Tag: social_media

Radio Johnny Holland Interview On Augmented Reality Is Live

March 8th, 2010 — 9:31am

Radio Johnny (brought to you by the good peo­ple of Johnny Hol­land mag­a­zine) just pub­lished an inter­view Jeff Parks recorded with me shortly before the New Year, dis­cussing aug­mented real­ity, why it’s of inter­est for Expe­ri­ence Design, and some of the areas of likely devel­op­ment we’ll see in AR in the near future.

You can down­load the pod­cast, check out the show notes, and sub­scribe to the full Radio Johnny feed here: http://johnnyholland.org/2010/03/08/radio-johnny-joe-lamantia-on-augmented-reality/

Hubris alert: I admit to hav­ing grandiose schemes to influ­ence the evo­lu­tion of an emerg­ing medium, by con­sis­tently hec­tor­ing the world on the impor­tance of tools for sim­ple con­tent creation…

Comment » | Augmented Reality, Everyware

ARrested Development: The Content Creation Barrier For Augmented Reality

September 29th, 2009 — 9:26am

The most impor­tant ques­tion fac­ing the aug­mented real­ity com­mu­nity — one whose answer will shape the future of AR — is con­tent cre­ation. Put sim­ply, it’s a ques­tion of Who can cre­ate What kind of con­tent, and How they will cre­ate it.  At the moment, a notice­able gap sep­a­rates those who can cre­ate AR expe­ri­ences from those who can­not.  High bar­ri­ers to entry in the form of skills, tech­nol­ogy, or expense like those in front of AR are accept­able for a new medium at the early stages of devel­op­ment, but in the long run, mak­ing it easy for all those peo­ple who don’t know a fidu­ciary marker from fidu­ciary trust to eas­ily cre­ate valu­able expe­ri­ences for them­selves and oth­ers is far more impor­tant to the via­bil­ity of AR than resolv­ing any of the many con­cep­tual, design, or tech­no­log­i­cal chal­lenges vis­i­ble at the moment.

In fact, unless the AR com­mu­nity makes it easy for ordi­nary peo­ple to cre­ate and share mean­ing­ful con­tent broadly, I wager aug­mented real­ity will remain a marketer’s over­worked dray horse in the near and mid­dle term future. And in the long term, aug­mented real­ity expe­ri­ences will become at best an inter­face lens [as Adam Green­field sug­gests here] sup­port­ing spe­cial­ized visu­al­iza­tion needs and a lim­ited range of inter­ac­tions (with cor­re­spond­ingly lim­ited value), all built around resources orig­i­nat­ing from else­where within the ubiq­ui­tous dig­i­tal expe­ri­ence ecosystem.

I think this is a ‘neg­a­tive out­ome’ for AR only because I see so much poten­tial. As a class of expe­ri­ences, aug­mented real­ity has the poten­tial to change our under­stand­ing of the world we are immersed in at every moment, but only rarely appre­hend in a way that makes informed inter­ac­tion with peo­ple and the envi­ron­ment pos­si­ble. As Tish Shute noted in her recent inter­view with Bruno Uzzan, I see the col­lec­tion of tools, tech­nolo­gies, and con­cepts affil­i­ated under the ban­ner of aug­mented real­ity as the lead­ing ambas­sador for ubiq­ui­tous com­put­ing and the weird world of every­ware that is ris­ing around us.

Recent devel­op­ments show progress towards bridg­ing the gap. First is Mobilizy’s pro­posal of a com­mon markup lan­guage — ARML [Aug­mented Real­ity Markup Lan­guage], based on KML — to the Aug­mented Real­ity Con­sor­tium.  Set­ting aside all other ques­tions about ARML, the pri­mary con­tent cre­ation prob­lem I see with this approach is the explic­itly geo­graphic frame of ref­er­ence in KML.  Most peo­ple sim­ply do not think in the same terms used by geoloca­tive schemes.  When I ask how far it is to the mar­ket, and some­one replies “4 min­utes north”, they’re not think­ing in min­utes of lat­i­tude.…  But rather than attempt to reori­ent the GIS / GEO loca­tion world­view to one that’s more nat­ural in human terms, I think the prag­matic solu­tion is a trans­la­tion layer in the cre­ation expe­ri­ence that avoids coor­di­nates or other non-natural lcoa­t­ive schemes, much as domain names over­lay or bro­ker IP addresses.  As an exam­ple, recall how the travel ser­vice Dopplr prompts you to enter the name of a place, sug­gests likely matches from a library of defined and man­aged place names, and only then addresses the coor­di­nates asso­ci­ated with that location.

In addi­tion, ARML will need some sort of abil­ity to cap­ture markup that is *not* depen­dent on geo­graphic ref­er­ence.  This may seem coun­ter­in­tu­itive for a medium that aims to aug­ment real­ity (which is, after all, a place), but remem­ber that peo­ple also ori­ent them­selves in terms of other peo­ple, time, activ­ity, iden­ti­fier, etc.  Hang­ing every­thing that aug­ments real­ity off of the geo­graphic skele­ton will result in instant ref­er­ence scheme hack­ery on an immense scale.  At the least, AR con­tent cre­ation expe­ri­ences based on ARML will need some means of invok­ing other ref­er­ence schemes.

The sec­ond devel­op­ment is Layar’s launch of buildAR.com, a pub­lic web-based con­tent cre­ation tool that sup­ports map based inter­ac­tion that extends the model for cre­ation expe­ri­ences beyond coör­di­nate tagged text data.  BuildAR.com is an early stage tool, but it marks a step toward the evo­lu­tion towards the goal of reflex­iv­ity; the stage of matu­rity wherein it is pos­si­ble for peo­ple who are unaware of the struc­ture and con­cepts that define the medium to eas­ily use tools pro­vided within the medium to cre­ate expe­ri­ences.  In McCLuhanesque terms, this effec­tively entails mak­ing pro­vi­sion for using the medium to extend itself.

I’m talk­ing about both direct and indi­rect cre­ation path­ways for aug­mented con­tent, though the empha­sis is on the direct end of the con­tin­uüm.  Indi­rect cre­ation could take many forms, such as trans­lat­ing exist­ing geoloca­tive tags or append­ing ARML meta­data to exist­ing dig­i­tal con­tent items; per­haps social objects like pho­tos, tweets, hotel reviews, or recipes.  Or con­tent that is cre­ated as a result of Google Wave, or the instru­men­ta­tion of urban set­tings, and our basic eco­nomic processes.  (A deep dive into the ques­tion of direct vs. indi­rect con­tent cre­ation path­ways would require map­ping out the poten­tial aug­mented con­tent ecosys­tem of linked data, and assess­ing each type of data from the cloud of apis / ser­vices / sources using tbd criteria.)

Address­ing the con­tent cre­ation gap is crit­i­cal because enabling broad-based cre­ation of aug­mented expe­ri­ences will speed up exper­i­men­ta­tion for all the sup­port­ing mod­els that need to evolve: busi­ness and rev­enue, data own­er­ship, tech­ni­cal, con­cep­tual, etc. Evo­lu­tion is needed here; the early mod­els for con­tent cre­ation include adver­tiser only (a default in the exper­i­men­tal stage for media where mar­keters and adver­tis­ers are pio­neers), sub­scrip­tion based, open source, and non­profit (aca­d­e­mic and oth­er­wise).  None of these yet offers the right com­bi­na­tion of con­ve­nience and con­text, the implaca­ble twin giants who rule the domain of value judg­ments made by dig­i­tal con­sumers and co-creaters.

Guide­lines for Con­tent Cre­ation Experiences

So what should the AR com­mu­nity offer to close the cre­ation gap?  We’ve learned a lot about what works in broad-based con­tent cre­ation from the evo­lu­tion of blog­ging and other main­stream plat­forms for social inter­ac­tion.  With­out con­sid­er­ing it exten­sively, the guide­lines for a con­tent cre­ation expe­ri­ence (mind, I’m not dis­cussing the tech­ni­cal enablers) are:

  • No cost of entry: Cre­at­ing con­tent can­not require spend­ing money (at least for basic capa­bil­ity), as the effort involved is already an investment.
  • No cog­ni­tive over­head: Cre­at­ing con­tent can­not require under­stand­ing new abstract con­cepts, mas­ter­ing tools with low usabil­ity, learn­ing com­plex lan­guages or ter­mi­nol­ogy, etc.
  • No main­te­nance: Cre­ation tools must act like self-maintaining ser­vices, i.e. tools that do not require effort or attention
  • No acces­si­bil­ity bar­ri­ers: For global adop­tion, con­tent cre­ation expe­ri­ences need to be acces­si­ble, which means low-bandwidth, multi-lingual, cross-media, and plat­form agnostic.

This is a start­ing list, but it cap­tures the essence of the offer­ings that have been suc­cess­ful in the past.

In addi­tion to the expe­ri­ence, the con­tent that peo­ple cre­ate needs to fol­low some guidelines.

  • Address­able: Includ­ing find­abil­ity and search­a­bil­ity, AR con­tent must be fully address­able by a broad spec­trum of tools and pro­to­cols.  AR will fail at bridg­ing the real and dig­i­tal if the con­tent peo­ple cre­ate for aug­mented expe­ri­ences  can­not — at least par­tially — be addressed across this bound­ary, which is what makes AR an enchanted win­dow rather than a sim­ple browser / UI lens.  This seems like the sim­plest of these guide­lines (after all, what isn’t address­able in a dig­i­tal space?), but I think in the end it will be quite chal­leng­ing to realize.
  • Inter­op­er­a­ble: Con­tent must work across plat­forms, for­mats, and browsers, in terms of cre­ation, shar­ing, and management.
  • Portable: Con­tent must be mov­able or portable for peo­ple to make the effort of cre­ation; it can­not be con­fined to a sin­gle stor­age loca­tion, ser­vice, tool, owner, etc.  This touches on the famil­iar ques­tions of data own­er­ship and the commons.

The goal of these sug­ges­tions is to push AR toward matu­rity and broader adop­tion as quickly as pos­si­ble, using lessons from the evo­lu­tion of the Web.  What sug­ges­tions for guide­lines for con­tent cre­ation expe­ri­ences and the nature of AR con­tent do you have?

If I am off base in think­ing the cre­ation bar­rier crit­i­cal at this early stage of aug­mented reality’s rise above the exper­i­men­tal water­line, then what is more important?

19 comments » | User Experience (UX)

Fall Speaking: Janus Boye Conference, EuroIA, BlogTalk

August 25th, 2009 — 3:23am

A quick run­down on my fall speak­ing sched­ule so far.

waffles_logoFirst up is BlogTalk 2009, in Jeju, Korea on Sep­tem­ber 15 and 16. There I’ll be talk­ing about ‘The Archi­tec­ture of Fun’ — shar­ing a new design lan­guage for emo­tion that’s been in use in the game design indus­try for quite a while.  [Dis­clo­sure: While it’s a priv­i­lege to be on the pro­gram with so many inno­v­a­tive and insight­ful social media fig­ures, I’m also really look­ing for­ward to the food in Korea :) ]

Next up is EuroIA in Copen­hagen, Sep­tem­ber 26 and 27.  For the lat­est edi­tion of this largest gath­er­ing of the user expe­ri­ence com­mu­nity in Europe, I’ll reprise my Archi­tec­ture of Fun talk.


Wrap­ping up the sched­ule so far is the Janus Boye con­fer­ence in Aarhus, Novem­ber 3 — 6.  Here  I’m pre­sent­ing a half-day tuto­r­ial titled Design­ing Infor­ma­tion Expe­ri­ences.  This is an exten­sive, detailed tuto­r­ial that any­one work­ing in infor­ma­tion man­age­ment will ben­e­fit from, as it com­bines two of my pas­sions; design­ing for peo­ple, and using frame­works to enhance solu­tion scope and effectiveness.


Here’s the descrip­tion from the offi­cial program:

When design­ing for infor­ma­tion retrieval expe­ri­ences, the cus­tomer must always be right. This tuto­r­ial will give you the tools to uncover user needs and design the con­text for deliv­er­ing infor­ma­tion, whether that be through search, tax­onomies or some­thing entirely different.

What you will learn:
•    A broadly applic­a­ble method for under­stand­ing user needs in diverse infor­ma­tion access con­texts
•    A col­lec­tion of infor­ma­tion retrieval pat­terns rel­e­vant to mul­ti­ple set­tings such as enter­prise search and infor­ma­tion access, ser­vice design, and prod­uct and plat­form management

We will also dis­cuss the impact of orga­ni­za­tional and cul­tural fac­tors on design deci­sions and why it is essen­tial, that you frame busi­ness and tech­nol­ogy chal­lenges in the right way.

The tuto­r­ial builds on lessons learned from a large cus­tomer project focus­ing on trans­form­ing user expe­ri­ence. The scope of this pro­gram included ~25 sep­a­rate web-delivered prod­ucts, a large doc­u­ment repos­i­tory, inte­grated cus­tomer ser­vice and sup­port processes, con­tent man­age­ment, tax­on­omy and ontol­ogy cre­ation, and search and infor­ma­tion retrieval solu­tions. Joe will share the inno­vate meth­ods and sur­pris­ing insight that emerged in the process.

Janus Boye gath­ers lead­ing local and inter­na­tional prac­ti­tion­ers, and is a new event for me, so I’m very much look­ing for­ward to it.

I hope to see some of you at one or more of these gath­er­ings that alto­gether span half the world!

Comment » | Uncategorized

The Architecture of Fun: Massively Social On-line Games

February 27th, 2009 — 4:57pm

Here’s my pre­sen­ta­tion from the Ital­ian IA Sum­mit on Killzone.com as a lead­ing exam­ple of the next gen­er­a­tion of Mas­sively Social On-line Games.
As usual, I try to share some of the best think­ing on these ideas; in this case I quote lib­er­ally from Nicole Lazarro. (I hope she takes this as a com­pli­ment.) Her insights into the emo­tional dri­vers for social and game expe­ri­ences and the nature of cross media are — no sur­prise — right on, and com­ing true years after first pub­li­ca­tion.
Some of the more eye-opening mate­r­ial I dis­cov­ered while look­ing into the design of this game / com­mu­nity hybrid con­cerns the direct con­nec­tion between game mechan­ics (a design ques­tion), the space of pos­si­ble choices for play­ers, the emo­tions these choices inspire and encour­age, and the result­ing expe­ri­ence of the game envi­ron­ment.
From the func­tional to the psy­cho­log­i­cal, it seems there really is an ‘archi­tec­ture of fun’ for both games and social expe­ri­ences. It is just another exam­ple of how archi­tec­ture of any (and all) kinds is an enor­mous influ­enc­ing fac­tor on peo­ples’ expe­ri­ences.
This is the first of two parts — stay tuned for the follow-up, once we clear the dis­clo­sure ques­tion.
A slide­cast will fol­low shortly, now that my lap­top is back in work­ing order, and I can fire up ScreenFlow.

Comment » | Social Media, User Experience (UX)

Speaking About Massively Social On-line Games In Italy

February 13th, 2009 — 5:30am

I’ll be speak­ing at the Ital­ian IA Sum­mit next week on some of the excit­ing work Medi­a­Cat­a­lyst has been doing in the area of mas­sively social on-line games. We’re the dig­i­tal agency behind Killzone.com, the inte­grated on-line com­mu­nity for the Kil­l­zone game series, which is just about to release it’s sec­ond install­ment (sell­ing well — Kil­l­Zone 2 is #10 on Ama­zon, in pre-orders alone).
I think hybrid expe­ri­ences that com­bine games dynamism and sophis­ti­cated social spaces are a very impor­tant part of the future for inter­ac­tive expe­ri­ences, and the orga­niz­ers have been kind enough to offer us the open­ing keynote, so if you can get a ticket to Forli, we’d love to see you in the audi­ence.
Here’s the full descrip­tion of our talk:
Co-evolution of a Socially Rich Game Expe­ri­ence and Com­mu­nity Archi­tec­ture
What form will the next gen­er­a­tion of inter­ac­tive expe­ri­ences take? The exact nature of the future is always unknown. But now that every­thing is ‘social’, and games are a fully legit­i­mate cul­tural phe­nom­e­non more prof­itable and more pop­u­lar than Hol­ly­wood films, we can expect to see the emer­gence of expe­ri­ences that com­bine aspects of games and social media in new ways.
One exam­ple of a hybrid expe­ri­ence that com­bines game ele­ments and com­plex social inter­ac­tions is the cross-media envi­ron­ment formed by the pop­u­lar Kil­l­zone games and their com­pan­ion site Killzone.com. By design, the Kil­l­zone games and the Killzone.com site have co-evolved over time to inter­con­nect on many lev­els. In the most recent ver­sion (planned for pub­lic release in early 2009), the game con­sole and web site expe­ri­ences work in con­cert to enhance game­play with sophis­ti­cated social dynam­ics, and pro­vide an active com­mu­nity des­ti­na­tion that is ‘syn­chro­nized’ with events in the game in real time. The hybrid Kil­l­zone envi­ron­ment allows active game play­ers and com­mu­nity mem­bers to move back and forth between game and web expe­ri­ences, with simul­ta­ne­ous aware­ness of and con­nec­tion to peo­ple and events in both set­tings.
Lead­ing games researcher and designer Nicole Laz­zaro calls these hybrid expe­ri­ences ‘Mas­sively Social On-line Games’. In these types of inter­ac­tive expe­ri­ences, play­ers build mean­ing­ful his­to­ries for indi­vid­ual char­ac­ters and groups of all sizes through com­pet­i­tive and coöper­a­tive inter­ac­tions that take place in the linked game and com­mu­nity con­texts. Game mech­a­nisms and social archi­tec­ture ele­ments are designed to encour­age the accu­mu­la­tion of shared expe­ri­ences, group iden­ti­ties, and col­lec­tive his­to­ries. Over time, design­ers hope shared expe­ri­ences will serve as the basis for a body of social mem­ory.
This case study will fol­low the co-evolution of Kil­l­zone and Killzone.com, revis­it­ing major busi­ness and design deci­sions in con­text, exam­in­ing the chang­ing nature of the com­mu­nity, and con­sid­er­ing the lessons learned at each stage of the devel­op­ment of this early exam­ple of the next gen­er­a­tion of mas­sively social on-line game.

Comment » | User Experience (UX)

Frameworks Are the Future (Slides From EuroIA 2008)

October 8th, 2008 — 6:28am

In case you couldn’t make it to Ams­ter­dam for EuroIA 2008, or if you were in town but pre­ferred to stay out­side in the warmth of a sunny Sep­tem­ber Sat­ur­day than ven­ture into the mar­velous Tsuchin­ski the­ater, I’ve posted the slides from my talk Frame­works are the Future of Design.

Comment » | Building Blocks, Information Architecture, User Experience (UX)

Cultural Clouds: A New Kind of Commons?

September 21st, 2008 — 8:29am

There’s a lot of buzz about cloud com­put­ing in the tech­nol­ogy world these days, but I think some­thing much more inter­est­ing is the emer­gence of cul­tural clouds as the newest kind of pub­lic com­mons. By cul­tural clouds, I’m talk­ing about the new layer of the human cul­tural stack we’re busy lay­ing down as a by prod­uct of all our social and cre­ative activ­i­ties in the inof­verse.
To be clear, I’m not refer­ring to the IT infra­struc­ture layer wherein cloud com­put­ing is defined as the “style of com­put­ing where mas­sively scal­able IT-related capa­bil­i­ties are pro­vided ‘as a ser­vice’ across the Inter­net to mul­ti­ple exter­nal cus­tomers.” [Thanks Gart­ner, via Busi­ness­Week]
These new cul­tural clouds appear in the ever grow­ing col­lec­tions of crowd­sourced col­lec­tively or socially accu­mu­lated judge­ments, cul­tural prod­ucts, knowl­edge, his­tory, rela­tion­ships, etc., encoded in the form of man­aged dig­i­tal infor­ma­tion. This quick illus­tra­tion shows some of the pools of activ­ity and judge­ment that that make up these cloud com­mons; includ­ing wikis, pub­lic media, rep­u­ta­tion state­ments, read­ing rec­om­men­da­tions, social net­works, wish lists, music lis­ten­ing his­to­ries, shared pho­tos, films and videos, cita­tion net­works, geo­t­ag­ging and mem­ory maps, com­ments and pub­lic dis­course, hash­tags and tags for pho­tos, URLs, and songs, link streams, sub­scrip­tion and feed lists, blogrolls, etc. These are social, cul­tural, and con­ver­sa­tional resources, not min­eral deposits or phys­i­cal topogra­phies.
New Cul­tural Clouds / Com­mons
The com­mons is an old con­struct that embraces nat­ural resources — think land, air, water, the elec­tro­mag­netic spec­trum — and the more recent pub­lic domain of cul­tural mate­ri­als not gov­erned by copy­right law.
Ven­er­a­ble insti­tu­tions of cus­tom and law, such as sea­sonal access to pas­turage, the right of pas­sage across bor­ders for nomadic peo­ples, and com­mon law, define and reg­u­late the rec­og­nized forms of com­mons.
But socially col­lected, dig­i­tal, rei­fied human cul­tural prod­ucts and judge­ments are a new *type* of com­mons. I think they’re a new type of resource, brought forth largely by the cog­ni­tive sur­plus we enjoy. And as pro­found tech­no­log­i­cal per­me­ation and ubiq­ui­tous com­put­ing bring on the age of every­ware, the cloud com­mons will grow (and frag­ment / spe­cial­ize / mul­ti­ply?).
Who and what will gov­ern the new cloud com­mons? How will we define and man­age these resources?
By form and makeup, the cloud com­mons is ephemeral and dis­trib­uted. But as dig­i­tal infor­ma­tion, it is emi­nently tan­gi­ble and action­able. Our basic social struc­tures and mech­a­nisms — sci­ence, the law, eco­nom­ics, art, agri­cul­ture, reli­gion, tech­nol­ogy — will rec­og­nize the emer­gence of cloud com­mons, and respond accord­ingly. APML (Atten­tion Pro­fil­ing Markup Lan­guage), from the APML Work­ing Group, is an exam­ple. The Dat­a­Porta­bil­ity project — “a group cre­ated to pro­mote the idea that indi­vid­u­als have con­trol over their data by deter­min­ing how they can use it and who can use it. This includes access to data that is under the con­trol of another entity.” — is another. [Advo­cat­ing for the right to free move­ment of data is a dig­i­tal ana­log of the ancient idea of right of way.] OpenID, OpenSo­cial, OAuth, OPML, and the rapidly evolv­ing Cre­ative Com­mons licens­ing sys­tem are other exam­ples of responses to the appear­ance of cloud com­mons.
What does the future hold? As recog­ni­tion of cloud-based com­mons grows, expect to see all the pat­terns of activ­ity typ­i­cal of new fron­tiers and zones of insta­bil­ity: wild­cat­ting, pio­neer­ing, piracy, squat­ting, pri­va­teer­ing, enclo­sure, slums and shanty towns (infor­mal set­tle­ments in the par­lance of archite­cuter and urban plan­ning) extrac­tive indus­tries, sov­er­eign claims, col­o­niza­tion, spec­u­la­tion, etc.
With his­tory as a guide, I’m espe­cially wary of enclo­sure move­ments, and extrac­tive indus­tries. Both prac­tices can rapidly dimin­ish the present value of a com­mons or commons-based resource. Worse, enclo­sure and extrac­tive prac­tices act as neg­a­tive feed­back mech­a­nisms, decreas­ing cur­rent esti­ma­tions of a com­mons or commons-based resource’s future value, mak­ing the tragedy of the com­mons a likely out­come sce­nario.
The U.S. radio spec­trum, as enclosed by the FCC
Is this fram­ing of recently formed clouds of infor­ma­tion and activ­ity data as a new kind of com­mons accu­rate? Use­ful?
More on the idea of cul­tural clouds as the new com­mons forthcoming.

3 comments » | Ideas, Social Media

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.

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)

Hybrids: Architectures For The Ecology of Co-Creation

March 21st, 2008 — 4:38pm

Com­mon mod­els for par­tic­i­pa­tion in social and con­trib­u­tory media invari­ably set ‘con­tent cre­ators’ — the group of peo­ple who pro­vide orig­i­nal mate­r­ial — at the top of an implied or explicit scale of com­par­a­tive value. Bradley Horowitz’s Con­tent Pro­duc­tion Pyra­mid is one exam­ple, Forrester’s Social Techno­graph­ics Lad­der is another. In these mod­els, value — usu­ally to poten­tial mar­keters or adver­tis­ers exter­nal to the domain in ques­tion — is usu­ally mea­sured in terms of the level of involve­ment of the dif­fer­ent groups present, whether con­sumers, syn­the­siz­ers, or cre­ators.
By the num­bers, these mod­els are accu­rate: the vast major­ity of the con­tent in social media comes from a small slice of the pop­u­la­tion. And for busi­nesses, con­tent cre­ators offer greater poten­tial to com­mer­cial­ize / mon­e­tize / trade influ­ence.
It’s time to evolve these mod­els a bit, to bet­ter align them with the sweep­ing DIY cul­tural and tech­no­log­i­cal shift hap­pen­ing offline in the real world, as well as online.
The DIY shift man­i­fests in many ways:

The essen­tial fea­ture of the DIY shift is co-creation: the pres­ence of many more peo­ple in *all aspects* of cre­ation and pro­duc­tion, whether of soft­ware, goods, ideas, etc. Co-creation encom­passes more than straight­for­ward on-line con­tent cre­ation — such as shar­ing a photo, or writ­ing a blog post — acknowl­edged by the archi­tec­ture of par­tic­i­pa­tion, user-generated con­tent (and ugly term…), crowd-sourcing, and col­lec­tive and con­trib­u­tory media mod­els.
Co-creation includes active shap­ing of struc­ture, pat­tern, rules, and mech­a­nisms, that sup­port sim­ple con­tent cre­ation. This requires activ­ity and involve­ment from roles we often label edi­tor, builder, designer, or archi­tect, depend­ing on the con­text. The pyra­mid and lad­der mod­els either implic­itly col­lapse these per­spec­tives into the gen­eral cat­e­gory of ‘cre­ator’, which obscures very impor­tant dis­tinc­tions between them, or leaves them out entirely (I’m not sure which). It is pos­si­ble to plot these more nuanced cre­ative roles on the gen­eral con­tin­uüm of ‘level of involve­ment’, and I often do this when I talk about the future of design in the DIY world.
A bet­ter model for this world is the ecol­ogy of co-creation, which rec­og­nizes that the key dif­fer­ence between indus­trial pro­duc­tion mod­els and the DIY future is that the walls sep­a­rat­ing tra­di­tional cre­ators from con­sumers have fallen, and all par­ties inter­con­nect. Judge­ments of value in ecolo­gies take on very dif­fer­ent mean­ings: Con­sider the dif­fer­ing but all vitally impor­tant roles of pro­duc­ers, con­sumers, and decom­posers in a liv­ing ecosys­tem.
What will an ecol­ogy of co-creation look like in prac­ti­cal / oper­a­tional form? In The Bot­tom Is Not Enough, Kevin Kelly offers, “…now that crowd-sourcing and social webs are all the rage, it’s worth repeat­ing: the bot­tom is not enough. You need a bit of top-down as well.“
An ecol­ogy of co-creation that com­bines top-down archi­tec­ture and design with bottom-up con­tri­bu­tion and par­tic­i­pa­tion will take the form of a delib­er­ate hybrid.
I’ll quote Kelly again (at some length):
Here’s how I sum it up:  The bottom-up hive mind will always take us much fur­ther than even seems pos­si­ble. It keeps sur­pris­ing us in this regard. Given enough time, dumb things can be smarter than we think.
At that same time, the bottom-up hive mind will never take us to our end goal. We are too impa­tient. So we add design and top down con­trol to get where we want to go.
The sys­tems we keep will be hybrid cre­ations. They will have a strong root­stock of peer-to-peer gen­er­a­tion, grafted below highly refined strains of con­trol­ling func­tions.  Sturdy, robust foun­da­tions of user-made con­tent and crowd-sourced inno­va­tion will feed very small sliv­ers of lead­er­ship agility. Pure plays of 100% smart mobs or 100% smart elites will be rare.
The real art of busi­ness and orga­ni­za­tions in the net­work econ­omy will not be in har­ness­ing the crowd of “every­body” (sim­ple!) but in find­ing the appro­pri­ate hybrid mix of bot­tom and top for each niche, at the right time. The mix of control/no-control will shift as a sys­tem grows and matures.
[Side note: Metaphors for achiev­ing the appro­pri­ate mix of control/no-control for a sys­tem will likely include chore­o­graph­ing, cul­ti­vat­ing, tun­ing, con­duct­ing, and shep­herd­ing, in con­trast to our cur­rent direc­tive fram­ings such as dri­ving, direct­ing, or man­ag­ing.]
Knowl­edge at Whar­ton echoes Kelly, in their recent arti­cle The Experts vs. the Ama­teurs: A Tug of War over the Future of Media
A tug of war over the future of media may be brew­ing between so-called user-generated con­tent — includ­ing ama­teurs who pro­duce blogs, video and audio for pub­lic con­sump­tion — and pro­fes­sional jour­nal­ists, movie mak­ers and record labels, along with the deep-pocketed com­pa­nies that back them. The likely out­come: a hybrid approach built around entirely new busi­ness mod­els, say experts at Whar­ton.
No one has quite fig­ured out what these new busi­ness mod­els will look like, though exper­i­men­ta­tion is under way with many new ven­tures from star­tups and exist­ing orga­ni­za­tions.
The BBC is putting hybridiza­tion and tun­ing into effect now, albeit in lim­ited ways that do not reflect a dra­matic shift of busi­ness model.
In Value of cit­i­zen jour­nal­ism Peter Hor­rocks writes:
Where the BBC is host­ing debate we will want the infor­ma­tion gen­er­ated to be edi­to­ri­ally valu­able. Sim­ply hav­ing suf­fi­cient resource to be able to mod­er­ate the vol­ume of debate we now receive is an issue in itself.
And the fact that we are hav­ing to apply sig­nif­i­cant resource to a facil­ity that is con­tributed reg­u­larly by only a small per­cent­age of our audi­ences is some­thing we have to bear in mind. Although of course a higher pro­por­tion read forums or ben­e­fit indi­rectly from how it feeds into our jour­nal­ism. So we may have to loosen our grip and be less wor­ried about the range of views expressed, with very clear label­ing about the BBC’s edi­to­r­ial non-endorsement of such con­tent. But there are obvi­ous risks.
We need to be able to extract real edi­to­r­ial value from such con­tri­bu­tions more eas­ily. We are explor­ing as many tech­no­log­i­cal solu­tions as we can for fil­ter­ing the con­tent, look­ing for intel­li­gent soft­ware that can help jour­nal­ists find the nuggets and ways in which the audi­ence itself can help us to cope with the vol­ume and sift it.
What does all this mean for design(ers)? Stay tuned for part two…

1 comment » | Social Media

Video of My BlogTalk Presentation

March 11th, 2008 — 2:26pm

Video of my BlogTalk pre­sen­ta­tion ‘What hap­pens when every­one designs social media? Prac­ti­cal sug­ges­tions for han­dling new eth­i­cal dilem­mas’ is avail­able from Ustream.tv. The res­o­lu­tion is low (it was shot with a web­cam) but the audio is good: fol­low along with the slides on your own for the full expe­ri­ence.

More videos of BlogTalk ses­sions here.

Comment » | Ethics & Design, Networks and Systems, User Experience (UX)

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