Posts tagged “News”

This Week @ Portigal

Despite early-morning soupy fog, it turns out to be another gorgeous Monday. Here’s what we’ve got going on

  • For one project, we’re working hard to both immerse ourselves in a new business area (interviewing experts, scanning the media, planning a walking tour) and charging ahead with project logistics (getting a recruiter lined up, finalizing a screener, setting up briefing meetings on fieldwork best practices, developing participant homework exercises, etc.).
  • We’re looking at an innovative combinations of methods this week that we’ll be proposing to a prospective client. Wish us luck in landing the work!
  • Last week we published Carla’s War Story. I’ve got a near-final draft for another in my inbox, and have been swapping email with some other folks finalizing their stories, so stay tuned for more.
  • I’ll be leading a class on user research for the Industrial Design school at Academy of Art University this week.
  • I’ve got a handful of lunch and coffee meetings this week to catch up with different folks, both local and visiting.
  • What we’re consuming: underwater dogs, Izakaya Yuzuki, McSweeney’s Issue 41, pumpkins as many ways as possible.

Announcing the winners of the IxD12 Student Design Challenge!

Whew! Our wonderful judges have sifted through the 56 entries! We heard from a number of judges how impressed they were overall with the quality of the entries and the creativity and passion that the group overall had to offer. Of course, this makes the selection process a difficult one. We’ve thought to ourselves “Well, what if we could take them ALL!!!” but of course, we can’t.
We managed to find four wonderful and inspiring entries among all the bounty of goodness we received from around the world. Our winners are (in no particular order)

  • Diksha Grover – National Institute of Design, India
  • Siri Johansson – Umeå Institute of Design, Sweden
  • Jaime Krakowiak – Austin Center for Design, USA
  • Priscilla Mok – Carnegie Mellon University, USA

Here are each of their videos

Diksha


Siri


Jaime


Priscilla
Thanks to our judges for their wonderful work and for all the entrants who contributed such a great set of videos. Our winners will now be working between now and Dublin where we’ll have a two-day masterclass and design activity before the conference. We are now exceptionally enthusiastic about the upcoming experience in Dublin.

Announcing the IxD12 Student Challenge

Jeremy Yuille and I are the co-chairs for the 2012 Student Design Challenge, working with Thomson Reuters and the IxDA.

Entries are open now, and close on December 5 December 9, 2011. Be in the running to win a scholarship to Interaction 12 in Dublin, and take part in an exciting design challenge around the future of news.

The challenge theme for 2012 is Design the Future of News. We’re in a time of upheaval over how we stay informed. People follow breaking news via Twitter. Tablets, mobile phones, paywalls, RSS feeds, viral videos and other elements have found their way into the current news landscape. The experience has swollen far beyond the icons of the daily newspaper on your doorstep and the 6 o’clock newscast.

We know that people are consuming news differently, and these emerging practices are changing the news.

What is the future of the news? What do we even mean by “the news” anyway?

This year, Thomson Reuters and the IxDA challenge you to look beyond the forms of delivery to address the behaviors, interactions, and goals that surround news.

We want you to explore the interaction design implications of questions such as:

  • What are people trying to achieve with news?
  • How do we identify that a particular story is important or relevant?
  • What is the relationship between the different types of information that currently make up “news" (e.g., entertainment, local, breaking news, weather, data, etc.)
  • What is the potential for emerging trends in how news is produced, from hyperlocal to citizen journalism?

The challenge is open to current students and anyone who has graduated in 2011. It runs in two stages: an online entry (see how to enter) followed by an on-site masterclass and design challenge at Interaction’12 in Dublin.

See http://interaction12.ixda.org/student-challenge for more information on the prizes, judges and how to enter.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Universities reject Kindle over inaccessibility for the blind – The National Federation for the Blind said Wednesday that while it appreciates the Kindle's text-to-speech feature, the "menus of the device are not accessible to the blind…making it impossible for a blind user to purchase books from Amazon's Kindle store, select a book to read, activate the text-to-speech feature, and use the advanced reading functions available on the Kindle DX."

    "The big disappointment was learning that the Kindle DX is not accessible to the blind," Ken Frazier, the University of Wisconsin-Madison director of libraries, said in a statement. "Advancements in text-to-speech technology have created a market opportunity for an e-book reading device that is fully accessible for everyone. This version of the Kindle e-book reader missed the mark."

  • ‘Sesame Street’ Responds to Dispute – An executive for Sesame Workshop said a segment on the show that upset political conservatives was “equal-opportunity parody” that made fun of both CNN and Fox News. The skit featured Oscar the Grouch as a reporter for the Grouch News Network (or GNN). When his work upsets a female viewer and fellow Grouch, she tells Oscar: “From now on I am watching Pox News. Now there’s a trashy news show!” Some conservative bloggers called the comment a veiled shot at Fox News, and Michael Getler, the PBS ombudsman, wrote that “Sesame Street” producers should have avoided the joke. Miranda Barry, an executive vice president at Sesame Workshop, responded that “no political comment or comment about Fox News, subtle or overt, was intended.” Having the “grumpy, grouchy, contrarian Oscar” on “Sesame Street,” Ms. Barry wrote, “shows kids that you can listen to someone with a very different worldview, and even be friends with them, without losing your own perspective.
  • The Media Lab | Center for Future Storytelling – Storytelling is fundamental to being human: it's how we share our experiences, learn from our past, and imagine our future. With the establishment of the Media Lab's Center for Future Storytelling, the Media Lab, together with Plymouth Rock Studios, is rethinking what "storytelling" will be in the 21st century. The Center will take a dynamic new approach to storytelling, developing new creative methods, technologies, and learning programs that recognize and respond to the changing communications landscape. The Center will examine ways for transforming storytelling into social experiences, creating expressive tools for the audience and enabling people from all walks of life to embellish and integrate stories into their lives, making tomorrow's stories more interactive, creative, democratized, and improvisational.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • One Hour Design Challenge: The Trapper Kindle – Core77 – A much better post on what makes the Trapper-Kindle such a great response to the Reading Ahead research. Nice concepting and nice storytelling, all!
  • An error from a previous edition has been corrected – A rather aspirational piece on the power of digital books to support corrections after publication. Although we've got this with news already and the argument presented about the amount of fact-checking doesn't seem to be relevant – even if you have the ability to post new corrections technically doesn't mean you have the human resource to find those corrections.
  • Core-Toons: The Trapper-Kindle – While intended as humor, this is also the sort of design concepts we love, as they take an observation, or an insight about people and visualize a solution. We asked Core77's community to make the book more sensual, and here's a great example! Looking forward to more great design ideas for Reading Ahead!

Good and bad ideas in the daily paper

Adam Richardson recently wrote a strong critique of the San Francisco Chronicle – both their unattractive redesign and their poor content.

Although Monday’s Chron featured anti-elitist sneering about Nate Silver’s semi-failed Oscar predictions, I was impressed with a new feature, where startups get feedback about their ideas from venture capitalists.

They’ve done a good job at tying this coverage to a unique aspect of the San Francisco Bay Area:

Silicon Valley, long known as a hotbed for innovation, has one of the highest concentrations of startups and investors in the world. At any one time, 20,000 entrepreneurs in the valley are thinking about starting companies, and as many as 8,000 are circulating business plans and looking for funding

One example: Mojamix: Breakfast enthusiasts personalize their own cereal or granola online and have it shipped to their door in just a few days.

David Pakman, partner, Venrock: I’m skeptical that consumers at scale actually know enough about what ingredients go together to make a breakfast cereal or granola they will like and will taste good. If I pick dried cranberries over raisins, will I like it less or more? Kinda have to taste it to know.

Mass customization of food products is indeed an interesting trend, but I wonder if it is better to focus on areas where the customer does not have to taste it to know if they will like it.

Margins in food products are low and are thus only interesting at scale, so Mojamix would need to demonstrate that the lifetime value of a customer is large enough to afford the customer acquisition costs that would be required to attract lots of customers.

As I’ve written before, I appreciate the ability of some VCs to look at an idea and consider many facets and contexts.

Sure, this sort of material is available elsewhere, especially online, but seeing this piece in the mainstream media was refreshing.

Sign o’ the Tmies

cbc.jpg
CBC News has a tool on their masthead to report a typo.

Some people like to report typos (I’m one of them; I also like to be notified of typos). But there’s also a comment here on ways to listen to customers; CBC perhaps noticed some patterns in type of feedback they were getting and decided to create a channel just for that type of input. As well, by offering that link they are encouraging people to participate in the site on a very simple level, as typo submitters.

Chocolate and real estate

Just the other day, more news that dark chocolate can help lower pressure (seems like old news, but okay). Here’s how the SF Chron presented the story:
p1000897s.jpg
Front page. Two columns. One of those columns is simply a (confusing) image of swirling chocolate, providing absolutely no information whatsoever. What the hell is the front page about, here? Advertisements, eye-candy imagery, very non-news stories.

Contrast the NYT treatment of the story:
p1000895s.jpg
Tucked away on page 11. No hype or imagery. The front page of the New York Times is still for news, apparently.

Although these are both products in the same category (newspaper), they are really not the same kind of thing at all. Their purpose, intent, motivation, audience differ vastly. I need to stop thinking of them as a set of like items, because that lulls me (as the user) into a misleading state of expectation.

Oddly enough for all of us

I admit that I regularly check out Reuters weird news. Even the list of headlines tells us something.
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I guess there’s some cultural titillation in the stream of stories that follow the template of “Oh those wacky Asians|Indians|Gays|Rednecks|Farmers|Poor Folk|etc. !” Of course, what we find funny about the other reveals something interesting about us in turn. That’s certainly one of the side effects of the Museum of Foreign Grocery Products, isn’t it?

Getting it done. This is news?

mn_bloomies_24-11.jpg

The SF Chron devotes a fair amount of the front section and most of their Sunday Style section to stories and photo spreads about a new mall opening in San Francisco. Granted, it’s not the front page or anything, and we don’t expect hard news, but does it have to be such blatant content of commercial interest? It’s one thing when the local community papers write about small businesses, some quid pro quo for advertising dollars before, during, or after, but a big-city newspaper? Yuck.

Meanwhile, I only knew get ‘er done as the catch-phrase of Larry the Cable Guy, but I am noticing it now in stories about construction, like the above photo from the building of this new mall, or the re-opening of our local Devil’s Slide road. I guess it’s another example of cultural reverse engineering; presumably the working-class salt-of-the-earth lingo of construction works was where Larry picked up that particular phrase.

How many people died?

The reports (and slow-to-appear-details for those of us that read RSS headlines) of yesterday’s gunman-rampage in Montreal raised an interesting detail question: how do we consider the loss of life of the perpetrator of a crime?

When I read that some asshole goes charging into a school with a gun, I don’t care what happens to him (except that he is stopped). If he commits suicide or is killed by police, does he get included in the total of dead?

If a suicide bomber detonates an explosive belt in the middle of a crowded marketplace, do we count her as well?

Headlines tell us “XX dead in Baghdad suicide bomb” or “Shooting rampage leaves Y people dead.” Do you expect the total to include only victims?

I’m not suggesting what is right, only what we are conditioned to expect. Perhaps there are some journalistic standards for accuracy here. Perhaps they vary by region. The headlines from Montreal are emphasizing that two people are dead, but one of those is the shooter.

It’s not even a moral judgement of the value of life, but just a reaction to the story “Oh my God – what happened – how many people were killed?” that focuses strongly on the victims of the crime.

Just some thoughts on mulitiple perspectives buried within a story…

Rhetoric over gunshot

A big news story today deals with the Crawford, TX guy who fired a shotgun in the air, presumably in protest over the Sheehan gathering near both his and GWB’s place. I was surprised by the rhetoric used by the SF Chronicle to describe the incident (story not available online).

Larry Mattlage hopped into his pickup truck, barreled across his pasture and pulled up to the fence within a few hundred feet of the protests. He then climbed out of the cab, retrieved a a shotgun from the back and fired at least one blast into the air.

Don’t you just get the picture of some angry redneck, hopping and barreling so? Seems like some sloppy journalism; I guess having a point of view is a “good” thing, but it seems rather manipulative to me.

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