Archive for March, 2010

March 31, 2010

Submit a short paper to Designing Interactive Systems (DIS 2010) …

… but beware the deadline: 1. May 2010.

This year, I am — together with Mark Blythe — short-paper chair for Designing Interactive Systems 2010 (DIS). It is  a wonderful bi-annual conference, which “brings together professional designers, ethnographers, systems engineers, usability engineers, psychologists, design managers, product managers, academics and anyone involved in the design of interactive systems.” This year it will take place in Arhus, Denmark, from the 16. to the 20. of August, 2010.

DIS is a very good place for people, who look for sound and reflective approaches to the design of technology – beyond hype technology, simplistic usability or the mere styling of user interfaces. It is no wonder that some in the sphere of design-oriented user experience well read (and cited) papers were originally presented at DIS. (Take Jodi Forlizzi and Katja Battarbee’s (2004) Understanding experience in interactive systems as an example). It is definetly worth presenting there.

March 30, 2010

Eggsplat – a competence experience

A three year old – especially if she is your own daughter – is definitely sweet. What else could a parent say? However, if it comes to particular activities, the explosive mixture of will, stubbornness and underdeveloped motor skills can be a true nightmare. Take baking, and especially cracking the eggs, as an example. Every kid wants to do it, none is good at it, and you end up with a lot of eggshell in the batter. What is needed is a way for three year olds to crack eggs in an experiential way. In a student project on experience design, Luisa Dursun and Annabell Meierkordt, devised a tool – Eggsplat – which is supposed to make cracking eggs fun. It does so by fulfilling universal psychological needs: The child feels competent and autonomous. Through this, Eggsplat may make the child a more equal partner in the baking activity, which in turn may reflect upon the child-parent relationship – their feelings of relatedness and closeness.

This movie shows cracking eggs without and with Eggsplat. (Note that all recordings are spontaneous.) In the first episode the child is hesitant; cracking the eggs is awkward, she is afraid of dropping eggshell into the batter. She even asks her father for not being mad at her – he tries to assure her that this won’t be the case (but may be not as convincingly as possible). With Eggsplat the child just enjoys cracking the eggs. She actually demands more, another one, daddy, another one. This pleasure is not induced by shallow amusement or effects, but through a deep understanding of what matters to the child and how to enable according activities. This is the core principle of experience design. It is not about efficiency, but about inducing and shaping meaningful experiences. For more on Experience Design take a look at my book.

March 28, 2010

User experience – a research agenda

Hassenzahl, M. and Tractinsky, N. (2006). User experience – a research agenda [editorial]. Behaviour and Information Technology, 25(2):91-97.

Over the last decade, ‘user experience’ (UX) became a buzzword in the field of human –
computer interaction (HCI) and interaction design. As technology matured, interactive
products became not only more useful and usable, but also fashionable, fascinating things to
desire.Driven by the impression that a narrow focus on interactive products as tools does not
capture the variety and emerging aspects of technology use, practitioners and researchers
alike, seem to readily embrace the notion of UX as a viable alternative to traditional HCI.
And, indeed, the term promises change and a fresh look, without being too specific about its
definite meaning. The present introduction to the special issue on ‘Empirical studies of the
user experience’ attempts to give a provisional answer to the question of what is meant by ‘the
user experience’. It provides a cursory sketch of UX and how we think UX research will look
like in the future. It is not so much meant as a forecast of the future, but as a proposal – a
stimulus for further UX research.

March 20, 2010

Billow’s Feeding Machine (Figure 5.1, page 60)

In my book on Experience Design (page 60), I wrote about Billow’s Feeding Machine featured in Chaplin’s Modern Times. Have a look …

The intellectual roots of HCI are work science, work psychology, and ergonomics. All those
disciplines were basically triggered by a more or less economically-driven demand for an improved
workplace (Karwowski,W., 2006). One strategy was to select and train people to increase work performance, the other to adapt workplace design, machines and so forth to the skills and capabilities of workers. In this context, efficiency and effectiveness was clearly an institutional and not a personal goal. Better performance equaled more money. The human was viewed as a necessary, but yet improvable part of the system.  Do you remember Billow’s Feeding Machine in Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times? The feeding machine is “a practical device which automatically feeds your men while at work. Don’t stop for lunch: be ahead of your competitor. The Feeding Machine will eliminate the lunch hour, increase your production,and decrease your overhead. Allowus to point out some of the features of this wonderful machine: its beautiful, aerodynamic, streamlined body; its smoothness of action, made silent by our electro-porous metal ball bearings. Let us acquaint you with our automaton soup plate—its compressed-air blower, no breath necessary, no energy required to cool the soup.” Back in 1936, the economic world seemed so obsessed with efficiency and effectiveness that Chaplin could mock it easily.

March 20, 2010

Daniel Kahneman clarifies Experience versus Memory

Evan Karapanos pointed me at this revealing lecture by Daniel Kahneman at TED Talks:

Have a look at this publication