Tag Archive for social value

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.

Design Solution to Real World Problem — Speeding!

Canada Road Slowdown Project

Knowing something about behavior, visual processing, and human nature, designers can nudge users into doing the right (or in this case, lawful) action. Speeding is a problem all over the world. People are notorious for underestimating the real amount of time it takes to get places they need to be. Traffic congestion, car problems, detours, and other (un)foreseen events can make a huge difference in time variability of getting from one place to another. The problem, though, is that we can’t really force people to leave on time or drive the speed limit when the drivers think that no one is looking. So with the law on our side, we can create other ways of forcing people to behave lawfully by changing environmental conditions and relying on human nature not to do what’s right, but to do what they think they have to based on circumstance. Here are a few creative ways of solving the speeding problem on our streets. Using Visual Processing Errors to Slow Traffic Canadian drives misdiagnose the problem and try to drive straddling the “hole” in the road. Everyone is successfully slowed down. The Fake Traffic Cop Threat as a Speeding Deterrent In general, people tend…

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…

Special Preview: Visual Aesthetics

Terry Herbert Gold Sward Decoration

Interaction-Design.org is doing an amazing job of developing a textbook for Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) Design. This newest chapter, Visual Aesthetics in human-computer interaction and interaction design by Noam Tractinsky works to tease out the aspects of design that make products appealing, memorable, culturally-appropriate, emotionally satisfying, and beautiful. Beauty & Aesthetics Evolve in Time It’s good to remember that what we find beautiful and appealing changes and evolves in time as well as across cultures. Here’s a wonderful demonstration: 500 Years of Female Portraits in Western Art. What Makes Design Beautiful? In the Interaction-Design.org chapter, Tractinsky starts with Vitruvius’ design principles. Vitruvius lived in the 1st century BC and develop a set of standard criteria by which to evaluate architecture: Firmitas — durability or life-span of the building in relation to its purpose; Utilitas — usability of the building by its intended audience; and Venustas — the beauty of the building (this would be culturally-specific). 2,000 years on and we still talk about durability, usability, and aesthetics of products. Since this chapter discusses architecture, I would like to talk about weapons. Weapons pre-date architecture, but they still follow the same rules for design: durability and reusability, usability, and beauty. If you’ve…

Information in the Age of ICT: the Guardian Newspaper 3 Little Pigs Ad

The 2012 Guardian newspaper ad really captures the flow of information in the age of ICT (Information Communication Technologies). The ad retells the story of the 3 little pigs, their houses, and the big bad wolf. It shows how stories change with spin and through propagation through social media: twitter, Facebook, email, etc. Well done!