Archive for October 2007

EuroIA Presentations and Proceedings Available

October 30th, 2007 — 1:06pm

All (well, almost all) of the EuroIA Sum­mitpre­sen­ta­tions and pro­ceed­ings are avail­able online now. If you couldn’t make the con­fer­ence, then def­i­nitely take advan­tage of this great mate­r­ial.
View the pre­sen­ta­tions here.
Down­load the pro­ceed­ings here.

Comment » | Information Architecture, Travel

Speaking At The Italian IA Summit In November

October 30th, 2007 — 11:24am

I’m excited to be speak­ing at the Ital­ian IA Sum­mit 2007, in Trento Italy, Novem­ber 16th and 17th. Orga­nized by Alberto Mucig­nat, Emanuele Quintarelli, Andrea Resmini, Luca Rosati and many oth­ers, this is the sec­ond Ital­ian IA Sum­mit. It’s great that so many events like the Ger­man IA con­fer­ence, the EuroIA Sum­mit, and OZ-IA related to design, infor­ma­tion archi­tec­ture, and user expe­ri­ence, are hap­pen­ing around the world.
The pro­gram is posted (in Ital­ian). My clos­ing keynote is Sat­ur­day, right before five-minute-madness, which allows plenty of time for a long and leisurely after­noon lunch fol­low­ing the con­fer­ence.
Hope to see you there!

Comment » | Information Architecture, Travel

Al Gore Wins The Nobel *Presentation* Prize...?

October 12th, 2007 — 4:14pm

For­mer U.S. Vice Pres­i­dent Al Gore and the United Nations Inter­gov­ern­men­tal Panel on Cli­mate Change were awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Pre­sen­ta­tion Prize today.
Al Gore
Though I’m sad to say it, this lat­est round of Celebrity Infor­ma­tion Design Death Match, pit­ting Infor­ma­tion Visu­al­iza­tion Guru Dr. Edward Tufte vs. pre­sen­ta­tion tools and their legions of dron­ing slide shuf­flers goes too -
Pre­sen­ta­tion soft­ware (at least it’s Keynote)…
<announcer voice>
Gore’s Nobel Prize must truly be a bit­ter pill for the esteemed Dr. Tufte, whose exten­sive decla­ma­tions on the evils of Pow­er­Point remain insight­ful and even amus­ing, but have been out­flanked by Gore’s com­bi­na­tion of savvy pre­sen­ta­tion tech­niques, and repeated use of the famous “Earth’s Envi­ron­ment Is About to Per­ish” fly­ing scis­sor­kick move.
</announcer voice>
Seri­ously: Aside from the envi­ron­ment (we fer­vently hope), the real win­ner of this year’s Nobel Peace prize is effec­tive sto­ry­telling that blends qual­i­ta­tive and quan­ti­ta­tive mes­sages to cre­ate a com­pelling visu­ally sup­ported nar­ra­tive expe­ri­ence that clearly com­mu­ni­cates com­plex ideas in an emo­tion­ally com­pelling pack­age.

The sci­en­tists and Mr. Gore take quite dif­fer­ent approaches to the cli­mate changes. The com­mit­tee has been a mea­sured, peer-reviewed, government-approved state­ment focused on the most non-controversial find­ings, whereas Mr. Gore rails against a “plan­e­tary emer­gency.“

Both mes­sages — how­ever imper­fect — play their part, sci­en­tists said on Fri­day. The Nobel Prize “is hon­or­ing the sci­ence and the pub­lic­ity, and they’re nec­es­sar­ily dif­fer­ent,” said Spencer A. Weart, a his­to­rian at the Amer­i­can Insti­tute of Physics and author of The Dis­cov­ery of Global Warm­ing, a recent book.

From Gore and U.N. Panel Win Peace Prize for Cli­mate Work
Dr. Tufte says, “Pow­er­Point pre­sen­ta­tions too often resem­ble a school play — very loud, very slow, and very sim­ple.” Too often, Dr. Tufte is right: think about how many times in the last five years you’ve con­sid­ered feign­ing a seizure or gastro-intestinal dis­tress to escape a truly awful pre­sen­ta­tion.
Yet for some ideas — and per­haps the very biggest of audi­ences — ‘the [school] play’s the thing’. Loud, slow, and sim­ple might be just the right rhetor­i­cal style for com­plex mes­sages that require the broad­est kinds of con­sen­sus. (If Gore had fig­ured this out dur­ing the cam­paign in 2000, the world would cer­tainly be a very dif­fer­ent place today…)
And yet, despite Gore’s piv­otal role in shap­ing the Inter­net, a search for “al gore incon­ve­nient truth” on the Slideshare web­site turns up — well — noth­ing that seems rel­e­vant in the first 10 results. There’s like­wise no slide­ware to be had at the offi­cial site for the movie. But rest assured Mr. Gore, we know the hum­ble ori­gins of your Nobel Prize and Oscar win­ning doc­u­men­tary An Incon­ve­nient Truth lie in a mere slide show.

Comment » | People, Tools

Jumpchart Sitemap Service: 3 Months Free

October 11th, 2007 — 12:52pm

Jumpchart - the online sitemap ser­vice — is about to move from beta to sub­scrip­tion pric­ing.
Any­one who like to try it out, or who wants 3 free months of ser­vice should drop me a line to get an invite code.
Good luck to the Jumpchart team!

Comment » | Information Architecture, Tools

links for 2007-10-11

October 11th, 2007 — 1:30am

Comment » | Daily Links

Demographic Shifts and Experience Design Implications: Boomers and Mobile Devices

October 10th, 2007 — 4:30pm

Ongo­ing demo­graphic shifts (in the West­ern world) have mas­sive num­bers of Baby Boomers, with large amounts of dis­pos­able income — “Pro­jec­tions from Met Life Mar­ket Insti­tute show that by the time the last boomer turns 65 in 2030, the gen­er­a­tion will con­trol more than 40 per­cent of dis­pos­able income in the United States.” (from Some Like It Hot) — aging rapidly. I think we’re just begin­ning to see what hap­pens when busi­ness and Design respond to the impli­ca­tions of these demo­graphic and eco­nomic shifts by cre­at­ing both new busi­nesses, and new designs.
To some extent Design has a frame of ref­er­ence for the changes on the way: acces­si­bil­ity is a con­cern we already know, that will become a jump­ing off point to deeper, more con­tex­tual and more pow­er­ful design dri­vers. I expect these will chal­lenge design­ers to employ increas­ingly holis­tic approaches to cre­at­ing inte­grated prod­ucts / ser­vices / expe­ri­ences. The Jit­ter­bug cell phone from Great­Call is a good exam­ple of design that ini­tially addressed the chang­ing sen­sory and phys­i­cal needs of Boomers, but then goes fur­ther into con­sid­er­ing the entire mobile phone expe­ri­ence, from acti­va­tion to con­fig­u­ra­tion and daily use from the point of view of seniors and their expec­ta­tions for relat­ing to tech­nol­ogy. The end result was a new busi­ness.
Baby boomers and their par­ents haven’t been quick to adopt mobile phones, even for use in emer­gen­cies. The tech­nol­ogy is too com­pli­cated for many to learn quickly, and the screens and con­trols too diminu­tive for aging or infirm hands. …The Jit­ter­bug offers big but­tons, easy-to-read text, and sim­pli­fied, easy-to-use func­tions, an ear cush­ion, and an ergonomic shape. Per­son­al­ized ser­vices make it easy for users to retrieve mes­sages, and offers live oper­a­tors for call-related sup­port.
The Jit­ter­bug clearly shows acces­si­bil­ity as a mod­i­fier of already well-defined user expe­ri­ences, and how design can adapt these expe­ri­ences to meet dif­fer­ent needs. But Boomer needs exceed the point where sim­ply adapt­ing an exist­ing prod­uct expe­ri­ence with minor changes (not at the level of the men­tal model) is a solu­tion. And so the demo­graphic shift of Boomer aging inspired the cre­ation of a new com­pany, Great­Call, that designs inte­grated prod­ucts, ser­vices, and expe­ri­ences, like the Jit­ter­bug One­touch:

…The Jit­ter­Bug One­touch sports three over­sized but­tons for users who pri­mar­ily want a cell phone for emer­gency pur­poses, such as elderly or dis­abled users who need to be able to sum­mon assis­tance with the push of a sin­gle but­ton. One but­ton dials 911, one sum­mons live-operator call assis­tance, and the third can be pro­grammed for any ser­vice the user wants, such as an emer­gency num­ber, a tow­ing ser­vice recep­tion at an assisted liv­ing facil­ity, or a loved one.

Three but­tons that con­nect to pre­de­fined emer­gency ser­vices is not what I think of as a mobile phone, but it makes per­fect sense for this set of design needs.
More impor­tant, the Jit­ter­bug makes appar­ent that tra­di­tional sce­nar­ios for under­stand­ing mobile phone use do not ade­quately apply to seniors and aging Boomer pop­u­la­tions. As design pro­fes­sion­als, we know these sce­nar­ios, per­sonas, and other design mod­els serve as the basis for entire busi­ness processes, includ­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing, mar­ket­ing, sales, and ser­vice, as well as whole busi­nesses.
In terms of design and busi­ness responses to large cul­tural shifts, the Jit­ter­bug shows that inte­grated expe­ri­ences require inte­grated design approaches, which in turn require close inte­gra­tion and systems-based think­ing from all the enti­ties con­tribut­ing to the over­all expe­ri­ence in some way, from hard­ware through the Web based phone man­age­ment soft­ware.

For two years, Jit­ter­bug and Samsung’s indus­trial design­ers col­lab­o­rated before bring­ing the new phones to mar­ket. Sam­sung under­stood imme­di­ately that there was a poten­tially large mar­ket for this new con­cept in mobile phones, but they had to be sold on doing more than cre­at­ing a novel hand­set: they had to be will­ing to design the prod­uct in tan­dem with Jitterbug’s ser­vice sys­tem.

Har­ris: “For them (Sam­sung) it was a hand­set. For us, it was a sys­tem. The hand­set was just one ele­ment.“

Result: The Jit­ter­bug phone design is sim­pli­fied due to the fact it is man­aged remotely through a Web-based inter­face. “It’s not just the design of the hand­set, or what the call cen­ters do, it’s all about the entire expe­ri­ence,“

From Jit­ter­bug Phone Designed for Seniors, and Sell­ing Tech­nol­ogy to Baby Boomers & Seniors.

Comment » | Customer Experiences, User Experience (UX)

links for 2007-10-10

October 10th, 2007 — 1:32am

Comment » | Daily Links

A New Kind of Architecture? JG Ballard on the Bilbao Guggenheim

October 9th, 2007 — 12:36pm

JG Bal­lard is one of the most archi­tec­turally ori­ented writ­ers I know. His writ­ing evokes the phys­i­cal and men­tal expe­ri­ences of spaces and places deftly and vividly. No acci­dent then that Ballard’s work is con­nected to psy­cho­geog­ra­phy by many (an idea I’ve men­tioned before as well). And so it is a plea­sure to read his piece on Gehry’s Bil­bao Guggen­heim, The lar­val stage of a new kind of archi­tec­ture, in Monday’s Guardian.
From the arti­cle:

More to the point, I won­der if the Bil­bao Guggen­heim is a work of archi­tec­ture at all? Per­haps it belongs to the cat­e­gory of exhi­bi­tion and fair­ground dis­plays, of giant inflat­a­bles and bouncy cas­tles. The Guggen­heim may be the first per­ma­nent tem­po­rary struc­ture. Its inte­rior is a huge dis­ap­point­ment, and con­firms the sus­pi­cion that the museum is a glo­ri­fied sales aid for the Guggen­heim brand. There is a giant atrium, always a sign that some corporation’s hand is slid­ing towards your wal­let, but the gal­leries are con­ven­tion­ally pro­por­tioned, and one can’t help feel­ing that they are irrel­e­vant any­way. The museum is its own work of art, and the only one really on dis­play. One can’t imag­ine the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo or Picasso’s Guer­nica ever being shown here. There would be war in heaven. Apart from any­thing else, these works have a dimen­sion of seri­ous­ness that the Guggen­heim lacks. Koons’ Puppy, faith­fully guard­ing the entrance to the enchanted cas­tle, gives the game away. Archi­tec­ture today is a vis­i­tor attrac­tion, delib­er­ately play­ing on our love of the bright­est lights and the gaud­i­est neon. The Bil­bao Guggenheim’s spir­i­tual Acrop­o­lis is Las Vegas, with its infan­til­is­ing pirate ships and Egypt­ian sphin­xes. Gehry’s museum would be com­pletely at home there, for a year at least, and then look a lit­tle dusty and jaded, soon to be torn down and replaced by another engag­ing mar­vel with which our imag­i­na­tions can play.

Nov­elty archi­tec­ture dom­i­nates through­out the world, pitched like the movies at the bored teenager inside all of us. Uni­ver­si­ties need to look like air­ports, with an up-and-away hol­i­day ethos. Office build­ings dis­guise them­selves as hi-tech apart­ment houses, every­thing has the chunky look of a child’s build­ing blocks, stir­ring dreams of the nurs­ery.

But per­haps Gehry’s Guggen­heim tran­scends all this. From the far side of the Styx I’ll look back on it with awe.

Comment » | architecture

links for 2007-10-09

October 9th, 2007 — 1:31am

Comment » | Daily Links

links for 2007-10-08

October 8th, 2007 — 1:22am

Comment » | Daily Links

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