Good idea. It also shows how clever design techniques so often _don't_ depend on having an 'academic' descriptor to be inspired in the first place. 'How dematerialisation adds value' is a great way of phrasing it, but was it ever thought of in those terms when the biscuits were designed? Of course not. Thanks to Mayo Nissen for the link
(via http://www.textsavvyblog.net/ )
On being sane in insane places: the power of confirmation bias.
"Like interactions between people, every dialogue between user and product can be framed as an exchange of power as well as meaning. Products like erasers and hammers submit to our intentions, while cell phones, books, and subways make us submit, either by seduction or force. This seduction/ force dichotomy gives us a second dimension for mapping a product’s temperament. Some products are designed to be invisible (gentle), others to make themselves known (rough). So we have: Dominant, Gentle; Dominant, Rough; Submissive, Gentle; Submissive, Rough." This is a very interesting suggested classification method indeed – worth further investigation.
By Sherwood Forlee. Nice use of deception to influence behaviour.
A major advantage of this – aside from the 'squabbling students' angle – is that only the compartment that's actually needed is opened when the fridge is used. That's going to to save a non-trivial amount of energy every year.
The London Design Festival always throws up some interesting events, especially involving clever people trying new things in design and sharing their experiences and expertise.
This year, the Design Council are running Greengaged, a “sustainability hub… developed and organised by [re]design, thomas.matthews and Kingston University with Arup and Three Trees Don’t Make A Forest”. It’s a series of talks and workshops about ecodesign and sustainable issues in design.
On Tuesday I went, along with Alex Plant, for the ‘Behaviour Change’ talks, part of the ‘Gauging the Green’ day, where Unchained‘s Lea Simpson, More Associates‘ Luke Nicholson, IDEO London‘s Andrea Koerselman and Fiona Bennie from Forum for the Future all talked about their work on using design to change behaviour.
[Apologies: YouTube have since removed the clip due to an infringement claim from Candid Camera, Inc. So here's an alternative link - it may not last either, though, but if you search for "candid camera" elevator I'm sure you'll be able to find it]
Lea Simpson started with this great Candid Camera clip from 196x demonstrating how easily social proof can be used to influence behaviour. Lea argued three important points relevant to behaviour change (many thanks to Christian McLening for taking better notes than I did):
1. Behaviour change requires behaviour (i.e. the behaviour of others: social effects are critical, as we respond to others’ behaviour which in turn affects our own; targeting the ‘right’ people allows behaviour to spread)
2. Behaviour and motivation are two different things: To change behaviour, you need to understand and work with people’s motivations – which may be very different for different people.
3. Desire is not enough: lots of people desire to behave differently, but it needs to be very easy for them to do it before it actually happens.
Luke Nicholson’s presentation: photo by the indefatigable Kate Andrews.
Luke Nicholson talked about More‘s work on enabling the public to understand energy use and carbon footprints via home monitoring systems – as he put it, there are “some invisible forces going round your home, and this is a lens onto them”. More’s ‘energy lens’ – which can be positioned on a window, hence linking energy consumption and climate/the weather in users’ minds, and making it as easy to check “what the energy’s like today” as “what the weather’s like today” – has recently been spun out as Onzo – who look to be employing a couple of very talented Brunel Design graduates.
Luke also talked about More’s research with energy literacy – can we create a vernacular for better public understanding of energy, carbon, current, and so on? The above slide showed the idea of ‘pips’ and ‘blocks’ as some kind of accounting unit for energy and carbon, respectively, easily comparable to pounds (sterling) for cost; there was also an interesting series of diagrams using different shapes and sizes to explain simply, visually, the difference between high-current-drawing appliances and those which draw lower currents. Changing consumer demand for new products was also addressed with the idea of a ‘Kept’ sticker which could be affixed to products such as phones, to announce “I’m keeping this”.
A lot of this really does seem to be about framing – and joining up the agendas of different groups (consumers, the electricity industry, manufacturers, governments) to provide a new resultant pointing in the desired direction. As Luke said, “We’re playing into cultures that don’t exist yet.”
Andrea Koerselman and Fiona Bennie introduced their ‘i-team – local innovation on climate change’ project, a service design collaboration between IDEO and Forum for the Future, working with councils and local authorities to inspire behaviour change on issues such as driving to work, reducing electricity usage, and so on. This involves a lot of user observation – an IDEO speciality, of course – and an Inspiration-Insight-Ideation-Implementation process, as in the slide above. Talking to Fiona afterwards, she mentioned that it’s quite a novel experience for many councils to be involved in generating ideas without explicit returns-on-investment or outcomes defined, and so the ‘Ideation’ stage was going to be especially interesting.
Overall, this was a very interesting and worthwhile programme of talks – and this is just a snapshot of the many taking place this week and next in London. Tomorrow, I’m off to some of System Reload’s workshops, and on Monday, back at the Design Council, Tracy Bhamra and Emma Dewberry, among others, will be talking about sustainable design education. I’ll let you know how it all goes.
"The dissertation builds on available sociological approaches to understanding everyday life in the networked city to show that emergent technologies reshape our experiences of spatiality, temporality and embodiment. It contributes to methodological innovation through the use of data bricolage and research blogging, which are presented through experimental and recombinant textual strategies; and it contributes to the field of science and technology studies by bringing together actor-network theory with the sociology of expectations in order to empirically evaluate an area of cutting-edge design." Looking forward to reading this.
Jasper van Kuijk on desire paths.
(I really ought to get round to a proper post linking use marks and desire paths at some point; they can tell us a lot.)
"“We modified the bolt seal so that we could open it when we wanted to ,” he said. “See, we can take a bolt seal that is already on a container being shipped, modify it and enter the container whenever we want.” Someone who managed to slip these tampered bolts into the supply chain could steal millions of dollars of merchandise, smuggle goods or people in legitimate containers, or contaminate the food supply. I studied the bolt, intrigued that the security of our global supply chain rests on such an innocuous object."
"Folksy urban legends as management metaphors work great!" as one commenter puts it. Nevertheless, this is a good story (I think Lessig includes it in 'Code' too) whether it's true or not. From the point of view of this research I'm more immediately interested in the technique (influencing user behaviour) than the 'innovation lesson' (changing the problem) – de Bono, TRIZ, etc have all made this clear years ago. Incidentally, a 'TRIZ master' investigates the legend here – http://www3.sympatico.ca/karasik/GF_evolution_of_legend.html
"Yep. Jakob Nielsen invented spam. "
"Sentences are not maps… Most diagrams and maps aren’t friendly, either… An exceptionally friendly type of diagram is available. "
Interesting way of illustrating and understanding "valid user paths" among other logical relationships. Worth exploring I think.
"As a professor, I am in the constant company of 18- to-23-year-olds. I have taught at both public and private universities, and I have to report that the levels of comfort with, understanding of, and dexterity with digital technology varies greatly within every class. Yet it has not changed in the aggregate in more than 10 years… Only a handful come to college with a sense of how the Internet fundamentally differs from the other major media platforms in daily life."
It did make me think: is the use of anti-sit spikes on window sills, ledges, and so on, or anti-climb spikes on walls, intended primarily as a Skinnerian operant conditioning method (punishment – i.e. getting spiked – leading to decrease in the behaviour), or as a perceived affordance method (we see that it looks uncomfortable to sit down, so we don’t do it)? How do deterrents like this actually work?
It might seem a subtle difference, and in practice it probably doesn’t matter; it’s probably a bit of both, in fact. Most people will be discouraged by seeing the spikes, and for the few who aren’t, they’ll learn after getting spiked.
But on what level do anti-pigeon spikes work? Do pigeons perceive the lack of ‘comfort’ affordance? Or do they try and perch and only then ‘learn’? How similar does the spike (or whatever) have to be to others the animal has seen? Do animals (and humans) only learn to perceive affordances (or the lack of them) after having been through the operant conditioning process previously – and then generalising from that experience to all spikes?
What’s the accepted psychological wisdom on this?
Some spikes in Windsor, Poundbury, Chiswick and Dalston, UK.
Understanding what people really do when they carry out some ‘simple’ task, as opposed to what designers assume they do, is important. Even something as mundane as boiling a kettle to make a cup of tea or coffee is fraught with variability, slips, mistaken assumptions and so on, and can be studied in some depth to see what’s really going on, or could be going on (e.g. this analysis from 1998 by my co-supervisor, Neville Stanton and Chris Baber). Everyday tasks can be complex.
This is very clever stuff – well worth exploring.
As Joe’s meta description for the page says, this is “an exploration of scale and levels of detail. How much or little is contained within the tiniest, most ordinary of moments.” What scripts are embedded here for the user in this system of kettle, mist, mug, stale biscuits?
The dominating level of detail reminds me a bit of Tom McCarthy’s Remainder, a novel almost entirely about interaction between people and environments. Or perhaps some of Atrocity Exhibition/Crash-era Ballard, where interactions between people, objects and spaces are broken down endlessly, obsessively.
Back to kettles for a moment: they’re going to feature more heavily on the blog over the next year, in various forms and on many levels. More than almost any other energy-using household product, they’re ripe for the ‘Design for Sustainable Behaviour‘ wand to be waved over them, since almost all the wasted energy (and water) is due to user behaviour rather than technical inefficiency. It’ll be more interesting than it sounds!