- [from steve_portigal] New book about recurring technological failures [Pasta&Vinegar] – [Nicolas Nova has written a lot of great articles, presentations, and blog posts about failure, technology, society, and design. Now he's got a book. Let's hope an English version appears before too long?] My new book about recurring technological failures has been released two weeks ago. It’s called “Les flops technologiques: comprendre les échecs pour innover” which obviously means that it’s written in French. Based on the analysis of several cases (the intelligent fridge, the visiophone and e-books), the book describes the notion of recurring technological flops, discusses the very notion of failures and their underlying reasons. It also addresses strategies and design tactics to take them into account.
- [from steve_portigal] The Art of Garfinkling [Splunderousnoog] – [We tend to conceptualize experiments and research as dispassionate or disconnected endeavors, but there's so much that can happen when we as experiments or researchers risk our presumptions and comfort level in order to get deeper understanding. In describing ethnography, I often refer to the researcher as the "apparatus" who is embedded and gathers data through that experience.] Carry out a simple experiment. When you are on the bus or the train, ask a person to give up her seat. Make sure you're young and fit. To make it easier, ask someone who is as fit or fitter than you. It is a hard thing for most to do. There is emotional distress involved. The fear of opprobrium, the need to be liked, to be nice…This sort of experiment is known as a "breaching experiment". It involves violating social norms. A famous, pioneering exponent of breaching experiments was a chap called Harold Garfinkle. So much so that "breaching experiments" are known as "Garfinkling"!
- [from steve_portigal] Jeter’s 3,000th Hit Will Bring About as Many Marketing Possibilities [NYTimes.com] – [Merchandising a celebration.] Tablespoonfuls of the dirt will be poured into capsules to dangle on key chains; ladled into disks to be framed with photographs of the hit (in what is called a dirt collage); and glued into the interlocking NY carved into commemorative bats…The selling of Jeter’s hit…is quite a list: T-shirts, caps, jerseys, bobbleheads, decals, cellphone skins, wall murals, patches, bats, balls, license plates and necklaces made by licensees…Jeter will share royalties with M.L.B. and the players’ union; Already, he has designated proceeds from the sale of a silicone bracelet to benefit his Turn 2 Foundation. Everything Jeter touches or wears as he pursues his 3,000th hit carries value. So will the bases he steps on. In deciding what to provide for sale, Jeter controls his cleats, wristbands, bats and batting gloves. The Yankees control what they provide to him, like his uniform, warm-up jackets, and caps, as well as the dirt, the bases and the pitching rubber.
- [from steve_portigal] Le Laboratoire des Nouvelles Lectures (LNL) – a community centered around the future of reading – This week Lift is launching a new project: Le Laboratoire des Nouvelles Lectures (LNL) – a community centered around the future of reading. LNL is an open platform designed to inspire and incubate new forms of reading experiences based on all the new technologies now available. The LNL is an initiative of the Salon du Livre et de la Presse de Geneve (the Geneva Book Fair), and is produced by LIFT, Edipresse and Bookapp.com.
- [from julienorvaisas] Tablets Rekindle Our Love of Reading–Books, Too [Fast Company] – [MFD is used here by the survey companies Brock Associates and iModerate Research Technologies - quite a name, that one! - to signify a Multi-Function Device which includes ebook readers as well as tablets. And possibly smartphones. You know, personal electronic devices. Mobile technology. We don't know what to call things anymore. In any case, here's more research to suggest that though people enjoy reading on and read more on their "MFDs," it's an additive effect, encouraging non-digital reading activity as well. Ereading does not replace non-ereading. Reading begets reading.] Despite the fact that the survey showed MFD users had great "affinity" for their devices, "struggling to to come up with significant shortcomings to reading ebooks on them" they were also inspired to read more old-school books. Perhaps they were reminded of the pleasures of reading, and were reluctant to haul their Kindle into the bath with them for a book-accompanied relaxing soak?
- [from julienorvaisas] Japan’s Smokestacks Draw Industrial-Strength Sightseers [WSJ.com] – [This sub-culture is exerting economic influence. I'm looking for the American equivalent.] What started as a fringe subculture known as kojo moe, or "factory infatuation," is beginning to gain wider appeal in Japan, turning industrial zones into unlikely tourist attractions. It's the Japanese equivalent of going sightseeing at industrial stretches along the New Jersey Turnpike. Unlike the tourists who visit the factories of Toyota Motor Corp. and other Japanese manufacturers, the kojo moe crowd has little interest in the inner workings of the plants. They get excited by the maze of intricate piping around the exterior of a steel plant or the cylindrical smokestacks sending up steam. [A book on the topic] lists 19 questions to test one's kojo moe credentials, including "Do you like Blade Runner?" and "Can you stare at a factory you like all day long?" Now, industrial regions across Japan are working to create factory sightseeing tours.
- [from steve_portigal] Stop Blaming Your Culture [Strategy + Business] – [A must-read. This could become the article on the topic, a companion to Porter's classic What is Strategy? REad it and pass it along.] Fortunately, there is an effective, accessible way to deal with cultural challenges. Don’t blame your culture; use it purposefully. View it as an asset: a source of energy, pride, and motivation. Learn to work with it and within it. Discern the elements of the culture that are congruent with your strategy. Figure out which of the old constructive behaviors embedded in your culture can be applied to accelerate the changes that you want. Find ways to counterbalance and diminish other elements of the culture that hinder you. In this way, you can initiate, accelerate, and sustain truly beneficial change — with far less effort, time, and expense, and with better results, than many executives expect.
- [from steve_portigal] Steve Portigal to write book on interviewing users [Rosenfeld Media] – Interviewing users is fundamental to user experience work but, as Steve Portigal cautions, we tend to take it for granted. Because it's based on talking and listening, skills we think we have, we often wing it. Sadly, we miss out on many of the wonderful opportunities our interviews should reveal. So we're thrilled that Steve, who's contributed regular columns to interactins and Core77, has signed on to write a new Rosenfeld Media book, The Art and Craft of User Research Interviewing, to help UX practitioners really succeed with interviewing. Steve's book will focus on helping practitioners to better understand users' perspectives, and to rely upon rapport as the main ingredient in successful user interviews.
- [from steve_portigal] Intel Teams with will.i.am, Black Eyed Peas Front Man [Intel] – [Is there a nomenclature convention emerging? If your corporate title is surrounded by quote marks, you may not receive the same HR benefits as others. Although it looks like he's got a badge? See you at Friday's Beer Bust!] He’s best known for being a multi-platinum music artist, producer and front man for The Black Eyed Peas, but will.i.am is also an innovator, technology fan, entrepreneur and philanthropist. With today’s announcement at the Anaheim Convention Center, the seven-time Grammy winner has added another title to his multi-faceted resume: “director of creative innovation.” As an extension of his insatiable fascination with technology, which plays a significant role in his professional and personal lives, will.i.am will engage in a multi-year, hands-on creative and technology collaboration with Intel Corporation. He already sports an Intel ID badge, which he proudly showed off at a news conference in Anaheim, where Intel is holding an internal sales and marketing conference.
- [from steve_portigal] a new analog take on the book [Influxinsights] – [In our Reading Ahead project we encouraged designers and publishers to consider the possibilities for design in the traditional book, and not just focus on what digital can bring. So this was exciting to see!] These are reactions to a radical new book design from Visual Editions, a UK based publisher with a new take on the reading experience. The book is "Tree of Codes" and it's author Jonathan Safran Foer's experiment to cut-in, using die-cuts to his favorite book, "The Street of Crocodiles" by Bruno Schultz.
- [from steve_portigal] ThatsMyFace.com – [Technology continues to trickle down, where image processing and digital printing previously associated with movie special effects and commercial printing now enable little businesses to crop up, offering fairly unique types of products] Gifts with personalized faces, including custom action figures, celebrity action figures, 3D portraits, masks, jewelry, papercraft, and ornamental heads.
- [from steve_portigal] How to Have an Idea [Frank Chimero] – [A little comic that amuses as it inspires and teaches, suggesting that creativity is tied to doing, not just thinking or (gulp) talking. Manifests so adroitly while we believe user research really comes alive when you use it to start generating concepts for things to make and do] No one crumples a blank sheet of paper.
- [from steve_portigal] The Medium – E-Readers Collective [NYTimes.com] – [A Kindle feature takes advantage of the inherently digital nature of the medium, but has consequences for the experience] But many writers don’t write aphoristically, and many readers don’t read for aphorisms. In a popularly highlighted world, we all may begin to. The dotted line, like the distinctive hue or underscore that signals a word is clickable on the Web, may be a new kind of punctuation that affects contemporary style. (Amazon's most heavily highlighted books include Gladwell’s “Outliers” and Randy Pausch’s “Last Lecture”) Readers coming to e-books freshly purchased from Amazon might be taken aback to find them already marked up. Stumbling on a passage that other people care about, framed as though you should care about it too, can seem like a violation of virgin text. It’s bad enough that vandals have gotten to your “new” edition before you have and added emphases unendorsed by author or publisher. What’s worse is that they invariably choose the most Polonius-like passages.
My thoughts on understanding and designing in emerging countries has just been published in Apala Lahiri’s Innovative Solutions: What Designers Need to Know for Today’s Emerging Markets.
Q: When traveling through and experiencing emerging countries, do you feel that designing for users in these countries needs to be done with any different methods than those used when designing for users in developed countries?
A: The answer is yes, but there are two different cases: design by insiders and design by outsiders. Obviously design by outsiders needs to be handled very differently. As outsiders, we so clearly have no clue as to what is going on: how do you design personal grooming accessories for a society where someone might have trimming or cleaning done by the side of the road? That’s not to say that it can’t be done, but that simply exporting existing solutions, or making small localization tweaks is probably not going to be enough. I know that as recently as 2 years ago mobile phones in India were a shared household item (although I wonder if increased penetration is changing that); there are tremendous implications for the interface design (from login screens to privacy management). Existing Western models for pricing, usability, features, and so on won’t apply. So there’s a real effort that outsiders need to make to really get at those core differences. From the inside, I suspect that the designers are often not going to be designing for themselves (an approach I discourage, anyway), but for another class or culture within their own society; and while they’ve got a leg up on understanding their fellow citizens over us foreigners, there’s always going to be use cases, mental models, and meaning that is new to the designer. By the same token, for categories that are being imported from the developed world (i.e., mobile phones), the designer will have to do some cultural translation, say discovering that mobile phones are not shared among household members in the West. This is probably here more about an approach to design than an actual method, but once you’ve got the approach down, then the methods can follow easily.
- [from julienorvaisas] 2010 IDEA Awards [www.fastcodesign.com] – [One could easily spend days awash in inspiration - everything from forklifts to trash cans to hotel service design.] There are few awards in the world of design as eagerly followed and proudly worn as the Industrial Design Excellence Awards–or IDEA–given out by the Industrial Designers Society of America. This year, Fast Company and Co Design are happy to announce the winners–complete with detailed write-ups, images, a searchable database, and even an Olympics style infographic showing who leads in the medal count.
- [from steve_portigal] DODOcase: A perfect blend of the traditional feel of a book with the technological power of the iPad. – [More collisions between traditional form factors and digital form factors. It's interesting to see conceptual explorations in the recent Kindle era becoming actual products in the nascent iPad era] The limited first edition iPad DODOcase is inspired by the journals of our favorite artists. Made by hand in San Francisco, California using traditional book binding techniques, the DODOcase brings a classic look to protecting your iPad. (Thanks, @elreiss)
- Book Review: The Authenticity Hoax [WSJ.com] – ..the craving for authenticity among those in the West who see a market economy and consumer culture as sterile and false—inauthentic—and who defend the world's most repressive cultures, looking past their brutality to admire their resistance to modernity. It is the disillusionment with modernity that underlies the authenticity quest. When man was preoccupied with finding food and appeasing capricious gods, he didn't have the time or inclination to ask whether he had "sold out" for an easy paycheck or failed to align himself with some abstract ideal of the "authentic" life. But then science made the formerly mystical cosmos explainable, and a spread of democratic ideas, in politics and markets alike, made food and freedom more broadly shared. The result was "a new kind of society and, inevitably, a new kind of person," one more given to looking within for meaning and not liking what he found there. The individual's own self-definition filled the gap left by faith and authority.
I had my first ever person-with-iPad sighting on the plane to Chicago on Monday.
As cool as the ‘Pad looked, it was nonetheless my neighbor on the other side who seemed best served by his technology during takeoff, as the rest of us, regardless of screen size, were forced to shut down.
Interestingly, the guy with the iPad pulled out a pad of paper and pen during takeoff, and then proceeded to use that for the rest of the flight…
- GameCrush: Pay to play–with girls [CNET] – The website GameCrush pays girls to play video games and live-chat with gamers who pay for the privilege. It's the gaming equivalent of buying a girl a drink to chat her up, the developers say. A Player (yes, they're called "Players") buys points–500 cost $8.25–and uses them to buy "game time" with a PlayDate (yes, they're called PlayDates). Players browse through PlayDate profiles, and once they find one they're interested in they can send a gaming invite. If the PlayDate accepts the invitation, she can set her mood to "Flirty" or "Dirty" and it's game on (though any real gaming girl would set her profile to "Hurty" and kick your ass). The pair can chat, play, or both for the amount of time purchased. When their time is up, the Player is invited to send the remaining 100 points to his PlayDate as a tip.
- The Idea of the Book [Murketing] – Rob Walker's interesting series of posts that look at the physical performance of the "book" as it morphs into or is represented by or as other objects such as sculpture, food, planters, purses, etc.
- Story Book inColor by AIPTEK – AIPTEK Story Book inColor is the 1st color E-Book on the market and there are 20 built-in illustrated audio stories. Children can open the Story Book inColor and enjoy the story telling with illustration instead of watching TV alone. AIPTEK also provide online bookstore for story book purchasing and downloading. AIPTEK Story Book inColor can store as many books as children want. Story Book inColor creates a whole new experience with fun and easy learning process which leads children learn to love the reading. The 4-way buttons simulated the scenario for children of searching favorite books on bookcase and also the page up and down feeling when reading. There is 1GB internal memory on AIPTEK Story Book inColor which can stores up to 45 story books. The story books also can be saved to SD/SDHC, MMC, MS pro, and USB drive. Besides, in order to protect children’s eyes, after reading over 20 minutes, AIPTEK Story Book inColor will pop up an icon to remind children to take a rest.
In Reading Ahead, our recent self-funded study on books and digital readers, we saw how much people prize the physicality of books – the tactile and kinesthetic aspects of the reading experience. One of our design recommendations was to “include the sensual” in designing digital readers.
One tongue-in-cheek example of including the sensual is this Kindle case by Busted Typewriter.
Here is a recent iteration of the same idea; this time in a case for the MacBook.
Artist Brian Dettmer creates “book autopsies” by carving away the pages of books to reveal the images inside.
Talking about the growing popularity of digital readers, one of the people we interviewed for the Reading Ahead study said, “Someday there will be this cool retro thing called a book.”
If she’s right, what else will people do with them?
Good social criticism about story from Neal Stephenson’s “Anathem”
So I looked with fascination at those people in their mobes (cars), and tried to fathom what it would be like. Thousands of years ago, the work that people did had been broken down into jobs that were the same every day, in organizations where people were interchangeable parts. All the story had been bled out of their lives. That was how it had to be; it was how you got a productive economy. But it would be easy to see a will at work behind this; not exactly an evil will, but a selfish will. The people who’d made the system thus were jealous, not of money and not of power but of story. If their employees came home at day’s end with interesting stories to tell, it meant that something had gone wrong: a blackout, a strike, a spree killing. The Powers That Be would not suffer others to be in stories of their own unless they were fake stories that had been made up to motivate them. People who couldn’t live without story had been driven into the concents (orders separate from mainstream society devoted to the pursuit of math) or into jobs like Yul’s. All others had to look somewhere outside of work for a feeling that they were part of a story, which I guessed was why Sæculars (mainstream society) were so concerned with sports, and with religion. how else could you see yourself as part of an adventure? Something with a beginning, middle, and end in which you played a significant part?
See also: We Are Living in a Sci-Fi World
Deconstructing Product Design: Exploring the Form, Function, Usability, Sustainability, and Commercial Success of 100 Amazing Products is a recently published book by William Lidwell and Gerry Manacsa. The book is essentially a crowdsourced-and-curated critique of some notable products. I was thrilled to be included among an esteemed set of contributors including friends and peers like Jon Kolko, Dan Saffer, Rob Tannen, and Trevor van Gorp.
The book steps through the 100 products (including such items as Bratz Doll, Kryptonite-4 Bicycle Lock, and Vicks Forehead Thermometer) and describes the product, while including commentary from a number of contributors.
For example, here is the iPhone page, with callouts (each of which are described on a facing page), and commentary along the bottom by me and Rob Tannen.
Here’s a mostly readable version of my commentary
I also comment on other products, including Moneymaker Pump and Pot-in-Pot Cooler.
- The Oxford Companion to the Book – It includes traditional subjects such as bibliography, palaeography, the history of printing, editorial theory and practice, textual criticism, book collecting, and libraries, but it also engages with newer disciplines such as the history of the book and the electronic book. It pays particular attention to how different societies shape books and how books shape societies. The two-volume work is organized in two parts, totalling a million words. Nineteen of the essays provide generic histories of the subject ranging from writing systems, the ancient and the medieval book, through central aspects of book production, to theories of text, editorial theory and textual criticism, the economics of print, and the sacred book. These are complemented by 29 surveys of the history of the book around the world, including the Muslim world, Asia, Latin America, and Sub-Saharan Africa.
(via Design Observer)
- Book Review: Deconstructing Product Design, by William Lidwell and Gerry Manacsa – …the color commentary from design thinkers such as interaction designer Jon Kolko, product designer Scott Henderson and design researcher Steve Portigal….While I never imagined that product design would have a sounding board to rival the judges of American Idol, Deconstructing Product Design provides exactly such a chorus. So while Tickle Me Elmo himself is lavished with product love worthy of Paula Abdul, the oversexed and strangely hydrocephalic-headed Bratz dolls spark diverse criticism and discussion. As a writer for a design blog, critiquing a book that brings together disparate voices critiquing products is (a) rather meta, and (b) totally hypocritical, but the remarkable thing about observing the way culture is observed is that it rarely fails to entertain.