Creating an Effective Dialogue with Technology

The prompt for this presentation was “argue for technology’s role in society.” The inspiration for this keynote came from the first set of readings, listed here, as well as my own thoughts.

Technology’s role is to help us humans achieve our wants and needs.  It is purporting to do so with its benevolent march into ubiquity.  But technology can help us achieve so much more than heating up potatoes (yes, my diet has taken a hit as I spend more and more time at AC4D!).

We need to think about how to make this transfer most effective and meaningful.  I conclude that successful interactions of these new products will be judged through how well they can play nicely with our existing worlds; namely, if they are equitable, pleasant, and engaging based on culture and current context.  If they can be so, we can share a dialogue – specifically, we can grow to trust and value their contributions to our lives over time.

See the presentation.



Genevieve Bell and my dad would be friends…

In our Theory of Interaction Design and Social Entrepreneurship course with Chris Risdon, we read several batches of readings around technology and human experience. Inspired by Jessica Hagy’s ThisIsIndexed, I made several diagrams referencing our Theory readings. Here’s my favorite, an homage to my dad and Genevieve Bell:

Venn Diagrams based on Marsden

I thought about Marsden’s article “People are People, but Technology is not Technology” and applied it to my team’s research into aging in place and elders and technology. Here is my distillation:

IDSE302 – Position Diagram One

The first two weeks of our Theory IDSE302 class we worked through ten readings on the changing role of technology in the world. Everything from Steve Mann’s idea of sousveillance, to Bruce Sterling arguing that designers can learn from fiction writers.

We were then tasked to produce a position diagram developing the authors contributions to the subject.

Below you can see a bit of my process, starting with a blank canvas and then filling that with key concepts and ideas. I then worked that into a communicable story line.

But unhappy with a simple loop diagram showing the input-output cycle of human-computer interaction, I decided to try a more hands on approach.

After verbally developing progress of design & design research, I had my classmates take the final slide, which I had printed and handed out, and roll long-ways it into a cylinder.

Feel free to print out the image below, or just imagine the point at which the the “User” side meets the “Designer” side. At that intersection you have what you have today in a user-centered, participatory design process. Not only the inclusion of the user in the preliminary design research and development, but a continual loop of feedback from user to designer.

The two words, User Designer now form one concept, whereas previously they had been at opposite ends of the spectrum.

IDSE302 – assignment one – handout

302 Position Diagram 1

For this assignment we were asked to create a position diagram on the role of technology in the world, and to argue it’s importance. We read articles by ten different designers of influence and were expected t draw upon them in our argument.

Responding largely to Dourish, I created a graph that establishes the parameters of “context,” showing transitional layers of change. I then positioned each of the designers we read within the diagram where I believe they are operating, at least at the time of creating the article. Lastly, I inserted my own viewpoint on the topic.

When presented, the page builds, beginning with Marsden, and ending with me, Robinson. For the sake of viewing convenience on this blog, I will show only the final slide, which has everything.

I am proud of this work for many reasons. For starters, it is very clear that I’ve come a long way with understanding the purpose of a position diagram and how to make one that says something in an understandable way. That said, I’d very much appreciate feedback– did I accomplish that? Also, do you think this is agreeable, or potentially helpful? Do you understand my language choices? I will to continue to revise this position diagram until it is awesome, so any and all feedback is welcome.

Data Data Everywhere!

We are bombarded by information from every angle.  The technological devices we carry are getting faster, cheaper, smaller, and more powerful.  They are an extension of our everyday lives, part of our cultural.  Do you remember the last time you rushed to work and forgot you smart phone at home?    I bet you felt like you left a piece of your identity at home and probably ran back to get it.   On the flip side of that isn’t it nice to disconnect from the technology, tune out and take a walk outside, or gaze under the starry sky with no distractions.

The amount of technology and data that we come across daily is astounding. Our attention spans are being molded to fit the speed and quantity of all of that information.  So how do we combat all of this data?  How do we filter the information we want to consume?

It takes a system to navigate through all of the technology.   As the technology becomes more interactive we can use that to our advantage.  The technology can make our work more efficient, can make our use of time more manageable, and it can filter through our data, emails, news, tweets, and give us what is important.   The new platforms and applications that are launching now have the ability to give you integrative feedback that is personal, visual, and fun.

An example is Strava, an app I downloaded for my Iphone.   This week I started biking to work to get some exercise.   Strava allows me to track my rides with visual feedback 0n time, elevation, heart rate, route, and it allows you to find friends or users who also bike in the same area. This type of feedback creates an incentive to work out. The new thermostat by Nest has the ability to track your movement and behaviors within your home to keep your living space a comfortable temperature setting while also saving energy.  I believe the technology will begin to help people make smarter choices when it comes to community and societal factors.  You will begin “play” against neighbors to change behaviors around energy consumption, water, waste, and food.

Lets take all this data and information and let the technology work for us while we tune in with our friends, families, and the things that we love to do.



Designing for Emotion

In IDSE302: Theory of Interaction Design and Entrepreneurship, professor Chris Risdon asked for a position diagram on the role and importance of technology in the world based on the last few weeks of readings. I used that theme as a jumping off point. In fact, technology, especially computing, is practically inescapable now. In the past, traditional HCI was approached from a positivist, rationalist way. But we now understand how important designing for emotion is, especially if you are trying to create products and services that can create and impact social change. What are some approaches that we can use as designers to account for emotion when building for impact? (Download as PDF)

Designing for Emotion