Blog

Bookmarked:

From my first-hand experience, this lightweight research process described by Rian Van Der Merwe is incredibly efficient. In the article it is summarized as chosing:

  • The RITE testing method (Rapid Iterative Testing and Evaluation)
  • The right remote usability testing tools
  • The right fidelity
  • The right people to talk to
  • The right way to analyze and communicate results
  • The right way to put it all together

Being able to run a large-scale, representative, extensive UX study is an inspiring undertaking. But so is a rapid iterative process like RITE that naturally includes user research in the product development process: verifying one’s work as you go takes the guesswork out of a project and provides valuable information to identify issues and opportunities.

As the author states, each form of research process has a context where it fits best – and this is a highly suitable one for small teams, with small products and small budgets.

Comment or share |

Homebrew Website Club Berlin #4 on 22 Mar 2017

Welcome to the fourth edition of our Homebrew Website Club in Berlin! After the first three meetings were rather unstructured, around a range of interesting topics – see the summaries of meetups #2 and #3 by Sven – we are thinking to try a “What are you currently working on?” agenda this time (but no worries, if you don’t have any website pet project going on right now: everybody interested in the IndieWeb is most welcome).

Past event

Homebrew Website Club Berlin

Salon Schmück, Skalitzer Str. 80, Berlin, Germany (Kreuzberg, U1 Schlesisches Tor)

Homebrew Website Club is a bi-weekly meetup of people passionate about or interested in creating, improving, building, designing their own website, in the same structure as the classic Homebrew Computer Club meetings.

RSVP on the IndieWeb.org wiki (if you have an Indieweb site), in the comments below, or just join us ex tempore.

If you get off work early, no worries: we are usually on site starting from 18:30 for informal chit-chat. Peek in, look for the IndieWebCamp sign and say hi.

Read reactions |

3

Bookmarked:

Mischa Andrews lists five reasons how the web, an accessible medium by default, ended up in an inaccessible mess:

  1. We can (and do) learn to make websites without learning accessibility
  2. We’re not held accountable for inaccessible products
  3. Assumptions guide us astray
  4. The legislation doesn’t tell us what to do
  5. New trends push technology into untested territory

The article is a great analysis of often invisible biases affecting how websites are built today – and it leads straight to very concrete steps to improve the situation, among which the maybe most important:

[…] identify the perceptions you need to change: that accessibility is only for accessibility specialists, or that it’s not important, or that no one will notice, or that it’s too much effort, or that it doesn’t matter.

Read reactions |

1

Bookmarked:

After PRISM Break, that I posted about last week, here is another valuable resource that aims to create a list of any tools related to personal privacy online:

privacytools.io is a socially motivated website that provides information for protecting your data security and privacy. never trust any company with your privacy, always encrypt.

As a community project, anybody can contribute via Reddit and GitHub.

Comment or share |

Homebrew Website Club Berlin #3 on 8 Mar 2017

Image caption: HWC Berlin #2 on Febraury 22 already grew from five to six participants, in our lovely location at Salon Schmück.

Two times is a series, three times is a tradition? Welcome again all IndieWeb-minded Berliners for the third meetup of our Homebrew Website Club:

It is more important than ever to have your own place to publish on the web. Have a blog? Want a blog? Are you building your own personal bot? Come on by and join a gathering of people with likeminded interests. Bring your friends that want to start a personal web site. Exchange information, swap ideas, talk shop, or help work on a project!

Past event

Homebrew Website Club Berlin

Salon Schmück, Skalitzer Str. 80, Berlin, Germany (Kreuzberg, U1 Schlesisches Tor)

Homebrew Website Club is a bi-weekly meetup of people passionate about or interested in creating, improving, building, designing their own website, in the same structure as the classic Homebrew Computer Club meetings.

RSVP on the IndieWeb.org wiki (if you have an Indieweb site), in the comments below, or just join us ex tempore.

If you get off work early, no worries: we are usually on site starting from 18:30 for informal chit-chat. Peek in and say hi.

PS: Sven has a brief write-up of some of the topics discussed last time.

Read reactions |

3

Bookmarked:

Ethan Zuckerman, director of the Center for Civic Media at MIT and describing himself as part of the actors who established the ad-based web, investigates how and why advertising became the backbone of the fast-spreading web and the negative consequences it has brought along – making it “The Internet’s Original Sin”.

In the mid-to-late 90s at peak “Web 2.0”, the prevailing intentions (such as those of Zuckerman) was to give the broad public access to the communicational wonders that is the World Wide Web, which up until then required a core set of rather technical skill. And this no doubt worked:

An ad supported web grows quickly and is open to those who can’t or won’t pay.

It is very likely the web would never have grown this fast without the described advertising models.

But this is where the “but” comes into play. Zuckerman lists four downsides of advertising as the default business model of the web:

  1. the sheer possibility (and it is worth highlighting his note that it is not a precondition) of surveillance to improve profiling for ads leads to its escalation
  2. clickbait, traffic whoring, and “next page” buttons led to a web full of content who only exists because of the ad revenue model
  3. the need for advertisers to reach audiences fuels centralisation, which inevitably makes free speech vulnerable, as it is practised on monopolistic platforms
  4. the attempt by publishers to offset their users’ loss from surveillance with overpersonalisation as promised worth leads to algortihm-controlled opaque bubbles

Zuckerman comes to the conclusion that the ad model -regardless of any merits it may have had – being the default model for online business is a serious problem that needs to be overcome. Yet, solutions are only being explored.

There is no single “right answer” to the question of how we pay for the tool that lets us share knowledge, opinions, ideas, and photos of cute cats. Whether we embrace micropayments, membership, crowdfunding, or any other model, there are bound to be unintended consequences.

But 20 years in to the ad-supported web, we can see that our current model is bad, broken, and corrosive. It’s time to start paying for privacy, to support services we love, and to abandon those that are free, but sell us—the users and our attention—as the product.

This is an “old” article from 2014, but it has not lost any of its relevance.

Comment or share |

Using the “Cognitive bias codex” for design concept evaluation

Cognitive bias – the tendency of the human brain to interpret information based on unrecognised irrational factors – is a phenomenon that has been fascinating me for well over a decade. There is no more efficient way to improve the quality of a design concept than by doing a heuristic evaluation on potential cognitive biases […]

Read more |

Bookmarked:

A Guardian’s op-ed on big data highlights the threat corporate surveillance poses not only on an individual level, but to democratic culture as a whole.

There are two kinds of privacy under threat in the emerging economy, where everyone is almost always connected to the internet, and has their lives enmeshed in big data. The first privacy is the kind that we intuitively understand […] But there is a second, more frightening loss of privacy as well. The unprecedented knowledge that the giants of the surveillance economy have acquired about us may disclose vulnerabilities of which we are ourselves unaware.

Thinking of the manifold ways “big data” corporations have to manipulate people and opinions, it is a stunning phenomenon how politically mature citizens happily feed a system that has (and actively makes use of) the power to undermine their personal and societal freedoms:

What we tell our smartphones about our lives, intentionally or otherwise, is far more than the most ambitious secret policeman of the last century could hope to discover by covert surveillance.

Often, “I don’t have anything to hide” is the easily used (yet flawed) excuse for the first privacy. It is much harder to come up with an excuse for giving up that second privacy…

Read reactions |

1

Reposting:

Tweet by Icon Matthias Ott
at twitter.com/m_ott/status/836130696301268992

“All pages could support rich layers of conversation” – #Annotation is now a web standard https://hypothes.is/blog/annotation-is-now-a-web-standard/ #webstandards

2017-02-27

This is great news: a web standard for annotations – in true #hypertext spirit

“All pages could support rich layers of conversation” – #Annotation is now a web standard https://hypothes.is/blog/annotation-is-now-a-web-standard/ #webstandards

Read reactions |

2

Bookmarked:

Ian Bogost, in this piece on The Atlantic, expands the notion of “precarity” from the economic into the technological sphere – the instability and unpredictability of (technological) objects:

The frequency with which technology works precariously has been obscured by culture’s obsession with technological progress, its religious belief in computation, and its confidence in the mastery of design. In truth, hardly anything works very well anymore.

From self-flushing toilets, through autocorrect and Amazon algorithms, to Facebook’s and Google’s business models, the author expresses the concern over the increasing gap between what humans need and what technology provides:

Technology’s role has begun to shift, from serving human users to pushing them out of the way so that the technologized world can service its own ends. And so, with increasing frequency, technology will exist not to serve human goals, but to facilitate its own expansion.

In the final paragraph, Bogost draws an image that moves the dystopia of robots taking over a technologized world from SciFi movies into the techno-centric culture of today:

It won’t take a computational singularity for humans to cede their lives to the world of machines. They’ve already been doing so, for years, without even noticing.

Comment or share |

Bookmarked:

The PRISM Break project curates a comprehensive list of privacy-minded free and open source software projects that

Help make mass surveillance of entire populations uneconomical! We all have a right to privacy, which you can exercise today by encrypting your communications and ending your reliance on proprietary services.

I discovered quite a few interesting and new alternatives I had not heard about before.

Read reactions |

4

Bookmarked:

We are living in the age of data. “What It Takes To Truly Delete Data” by Mimi Onuoha tells the story of hard drive disposal to illustrate three key facts about data:

  1. “All data […] is stored on a physical device somewhere.” As long as this is not a single device under the user’s control, there is no physical access to it.
  2. “Data cannot be erased.” You can never be sure every copy of a file has physically destroyed.
  3. “Data is always easier to create than to destroy.”

On her Twitter feed, she further summarizes:

This cannot be stressed enough …and sadly enough, it’s a topic commonly absent from debates on “big data” and the hype over its benefits. As designers we are reponsible for the world we create (cue Mike Monteiro) – any project involving the storage of data should involve an audit on data collected and implement a “minimum actionable dataset” policy.

Also, the so called “consumers” need to be much better educated on this topic: how should a person who has a hard time to even grasp what “the cloud” is in the first place understand the implications of uploading private data to it?

via ind.ie

Comment or share |

If you prefer, there is also an RSS feed