Design Engaged 2004

We are all sat around a table in Amsterdam, at Design Engaged 2004. There are lots of photos going up to Flickr, and here are my notes.

h2. Ben Cerveny
* The growth of the soil
* How do we comprehend complexity
* How do we build structures around complex information
* Accreting meta-data: GPS data, descriptive information

h3. Decomposition
* Break down of material as it hits the soil
* Soup, tags, condensed and distilled meta objects

h3. Self organisation
* sorting mechanisms, affinity browsers, related, filtering, emergent relationships, interrelationships
* How do we conceive a metaphor for building these processes? A structure that is meaningful for the users.
* Application design: movement through states of application: to tending to a flow of processes
* Tending to meta-data is a growth process
* DLA diffusion limited aggregation, natural process model
* The relationships between metadata can be visualised as this * Should model metadata using plant models: plant models have existed for eons, basic structures for material

h3. Rules for expression
* L-systems growth, mimics biological rulesets
* Map rule-sets in metadata onto L-systems, affinity rules
* Branching tree structures could be used to make metadata more useful

h3. Roots and Feeds
* RSS feeds, a root system, aggregator has roots, to the surface of a newsreader

h3. Structural information
* After applying rules of expression (algorithms, l-systems) we could see differences in the way that the plant has evolved
* A “botany” of these different structures: smaller, larger clusters, structures.

h3. Cultivation as culture
* From a user perspective the idea of cultivation: users can actually affect change: can breed your own searches, using searches generationally, using own adapted metaphors for new contexts
* Mix and match mechanisms or instruments (specific rule-sets) move expressions and apply them to different rule-sets
* Don’t have to understand genetics, but we have found use for plants for generations
* User doesn’t need to know mechanisms, just ability to make changes and view outcomes

h3. Tending the garden
* Incredible complexity, incredible diversity
* Not intimidated by the complexity of the garden
* Present similar tools to tend to data

h3. Discussion
* Casey Reas: organic information design
* Thinkmap, physical simulation systems
* Mitchell Resnick: Turtles Termites, Traffic Jams
* Matt J: Does it rely on visual metaphors: how do we get people to cultivate rather than consume?

h2. Thomas Van Der Wal
* Synching feeling

h3. Everything fit in our brain
* then libraries
* then digital bits
* then putting everything in one place
* Our information on our pdas, cellphones, somewhere
* The dream is that we have accurate information at our disposal when we need it
* Personal info-cloud
* Local info-cloud: should it be located?
* External info-cloud: things you don’t know about
* How do users use information?
* Device versus network?
* Our networked space, that exists out in space
* Usable: syncing between two devices: calendar, address book, to do list
* Dodgy: documents, media maps, web-based info, multiple devices
* Personal version control: different devices have different versions
* Personal categorisation:

h3. Standard metadata for personal info-cloud
* content description
* creator
* privacy
* context
* use type (eg)
* instruction: destroy, revise in 6 months
* object type:
* categories: not a structured system, but hackable flat data

h3. Actual solutions
* Spotlight (Apple Tiger)
* MIT Project Oxygen

h3. Possible/partial solutions
* Script aggregation by metadata tag
* Publish to private/public location in RSS
* Rsynk and CVS
* Groove (Windows)
* Quicksilver (Mac)

h2. Adam Greenfield
* All watched over by machines of loving grace
* Some ethical guidelines for user experience in ubiquitous computing environments
* Ubicomp is coming: IPV6 6.5×10 to the 23 addresses for every square metre on the planet
* Moving from describing to prescribing
* Technological artefacts are too dismissive of people
* Someone to watch over me: attractive as well as scary

h3. Default to harmlessness
* must ensure user’s physical psychic and financial safety
* must go well beyond graceful degredation
* faults must result in safety

h3. Be self disclosing
* Contain provisions for immediate, transparent querying of ownership, use, capabilities, etc.
* Seamlessness is optional
* Analogue of broadcast station identification or military IFF
* Web derived model for user-consent: cannot carry over to ubicomp, would be too intrusive to have to approve each and every disclosure of information in four space

h3. Be conservative of face
* ubiquitous systems are always already social systems: they must not unnecessarily embarras, himiliate or shame
* Goes beyond formal information-privacy concerns
* Prospect of being nakedly accountable to an inseen omipresent network

h3. Be conservative of time
* Must not introduce undue complications into ordinary operations
* Adult, competent users understand adequately what they want, shouldn’t introduce barriers
* Potential conflict with principle 1

h3. Be deniable
* Should be able to opt-out, anytime, anywhere, any process
* Critically: the ability to say no, without sacrificing anything but the ability to use whatever usage
* The “safe word” concept may find an application here

h3. Discussion
* Fabio: what about gossip
* Chris: surely there’s human responsibility
* Tom C: Social control includes humiliation and embarrasment
* Molly: systems for shaming: can be institutionalised and applied in problem places: difference between smart and smartass. Haven’t got good enough at modelling situations in order to get this right.

h2. Stefan Smagula
* Teaching and writing about interaction design

h2. Mike Kuniavsky
* Writing about ubicomp, society and social
* Material products areform from social values
* Products affect how we think
* The pattern is “a recognition of the complexity, unpredictability, confusion of the world”
* The framework of thought of the last 600 years is coming to an end
* “by dividing the world into smaller pieces, ways can be found to explain it”: this method is waning
* Communication and transportation has been the key driver of this change
* Shown people (designers?) how complex life is
* Most people don’t know what to do about this complexity
* At the end of the prescriptive rationalist vision of the world
* It is our job as designers to recognise these ideas: “design is a projection of people’s ideals onto product”
* Past the confusion of postmodernism: the complexity hasn’t been branded yet, hasn’t been given a core set of ideas
* Book: Human built world
* The complexity of the world is an uncomfortably bright light, people turn away: designers can make it manageable
* Go to the light of compexity!

h3. Discussion
* Adam: are we up against biological limits: are we wired to deal with things in a linear way? Yes: physiological limits: 7 +-2.
* Ben: we conceive as a subtractive process: a mental scene out of an excess of input: we have a body of linear tools to process. There is a realisation that we are non-linear systems: technology is becoming us, and the other way around.
* Matt: we can learn complexity way more than we realise: tests show that we subconsciously learn complexity beyond language and rational thought
* Magical thinking is not wrong: all our models are wrong
* Tom C: Looking at people as shearing layers of perception and cognition

h2. Remon Tijssen
* Behaviours, tactility and graphics
* Tensionfield between playfulness and functionality

h2. David Erwin
* The funnel
* Serial, parallel and optional interfaces

h2. Peter Boersma
* Transactional interfaces
* ezGov uses IBMs RUP
* RUP is weak in user-experience
* Added StUX, definitions of deliverables for user experience

h2. Dan Hill
* Self centred design
* Not selfish design
* Background: adaptive design, design as social process, inspiration from vernacular architecture, hackability, allowing and encouraging people to make technology what they want to be
* Inspiration from trip to US
* Assumption that UCD is generally a good thing
* The focus on usability has distracted people: it has become an end in itself
* UCD manifests itself in usability, at the expense of usefulness
* Cultural and social products: massive variation of use across the globe
* Products most innovative at BBC/music: audioscrobbler/lastFM: intense meaning in the patterns it generates. More innovative than iTunes music store. Steam: setting reminders for radio stations: hacked third party product, BBC is trying to support this innovation.
* This innovation is coming from non-designers
* Veen: Amateurised design: the most interesting design on the web: Shirky: Situated software
* Always consider a thing in it’s next larger context: Eliel Saarinen: useful piece of design process. Chair, room, house, city.
* A lot of information about the self, coming out of these systems
* Audioscrobbler: looking at ones music, bookmarks, photos, lunches, weblog posts, gps co-ordinates: how does this affect habits?
* Pace of development: what can be done on the web.
* Self-knowledge and enlightenment: how does it affect one’s life
* The practice and focus of design is moving towards behaviour

h3. Limitations
* This is early adopter activity, this is geeky, high barrier to entry, it requires code to make these things. It’s self limiting: only certain kind of people can make these products.
* Scaleability problems: resilience: lack of reliability of iterative development, when will we be at the stage when we can rely on things working?
* BBC, radio broadcasting needs to be resilient: public service
* Database design and scaleability: Flickr doesn’t need to be normalised
* Common appeal of these things is self-limiting: too much systems level thinking.
* Moving into a space where products are social, and can have social meaning, and thus be socially harmful
* People’s assumption and experiences are based on context
* Need to be more rigourous about understanding social patterns
* audioscrobbler is not good at classical music
* Designers and researchers need better understanding of each other
* Designers are at their most useful when they are enabling adaptive design
* Using ethnography within a design process, look at long-term ethnographic process: hooking it into the rapid prototyping of the adaptive design world
* There is the value of sociology here. Ethno-methodology, Heidegger
* Book: Where the action is, Dourish.
* Social systems work well when there is accountability
* Building things where this also builds an account of the building
* Place and space: place being about social structures
* Embodiment: Appropriating products, building social meanings into products
* Accountability: part of the action is a documentation of the action (Dourish). Is ‘view source’ accountability?
* Book: Presentation of self: Irvine Goffman

h2. Matt Webb
* Neuroscience and interaction design
* This is really mostly psychology
* Game: remembering animals
* Light comes from top left
* Easier to react in the direction that things approach you from
* Dialogue boxes, work with natural directions
* We follow human eye direction, not robot eye direction, pulling a lever is faster when eyes point in that direction
* We respond the same to arrows as we do to gaze
* All that neuroscience has done is to confirm what we know from psychology
* 3 types of object, animate, inanimate and tool
* 3 zones: graspable, peripersonal The schema of the body is extended by the held tools
* Our body space is quite mutable: space on a screen becomes the space represented by the body, anything which moves as part of your hand becomes part of your grasp, there’s an amount of time that this takes to understand this, learning process and experience
* Grasping has as much primacy as a cup itself: so “sit down” or “chair” are equivalent in the brain
* If we see or say grasping, or looking at coffee cup shows
* “What to do with too much information is the great riddle of our time” a* Mapping observed phenomena to the science of jetstreams, same thing will happen to neuroscience.

h2. John Poisson
* The stretch time conundrum
* Sony is a huge force: vaunted to villified in three short decades
* Loss of brand value: products are not meeting user expectations
* Sony founders have changed, directions have changed
* One of the problem is in the fact that it’s japanese: basic simple cultural processes
* Hikaru dorodango: process refinement as creative expression: successively sculpting and crafting mud balls into spheres
* 3 interconnected languages are undocumentably mixed
* Languages are connected to neurological development: learning japanese at an early age increases the threshold of tolerance of the pain of complexity: Kanji pain begets user pain.
* At first thought that it was a problem of language, but then realised this increased tolerance of complexity pain.
* Sony “iPod killer” is a user-experience nightmare, but for japanese it’s not too complex
* There’s an overall acceptance of complexity in Japan
* Pattern based learning: origami: 48 steps of process, more complex than interfaces
* Stretch time: at 3o’clock on the Sony campus everyone stops, music plays and everyone is encouraged to stretch.
* Process is good: start with rice cookers and end up with transistors: releasing lots of stuff and then seeing what works. But there are a lot more misses than hits at the moment

h2. Sanjay Khanna
* Kurt Vonnegut in “Cold Turkey”
* Mike: intended effects are insignificant compared with the emergent effects, just noise compared to the overall outcomes

h2. Niels Wolf
* Intro to JXTA
* Works on every network device
* Allows control over your data, sharing, peer to peer backup
* Implemented in many languages: including python
* Assigned a unique number, which works across IP, bluetooth, mobile rendezvous, etc.
* Everybody becomes a server if no other can be found

h2. Molly Wright Steenson
* All hail the vast comforting suburb of the soul
* Lots of research into garden cities
* Worried that the future is going to be boring
* Closing off some avenues for development by focusing on urban environments
* What are the constraints that define a suburb?

h2. Jack Schulze
* Mapping and looking
* Lots of cool stuff: no notes.

h2. Matthew Ward
* Questioning the commodification of space
* We are social, spatial, temporal beings

h3. What were the conditions for the rise of these spatial technologies
* 2001 descrambling of GPS
* FCC policy to make sure 911 callers can be located
* Ubiquity of mobile phones
* If we don’t move away from the “where’s my nearest pizza” we are going to get really bored really soon
* Differential space: socio-spatial differences are emphasised and celebrated
* Iain Borden: Skateboarding
* “social space is a social product.” “Our task now is to construct everyday life, to produce it, consciously to create it, boredom is pregnant with desires, frustrated desires” Lefebvre.

h2. Chris Heathcote
* Nuts and bolts, how to use location
* Location is co-ordinates
* Location is names and titles
* Location is also near Matt Webb, or near my iBook: relative position might be more useful way of thinking
* Physical augmentation: using, abusing, changing where they live
* Visual design: Buddy finder on mobile phones: spatially false, chart junk
* Context awareness is really hard:
* What happens when you get rid of the maps?
* Lots more cool stuff that I didn’t take notes on…

h2. Matt Jones
* Nokia: Insight and foresight
* A hard problem: “Ubicomp is hard, understanding people, context and the world is hard, getting computers to handle everyday situations is hard, and expectations are set way too high.” Gene Becker, Fredshouse.net
* Next-gen mobile: big screens, more whizzy features, but we still have the same old messy world
* A modest start: being in the world instead of in front of the screen
* 3220: 5140: power up covers with new capabilities
* 3220: LED displays with accelerometers and thus motion capture
* Where the action is: This ignores 99% of our daily lives
* dance dance revolution and eyetoy: new world
* 5140: first RFID reader phone
* New ways of using mobiles with touch based tech
* easy and concrete access to services and repeat functions
* transfer of digital items between devices as simple as a gesture of giving
* in the future also fast and convenient local payment and ticketing: fast, easy way of getting settings and services
* When you count all the steps to make simple actions are about 100 actions: to find settings, set up the human modem thing
* Touch actions are potentially two orders of complexity less: into 1 action
* LAunched active cover with NFC: near field communication: philips, sony, visa, samsung: nfcforum.org
* Pairing things up, putting things together (how is this different from BT? passive chips)
* Prototype things!
* NFC is a touch based RFID technology
* Putting the information into the tag: can contain more than an ID
* Close mapping to physical objects: Dourish
* NFC active objects will have mixed spirit world of objects having magic behind them: permitted moves for games, origins of objects, spime like stuff,
* One to one mapping: multiple digital meanings on objects
* it’s not a one-way world: these things are re-writeable: secular isn’t the dominant way of thinking
* Now that we can give objects spirit world, semiotic, actions
* Into fetish objects: auspicious computing, unique wooden balls (minority report)
* Friendster: a game of how many connections. Turning into an info-fetish physical game
* – phones are precious, tags are not
* – throwaway, data detritus, spime spume
* + programmatic product life-cycle
* + audit trails for trash
* + automation of recycling
* Techno-optimism
* WWF: sustainability at the speed of light

h3. Long now, (Stewart Brand)
* Fashion
* Commerce
* Infrastructure
* Governance
* Culture
* Nature
* Sometimes technology can disrupt these layers

h2. Fabio Sergio
* From collision to convergence
* How I learned to stop worrying and watch tv on my mobile phone
* 2001: who the hell would want to watch tv on a mobile?
* 2003: using mobile to watch big brother from the car
* consultants: timeliness, context sensitivity, self-expression, immediacy, relevance
* People rely on their connected devices to fill-in interstitial time slots
* Armed with this notion outlets aquired content and chopped it into 3-5 minute videos
* The end result is too much navigation and not enough content, undermines the concept of “snacking”. The navigation has become the experience
* Navigation is not bad per-se, the web is arguably built on it
* Flow: where the consumer is completely engaged with interaction
* Mobile content experiences happen in contexts that basically negate the ability to focus
* How do you access video: at the moment through a browser
* Big Brother: lessons learnt
* Always on-ness: there is aways something new happening: marshall mcluhan meets orwell
* Something might happen at any time
* Action can be just a video call away
* Easy to get into the flow of what’s happening
* Cut to measure: as little or as long as you want
* Conversation-based: you can keep hearing when you can’t watch: don’t need to look at the screen
* Why should the browser and media player be two different applications? should probably be one.
* People need context medium content, probably in this order
* The handset should be a remote control: as much as possible make navigation resident on teh device
* Content should be snackish: but should be grouped
* The experience should be around the on/off switch

h2. Timo Arnall

* “Presentation and notes”:http://www.elasticspace.com/2004/11/spatial-memory-design-engaged

h2. Sunday discussion

* Brief: design a ticket machine that also allows city navigation and takes care of tourists and busy commuters equally, that doesn’t have a screen
* Alternative brief: A permanent tag large enough to contain digital info, that could be unobtrusively attached to anything in public space
* Mechanisms for friendly denial

h3. I’m lost: design a physical pathway which
* includes the idea of signs to explain features of teh environment to the unmediated
* which could serve as a compensation or apology for people denied in the ubiquitous sense
* which was distinctively local and amsterdamish
* includes infrastructure
* poetics and emotional enhancements required

Overheard somewhere at the bar: anthropology/ethnography is this year’s library science: another new/old juxtaposition. Not that I agree.