ISA 2014 – share this site
By Steve Portigal at 8:44 am, Wednesday October 01 2014

ISA 2014.

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This Week @ Portigal
By Steve Portigal at 11:43 am, Monday September 29 2014
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This Week @ Portigal
By Steve Portigal at 8:52 am, Monday September 22 2014
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People Have The Power, Says Tech
By Steve Portigal at 8:29 am, Tuesday September 16 2014

I saw this BitTorrent billboard in San Francisco last weekend.
bittorrent
Its specific message is opaque, telling us only that people are greater than servers. Hopefully we knew that already, but now we know that BitTorrent knows that too, via this techno-corporate version of a spray-painted cri de coeur. (Looking online for the image, I found the above on BitTorrent’s blog where it may refer to some peer-to-peer alternative to peer-to-cloud product, but that’s as far as I got).

The New York Times carried this full-page ad for PayPal yesterday.
paypal
Beginning with the constitutional We The People , the copy culminates with their new slogan, a graffiti-rendered People Rule.

Maybe there are humanists at both these organizations who are indeed passionate about the people they are trying to serve, but it’s hard not to be cynical about these corporations co-opting the language and aesthetics of rebellion and independence to persuade us to adopt their particular technology product versus some other. More than anything, it looks as if the tech industry is trying (yet again) to humanize its image.

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This Week @ Portigal
By Steve Portigal at 9:51 am, Monday September 15 2014
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This Week @ Portigal
By Steve Portigal at 9:23 am, Monday September 08 2014
  • It’s fantastic to have this week and next week without any travel.
  • Beyond just a general gathering of wits, I’m focused on laying the groundwork for a new program, details to be revealed down the road. As well, I’m doing networking meetings and phone calls with colleagues and conversations with prospective clients, laying groundwork for the short- and medium-term.
  • Also coming up in a couple of weeks, I’m doing a workshop about synthesizing field data at EuroIA in Brussels (to be followed by a fun side trip to Berlin).
  • Ten years gone: From September 2004 – Cream puff heaven.
  • What we’re consuming: PizzaHacker, the life cycle of a catchphrase, Go For Sisters, Agony Wagon.
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This Week @ Portigal
By Steve Portigal at 7:25 pm, Monday September 01 2014
  • I’m sitting in the airport lounge, waiting for my flight from Sydney back to San Francisco. It’s Tuesday here, and a holiday Monday in the US. I left my AirBnB in Hobart at 4:00 am to get a flight to Melbourne and then to Sydney. I’ll be spending a good couple of days just trying t recover from a wonderful trip – a great conference with a successful workshop on mindfulness and a well-received talk about the War Stories. A recording is coming soon.
  • One last reminder/request for comments (and votes) here for my proposed War Stories talk at SXSW.
  • This weekend, I’m doing a full-day workshop on user research at UX-STRAT in Boulder.
  • Ten years gone: From September 2004 – Why not adopt a Wild Horse or Burro?.
  • What we’re consuming: Picklemouse Corner, Lincoln’s Rock, Little Rivers Dark Lager, Museum of Old and New Art, hot chocolate, Julius Popp’s Bit.fall.
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This Week @ Portigal
By Steve Portigal at 8:45 am, Monday August 25 2014

I can see my house from here!

  • I’m en route to Sydney for UX Australia. I’m very excited to be speaking about presence and mindfulness in my workshop The Designer is Present, and War Stories in my talk Epic Fail. The country is lovely, the people are excellent and the breakfasts are superb. I’ll be taking a day trip to the gorgeous Blue Mountains and then visiting Hobart in Tasmania very briefly, before heading home early next week.
  • Last week was Seattle, with Dan Szuc, where we did a workshop and a talk with IxDA Seattle. I spoke about soft skills and my slides are here.
  • Please comment (and vote) here for my proposed War Stories talk at SXSW.
  • After Australia, I’m doing a full-day workshop on user research at UX-STRAT in Boulder and a half-day workshop about synthesizing field data at EuroIA in Brussels. Spread the word as there is still room in both workshops.
  • Ten years gone: From August 2004 – SF discovers Nanaimo Bars, Verizon adds fees to see your bill, Team America and Thunderbirds.
  • What we’re consuming: dim sum, a big-ass warm cookie, Park Chalet, Austin Powers.
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Steve on Tuesday #TechHour
By Steve Portigal at 10:50 am, Wednesday August 20 2014

I was on Kitchener’s 570 News technology radio program yesterday, invited by the great folks from Fluxible to speak very briefly about user research. I’m on about 15 minutes in. It starts with a rousing discussion of UX’s role, where companies are doing some unpleasant things in the name of “improving the user experience.”

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

To download the audio Right-Click and Save As… (Windows) or Ctrl-Click (Mac).

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This Week @ Portigal
By Steve Portigal at 8:24 am, Monday August 18 2014

I’m taking today off to hang with my family visiting from Vancouver. But here’s the story for this week

  • Tomorrow I’m flying up to Seattle. I go from the airport directly to co-host a workshop with Dan Szuc and then share the stage with him for a talk the next night. The workshop is waitlisted but there may still be room for the talk. Details here. I’ll also have the chance to meet up with other friends and colleagues in town, and maybe grab a donut or two.
  • I’ll be making my first appearance on AM radio in decades, as part of Tuesday #TechHour, along with the folks from Fluxible. I’ll be talking about UX and interviewing users.
  • I’ve proposed a talk at SXSW about the War Stories (a talk I’ve given at CHIFOO and coming up at UX Australia). It’d be great if you could VOTE for it! Please!
  • This weekend I’m leaving for Sydney for UX Australia, where I’ll be leading The Designer is Present workshop and as I mentioned above, doing a presentation about the War Stories.
  • Also coming up in a few weeks, I’m doing a full-day workshop on user research at UX-STRAT in Boulder and a half-day workshop about synthesizing field data at EuroIA in Brussels (to be followed by a side trip to Berlin, just for fun).
  • Ten years gone: From August 2004 – Exorcist: The Beginning, The Hairiest Man in All of China.
  • What we’re consuming: Paul Rand, Saul Bass, Happy Taco, Klean Kanteen, Lemos Farm.
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Vote for my SXSW War Stories talk
By Steve Portigal at 10:50 am, Tuesday August 12 2014

I’ve taking the story of the War Stories on the road lately. I spoke at CHIFOO in June and will be talking at UX Australia in few weeks.

I’ve proposed a similar talk for SXSW 2015. Part of their selection process involves commenting and voting from the public. Please comment on and vote for my talk!

Vote here!

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This Week @ Portigal
By Steve Portigal at 7:57 am, Monday August 11 2014

Greetings from Southern California

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Overcoming bias and developing empathy
By Steve Portigal at 11:35 am, Tuesday August 05 2014

Here are two interesting articles that feed right into the themes of my workshop, The Designer is Present, happening at the end of this month at UX Australia.

bias

An Appeal to Our Inner Judge is about how biases – judgements we make quickly about others – are natural but can be overcome. The excerpt below comes at the end and is applicable to many things, not the least of which is becoming a better user researcher.

Recognize and accept that you have biases. Develop the capacity to observe yourself in action and to notice when certain people or circumstances serve as triggers.

Learning to slow down decision-making, especially when it affects other people, can help reduce the impact of bias. This can be particularly important when we are in circumstances that make us feel awkward or uncomfortable.

quiet

No Time to Think considers our always-on culture and the reluctance we have (as a result?) to be in the off position and (ulp!) alone with our thoughts. In the quoted part below, from the end of the article, it makes the case for what I’m aiming for with the workshop; that presence and mindfulness are essential for the work that many of us are doing.

Studies suggest that [a lack of presence] impairs your ability to empathize with others. “The more in touch with my own feelings and experiences, the richer and more accurate are my guesses of what passes through another person’s mind. Feeling what you feel is an ability that atrophies if you don’t use it.”

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This Week @ Portigal
By Steve Portigal at 11:48 am, Monday August 04 2014

Just another manic Monday!

  • I had hoped that I would know about this quick project last Monday but it took til mid-week til we actually were able to move forward. It’s a quick-moving project but it’s also a lot of chaos. As of last week I was going to New York tomorrow and working with a local partner. As of this AM I’m spending the week in LA. As of a little later this AM I am spending most of the week in the Bay Area. Very interesting challenge getting participants, getting clients to go in the field, figuring out where the field will be and what we’ll be doing as well as working through procurement departments and all that. It’s not the most relaxing process but I’m impressed with the amount of wangling my client lead is doing to make this go smoothly.
  • As soon as this project wraps up, I’m off to Seattle for a a workshop and a talk (both in collaboration with Dan Szuc). Sign up, local folks!
  • I’m so excited for The Designer is Present workshop at UX Australia. I’ll also be doing a presentation about the War Stories.
  • In September, I’m doing a full-day workshop on user research at UX-STRAT in Boulder and a half-day workshop about synthesizing field data at EuroIA in Brussels.
  • In case you missed it, four blog posts from last week: What we eat and what we trash, Smart stuff that seems dumb, Contextual research from a bygone era, Don’t put your garbage here! Please!
  • Ten years gone: From August 2004 – Queen’s music OK’d in conservative Iran, Ofoto Terms of Service.
  • What we’re consuming: vanilla rhubarb compote, Pakwan, gruit, O-CEDAR Twitter support, Alice’s Restaurant, Tafoni sandstone.
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Don’t put your garbage here! Please!
By Steve Portigal at 1:17 pm, Thursday July 31 2014

sleep-study

I encountered this box recently at my local medical office. It’s a squat white bin with a wide black opening near the top. It looks a lot like a trash bin. Obviously I’m not the only person that reacted that way, because they’ve tried desperately and ineffectively (with EXTRA SIGNS as they so love to do in healthcare) to communicate that. There are three signs (see the orange pointer) telling you what the box is for (dropping off sleep study equipment) and two signs (the purple pointer) telling you what it’s not for (it’s not for garbage).

That’s five different signs, only two of which even vaguely cohere with each other (the red tape), all requiring English. The net effect is chaotic. There’s no empathy here; each message acts as if its the only one, without awareness of the others.

And still – the thing looks like a garbage bin! That message is loud and clear and no amount of signage will get around that. But the staff who have to pick the garbage out of there have no control over the bin’s design and so they are left with their default tool: signage.

I wonder if they could do better if they went further, such as painting the white surface and/or the black flap to more strongly shift the meaning. Or by having a sleep study device (which comes in a little carrying case) or at least a large icon near the opening. And a garbage bin nearby. The tactic would be to communicate more visually and directly what stuff (sleep study devices, trash) goes where and not rely on words. Until then, they can expect more trash.

See previously Signs to Override Human Nature? as well as other writing about post-design.

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