Showing posts from 2013

Artifact analysis, Bill Buxton, and the power of artifact inventories, compendiums, collections

I have many times on my blog made the case for a more artifact oriented approach in HCI research. One reason, among many, is that our discipline is not paying enough attention to the actual artifacts/systems that constitute the core and the reason for existence of our field.

So, developing ways to carefully study interactive artifacts and systems in a way that can lead to theoretical development is crucial. I truly enjoy the traditional philosophical method of going back and forth between theoretical definitions and concrete examples.  The purpose of this process is to increase the precision in the theoretical definitions through a step by step refinement so that they at the end capture the important qualities of the artifacts.

To be able to conduct such research you need concrete examples of artifacts. One approach is to work with highly diverse individual artifacts that present definitional challenges, but it is also good to have more comprehensive collections of artifacts that can …

Core77 and book reviews

Core77 is one of the most ambitious online magazines about design. I try to visit now and then even though it is not often enough. If you have not found it yet, they have a nice book review section. Of course, not all books are necessarily interesting, but they are all related to aspects of design. Some of the books I have also reviewed on my blog. I have not really read any reviews carefully to be able to say anything about the quality of them. Maybe I will later.
Take a look.

Maybe 'flat design' has not killed skeuomorphism yet....

In a recent post I wrote about "Why flat design is soon boring, old and 'flat'". Today I stumbled across this short but very interesting article in Fast Company about some  Kingston University animation students work. The article is called "Apple Skeuomorphism Reconstructed In 3-D" with the sub title "Using paper models, a team of animation students creates an elegant critique of Apples's iOS. Meta."

These students have done something great. They have tried to explore and challenge the dominant paradigm of 'flat' design in a highly creative and fun way! The text and the videos may not convince a flat design believer but at least they ask good questions and open up for richer discussion about design paradigms.

List of all book notes and reviews

A while back I started to collect links to all the book notes and book reviews on my blog on a separate page. You can find it here or in the navigation bar above. It has been interesting to see what kind of books I have written about and of course it leads to all kinds of speculations about why I read these particular books. Anyone who wants to analyze that is welcome to comment :-)

Anyway, for those who are interested in reading I hope that the notes and reviews can be of some help.

Book note: Jonas Löwgren and Bo Reimer "Collaborative Media"

A couple of days ago I got the new book by Jonas Löwgren and Bo Reimer "Collaborative Media--production, consumption and design interventions". (Jonas and I have worked together and we published the book "Thoughtful Interaction Design" some years ago.)

I am very excited by this new book from Jonas and Bo. I have yet only read bits and pieces of it, but I can already see the value of their work. The authors make a great argument for the concept of collaborative media that they introduce as more appropriate than the existing concepts used for similar purposes, such as, digital media, social media or new media.

The book consists of three parts. The first is about the phenomena that they study, about definitions, and about how to research such a phenomena. The second part consists of some case studies from their own research practice. The third part contains insights and conclusions about the use and  research of collaborative media. As I would expect from these author…

Cool Virilio quote

I have earlier on this blog written about the thinker Paul Virilio. He is famous for his critique of modern technology and of our inability as humans to see the intrinsic (an unavoidable) danger of the technological systems the contemporary society is dependent upon. I have for some time searched for a particular quote from Virilio and today I found it. He says in an interview:

"To invent something is to invent an accident. To invent the ship is to invent the shipwreck; the space shuttle, the explosion. And to invent the electronic superhighway or the Internet is to invent a major risk which is not easily spotted because it does not produce fatalities like a shipwreck or a mid-air explosion. The information accident is, sadly, not very visible. It is immaterial like the waves that carry information."

(Virilio, Paul and David Dufresne (Interviewer) and Jacques Houis (Translator). "Cyberesistance Figher - An Interview with Paul Virilio." in: Apres Coup Psychoanalytic A…

Special page with "Book reviews and book notes"

As you may know if you have been here before, I do write book reviews and book notes now and then. I have know a specific page "Book reviews and book notes" where I try to collect links to the reviews and notes I have published. It may not be a complete list but I think most of them are there. It makes it easier if you are looking for reviews and notes. Hope it may be helpful.

Book review: Harmut Esslinger "A fine line: how design strategies are shaping the future of business"

I have known about the design firm frog for many years, but I have not really known much about their founder, Hartmut Esslinger. Esslinger published a book in 2009 called "A fine line: how design strategies are shaping the future of business"where he tells the story about his own life as a designer and about frog. Esslinger has an impressive list of achievements and can probably be seen as one of the most influential designers in the world when it comes to high-tech.

It is always fascinating to meet the thoughts of someone who has been so successful and also has
intentionally tried to formulate his design approach in an overall 'philosophical' way. Esslinger shows clearly that it is possible to be both personal and unique while also formulating general principles and ways of thinking. The book balances on the line between design thinking and strategic business thinking. Esslinger makes a strong and convincing case that design is not only about making good products a…

Book note: Robert Nozick again!

Well, in the last couple of weeks I have been returning to Robert Nozick's writings. The reason is that I had to check something in his book "The Examined Life" and when I browsed through the book I realized how much I liked it. That in turn led me to look for another of his books in my bookshelf "The Nature of Rationality" and to order his last book "Invariances -- the structure of the objective world".

These are some ambitious titles! After spending some hours with this books I am again captivated and delighted by his way of writing (even though I already knew it). His books are wonderful to read. The writings are vibrant and crisp. It feels more like listening to someone who really know what they are talking about than reading a text.

I am trying to figure out what it is that intrigues me about the texts. First of all, I like the almost ridiculous ambition of Nozick's projects. He is trying to explain rationality, life, nature, and the real wor…

Book note: Robert Nozick "The examined Life - Philosophical meditations"

After being hidden in my book shelf for quite some time, the book "The examined Life - Philosophical meditations" by Robert Nozick surfaced the other day. This is a book that came out in 1989 and is maybe the most approachable of books by Nozick, even though that is questioned by some. The book has been called an overambitious and almost silly attempt to achieve the impossible.

The book is unusual for a philosophical treatment, since it has a quire personal tone and deals with issues that are way too big for the format. This personal tone and relevance for everyday life reflects the title of the book. The term "the examined life" is a reference to the famous expression by Sokrates "“The unexamined life is not worth living".

Nozick is not known for this particular book. Many reviewers see this as a strange non-philosophical exploration of topics that are less "philosophical" in a traditional sense. Those who do review the book mostly discuss the …

An Analytic Turn in HCI Research

Over the last few years I have explored and played with the idea of an analytic turn in HCI research. My reasons for this exploration are several--some reasons are fairly simple and straightforward while others more complex and subtle. The most obvious reason for me to turn to analysis is that I am looking for a more object/artifact/thing oriented approach in HCI research

The turn in HCI research toward user-centeredness and user experience have in many cases gone too far. This research has strived to become more inclusive of aspects outside of the traditional ones, such as functionality, efficiency, etc. The complete focus on the user has led to  wonderful developments in the field that were highly needed and that have made a great impact. At this time though, with the ambition to consider "everything" important, a lot of research in interaction design and HCI is becoming far too broad, leaving a core without concreteness and without any analytical strength that would make…

New course in the Spring 2014: "Philosophy and Theory of Design"

I have against better judgment decided to teach a new course in the Spring of 2014. I have since 15 years or so taught a course on "Design Theory" mostly for master students. That course has become a bit less theoretical in the last few years (but it is also much better as a course!). The new course is a small seminar (maybe 6-12) with the title "Philosophy and Theory of Design". It will only be open for PhD students and interested colleagues, and only after permission from me :-) We will meet once a week for 1,5 hour, read good texts and discuss. I will also now and then give shorter "lectures" during these meetings. I don't know if anyone will sign up for this type of course, we'll see. I am looking forward to it, and if you are interested, write to me.

(I am as usual also in the Spring teaching a course on "Experience Design")

Why flat design is soon boring, old and "flat"

The notion of flat design has seen some tremendous success in the last years (even Google is doing it). There is an abundance of sites and blogs that will tell you what flat design is and how it will revolutionize design, especially interface design. Some see flat design not as a form of style but as an inevitable development.

Flat design is as a form language and style quite interesting especially after a long period when digital technology made it possible to imitate reality in all its glory and richness. So, it is not strange that there is an attraction in the opposite, which some see as a turn towards the "real" qualities of digital material (which makes the whole question more philosophical).

Anyway, all this is fine and well. However, we will all quite soon be bored again, and flat design will be seen as "old" and maybe "flat". I have no problem with that, that is the way style and fashion in any field works.

What is somewhat problematic is when des…

Book note: Goffman, interaction and analytical artifact oriented HCI

I just received the book "Interaction Rituals" by Erving Goffman in the mail. I have not really read Goffman before but found the writing to resonate with my own thinking. Even though a lot of his work is in psychology and sociology it is possible to read his work as if it is about human-computer interaction and not only human-human interaction.

I found this great quote in the Introduction:

"I assume that the proper study of interaction is not the individual and his psychology, but rather the syntactical relations among the acts of different persons mutually present to one another. None the less, since it is individual actors who contribute the ultimate materials, it will always be reasonable to ask what general properties they must have if this sort of contribution is to be expected of them. What minimal model of the actor is needed if we are to wind him up, stick him amongst his fellows, and have an orderly traffic of behavior emerge?" (page 2).

It is possible to…

"How System Designers Think About Design and Methods"

In 1991 I defended my PhD dissertation. The dissertation was in Swedish. In those days we (or at least I) did not write many papers or articles, we focused on the dissertation, and I did not really publish anything from my dissertation in English,. However, I published one article in the Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems (1991) with the title "How system designers think about design and methods--some reflections based on an interview study".

I have not seen this article in years and recently I realized I do not even have a copy. My colleague Jeff Bardzell has in some mysterious way been able to find it (the reasons for why he did this are for another post). He just sent me a pdf version of the article. Thanks Jeff!

[I just got a message from my old friend and colleague Peter Axel Nielsen that all SJIS articles are available online, and so is I have changed the link. Thanks Peter Axel!]

I am quite sure I have not read the article since 1991. As usual when …

Looking for researchers and practitioners who have developed a method, technique, tool or approach for interaction design

We are looking for researchers and practitioners who have developed any kind of new method, technique, tool, approach, etc. aimed at being used by practitioners in interaction design practice. 

If you fit that description, we would like to interview you about your work (via email or Skype). It is a quite short interview where we will ask questions about why you did it, what you did, how you did it, what you expected the outcome would be, etc.

Get in touch with me if you can do this! Or let us know if you know someone who would be a good interviewee.

You can email me at

The Expanding Notion of the Interface

When Kinect and other similar new technologies were introduced it changed the conception of what constitutes an interface. This is a fascinating topic and one that I am working on with my colleague Lars-Erik Janlert.

There is a new attempt to develop haptic feedback without have any physical contact with a device. Aireal is a new concept that sends small puffs of air towards a user in a way that leads to (some kind of) experiences of objects. The technology is developed by University of Illinois PhD student Rajinder Sodhi and Disney Reseach’s Ivan Poupyrev. [You can find a description and video here]

This new technology is another step in the development and change of what constitutes an interface and is an interesting example that I wished Lars-Erik Janlert and I had used in our newly submitted article labeled "Faceless Interaction - a conceptual examination of the notion of interface: past, present and future". In the article we develop a way of thinking about interfaces t…

Book note: "Thinking on Paper" (how to write and how to design)

In 1989 I got the book "Thinking on Paper : Refine, Express, and Actually Generate Ideas by Understanding the Processes of the Mind" written by V. A. Howard and M. A. Barton as a gift by my PhD advisor Professor Kristo Ivanov. Kristo gave this book to all PhD students for a while. I assume that he did not appreciate how little we all were writing.

I really liked this book. Today I re-read some parts of it (since I showed it to a colleague yesterday). I found my own notes and comments from 1989 in the book and realized that this book has in many ways shaped my thinking about both writing but maybe even more about design.

The core ideas that the authors present in the book are all highly relevant for design in general and not only for writing. To me, the book presents two core ideas that I still return to. The first is the idea that writing is, what the title says, 'thinking on paper'. The authors explains the difference between writing as articulation and communicatio…

Design Thinking Imperialism and the Danger of Simplification

In the Economist there is an article, "Design companies are applying their skills to the voluntary and public sectors", that examines IDEO and the growing "design thinking" industry. The author, Schumpeter, makes the case that design is today moving from traditional "clients" of design to clients in governmental and non-profit organizations. The author sees this as part of a "revolution" that has almost signs of being imperialistic.
Schumpeter writes:

"IDEO is the standard-bearer of a broader revolution. Designers are becoming much more ambitious—perhaps imperialistic—about design thinking. In the United States the Stanford University Institute of Design, or D-School, which Mr Kelley founded in 2006, acts as an intellectual centre for the movement. The school helps businesses improve innovation and reduce complexity. It also encourages students to apply their skills to solving social problems, such as designing an inexpensive incubator for pr…

Trying to organize my book reviews and book comments

It seems as if I continue to write small comments on books I read. It sometimes becomes a bit longer review but often just a note. The blog format is not the best to get an overview of these different posts, so I have added a page with a list of links to the posts. I do not think I have found all posts yet so I will keep adding. If you have any idea on how to make this more useful, just let me know. You can find the like to the page in the navigation bar above.

Micro Book Note: Susan Haack "Defending Science--within reason"

I have always liked to read about science since it is the professional practice I am engaged with on a daily basis. I have over time realized that my own view of what science and research really is about constantly changes, many times in surprising (to myself) ways. This seems to happen again when reading Susan Haack's "Defending Science--within reason".

While reading the introduction I started to do some googling on the author and found a very interesting talk by Haack where she presents the philosophy she labels "innocent realism". I was intrigued by her argumentation and reasoning and I can see the same form of clear and rational thinking in the book too. To what extent her ambition to defend science makes sense, I have to come to another day after having read some more. But I am optimistic and hopeful that her account of science continues to intrigue me and to make sense.

Book note: "Convivial Toolbox--generative research for the front end of design"

I just received a copy of a quite new book "Convivial Toolbox--generative research for the front end of design" by Elizabeth Sanders and Pieter Jan Stappers. It is exciting to see that more books on design are being published, and especially books that are not only simple "how-to" but also present a philosophical and theoretical position.

Sanders and Stappers is doing this well in many ways. The book is first of all nicely designed with great paper! The book is full of interesting design schemas, many of which are quite insightful and interesting. I have yet to read the book carefully and I am not sure I will, not because I do not find it useful but because I am quite aware of most of what the book covers. To me the most interesting elements of the book are the elaborate schemas that in some cases are rich and dense and provide the reader with a lot of insights about the topic in a designerly relevant way. I will definitely use some of those schemas in my own teach…

Book note: "Back to the rough ground" by Joseph Dunne

In our research group where we study design practice, we read relevant texts each week this summer and talk about them. Yesterday we read the last chapter, the Epilogue, from "Back to the Rough Ground" by Joseph Dunne.

I read this book when it was first published and I keep coming back to it. When it comes to scholarly examinations about what practice is all about, what competence is, what rationality is, there is no other book that can deliver so much wisdom.

Yesterday, re-reading the Epilogue (which I have read many times before), I was again completely overwhelmed with the way Dunne handles this difficult topic. Some paragraphs are so good, it hurts physically to read them!

Book note: "101 Design Methods" and the problematic success of design

I just received my copy of the book "101 Design Methods -- A Structured Approach for Driving Innovation inYour Organization" by Vijay Kumar. This is one of quite many similar books that have been published the last few years, that is, a book that contains a large number of design methods nicely but briefly described.

I have always like this type of book even though I never really use them myself. The same is true for "101 Design Methods". The book contains many of the popular design methods that are used today and Kumar has organized these methods by providing "A Model of the Design Innovation Process".

This model is, in my words, a schema that helps designers think about the design process, what activities are involved,  and how the different activities relate to each other. It is a nice schema that invites for further exploration.

Kumar does not discuss design in terms of phases or steps, instead he talks about "Seven Modes of the Design Innovation…

Wonderful 1.5 minute video about design

It is difficult to show what design is about, even if you just want to explain a few aspects of what characterizes the design process. This little video by Apple is in my mind an amazing good and rare example. In two minutes they cover the importance of first intentions, desiderata, service, composition, etc. framed in Apple language. All core concepts from our book "The Design Way".

Of course the video does not give a full exposition of design, but it presents some reflections of its core. And they do it in a beautiful way!

The many (universal) versus the (ultimate) particular

Being in an academic environment where many different approaches to understanding reality lives side by side is fascinating. I am intrigued by the new and growing approach that takes on the study of social phenomena as a study of complex systems and those who advocate 'big data' as the solution to most problems.

It seems as if almost everything today is studied in the format of "many", that is, as a sum, average or network of many actors or activities. This is of course the basic approach of science, the universal is at the core.

At the same time, so much of what make up our reality as humans is a composition of particulars. I live in this particular house, work in this particular job, have these particular friends, etc. Designers have always had a strong affinity for the particular since design is always about the ultimate particular and not about the universal or general.

It is interesting to think about the modern academic world in light of this division. Who in a…

Device Landscapes—A New Challenge to Interaction Design and HCI Research

Together with the PhD students Heekyoung Jung and Will Ryan, and my colleague Marty Siegel, I have for some time been working on the idea of device or artifact landscapes (ecologies). We have changed our vocabulary several times trying to capture the nature of relationships between interactive artifacts.  We have published a few papers on this research earlier and now a more overall journal article is to be published in a new Korean design research journal.

Stolterman, E. , Jung, H., Ryan, W., and Siegel, M. A. (2013) Device Landscapes: A New Challenge to Interaction Design and HCI Research. Archives of Design Research, 26(2), 7-33

You can find the article here

Below is a brief summary of the article:

Device Landscapes—A New Challenge to Interaction Design and HCI ResearchErik Stolterman, Heekyoung Jung, Will Ryan, Martin A. Siegel  

The number of interactive digital artifacts is growing surrounding personal lives, and individuals have an increasing need to…

Forms of inquiry in design and research

Lately I have been in many discussions with PhD students about how to set up research and also how to design a design process and sometimes even how to design a research process that has strong design qualities. The problem they face is that they see their work as research but not as 'pure' scientific research and this makes them uneasy and unsure of how to make good choices.

When I engage in these discussions I often realize that the major problem is that it is not clear what the purpose of the inquiry is and consequently what the 'measure-of-success' would be. As long as the purpose and measure of success is not made clear, the choice of inquiry approach becomes extremely complex and frustrating.

In our book "The Design Way" we discuss this issue in many places, but one that helps me a lot can be found in the chapter "The Ultimate Particular". Here we discuss three forms or designs of inquiry and action that humans can engage in. We suggest "…

Marcuse and Morozov: 'One-dimensionality' and 'Technological Solutionism'

Evgeny Morozov is an author who just published his new book "To Save Everything-- The Folly of Technological Solutionism". Morozov is highly opinionated, he pushes arguments to the extreme, and he is probably to many both offensive and plainly 'loud'. However, he makes the case that some of the questions he raises are not raised by anyone today. The longterm consequences of the technologically based 'solutions' that we develop are never examined and discussed in the way they deserve according to Morozov. He makes the argument that we are on a dangerous track when we believe that by quantifying, tracking, capturing, gamifying human behavior we can also solve our societal problems. However, the most serious problem is not that we are actually already doing this, but that there seems to be an overwhelming consensus that this is not really problematic.

I am drawn to Morozov's book partly because I am working on a chapter about the notion of the 'one-dimens…

Critical Design Exhibition (ISTC event)

Last evening we had a great exhibition of six 'critical designs' called "The Fragile Self in Anxious Times." The exhibition was part of our involvement in the Intel ISTC Social Computing project. The designs are by our PhD students Shad Gross and Youngsuk Lee who are working with Jeff Bardzell, Shaowen Bardzell and me.

The six designs are exciting examples of what happens when you design interactive devices that are not designed for a well defined purpose and functionality and without any well-defined intended user. The designs are meant to express some aspects of 'criticality'. (I should have some pictures here of course, maybe I can add that later.)

In relation to the concrete design work we are also developing a theoretical framework about  what 'criticality' stands for in design. The reason for this work is that we found ourselves quite frustrated with the way critical design has previously been defined. We are making good progress and will at som…

New book: Mads Nygaard Folkmann's book "The aesthetics of Imagination in Design"

I have the pleasure working with Ken Friedman as Series Editors for a MIT Press book series called Design Thinking/Design Theory. Today I got the fourth book in the series which is Mads Nygaard Folkmann's book "The aesthetics of Imagination in Design". Here is how the book is presented by MIT Press:

"InThe Aesthetics of Imagination in Design, Mads Folkmann investigates design in both material and immaterial terms. Design objects, Folkmann argues, will always be dual phenomena—material and immaterial, sensual and conceptual, actual and possible. Drawing on formal theories of aesthetics and the phenomenology of imagination, he seeks to answer fundamental questions about what design is and how it works that are often ignored in academic research."

It is exciting to work with a book series and one of the perks is that you get to see so many book proposals usually a couple of years before they are books, so it is a way of looking into the future. Unfortunately the va…

The fear of 'big data'

In my early days of my undergraduate education we read a lot about the relation between the model in the computer and the part of reality that the model was supposed to represent. My most influential professor at that time, Kristo Ivanov, always warned us about the danger when data is seen as a 'resource' like a natural resource to be harvest. He always stressed that all data, and even more so information, is the result of a process that involves mechanisms, procedures, measuring, and choices that ultimately rests on values and are driven by intentions. He always claimed: "there is no "raw" data". It is fascinating to see the exact same discussion emerging today  in the wake of the enormous interest in 'big data'. The same topics that were heavily discussed in the late 70s are again examined. The content of a new book "Raw data is an oxymoron" edited by Lisa Gitelman (MIT Press, 2013) is an evidence of that (here is a good review).

The dis…

Book note: Can Robots Commit Crimes?

I read today in the Chronicle of Higher Education about a forthcoming book "When Robots Kill: Artificial Intelligence Under Criminal Law" (forthcoming from Northeastern University Press), by Gabriel Hallevy. It is fascinating to see the growing debate about the 'nature' of robots and intelligent systems and to what extent they should be considered to have agency of some kind and therefore also responsibility for their actions. According the the Chronicle, Hallevy makes the case that we already hold other non-human entities responsible for their actions, for instance corporations even though they have no spirit, soul or physical body, so why not robots?

As someone who read all the works by Isaac Asimov (a long time ago) these questions are not new. All Asimov followers know his Three Laws of Robotics. Asimov envisioned a future society where robots had intelligence and agency in way that we are still far from. In his writings he explored what the relationship between …

The Evil of Design

Even though I am happy to see the wonderful push for design thinking and a designerly approach today in academia and in business, it is also a bit disturbing to see the lack of critical thinking about design. Design as an approach is today by many seen as the silver bullet to almost any kind of problem. A design approach is considered to be able to deal with any kind of situation. I do agree that design as an approach is powerful, maybe more so than many believe even among those who advocate it. I do agree that many issues today should be approached in a designerly way. But it is also crucial to remember that design as an approach is not inherently good.

Almost all things that scare us and make our lives difficult and dangerous are designed. Some of the most wonderful examples of great design are also considered to be manifestations of evil. Humans design wars, genoside, weapons of destruction, and maybe even more extraordinary but less obvious designs aimed at suppressing people (suc…

Design thinking revisited by Norman

Don Norman has in some earlier writings been quite critical to the notion of "design thinking", however now he argues that he has changed his mind. I agree with the new Norman. He makes the case that if we see design thinking more as a tool or method then he is ok with it. And he is also careful with stating that it is not the case that all designers are engaged with design thinking, or that all design schools do teach it. I could not agree more. Working with designers all over the world I know first hand that design thinking is not necessarily understood everywhere where the label design is used. Even worse is that a deeper understanding of design as a human universal approach (much broader and critical than design thinking) is almost completely lacking still. But hopefully this is changing in the years to come.

I have one problem with Norman's new position though. He writes "Two powerful tools of design thinking summarize the approach: the British Design Council&#…

Interface tile designs--evolution or fashion

I guess you have already realized that one of the most popular interface design styles today is tile design. The examples are many, Pinterest (maybe where it started), Windows 8, USA today, etc. Even "older" designs are changing their design to become more tile like. Ebay is trying to look like Pinterest.

The tile design has an immediate appeal. It is clear, structured, appears to be highly organized and of course, is in many cases visually appealing. We have over the years seen many "styles" come and go, usually they have been seen as evolutions of the interface--new paradigms. GUI is seen as superior to command based interaction for instance and not as a style or fashion. Touch and gesture is seen as developments away from traditional keyboard interactions--not as a fashion. But is tile interfaces the next step in the evolution of interfaces or is it only a style, a fashion? And if so, does it matter?

My own very personal and unscientific analysis of tile interfa…

Interfaces of not?

During the last few years we have seen a drastic change in what is usually seen as the interface of interactive artifacts and systems. There are many who examine this change, such as this article about "Why The Human Body Will Be The Next Computer Interface".

I am excited to see speculations about this since I am working with Lars-Erik Janlert on a new article about this topic. The article is to some extent based on our previous article "Complex Interaction" even though it hopefully breaks some new ground when it comes to the big questions of "what is an interface"  and the future oriented question of "what is the future of interfaces".

There are a number of interesting questions that we try to investigate int the article, for instance, what is the most useful definition of interfaces, does the Kinect have an interface, when interfaces are everywhere how can we think about them, etc. These questions are important since if answered they may help an…

"The Design Way" --- a review

Yesterday we got a nice review sent to us from MIT Press that has been published in "Computing Reviews". You can find the review here. What I like about the review is that it is by someone who is not a designer, who is not already in the field of designerly thinking, but still a positive review. The reviewer, Joan Horvath, does a good job in introducing the book and explaining how and why it can be read by someone who is not yet familiar with design in this more theoretical and philosophical way. Horvath makes the argument that the book is valuable if you are an engineer and have to work with people that are more designerly or artistic. It creates an understanding of the different approaches, I could not agree more.

Growing Critique of 'Big Data'

It is interesting that we can already see critique against the 'big data' movement (just search for critique of 'big data'). One good example of the more recent voices came in NYT the other day (link).  It is always the case that anything that evolves into a buzz word and get hyped inevitably will face critique, but this critique has come earlier than I expected.

It seems as if the notion of 'big data' and its proponents will face some resistance from the start. Of course, 'big data' has been around for a long time but it has been invisible and not very 'cool'. It has been seen as number crunching and serious computation of large datasets or databases. It has been seen as an activity in the background and as an infrastructure that feeds information into front-end systems. Now 'big data' is its own thing, bringing promises and creating hopes of new possibilities. With the new popularity and the promises of potential wonders that it can del…

Misconceptions about the Science of Design

In a New York Times article, Lance Hosey writes, "A revolution in the science of design is already under way, and most people, including designers, aren’t even aware of it." The articles reports on recent research that has shown how different aspects of color, shapes, patterns, motives, etc lead to particular reactions in humans. For instance, the color green can boost creativity  motives from nature can make people more efficient. Hosey mentions some more examples. The author makes the case that "if every designer understood more about the mathematics of attraction, the mechanics of affection, all design — from houses to cellphones to offices and cars — could both look good and be good for you."

This is an amazingly confused and misguided article. I will soon post a more detailed critique.

[Ok, I wrote this about a month ago and I have not yet posted "a more detailed critique", I think it is quite probable that there will not be any such posting.]

New look and Claude Levi-Strauss

As you may recognize, I have slightly changed the design of my blog. We'll see if I like it. It may soon change again. Since this is only a matter of changing structure and not the content, I am appropriately reading "Myth and Meaning" by Claude Levi-Strauss at the same time. I have not read this book before but have always suspected that I would like it--and I do. He writes for instance "it is absolutely impossible to conceive of meaning without order." I agree. And he also writes "science has only two ways of proceeding: it is either reductionist or structuralist". Simple and clear, think about that!

DRS 2014 – Design’s Big Debates

Since I am involved in the organization of the DRS 2014 conference, I am posting some information about it hear. We are aiming to develop the conference to even more become the premier international general design conference. We are changing many aspects fo the conference to both better reach a broader audience while also enhance the quality of submissions. So, read and plan!!

DRS 2014 – Design’s Big Debates
Preliminary Call for Participation
Umeå, Sweden, June 16-19, 2014

Design Research Society’s 2014 conference invites you to engage in discussions and debates on the future directions of design and design research. We welcome you to join us in Umeå, Sweden, June 16-19.

We believe there is a shared discourse in design, one that includes all areas of design research, and that is of vital importance for our understanding and development of the foundations of design. This discourse is something we share and cultivate over long periods time, as it tells stories of past, pres…