experiential self versus remembering self concepts help explain the customer service phenomenon. It has been known for a long time that politeness of error messages and civility of customer service play a strong roll in how the experience with the product is remembered. Above a small portion of the Google Image Search results for “error messages”. The internet is full of these because people get so irked by such messages that they want to share their bad experiences with others. The results are just as illuminating for “bad customer service stories”. Again, a good bad story has legs! But…

Forgetting by Design

Why Mothers Scream email forward

I get a lot of email forwards…don’t we all? And just the other day I got one that I have seen many times already over the past few years… Usually, you look, you smirk, you move on. But this time, the photo got me thinking: that poor kid — he has no memory of this shot, but he will be remembered for it for the rest of his life! The shot has long ago slipped from the close circle of sharing that his parents intended it for and has been widely distributed through out the world. Someday, this kid might even get it as mail forward himself: an adult man looking at a silly embarrassing moment that got away… Information with Expiration Date Somehow, I don’t imagine that getting “an image that got away” of oneself would be a source of continuous pleasure. One might want to forget the whole thing… And it is not just images — although having images with expiration dates would be very valuable — there are loads of information that should be forgotten by design. When my generation was growing up, the silly and stupid things we did didn’t end up as data for public…

Same Desire, Cultural Shift in Solution

Give cigarettes for christmas

Over time, some desires have stayed constant: an aversion to pain, a wish for health, a longing to be loved, and a craving for wealth, power, and youth. But desires are susceptible to cultural shifts, and so they shift with the whim of fashion: the need to be thin, the hope to fit the norms of current beauty, the yearning for popularity, an aspiration for fame. Each generation comes up with solutions for their desired that are based in the cultural soup that nourished them. What is a cultural soup? Well, it’s a heady mixture of the following: anxiety — each generation has their own issues that they loose sleep over. In addition to the ones that their parents experienced, each generation can choose and pick and invent their own worries. affordances — affordances are available actions that are mired in context and situation. As context changes, affordances evolve. Each generation sees a unique subset of problem solutions. emotional design — each generation is stirred by issues and fashion that are uniquely their own. Emotional design is by definition tied to a particular group of people, be they joined in time, cause, or geography. Social value, user satisfaction, and emotional…

Innovating Justice for the New Millennium

2012-11-16 Rachel Moran, Sanela Diana Jenkins, and Richard Steinberg with Innovating Justice Award

This month, The Hague Institute for the Internationalisation of Law (HiiL) announced the finalists for its Innovating Justice Awards. The top three justice innovations for 2012 were The Human Rights & International Criminal Law Online Forum, a partnership between International Criminal Court Office of the Prosecutor (ICC OTP) and UCLA School of Law; The National Justice in Your Community programme of Peru, a project that supports volunteer efforts of judges in their local communities to share their legal knowledge and experience; and Peace Tones, a project that works to protect the rights of world musicians through technology and education. “Innovation is one of the important growth variables. We also see the rule of law as one of the most important factors in the welfare and well-being of the society,” stated Dr. Anne van Aaken, Innovating Justice jury chair and Max Schmidheiny Foundation Professor for Law and Economics, Public, International and European Law. “Justice innovations have the potential to contribute immensely to human welfare, just like technical innovation do.” Thinking broadly, there are three categories of justice innovations. One focuses on providing education and access to the existing laws to the undeserved communities. There’s lots of misinformation out there. And those…

Define your terms: What is sex?

The article, “Sex Makes You Smarter — Can ‘Virtual Sex’ Do The Same?” was a great example of either knowing your audience too well or over-using jargon. The most prevalent problem in it was the lack of defined terms. The author assumed that the reader knew terms like: neurogenesis, glucocorticoid levels, and dendritic architecture (a case of cognitive blindness). But the biggest failure was the author’s negligence to define the most basic term about which the article was written: sex. What is sex? Who is having it? How are they having it? These questions were unanswered. The research on which the article was based indicated that male rats were the subject of the study and were “exposed” to sexually-receptive female rats. That was it. That was the only definition of sex in the entire article, and it was a very vague definition, especially if one extrapolated it to the realm of human sex, which is known to be complicated and varied. Is the author talking about the sexual gratification of males only? If sex was a form of exercise, as the author explained it was, how much caloric effort should the male engage in to achieve it or what heart rate should…