Archive for June 2008


Ethics and Design Podcast: Part Deux

June 30th, 2008 — 4:30pm

The I.A. Pod­cast (by Jeff Parks of I.A. Con­sul­tants and Box­e­san­dAr­rows pod­cast fame) just pub­lished the sec­ond of two inter­views dis­cussing research on ethics, design, social media, and con­flict.
Play and down­load the sec­ond inter­view here.
Sub­scribe to the iTunes and feed­burner feeds for the I.A. Pod­cast here.
These pod­casts are based on the Design­ing Eth­i­cal Expe­ri­ences series I’m writ­ing for UXMat­ters: watch for pub­li­ca­tion of the final arti­cle later this sum­mer.
Thanks again, Jeff!

Comment » | Ethics & Design, Social Media, User Experience (UX)

Understanding Juicy Rationalizations: How Designers Make Ethical Choices

June 23rd, 2008 — 5:35pm

Under­stand­ing Juicy Ratio­nal­iza­tions, part 3 of the Design­ing Eth­i­cal Expe­ri­ences series, just went live at UXMat­ters.
Here’s the teaser:
From “The Big Chill“
Michael: “I don’t know any­one who could get through the day with­out two or three juicy ratio­nal­iza­tions.“
“They’re more impor­tant than sex.“
Sam: “Ah, come on. Nothing’s more impor­tant than sex.“
Michael: “Oh yeah? Ever gone a week with­out a ratio­nal­iza­tion?“

Design­ers ratio­nal­ize their choices just as much as every­one else. But we also play a unique role in shap­ing the human world by cre­at­ing the expres­sive and func­tional tools many peo­ple use in their daily lives. Our deci­sions about what is and is not eth­i­cal directly impact the lives of a tremen­dous num­ber of peo­ple we will never know. Bet­ter under­stand­ing of the choices we make as design­ers can help us cre­ate more eth­i­cal user expe­ri­ences for our­selves and for every­one.

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Under­stand­ing Juicy Ratio­nal­iza­tions is the first of a pair of arti­cles focused on the ways that indi­vid­ual design­ers make eth­i­cal choices, and how we can improve our choices. This sec­ond pair of arti­cles is a bit of eye-opening win­dow into how peo­ple make many of the choices in our daily lives — not just design deci­sions. Or, at least it was for me… Read­ers will see con­nec­tions much broader than sim­ply choices we explic­itly think of as ‘eth­i­cal’ and / or design related.
The final install­ment in the Design­ing Eth­i­cal Expe­ri­ences series is titled Man­ag­ing the Imp of the Per­verse; watch for it some­time soon.
With the pub­li­ca­tion of these next two arti­cles, the Design­ing Eth­i­cal Expe­ri­ences series con­sists of two sets of matched pairs of arti­cles; the first arti­cle in each pair fram­ing a prob­lem­atic real-life sit­u­a­tion design­ers will face, and the sec­ond sug­gest­ing some ways to resolve these chal­lenges eth­i­cally.
The first pair of arti­cles — Social Media and the Con­flicted Future and Some Prac­ti­cal Sug­ges­tions for Design­ing Eth­i­cal Expe­ri­ences — looked at broad cul­tural and tech­nol­ogy trends like social media and DIY / co-creation, sug­gest­ing ways to dis­cover and man­age likely eth­i­cal con­flicts within the design process.
It’s a nice sym­met­ri­cal struc­ture, if you dig that sort of thing.  (And what archi­tect doesn’t?)
For com­muters / multi-taskers / peo­ple who pre­fer lis­ten­ing to read­ing, Jeff Parks inter­viewed me on the con­tents of this sec­ond set of arti­cles, which he will pub­lish shortly as a pod­cast.
Thanks again to the edi­to­r­ial team at UXMat­ters for sup­port­ing my explo­ration of this very impor­tant topic for the future of expe­ri­ence design. In an age when every­one can lever­age professional-grade adver­tis­ing the likes of Spo­tun­ner, the eth­i­cal­ity of the expres­sive tools and frame­works design­ers cre­ate is a ques­tion of crit­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance for us all.

Comment » | Ethics & Design, Social Media, User Experience (UX)

Speaking at EuroIA 2008 In Amsterdam

June 20th, 2008 — 11:37am

I’m happy to announce I’m speak­ing at EuroIA 2008 in Ams­ter­dam, Sep­tem­ber 26 — 27. My ses­sion is titled ‘Frame­works Are the Future of IA’. If the excit­ing title isn’t enough to sell you on attend­ing (what’s more com­pelling than a case study on an open struc­tural design frame­work for self-assembled user expe­ri­ences and infor­ma­tion spaces…?), here’s a descrip­tion:
The Web is shift­ing to a DIY (Do It Your­self) model of user expe­ri­ence cre­ation, where peo­ple assem­ble indi­vid­ual com­bi­na­tions of con­tent and func­tion­al­ity gath­ered from many sources to meet their par­tic­u­lar needs. The DIY model for cre­at­ing user expe­ri­ences offers many ben­e­fits in pub­lic and con­sumer set­tings, and also inside the enter­prise. But over time, it suf­fers many of the same prob­lems that his­tor­i­cally made por­tals unus­able and inef­fec­tive, includ­ing con­gested designs, poorly planned growth, and inabil­ity to accom­mo­date changes in struc­ture and use.
This case study demon­strates a sim­ple design frame­work of stan­dard­ized infor­ma­tion archi­tec­ture build­ing blocks that is directly applic­a­ble to por­tals and the DIY model for cre­at­ing user expe­ri­ences, in two ways. First, the build­ing blocks frame­work can help main­tain find­abil­ity, usabil­ity and user expe­ri­ence qual­ity in por­tal and DIY set­tings by effec­tively guid­ing growth and change. Sec­ond, it is an exam­ple of the chang­ing role of IA in the DIY world, where we now define the frame­works and tem­plates other peo­ple choose from when cre­at­ing their own tools and user expe­ri­ences.
Using many screen­shots and design doc­u­ments, the case study will fol­low changes in the audi­ences, struc­tures, and con­tents of a suite of enter­prise por­tals con­structed for users in dif­fer­ent coun­tries, oper­at­ing units, and man­age­r­ial lev­els of a major global cor­po­ra­tion. Par­tic­i­pants will see how the build­ing blocks pro­vided an effec­tive frame­work for the design, expan­sion, and inte­gra­tion of nearly a dozen dis­tinct por­tals assem­bled from a com­mon library of func­tion­al­ity and con­tent.
This case study will also explore the build­ing blocks as an exam­ple of the design frame­works IA’s will cre­ate in the DIY future. We will dis­cuss the goals and design prin­ci­ples that inspired the build­ing blocks sys­tem, and review its evo­lu­tion over time.
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The con­fer­ence pro­gram includes some very inter­est­ing ses­sions, and Adam Green­field (of Every­ware reknown) is the keynote.
Ams­ter­dam is lovely in Sep­tem­ber, but if you need more rea­son to come and say hello, Pic­nic 08 — with a stel­lar lineup of speak­ers — is just before EuroIA.

1 comment » | Building Blocks, Information Architecture, Social Media, User Experience (UX)

Obama Crowdsources Election Campaign Funding

June 19th, 2008 — 12:08pm

The NYTimes reports today in Obama Opts Out of Pub­lic Financ­ing for Cam­paign that Sen­a­tor Obama
”…raised $95 mil­lion in Feb­ru­ary and March alone, most of it, as his aides noted Thurs­day, in small con­tri­bu­tions raised on the Inter­net. More than 90 per­cent of the campaign’s con­tri­bu­tions were for $100 or less, said Robert Gibbs, the com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor to Mr. Obama.“
Obama’s suc­cess rais­ing money with small dona­tions is a clear indi­ca­tor that crowd­sourc­ing is a viable approach to financ­ing what is prob­a­bly the most expen­sive and demand­ing type of elec­toral con­test ever seen — a U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion cam­paign.
The old ways aren’t going away just yet — wit­ness McCain’s more con­ven­tional reliance on a mixed palette of pub­lic finance and unlim­ited dona­tions to the RNC — but suc­cess­ful crowd­sourc­ing of an elec­tion effort of this scale and dura­tion proves other mod­els — net­worked, dis­trib­uted / decen­tral­ized, bottom-up, etc. — can be effec­tive in the most chal­leng­ing sit­u­a­tions.
“Instead of forc­ing us to rely on mil­lions from Wash­ing­ton lob­by­ists and spe­cial inter­est PACs, you’ve fueled this cam­paign with dona­tions of $5, $10, $20, what­ever you can afford,” he told his sup­port­ers in the video mes­sage. “And because you did, we’ve built a grass­roots move­ment of over 1.5 mil­lion Amer­i­cans.“
And that’s a good thing. The rel­a­tive elec­toral stale­mate we’ve had in the U.S. for the last decade echoes the trench war­fare phase of World War One; grind­ing bat­tles of attri­tion between nom­i­nally dis­tinct com­bat­ants that con­sume much, accom­plish lit­tle, and yield no sub­stan­tive change for the peo­ple involved.
The next step is to apply this net­worked / crowd­sourced / dis­trib­uted financ­ing model to sup­port a cam­paign by some­one out­side the (dis­tress­ingly) com­pla­cent major par­ties. We’ve man­aged to change the feed­ing mech­a­nism, now we have to change the ani­mal it feeds.

Comment » | Networks and Systems, Politics

Ethics and Design Interview Live

June 13th, 2008 — 7:34pm

The I.A. Pod­cast (by Jeff Parks of I.A. Con­sul­tants and Box­e­san­dAr­rows pod­cast fame) just pub­lished the first of two inter­views we recorded recently, talk­ing about ethics, design, social media, and con­flict.
Play and down­load the inter­view here.
Sub­scribe to the iTunes and feed­burner feeds for the I.A. Pod­cast here.
Stay tuned for the sec­ond inter­view!
Thanks Jeff!

Comment » | Ethics & Design, Ideas, Social Media

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