Posts tagged “intel”

Congrats to IxD13 Student Design Challenge winners

Congrats to the five winners of the first phase of the IxD13 Student Design Challenge who will be joining us in Toronto in January! Special thanks to our wonderful slate of judges who helped us get to this point.

James McIntyre, Malmo Hogskola

IXDA Interaction13 Student Design Challenge Entry

Mani Hariharan, National Institute of Design, India

Ari Zilnik, Carnegie Mellon University

Yongsoon Choi, Graduate School of Media Design in Keio University, Japan
video offline

Bethany Stolle, Austin Center for Design

ChittahChattah Quickies

Children With Autism, Connecting via Transit [New York Times] – Fascinating to learn first that the structure of trains appeals to kids with autism and even more fascinating to see that museums are adapting their programming to address this population specifically, a new mission that presumably reaches far beyond their original charters.

Like many children with autism spectrum disorders, Ravi is fascinated by trains and buses, entranced by their motion and predictability. And for years, these children crowded the exhibitions of the modest New York Transit Museum, chattering about schedules and engine components and old subway maps. Now, the museum, and others like it, are moving beyond accommodating the enthusiasm for trains and buses among children with autism and trying to use it to teach them how to connect with other people – and the world. The museum created a “Subway Sleuths” after-school program for 9- and 10-year-olds with autism that focuses on the history of New York City trains but seeks to make the children more at ease socially.

Intel uses sci-fi to understand possible tech uses [San Francisco Chronicle] – Compelling notion (see an interactions article I wrote about a similar topic) but the article is so slight that I have to wonder how exactly they are using these tools to drive a different approach to design or to impact specific products.

The chipmaker is trying to speed along the [cultural] change by reaching engineers in a language they understand: science fiction. Last year Intel hired four sci-fi writers to study the company’s latest research projects and produce an anthology, “The Tomorrow Project,” envisioning how cutting-edge processors might be used in the near future. The is to help Intel’s engineers design chips tailored to specific consumer uses with wide market potential. Intel’s sci-fi publishing arm is an extension of its 12-year-old social science division. The division assesses technological trends by sending anthropologists and sociologists to hang out in living rooms, senior care centers and hospitals. The logic behind the effort: Understand how technology is used, and you’re more likely to design chips people will buy.

Nat Allbright, Voice of Dodgers Games He Did Not See, Dies at 87 [New York Times] – I’m impressed with the notion of a broadcaster stitching together a continuous narrative based on tiny fragments of information. While mainstream broadcasting has obviously changed radically since then, there are echoes today in Twitter and #hashtags in breaking-news situations.

he took bare-bones telegraph messages transmitted by Morse code (“B1W” for Ball One Wide); embellished them with imagination and sound effects; and then broadcast games that sounded as if he were in the ballpark hearing, smelling and seeing everything, from steaming hot dogs to barking umpires to swirling dust at second base. Over a decade, Mr. Allbright broadcast 1,500 Brooklyn Dodgers games without seeing a single one. When so-called progress killed this splendid occupation, he came up with a new business: taping vanity broadcasts of imaginary sporting events, where the customer became the star. Just insert a name.

Sesame Street pair Bert and Ernie ‘will not marry’ [BBC] – A long-running joke about the mysterious relationship between the two Muppets turned serious recently when it was co-opted by social activist types who wanted to see gay marriage reflected in the show’s narrative. Groups representing blacks and gays have frequently and appropriately called attention to their lack of visibility in mainstream media, but this particular effort attempts to take control over the story direction in order to serve their particular agenda. Let’s not conflate the intent and the method. The producers of the show, after decades of ignoring the “are they are aren’t they” chatter, respond and explicitly acknowledge the reality of Bert and Ernie as characters, only.

Sesame Workshop, which produces “Sesame Street,” put an end to any wedding planning on Thursday with this brief statement posted on its Facebook page: “Bert and Ernie are best friends. They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves. Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics (as most Sesame Street Muppets™ do), they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation.”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from julienorvaisas] Japan’s Smokestacks Draw Industrial-Strength Sightseers [WSJ.com] – [This sub-culture is exerting economic influence. I'm looking for the American equivalent.] What started as a fringe subculture known as kojo moe, or "factory infatuation," is beginning to gain wider appeal in Japan, turning industrial zones into unlikely tourist attractions. It's the Japanese equivalent of going sightseeing at industrial stretches along the New Jersey Turnpike. Unlike the tourists who visit the factories of Toyota Motor Corp. and other Japanese manufacturers, the kojo moe crowd has little interest in the inner workings of the plants. They get excited by the maze of intricate piping around the exterior of a steel plant or the cylindrical smokestacks sending up steam. [A book on the topic] lists 19 questions to test one's kojo moe credentials, including "Do you like Blade Runner?" and "Can you stare at a factory you like all day long?" Now, industrial regions across Japan are working to create factory sightseeing tours.
  • [from steve_portigal] Stop Blaming Your Culture [Strategy + Business] – [A must-read. This could become the article on the topic, a companion to Porter's classic What is Strategy? REad it and pass it along.] Fortunately, there is an effective, accessible way to deal with cultural challenges. Don’t blame your culture; use it purposefully. View it as an asset: a source of energy, pride, and motivation. Learn to work with it and within it. Discern the elements of the culture that are congruent with your strategy. Figure out which of the old constructive behaviors embedded in your culture can be applied to accelerate the changes that you want. Find ways to counterbalance and diminish other elements of the culture that hinder you. In this way, you can initiate, accelerate, and sustain truly beneficial change — with far less effort, time, and expense, and with better results, than many executives expect.
  • [from steve_portigal] Steve Portigal to write book on interviewing users [Rosenfeld Media] – Interviewing users is fundamental to user experience work but, as Steve Portigal cautions, we tend to take it for granted. Because it's based on talking and listening, skills we think we have, we often wing it. Sadly, we miss out on many of the wonderful opportunities our interviews should reveal. So we're thrilled that Steve, who's contributed regular columns to interactions and Core77, has signed on to write a new Rosenfeld Media book, The Art and Craft of User Research Interviewing, to help UX practitioners really succeed with interviewing. Steve's book will focus on helping practitioners to better understand users' perspectives, and to rely upon rapport as the main ingredient in successful user interviews.
  • [from steve_portigal] Intel Teams with will.i.am, Black Eyed Peas Front Man [Intel] – [Is there a nomenclature convention emerging? If your corporate title is surrounded by quote marks, you may not receive the same HR benefits as others. Although it looks like he's got a badge? See you at Friday's Beer Bust!] He’s best known for being a multi-platinum music artist, producer and front man for The Black Eyed Peas, but will.i.am is also an innovator, technology fan, entrepreneur and philanthropist. With today’s announcement at the Anaheim Convention Center, the seven-time Grammy winner has added another title to his multi-faceted resume: “director of creative innovation.” As an extension of his insatiable fascination with technology, which plays a significant role in his professional and personal lives, will.i.am will engage in a multi-year, hands-on creative and technology collaboration with Intel Corporation. He already sports an Intel ID badge, which he proudly showed off at a news conference in Anaheim, where Intel is holding an internal sales and marketing conference.

Personas Leaking Outside the Enterprise

Yesterday’s NYT article about Ford using personas raised one of my big concerns about the process, where a design process artifact becomes (inappropriately) a marketing artifact.

The designers imagined her life in detail in a video, “A Day in the Life of Natasha.” Several human models were screen-tested before one, who looks vaguely like Audrey Hepburn, was chosen to appear in the video. The video was also convenient for explaining the car to the press and public.

Here’s an egregious example of persona-think gone mad: In the “Intel Process Personalities” contest, they put forth a number of personas
intel1intel2 and asked online readers “What kind of PC junkie are you?” and “What superhero powers would your ideal notebook PC have?” People submitted their answers online and a six were chosen to be profiled in followup advertising. Here’s one:

intel6intel5intel4intel3

Five other real people are similarly profiled in the 3-page ad.

It’s just disturbing to see corporations decide that there are 6 mutually exclusive customer types and ask people then to identify themselves as a Frequent Flyer, a Cafe King, or (yecccchhhh) The Multimedia Monkey. I don’t aspire to be any of those characters. While I may have a set of needs, behaviors, and preferences that align me with other folks, it’s audacious of the company to set up categories and ask me to fit myself into them. And when it’s as ham-fistedly awkward as this (i.e., The Blogger is involved in “posting timely twitters updates”) it’s even more insulting.

Now, this is marketing, not user research, but it’s bringing in user research as semiotics in a way that devalues the real work of researchers and participants. “What superhero powers would your ideal notebook PC have?” is a great question in participatory design, but smug as part of a contest.

Kudos to Intel to using real people in these profiles (admittedly, I assumed they were fake until I read the fine print) but shame on Intel for exposing their patronizing “segmentation” and offering goods in exchange for people identifying themselves within those caricatures.

For more anti-persona ranting, we’re happy to pass along the now-classic interactions column Persona Non Grata upon request.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • American Airlines' 'Nerd-bird' flights between San Jose, CA and Austin, TX to end – The flights of mostly electrical engineers, computer programmers and other tech-savvy passengers have been run by American Airlines daily since 1992. Because the recession has cut sharply into business and other travel, American has announced it will discontinue its twice-a-day nonstop flights between the two tech centers as of Aug. 25.
  • Derivative (or, if you prefer, rip-off) book titles that capitalize on other successful books – Ultimately, the best locutions are those that credit quotidian, trivial objects with earthshaking influence, like “Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World,” by Mark Kurlansky. The more obvious the significance of the subject, the less successful the title. After all, where’s the element of surprise or wit in “A Man Without Equal: Jesus, the Man Who Changed the World”?

    Some of the more unlikely candidates endowed with superhuman powers by authors include “Tea: The Drink That Changed the World,” “Mauve: How One Man Invented a Color That Changed the World,” “Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World” and “Sugar: The Grass That Changed the World.”

    The tricky part is gauging just when the magic wears off. “Essentially it works until it doesn’t work,” Mr. Dolan said, “and you hope you’re on the right side of that line.”

ChittahChattah Quickies

BW on ethno

BusinessWeek has a new article about ethnography. The author posted a blurb about it on a mailing list I’m on, asking for feedback (I guess some on the list provided input into the piece) and expressing interest continuing the conversation. So far my comments have gone unanswered, so I’m summarizing them here.

It’s nice to see some fresh examples of success in the application of ethnography. The GE example is very cool and goes beyond the usual fix a product case study and into the evolve a business’s culture that really rang true from my own experience.

However, I was disappointed to see the article buy into the ethnography = anthropology myth and the corollary that all ethnographers are anthropologists. Indeed, the article incorrectly attributes the anthropology credential to some people such as Tony Salvador who I believe was trained as a psychologist, or the people at Steelcase, some of whom I know as graduates of the Institute of Design, and are definitely not anthropologists. IDEO may have anthropologists, but a great deal of their people involved in “human factors” (as they term it) are coming with other educational backgrounds.

It’s tempting to see a conspiracy of highly-placed anthropologists who work behind the scenes to ensure that any conversation about user research in product development and consulting succumbs helplessly to this myth, but I think really sloppy reporting is more likely the culprit here.

John Thackera Thackara writes about the article in his typical sanctimonious style (seriously – I will have to give up on In The Bubble because it’s filled with mean-spirited judgment of one profession or endeavor on one page, and then a capricious about-face on the next page to drool over another effort that meets his opaque standards).

Do ethnographers need exotic names to do well in business? A story in Business Week features two guys called ‘J. Wilton L. Agatstein Jr’ (who runs Intel’s new emerging-markets unit) and ‘Timothy deWaal Malefyt’ (an anthropologist who runs ‘cultural discovery’ at ad firm BBDO Worldwide).

Whoah. Racist much, John? Portigal is a pretty funny name. So is Thackera Thackara. What of it?

Series

About Steve