“…infrastructures simultaneously shape and are shaped by — in other words, co-construct — the condition of modernity… To be modern is to live within and by means of infrastructures, and therefore to inhabit, uneasily, the intersection of these mul
Barry Schwartz on defaults and choice architecture. Clever cartoon too.
“So designers, choose the choices carefully. Whatever users get when they don’t make a choice is probably what most people will end up with. And contrary to popular belief, most people don’t actually want to make more choices.”
“Recency bias is a tool we can use to improve user comprehension and overall satisfaction. By considering the sequence of information… and the (intentional?) placement of distractors, we can avoid common pitfalls in user judgments and decision making.”
When will the entertainment industry learn?
“Today, if you’re an urban dweller in a city like London, New York or like me, living here in Tokyo you probably make a conscious effort to disconnect.” Thanks to Mayo for the link.
“Tapping into young people’s already considerable status anxiety and offering rewards that can only be realised by shopping is a recipe for a lifetime of misery, not… adults whose instinct is to ask, “How can I help?” rather than, “What’s in i
Extremely interesting wide-ranging article by Ralph Caplan about signage, correcting errors in design, usability, perceived affordances, and so on. Thanks to Mayo for the link.
“We want to avoid, or at least minimize, the startling systematic mistakes that science is discovering. If we know the common patterns of error or self-deception, maybe we can work around them ourselves, or build social structures for smarter groups.”
“In Japan, the camera on mobile phones can be as high as 5.2M Pixels and they could be used for sneak shots such as spy shots and/or dirty pictures… Japanese manufacturer have stopped the disabling of shutter sound in silent mode” Via dev.null.org
Appalling usability, use/damage marks and an officious anti-photography security guard – so many interesting things rolled into one story!
“When people are made to be self-aware, they are likelier to stop and think about what they are doing… a shift away from acting on autopilot toward more desirable ways of behaving.” Via nudges.wordpress.com
User IP addresses are not recorded to their servers, they say, and cookies are not used to associate a computer with queries. The data is simply dumped as it is created. That means user data cannot be turned over to others, whether its via blind stupidity or lawsuits.
This strategy’s similar to an issue Scott Craver discussed a couple of years ago as part of his ‘privacy ceiling’ concept (I covered it a bit here at the time): effectively, whatever information you collect could become a liability for you at some point, so if you don’t need it, design the system so it simply doesn’t collect it in the first place.
Three essays I’d pretty much forgotten about, written for courses at Cambridge during my Master’s in Technology Policy, linked here for no reason in particular:
Peer Treasure: how firms outside the software industry can use open source thinking
How can we strengthen links between entrepreneurial companies and entrepreneurial universities in the UK?
Motor vehicles in the developing world: options for sustainability* [all PDFs]
Standard 2-pin bayonet cap (left) and 3-pin bayonet cap BC3 (right) fittings compared
Summary for mystified international readers: In the UK new houses/flats must, by law, have a number of light fittings which will ‘not accept incandescent filament bulbs’ (a ‘green’ idea). This has led to the development of a proprietary, arbitrary format of compact fluorescent bulb, the BC3, which costs a lot more than standard compact fluorescents, is difficult to obtain, and about which the public generally doesn’t know much (yet). If you’re so minded, it’s not hard to modify the fitting and save money.
A lot of visitors have found this blog recently via searching for information on the MEM BC3 3-pin bayonet compact fluorescent bulbs, where to get them, and why they’re so expensive. The main posts here discussing them, with background to what it’s all about, are A bright idea? and some more thoughts – and it’s readers’ comments which are the really interesting part of both posts.
There are so many stories of frustration there, of people trying to ‘do their bit’ for the environment, trying to fit better CFLs in their homes, and finding that instead of instead of the subsidised or even free standard 2-pin bayonet CFLs available all over the place in a variety of improved designs, styles and quality, they’re locked in to having to pay 10 or 15 times as much for a BC3 bulb, and order online, simply because the manufacturer has a monopoly, and does not seem to supply the bulbs to normal DIY or hardware stores.
Frankly, the system is appalling, an example of exactly how not to design for sustainable behaviour. It’s a great ‘format lock-in’ case study for my research, but a pretty pathetic attempt to ‘design out’ the ‘risk’ of the public retro-fitting incandescent bulbs in new homes. This is the heavy-handed side of the legislation-ecodesign nexus, and it’s clearly not the way forward. Trust the UK to have pushed ahead with it without any thought of user experience.
Scott Wilson first pointed me in the direction of Donella Meadows’ ‘Leverage Points – Places to Intervene in a System‘ [PDF, 93 kB], and it’s been very useful in thinking about the ‘Design with Intent’ idea at a system level rather than just the myopic preoccupation with armrests on park benches and interface design which it could have become.
Buckminster Fuller, talking to the New Yorker in 1966, quoted in this article by Elizabeth Kolbert:
“I made up my mind . . . that I would never try to reform man—that’s much too difficult. What I would do was to try to modify the environment in such a way as to get man moving in preferred directions.“
That’s what this research is all about. Design as trimtab, perhaps, with all the debate, decisions, multidisciplinarity and implementation issues that implies.
Many thanks to Rick Thomas for sending me the quote.
“I think he’s [Fuller] been highly influential as an iconoclastic spirit, who never accepted that the boundaries between disciplines were anything other than something to be climbed over or circumvented in some way. To me that’s not so much a heroic stance as much as a very practical way to proceed in the world today. That’s also why he pre-staged a lot of what’s going on now.”