Blog

Homebrew Website Club Berlin on break next week due to scheduling conflicts; returning to the regular bi-weekly rhythm from Wed 17.5.

PEW survey data on non-use of social media and smartphones

Two fresh data sets from Pew Research Center, highlighting realities I would love to see considered more often in design teams and boardrooms alike: “Not everyone in advanced economies is using social media”, and “Smartphones are common in advanced economies, but digital divides remain” While I consider the “digital divide” term slightly problematic here – […]

Homebrew Website Club Berlin #6 on 19 Apr 2017

Wed 19
April
19:00Berlin
Germany

In the previous meeting of our Homebrew Website Club Berlin, we again had inspiring discussions not only about approaches to decentralize the social web, but specifically about questions of ethical and fair design, as well as some of the privacy aspects involved with what we do. This might be a very German angle to engage […]

Reposting a Tweet by Oliver Gutperl

Oliver posted: “Why designing for #engagement #metrics is not always a good idea. Hint: Many people like crude stories.” The linked article points out how the obsession with “engagement” around single items damages the whole, and why it is the wrong approach: When content is bundled, the burden is taken off of any one piece […]

Mar 2017

Homebrew Website Club Berlin #5 on 5 Apr 2017

Wed 05
April
19:00Berlin
Germany

The March 22 edition of the Berlin Homebrew Website Club was a rather private circle, with just three of us engaging in free-form discussions around tracking and privacy, WordPress and other CMSs, and the topic of enabling donations or micropayments on personal websites. The upcoming event on April 4 will see a slightly different format, […]

Bookmark: How to get the most value out of remote user research (without breaking the bank)

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 […]

Homebrew Website Club Berlin #4 on 22 Mar 2017

Wed 22
March
19:00Berlin
Germany

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 […]

Bookmark: The inaccessible web: how we got into this mess

Mischa Andrews lists five reasons how the web, an accessible medium by default, ended up in an inaccessible mess: We can (and do) learn to make websites without learning accessibility We’re not held accountable for inaccessible products Assumptions guide us astray The legislation doesn’t tell us what to do New trends push technology into untested […]

Bookmark: Privacy Tools

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 […]

Turning the Feb 2017 AWS outage into a case for “offline first” design

Allow me to begin my ponderings by picking up a point made by Karissa Bell on Mashable related to the major disruption of Amazon’s cloud services that took down a wide range of online services: Amazon’s lengthy AWS outage Tuesday was a stark reminder of just how much farther we have to go to realize […]

Homebrew Website Club Berlin #3 on 8 Mar 2017

Wed 08
March
19:00Berlin
Germany

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 […]

Bookmark: The Internet’s Original Sin

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 […]

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 […]

Feb 2017

Bookmark: The Guardian view on big data: the danger is less democracy

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 […]

Reposting a Tweet by Matthias Ott

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

Bookmark: Why Nothing Works Anymore

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 […]

Bookmark: PRISM Break

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 […]

Reposting a Tweet by Mallory Knodel

“Rule by Nobody” on Reallifemag: So even when algorithms are working well, they are not working at all for us. Great read!

Reposting a Tweet by Florian Weil

Second Homebrew Website Club in Berlin tomorrow! Come over and let’s talk about #indieweb

Bookmark: What It Takes To Truly Delete Data

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: “All data […] is stored on a physical device somewhere.” As long as this is not a single device under the user’s control, […]

Homebrew Website Club Berlin #2 on 22 Feb 2017

Wed 22
February
19:00Berlin
Germany

Last week’s inaugural Homebrew Website Club Berlin saw five independent web enthusiasts gather for an inspiring evening of conceptual and technical talk, and we all agreed to try and establish this as a regular bi-weekly event. Welcome to the second edition on February 22 (please note the new location): If you get off work early, […]

Working around the Twitter Cards “SSL Handshake Error” on Uberspace

Ever since I migrated my website to HTTPS (and you should too!), I noticed that my Twitter Card implementation – the code that adds a little preview as my posts are automatically syndicated to Twitter – did not work any more. I had obviously set up an HTTP 301 to redirect all incoming requests on […]

Bookmark: Data Selfie

I don’t use Facebook nor Chrome for the very reasons this project advocates, so cannot put it to the test myself, but Data Selfie by Hang Do Thi Duc and Regina Flores Mir looks like a great tool to bring closer to the user just how much social network providers know about them: Data Selfie […]

Bookmark: Terms of Service; Didn’t Read

“I have read and agree to the Terms” is the biggest lie on the web. We aim to fix that. Terms of Service; Didn’t Read (ToS;DR) is a site that dissects the terms and privacy policies nobody ever reads and evaluates services based on these. While the site states that the ratings are out of […]

“Facebook tracks me – so what?”

The blog post “What should you think about when using Facebook?” by Data Scientist Vicky Boykis is a thorough – yet likely not even close to exhaustive – summary of various ways how Facebook tracks, monetises and manipulates its users. It has rightfully gained quite some visibility over the last few days. And I will […]

Reminder: Homebrew Website Club Berlin inaugural meeting tonight 7pm Betahaus cafe. Table marked w/ #indieweb sign!  

Bookmark: Is Private Browsing Really Private?

DuckDuckGo, the provider of a search engine that doesn’t track its users (see my earlier blog post), did a study about how users believe the “Private browsing” feature of their browser works: Despite Private Browsing being one of the most commonly known and used privacy features, we find that most people misunderstand the privacy protections […]

Reposting a post by Tantek Çelik

Tantek Çelik comments on the successful crowdfunding of micro.blog: This is a huge step forward for the creation of an alternative to Twitter, in numerous ways, some obvious, many more subtle. Reading through the project’s goals and philosophy, this truly looks like a promising contender to provide what earlier attempts to replace Twitter have been […]

Bookmark: After the Big Now

This article by Fabien Girardin is an invitation to “imagine another version of the Internet respectful of people’s attention and time”: In the current version of the Internet, digital artifacts connect individuals into feedback loops that drastically compress time and give a sense of simultaneity: the Big Now. With the lure of control, the more […]

Homebrew Website Club Berlin: First meeting on 8 Feb 2017

Wed 08
February
19:00Berlin
Germany

It’s 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, […]

Bookmark: Browsing Histories

“Browsing Histories” is a journalistic illustration of how even the most barebone meta data trail created while using the internet gives away identity, interests, and more: […] the electronic communication transactional records, or the communication data – such as the numbers dialed, recipients of text messages sent, IP addresses of the devices involved, and particularly […]

Jan 2017

Reposting a Tweet by Luis Frias

A well formulated call-to-action in defence of the freedom of the web: http://filmicweb.org/open-web/ikeaisation-of-the-web/ “Learn, teach, advocate” says @OpenHypervideo

Bookmark: A lawyer rewrote Instagram’s terms of service for kids

There is a lot of interesting analysis and recommendation in the “Growing up digital” report from the UK’s Children’s Commissioner referenced in this article – and the simplified terms and conditions (that nobody ever reads) are only the most obvious of its gems – , but the truly interesting aspect is that it is not […]

Dec 2016

beyond tellerrand – two mind-blowing conference days in Berlin

I had heard a lot of good things about beyond tellerrand, the semiannual web/design/tech conference in Germany. I was prepared to listen to an impressive line-up of speakers from the fields of both design and web technology. I was looking forward to reunite with old contacts and meet friendly people. What I was not expecting […]

Nov 2016

Reposting a Tweet by Florian Weil

This looks like an interesting approach for keeping passwords under private control, with the benefits of “centralized” access https://lesspass.com #selfhosting

Reposting a Tweet by Teemu Leinonen

“A framework for entry-level web literacy & 21st Century skills” by Mozilla; interesting model indeed! https://learning.mozilla.org/en-US/web-literacy  

Oct 2016

Bookmark: Top 10 Enduring Web-Design Mistakes

The results from this large-scale study by Nielsen Norman Group are significant not so much for what usability issues they identified to be most common, but the fact that these are still the same basic problems that have been around as long as websites have: The big news? None of the top issues today is […]

IndieWebCamp Berlin 5.-6.11.2016

Sat 05
November
09:00Berlin
Germany

One week to go for IndieWebCamp Berlin! Join us: https://indieweb.org/2016/Berlin

Bookmark: “Let’s Stop Doing Research”

Amen! Erika Hall presents why purely user-centred design is out-of-date, explains how data-driven design is actually bias-driven design, and debunks the myth of the genius designer working chiefly based on intuition. And offers her own alternative approach: We need evidence-based design. Because what we are doing first and foremost is designing. It doesn’t matter how […]

Sep 2016

Takeaways from IndieWebCamp Brighton 2016

The fifth edition of IndieWebCamp Brighton saw a good two dozen enthusiasts gather for a weekend of debating, brainstorming and prototyping the social web of the future. Amongst a myriad of random inspirations, many of which for sure will find their way into projects of mine in the near future, I would like to summarize three main takeaways from this memorable weekend in Brighton [...]

Freshly arrived in Brighton and a breathtaking sunset at the seafront. Tomorrow morning: IndieWebCamp kick-off - exciting!

Bookmark: How to profit from your data and beat Facebook at its own game

Just getting started on reading up on the proceedings from the August #MyData conference in Helsinki. “The best outcome for personal data is that we all naturally think of data as we think of money,” says Lawrence [Neil Lawrence, University of Sheffield, UK]: some money we keep full control of, some we share with trusted […]

Bookmark: Discrimination by Design

A great read on how the long history of discrimination by design continues in the realm of the digital. It’s likely that as long as humans and their institutions hold prejudices and bias, their designs will reflect them. This upsets me every time I see yet another shiny digital product that embraces what its designers […]

Aug 2016

Bookmark: The Blog That Disappeared

I occasionally find myself accused of being overly critical of cloud services. Which I am not – per se. My critique is not about the technology and its undeniable potential, but about the terms at which it is provided …and the prevailing silence with which these are commonly accepted. The story of a blog of […]

Jul 2016

Bookmark: IoT Design Manifesto 1.0 – Guidelines for responsible design in a connected world

The IoT Design manifesto aims to set guidelines for responsible design in a connected world: We don’t believe the hype We design useful things We aim for the Win-Win-Win We keep everyone and every thing secure We build and promote a culture of privacy We are deliberate about what data we collect We make the […]

Bookmark: Ethical Web Development

It is easy for me to subscribe to each and every of Adam Scott’s Principles of Ethical Web Development: Web applications should work for everyone Web applications should work everywhere Web applications should respect a user’s privacy and security Web developers should be considerate of their peers Looking forward to his Ethical Web Development book […]

Bookmark: Solving All the Wrong Problems

Based on my experiences from teaching at Aalto University’s design department last fall, all hope is not lost on the issues this op-ed on the New York Times raises: If the most fundamental definition of design is to solve problems, why are so many people devoting so much energy to solving problems that don’t really […]

Data to Go

Cifas, a non-profit for fraud protection, recently published “Data to Go”, a brilliant candid camera clip. Passers-by are asked to “like” a coffee shop on Facebook in exchange for a cup of free coffee …and, as they will find out, a lot more: they receive a mug with all kind of written-out personal information – […]

> 1y ago

Bookmark: CoDesign Journey Planner

Based on 15 years of research, the INUSE research group at Aalto University created this “Co-design journey planner” that helps identify the most suitable research methods based on range of project variables: The problem is not finding just any approach, but sorting out which approach might suit you. […] Using the wrong method is a […]

Social media and usability – people-centred design in communications

Social media and usability are words rarely expressed in one sentence. Publishing in social media means adherence to a strict corset: the services limit the length of texts, unify the appearance of messages and profiles, and define the interactions enabled around them. If usability in only seen as a question of easy-to-use and smooth interfaces, the means to make an impact are indeed limited. But considering technical usability along with context of use and individual worth for the user, communication professionals can largely improve the usability of their organisations' social media channels.

“Own your data”, part IV: Avoiding search engines that track their users

What is happening as we "google" something is essentially that we are telling a huge corporation what is on our mind right now and we trust that this corporation then knows to lead us to exactly what we are looking for. As people become more and more aware that a corporation knowing every one of us so well is not a good thing, the concept of the meta search engine is seeing a renaissance. For the past year, I have almost exclusively been using alternative search engines. What started out as a self-experiment soon became such routine I almost forgot to write this blog post for my "Own your data" series. Maybe not quite able to compete with the smartest of full-text indexing algorithms, their power resides in the combination of several engine's results and in the obfuscation of the user's identity [...]

Reply to a post by Rasmus Vuori

You might be interested to take a look at huginn, the self-hosted open source alternative to IFTTT: https://github.com/cantino/huginn

Favouriting a Tweet by Vuokko Aro

http://projects.aljazeera.com/2014/terms-of-service/

The digitally blindfolded: smartphone zombies and the devaluation of social presence

Busy interacting with their media or contacts on the internet, what I call the "digitally blindfolded" barely notice the imminent danger of death as they stumble around on bike paths and between motorized traffic. The apparent trend towards total extraction from the physical space makes me uncomfortable and I can't help but wonder what is going on here [...]

The #1 limitation of privacy-friendly Google Analytics alternative @Piwik, lack of event tracking, is now history: As Matthieu Aubry, founder of the open analytics platform, today commented on my blog post “Privacy-Aware Design: Replacing Google Analytics with a decentralized alternative” from February, Piwik now features the long requested event tracking. This is a major step to […]

Creating meaning in the abandoned – a perspective on disenchantment with the new

The short film “Follow Me on Dead Media – Analog Authenticities in Alternative Skateboarding Scene” by Joonas Rokka, Pekka Rousi and Vessi Hämäläinen presents their research on an alternative skateboarding scene in Helsinki. It is a so-called videography – academic ethnographic research using video as a method (for an intro on the academic methodology debate, […]

Reply to a post by Hannah Stewart

You may want to check out @ownCloud – the latest version offers collaborative editing amongst other features to move your data from hosted services to your own server: owncloud.org

Bookmark: Design Research Techniques

The blog at Experientia points to this convenient tool providing quick access to design research methods, divided into six project phases: This online repository is a necessarily unfinished and evolving resource for Participatory Design Techniques. These techniques help evolve a project lifecycle through participation of multiple stakeholders including potential users or audiences, partners Not all […]

Subtraction with a purpose – “undesign” as a strategy for sustainable design

Creating something that has not existed before is at the core of the activity named "design". Yet sometimes, not creating something is the best way to create something. The thought of "undesign" - maybe not using that term in such reflected manner - is nothing new to most designers: a designer given the task to solve a certain challenge might well come to the conclusion that creating something new is not the best solution. [...]

Ignoring social inequality in design: poor customer experience

As sociologists, we frequently use inequality as a lens to examine various dimensions of social life. A blog post by Jenny L. Davis illustrates how the non-use of technology (in this particular instance, due to lack of access) may not only be a manifestation of the so called “digital divide” – the topic of the […]

The “Minimum Actionable Dataset” – a strategy to reduce data obesity?

With the constantly decreasing threshold to gather, process and store more and more data points, ever more bits and pieces of information are translated into bytes and stored away on the never-ending harddrives of the so called "cloud". Undeniably, there is great potential in data. However, the question needs to be asked: How much data is too much data? In the fight to reverse the trend of excessive and uncontrolled storage of personal data and to put its human owners into focus through distributed solutions, a discussion on "data obesity" and approaches like MAD should be part of any design process involving user data. [...]

MoMo – the anxiety that strikes when friends become non-users

The impact of social technology’s non-use on its users is sometimes abstract to explain. But every now and then, the issue surfaces in very accessible manner as in an editorial piece by Radhika Sanghani on the Telegraph. While active social media users, through constant sharing of detailed accounts from their lives, can cause their friends […]

In the light of latest Facebook announcements, today is a good day to think about “privacy-aware design” …

In the light of latest Facebook announcements, today is a good day to think about “privacy-aware design” for real – everytime I read such news I feel great discomfort to see just how relevant this privacy work is… In my ongoing blog series, I am exploring ways to create websites that do not leak their […]

Favouriting a Tweet by Eija Lehtomäki

Tänään @sebastiangreger puhuu käytettävyydestä #diko5 koulutuksessa ja @TainaHanikka sanoi maailman olevan erilainen tämän jälkeen

Bookmark: Remote Usability and UX Research Tools

An exhaustive list of (commercial) tools for remote user/UX research, compiled in five categories: self-moderated tools (users execute tasks on their own, recorded for later analysis) mobile tools (a short but growing category of options) automated tools (providing enhanced analytics while test subjects use a site) moderated tools (remotely facilitated testing sessions) surveys (for self-reported […]

“Disconnectionists” – the institutionalisation of non-use?

Back in November, Nathan Jurgenson, the scholar who earlier coined the term “digital dualism” to describe (and challenge) the belief that online and offline lifes are separate entities, wrote an article on The New Inquiry titled “The disconnectionists”. The essay examines the philosophy of people promoting the benefit of consciously disconnecting from digital networks for […]

An audience/context-conscious POSSE syndication plugin for WordPress

In my January post titled Identity, content, audience and the (independent) web, I described the approach of using a self-owned website as the primary place to publish online content, while sending out (“syndicating”) copies of the content to social platforms. My motive was to reflect on some of the implicit social aspects. In the discussion […]

“Own your data”, part III: Moving calendar and contacts into my ownCloud

Along with the purchase of my Android phone came the convenience of a free and easy cloud back-up of my phone contacts and seamless synchronization with Google Calendar. However, I have since become more wary about whom I want to share my data with. I decided that it was time to say goodbye to Google and try out ownCloud, the open source software package for hosting one's own cloud services. [...]

Privacy-Aware Design: Opt-in alternatives for social media sharing

My previous post on Privacy-Aware Design ("Replacing Google Analytics with a decentralized alternative") discussed the inherent privacy issue when a private corporation is able to track users around a large part of the internet. I presented how the provision of a free service with undeniable benefits for website owners has led to a situation where Google is able to track any internet user around half of the web and that it happens without explicit consent of the end-users (who may only protect themselves from being tracked by browser privacy add-ons). Following the same train of thought, the next topic in this series are social media integration practices. [...]

Privacy-Aware Design: Replacing Google Analytics with a decentralized alternative

In late 2005, Google started to provide free access to a web analytics product based on the previously expensive Urchin software suite. In the seven years since, this strategy succeeded to get Google Analytics tracking code included in a stunning share of websites by providing access to a powerful tool at (seemingly) no cost for everyone from big corporations to hobbyist bloggers. "Oh, and we'll of course add Google Analytics to the site" is a common phrase in the context of a web project, by large agencies and teenage family webmasters alike: Google has managed to define their product as an implicit standard for visitor analysis on the web. Adding the tracking code is easy and the data the service provides is of unquestionable quality. Yet, privacy advocates have long pointed out the serious implications of one corporation being able to track users around such a massive slice of the internet [...]

“Own your data”, part II: Using Ghostery to keep my browsing trail private

While browsing around the internet, data is not only transferred from web servers to our screens, but also in the other direction: mostly invisible to the user, code embedded in websites sends usage data back to the provider of the website and to third-party services. Working with websites, their design and technical infrastructure on a daily basis, I have always been aware of this. Regardless, the scale of this practice makes me shudder every time I activate the Mozilla Lightbeam plugin (formerly known as Collusion) that visualizes all the tracking providers outside of visited web services [...]

Making the case for “Privacy-Aware Design”

On January 28, Data Privacy Day encouraged everyone to make protecting privacy and data a greater priority; a good trigger to start a long-planned series on some things I have been working on over the last year. With "Privacy-Aware Design", I aim to create a discussion around privacy as encountered by interaction designers on the UI/UX level. I consider it important to acknowledge that the protection of users' information is not just rooted in the service concept (data collection, sharing, visibility) or purely an engineering challenge in the background (encryption, access control, data storage in general), but that privacy is also deeply affected by design decisions on the user-facing interfaces of internet services. [...]

Identity, content, audience and the (independent) web

My text on “fixing the internet” from two weeks ago triggered an inspiring online discussion with Michael Dlugosch, through which kind of a working hypothesis has started to emerge for me. In a first attempt to paraphrase: The question of how to create/restore a more open web providing control over one’s own representation hovers around three core issues: identity, content, and audience. It needs to be considered how an independent identity is being established, how users control their content and how they can build and cater to an audience despite independent ownership of identities and full control over content. Not quite coincidentally, the discussion has touch points with debates going on in many places. [...]

“Own your data”, part I: Bringing the bookmarks home from the cloud

The archives reveal it was October 2005 when I started to use Delicious to collect my bookmarks, at a time where I had to use various computers daily. Four years later, competitor Ma.gnolia lost all user data, marking the first occasion that I (along with a shaken community of their users) questioned the value of cloud services for storing personal data. Yet, both for lack of alternatives and for being lazy, I kept using Delicious - though making regular backups a habit. Today, we live 2014 and it is time to move on; more specifically, time to reclaim ownership over my bookmarks and to host them myself. Naturally, having grown used to a cloud service, a suitable web-based replacement had to be found. [...]

@aaronpk Hi! I used https://github.com/aaronpk/Wordpress-Bookmarks/ as seed for a personal plugin. Now considering to share it; unsure abt license: is reuse ok? Thx

2014 – time to fix the internet?!

Within the last year, and increasingly during recent weeks, a recurring theme in writings from web design commentators has been that the web is in an unhealthy state and needs some care. Maybe most prominently, Anil Dash's "The web we lost" from November 2012 is a wake-up call to everybody working with the web to recall where it originally came from and the opportunities it provided. More recently, Jeremy Keith has summarised the debate in his article "In dependence". [...]

Using while not using: social interaction on auto-pilot

A patent document was published by the US Patent and Trademark Office on November 19, describing a system developed at Google that analyses a user’s accounts on social network sites in order to provide half-automated reactions to relevant activity within these. From the patent description: There is no requirement for the user to set reminders […]

The job anniversary that wasn’t

A few days ago, I noticed an interesting item on my LinkedIn feed that serves to illustrate one of the instances how non-use may manifest itself in social web services. A message featured in the news feed encouraged me (and likely a large number of others) to congratulate a former colleague for her 5 year […]

Leaving the phone behind: Intentional disconnect and the appropriation of “flight mode”

“Leave your phone behind”, a recent writing by a NYC startup CEO on LinkedIn gained quite a bit of traffic and comments when Rafat Ali suggested to create short periods of disconnection from the omnipresent network and its distracting forces. Both in the article and the 100+ comments by the readers, there is a sense […]

Facebook non-use: An explorative study on practices and motivations

A paper titled “Limiting, Leaving, and (re)Lapsing: an Exploration of Facebook Non-Use Practices and Experiences” by Eric P.S. Baumer et al., presented in May at CHI 2013 (slides), sheds some light on the practices of Facebook non-use and people’s experiences with them. While the presented numbers on the prevalence of Facebook non-use are knowingly not […]

Reply to a post by Johanna Koljonen

@jocxy Thank you for sharing your thoughts! We are not designing interactions but the spaces for them. Interesting conference topic as well!

Have-nots and want-nots – a taxonomy of voluntary and involuntary non-users

About 10 years ago, technology researchers started to discuss voluntary non-use in contrast to the prevailing assumption that non-use is an involuntary state. In their 2002 book chapter “They came, they surfed, they went back to the beach: Conceptualizing use and non-use of the internet”, Sally Wyatt, Graham Thomas and Tiziana Terranova suggest a “taxonomy […]

Scarcity of personal time resources as a reason for quitting Facebook?

The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project published some interesting non-use related numbers related to Facebook, in a report titled “Coming and Going on Facebook”: 61% of current Facebook users say that at one time or another in the past they have voluntarily taken a break from using Facebook for a period of […]

Where is the saturation point in social media penetration?

Earlier this year, some media outlets pinpointed that the Facebook user statistics published by social media analytics platform Socialbakers would indicate a decrease in the absolute number of “Monthly active Facebook users” over the last six months in the US, Indonesia and the UK. Even though the data indicated growth to continue at even two-digit […]

Some people stopped using the internet already 15 years ago

Looking at the trace of “non-users” in the history of technology research, the work of James E. Katz and Ronald E. Rice is not to be missed. In their 2002 book “Social consequences of Internet use: access, involvement, and interaction” , they describe a research project which – as an unexpected side product – brought forth […]

Reducing social distance through co-design

Public healthcare in Finland is based on the provision of tax-funded services, which, in times of limited public finances and an ageing population, translates into a demand that often exceeds available resources. Since municipalities are legally obliged to provide their services equally within binding time frames and at a predefined level of quality, there is a strong demand for solutions that will help cut costs, optimise the utilisation of available resources and save on expensive treatments through preventive care. The book "Designing for Wellbeing", published by Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, summarizes a broad range of design projects carried out during the World Design Capital year in Helsinki 2012. In the chapter "Reducing social distance through co-design", Zagros Hatami and I share our observations from our involvement in three co-design projects related to the provision of better public health care by means of information technology.

Reply to a post by Tuomo Sihvola

@tsihvola IMHO news biz would need to redefine their value proposition. “Breaking news, haven’t you heard, is broken” http://buzzmachine.com/2013/04/22/and-now-the-news-heres-what-we-dont-know-at-this-hour/

RT @Seersucker_Mag: Great piece on leaving phones behind. “Dance the Smartphone Tango Without Me” http://nyti.ms/YEUnEG  via @nytimes

Ubicomp vs. “interface culture”: RT @danlockton: No to NoUI: wise piece on invisibility & its problems by @timoarnall http://bit.ly/WHhoLq

Designing for social interaction – value and experience beyond the interface

The IxDA Helsinki October meeting was an evening filled with discussions about the current state of interaction design, the industry and new ideas. Paavo Westerberg rocked the house with an insightful and lively presentation about 15 Golden Rules for creative processes and event host Idean shared some impressions by their US-based staff in a video […]

Social littering: When “social media” turns friends into spambots

“Press ‘Like’ and win an iPad”. “Share your workouts with your friends”. “Complete your profile to tell more about yourself”. Digital services bubble over with calls for users to share more about themselves, about products and people they like as well as about their digital traces from software tools or web services. The primary motivation […]

What a Dutch street intersection can teach us about social interaction design

Do you remember the times before mobile phones and the internet? The most instant technology for distance communication was the land-line telephone: Devices were spread out around the country, connected by wires, and a voice connection could be established between them by entering a numerical code. Yet, this simple technology allowed for a stunningly rich […]

Thoughts on online social networking, its carbon footprint and sustainability

Always interested in discovering new motives for non-standard forms of technology use (or its non-use), I recently ran into an interesting argumentation that online communication may be harmful to the environment due to its use of electricity. It all started when a friend of mine posted an update on Facebook, announcing that she would “take […]

Why research on non-users is relevant in B2C business

Ever since I first read the publication on the 2010 study of communication technology use by Finland’s official statistics service (Tilastokeskus), I thought it would be great to visualise some of the data contained. In particular, I wanted to dissect the “official” numbers on the use of SNSs in Finland and put them into context […]

The Absent Peer – Non-users in Social Interaction Design

This research aims to provide a framework for the consideration of non-users in the context of social interaction design (SxD), in particular for the design of social network sites (SNSs). The theory of “The Absent Peer” consists of two core concepts, presenting the network aspect and the sociality aspect how non-use influences SNS concepts. Herein, the focus of the work is on the discovery of the impact of non-use rather than on its reasons. Building on the insights from the study, this report presents the conceptual considerations for the creation of valuable SNS concepts that acknowledge non-use as a permanent and complex phenomenon of social reality. The work is based on the sociological perspective of symbolic interactionism. Social interaction design is presented as a practice within the discipline of interaction design, with its goals defined through a discussion on user value and worth-centred design.

When sites promise privacy but deliver leaks instead – a designer’s view on Firesheep

The release of Eric Butler’s Firesheep, a browser add-on allowing to hijack browser sessions over unsecured wireless networks without any technical expertise, has triggered a flood of commentary how users may protect themselves. However, while protecting their own connection makes a user safe from having their account hijacked, this leaves the core issue unsolved: As […]

The International School on Digital Transformation 2009 – a global network of scholars & professionals

When ISDT09 ended with a farewell dinner at a Porto wine cave on Friday, July 24, everybody I talked to had similar feelings – the school had been a highly inspiring event, connecting many people from all over the world and raising questions that for sure have been further discussed and advanced between the participants since then. In other words, both organizers and participants agreed the summer school was a big success.

Logout is not an option. Normative and rational aspects of availability in the mobile phone society.

The penetration of mobile phones among young adults in Finland is close to 100%. Nearly everybody is permanently connected to a huge network of computer-mediated communication. This thesis is a phenomenologically based case study about normative and rational behaviour of mobile phone users concerning availability and network connectivity. The role of the mobile phone in society is described from a micro-sociological perspective. With a special focus on related aspects of interaction theory, society is presented as a network of interactions that is being enhanced through the mobile phone, consequently leading towards an "online society". In this work, social norms are explained to be the regulating element of conduct. They are internalised and considered part of the rational orientation that the rational choice theory defines as the decisive element of individual behaviour. Qualitative interviews with nine students between 21 and 24 years of age investigate the reasons and patterns of behaviour for remaining permanently connected to the mobile phone network. The method applied is a derived form of focussed interviews.

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