Archive for the ‘technology’ Category

THE conference, Sweden 2016

Saturday, August 27th, 2016

I came to The Conference in Malmö, Sweden as a user experience designer in transition and found it not just inspiring but profound and moving, even tearing up a few times. This past year I’ve been following a a few vague, disparate leads looking for a more holistic vision of design which amazingly materialized at this one gathering. It felt like thee new new and the most interesting potential future to be a part of.

This is the first time I’ve seen ethical and effective approaches to design practice considered at all levels – from macro-economic systems, business and organizational structure, through the design process, down to UI executions and employee support. I’m not sure the word design quite covers it. There were ethnographers, journalists, chefs, researchers and artists working in a range of environments – as solo practitioners, within large corporations, at universities, and at small agencies and collectives. The Conference is not a design conference per se but aims to “explore complexity and trends in the digital world”. There is no defined medium, discipline or industry since it depends on the problem – many of which require multiple platforms and connections between organizations and silos. It’s more a sensibility, materializing based on the focus of the practitioner. Projects have the scale and complexity common in the tech/startup world without the hyper-capitalism (Uber for social infrastructure!) There’s the sophistication, innovation, and high visual/production value commonly reserved for customer-facing corporations and luxury markets, but with the goal of creating a better society.



one button operation

Friday, April 4th, 2014

SXSW Future15 Convergence

Monday, March 14th, 2011

It was great to meet and/or hear talks by Richard Bullwinkle, David Maher Roberts, Jesse Streb, Anthea Foyer, Utku Can, Harry Mower, David Berkowitz, Alex Hachey and special thanks to Dan Shust for putting it all together.

Fitting everything into 10 or 15 minutes is challenging, but makes for a dense overview of new ideas. If anyone stopped by and has any thoughts to share please email or comment. It was difficult to find room for conversation during the session with so much going on.

Here are the slides from the talk.

“We’re so passive, TV viewers”

Saturday, February 5th, 2011

This Hill Holliday video of users trying new connected TV technologies has been making the blog rounds so this might be a little redundant, but it sums up such an important point for people working on iTV products. See their original blog post here.

An Experiment In Cord Cutting

Revisiting Scifi, pt. 1

Monday, January 24th, 2011

Beyond Scifi: Design For Surfaces and Big Screens touched on a few different ideas in contextualizing futuristic UI design for real world usage with current technology. Many of the new platforms we’re using like touch tables, touch walls, and interactive TVs, seem straight out of sci-fi movies. However, in movies they’re often used as cinematic props or storytelling devices. Things that blow us away at the theater might actually be boring or frustrating for an actual user. So I pulled out some common challenge areas and decision points that can keep futuristic platforms feeling cool and futuristic for users. The key areas I’ll be posting blog articles about are:

1. Communal Computing
2. Modes of Interaction
3. Leniency of Input
4. Modes of Free Gesture


tv + tablet = :)

Saturday, July 3rd, 2010

Comcast showed off a great execution of multi-platform strategy for the new TV experience at The Cable Show last month with their program guide on the iPad. Is this the train of thought getting Steve Jobs to rethink the hobby status of Apple TV?

baroque tech

Friday, June 25th, 2010

John Underkoffler’s TED talk and MS Kinect previews have been making the rounds, but the following links feel more prescient…
Fujitsu’s motion sensing laptop interface makes no sense
Why talk to a computer? Surely talking to a human is traumatic enough?


Though I’d still be interesting in trying Kinect. The motion controls seem to be direct: real motion = onscreen motion (hopefully without much UI to bog you down). I also hear tell of some kinda DDR killer. I’m just not sure it’s the answer to input devices, or even to gaming (especially if you live above someone).

As for g-speak, I haven’t heard of or seen any concrete applications. Swimming through abstract 3D data or video editing via sign language sound like a lot of extra work – physically and conceptually. I’m starting to think the future peaked a couple years ago and tech is getting dramatic, fussy, and simply for the sake of making more tech. I wouldn’t throw away my mouse just yet.

sustainable interaction design

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.
– Einstein


I’ve spent the past few weeks collecting thoughts on the Valerie Casey keynote at SXSW, but it got too complicated. So instead, here’s a bunch of stuff I found insightful or inspiring in the process (followed by some thoughts on how to move forward)…

    In Colonizing Sustainability, David Stairs shares some of his thoughts on Designers Accord and others. There are also notable comments by John Thackara and Eric Benson.

    The idea of “System Design” makes me think of the discourse around “Design Thinking” in the fact that design is now so broad it can mean basically anything. On a related tangent, Rick Poynor’s thoughts on Bruce Mau struck me on the difference between designers and design thinkers and the why there’s some unease with the latter.

    But a lot of the truly influential ideas I find come from non-designers…
    Built to Trash: Is ‘heirloom design’ the cure for consumption?
    ‘The Road From Ruin’: Are We Naive Idiots For Thinking Business Can Be Anything But Greedy?
    Jacqueline Novogratz: Pioneer of “market-based” philanthropy
    Tim Kasser: Professor and Chair of Psychology (focus: materialism)
    Michael Pollan, food guru
    Jeffrey Hollender on The Responsibility Revolution, CSR 2.0, and Blowing Your Lawyer’s Mind
    Live simple: Radical tactics to reduce the clutter, complexity, and costs of your life.

My big question in all my searching was – is sustainable design financially sustainable? I’ve mostly seen projects that *cost* designers money and the few potentially for-profit endeavors involved seductive green consumer products (or as Casey would say, doing “less bad”). Is this movement being promoted by professional organizations as a hobby?

What I would really hope to learn from the leaders in sustainable design is how to create relationships with other industries. How do we work with non-profits, government, and business innovators who are rethinking old standards of success? How can we start collaborating with professionals in policy, science, social research, journalism, etc. instead of naively fumbling around with these ourselves? This kind of facilitation and networking could really enable opportunities for designers and start to reshape the character of our industry. I’d also like to see more real-world examples with success metrics and not just gallery shows. For successful projects, I’d be interested in hearing the specific challenges and solutions from the designers involved. All the designers I’ve seen in this space are very heavy on self-promotion and very sparse on details and actionable takeaways for fellow designers.


SXSW Interactive 2010: day 2

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

Saw a few more panels, but Danah Boyd on “Privacy and Publicity” was definitely a stand out. It’s easy to get in a muddly info-overload state with about 25 different talks/events an hour for about 9 hours. But as you hope for in an opening keynote, this talk was clear and had an important message that needs to be heard.


Boyd spoke of how reckless we are with privacy in this orgy of social media and showed us some of the real casualties. She brought up excellent points on the qualities and value of privacy and the perils of celebrity, especially when it’s forced. She discusses how far-reaching changes in Facebook privacy rules were rolled out in a careless and exploitive manner and goes into some consequences you probably never thought about. There are many whose lives depend on controlling this information – like those who have been abused by a partner or family member or children of illegal immigrants. There are also groups like teachers who can’t complicate their identities among their students without consequences and of course kids and teens who don’t always realize the consequences of what they’re doing. She also discusses the implications of using aggregators to find and feature personal content.

It’s a must-hear for anyone designing features and systems for social media. It comes down to respecting your users over irresponsible experimentation in a ruthless quest for being the next internet meme.

SXSW Interactive 2010: day 1

Friday, March 12th, 2010

I have to say, going to a conference has a different feel when you’re a presenter and not just a punter. I end up paying more attention to presentation techniques (the transitions, the things that work, the things that can go wrong) as well as how panels frame the content – what they include and leave out. And being on the last day leaves more room for prep and anticipation and less room for partying. Oh wellz.

The first panel I got to was Touch + The Holy Grail of Delight. This seemed the most like Beyond Sci-fi so I was especially curious. Turns out it’s a bit of a different focus, theirs being retail. They talked through their use cases on immersive out-of-home touch screens that augment and personalize product information in stores.

There is some crossover with my talk in getting at the importance of multi-platform strategy. Us UX designers just can’t stand the thought of porting what’s essentially a web site to these emerging platforms. The more we can get that across to clients the better!

Being a touchy-feely day, I also caught A Touchy History of the Future. The talk basically covered some emerging and futuristic technologies like brain interfaces, RFID, jetpacks, etc. with some thoughts on how compelling or viable they were. Um, I think. They were actually couched in terms of how compelling or viable they were in a future zombie apocalypse. Kinda funny, kinda random. But I agree with Stassi on voice (it’s too loud).

The last one I caught was PayTV vs. Internet – The Battle For Your TV. Or rather, I caught the first few minutes until the Austin Convention Center had to be evacuated (!). I think it turned out a false alarm, but in the confusion I didn’t catch the rest – and really wish I did.