Per the norm – the following thoughts are just those – thoughts. I don’t claim the following to have perfect rationale or even be well-written.
INTRO – NOW IT’S PERSONAL
The new (or maybe not so new) hot phrase in design – especially for consumer design is providing a “personal experience.” Lots and lots and LOTS of data is collected and used to provide a unique experience for consumers. The goal is to provide relevant information and options when someone encounters a website or application. But it also has crept into customer service on the phone, ordering food in a restaurant, or checking out at the local store. Employees at McDonald’s ask for your name so they can directly thank you later, and cashiers at KMart are required to ask for email addresses, zip codes, and phone numbers so you can be targeted for personalized messaging.
And sure, using all this information surely will make it possible to deliver service and experiences that are tailored to the individual.
PERSONAL VS. PERSONABLE
There is a lot of market and consumer research that quotes consumers as saying that they want “more personal experiences”. But I believe this is misinterpreted. I believe that what people truly crave isn’t a website, customer service system, or checkout process that knows who they are and responds accordingly. I think what people really mean when they say they want personal experiences is that they want to be treated like a person – with respect for their time, their culture, their opinions, and their beliefs. They want their consumer experiences to be “personable” – not personal.
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We are at a point in history where technology is forcing us to re-evaluate our understanding of privacy. However, too often the conversation looks like this, which was taken from the comments section of an article about Facebook:
“If you really don’t want to share….DONT PUT IT ON THE NET!”
I am not a technological determinist, but we are crazy if we don’t realize that there is a lot of pressure to put things on the Internet. And we can’t just blame people for being uninformed. People do it because they don’t feel like they have much of a choice due to the impending social pressures of being “on Facebook.” Of course they do have a choice, just like how we have a choice not to fill out every single field when we create one of our hundreds of profiles in the digital sphere. But there are a lot of people who happily fill out every single field, unknowingly giving away lots of information that they don’t have to, because that is what the interface is telling them that it wants. Of course we should try to inform ourselves about these things, but we can’t really expect every person to become “Facebook literate.” Read the rest of this entry »
The most recent user uproar against Facebook and its increasingly cryptic privacy settings spurred the New York Times to collect questions from concerned users and posed them to Elliot Schrage, vice president for public policy at Facebook. He responded quite eloquently in this recent article, but unsurprisingly his words have done little to calm the masses.
It has taken me a long time to figure out what I think about Facebook, and I have read enough articles to make me yearn for a nice 20-page End User License Agreement. In this post I will respond to the Schrage article from my perspective as a human-centered designer, in the hopes of shining a light on why Facebook never seems to get it right.
For many people, Facebook represents the way they define their lives, and I mean that to be as profound as it sounds. Because of this, Facebook should seek to cultivate a better understanding of society and culture – Facebook as a social space in 2010 is a far cry from its origins in 2003′s Facemash. I may be wrong, but it seems that Facebook understands people and culture with all the nuance of a 19 year-old Mark Zuckerberg illegally accessing student information and photos in order to evaluate students based on if they were “good-looking.” Read the rest of this entry »
I recently went through a bunch of notes I found on my computer. All of them look to be the beginnings of blog posts, but I thought it would might be fun to throw them all together in one blog post and expand up on them later. (And then I can delete them from my computer!) Anyway here they go in no particular order: Read the rest of this entry »
J. Ambrose Little just posted recently about reading Jon Kolko’s Thoughts on Interaction Design. While I am new to this whole design thing, I have previously posted about my uneasiness with the claim that we design behavior.
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In this post, I am attempting to make some sense of my argument for a paper I am planning to write. For this paper I am doing a critical analysis of World of Warcraft’s FigurePrints service.
In making my thoughts and assumptions explicit, I have very strong opinions about how World of Warcraft favors certain playstyles over others. I feel that the design and “loudest” player groups have created a game culture that favors ambition, aggressiveness, and a focus on certain achievements over others. (Warning: The following sentence might be highly subjective or half-baked). High level or “epic/elite” activities, raiding, or player vs. player are seen as “better” than any-level activities like exploration, pet collection, or crafting. While these any-level activities are not seen as unimportant, they don’t have near the prestige of the other activities, and are often treated as a means to an end. Read the rest of this entry »
This is sort of a continuation of the previous post about designing to change behavior. I am not really arguing one side or the other here, rather I am searching for some insights about design. To that end I have chosen a few books to dive into this summer, among them the book Freakonomics. One of the main themes of the book is about how we are creatures of incentive. Most people think only of business and marketing when they hear the word incentive, but Freakonomics speaks more about psychological and social motivations. Read the rest of this entry »
I have always loved RPG games. I often think about how RPGs and MMORPGs can relate to HCI. There are probably a ton of people who could talk on this subject better than I will, but I will spit out my couple of cents anyway. I am considering doing my Master’s capstone project on the subject, and this post is just the tip of the iceberg.
From a truly human-centered design perspective, that is, taking core human values into consideration when designing and implementing technology, MMORPGs have many great things to offer. I will give an example from my own experiences to elaborate on some of them. Read the rest of this entry »
After attending CHI 2009 I gained some perspective. It seems that the industry that I am about to dive into, full of youthful exuberance and naivety, has grossly understated the value and potential of HCI. The field of HCI seems to still be very focused on user-centered design, and sometimes uses the phrase human-centered design interchangeably. I don’t feel that human-centered design is user-centered design. This is not a new topic, as it has already seen some play in Interactions Magazine among other places. In what follows I will explain what I feel the difference is and why it is important to note it. Read the rest of this entry »
After watching Bill Buxton’s talk about Microsoft starting to understand design better, I proceeded to view the comments, knowing full well what I would endure. It was pretty much the standard fare for any talk about technology when Microsoft’s name gets brought up: people missing the point and then valiantly defending their OS of choice while vehemently bashing any others. I have seen it a million times before, and this time it sparked the following thoughts. Read the rest of this entry »