• Discussing design ethics at World Usability Day Hamburg 2018

    This year's World Usability Day featured "Design for Good or Evil", and I got the opportunity to attend the Hamburg edition of this always-inspiring global community event. With a topic so close to my heart, it was great to attend a range of sessions surrounding design ethics and meet interesting people.

  • IxDA Berlin #69: Inclusion and diversity – first hand

    25 September 2018 marked the first World Interaction Design Day, running under the global theme of “Diversity and Inclusion in Design”. The Berlin IxDA chapter arranged an inspiring event, inviting two speakers who examine these issues both personally and professionally. My preferred conference talks are commonly those with a personal story behind. The latest IxDA […]

  • Bookmark: Software disenchantment

    This is "design" turned upside down - complete ignorance for the user. Bigger, more complex, poor performance. Wasn't the main reason we are doing this to solve people's problems, not create new ones?

  • Bookmark: On Weaponised Design

    This may well be the most comprehensive article I’ve read this year so far on the topic of the ethical responsibility of designers. Its author, Cade, discusses “weaponised design”: “electronic systems whose designs either do not account for abusive application or whose user experiences directly empower attackers”. The role of designers is put at the […]

  • UX for users with cookies disabled – a neat example

    The design takes into account privacy-conscious users with cookies disabled. When closing the notification popup, the user learns that by using an alternative URL, they can reach a version of the site without the notification

  • Bookmark: The Looming Digital Meltdown

    In her spot-on meta-explanation (sociologists to the rescue!) of the recently revealed security flaws affecting almost any processor used in today’s computers, Zeynep Tufekci delivers a chilling analysis why, as a citizen of a world in which digital technology is increasingly integrated into all objects — not just phones but also cars, baby monitors and […]

  • Talk: “Designing away the cookie disclaimer”

    My lightning talk from the beyond tellerrand Berlin warm-up on 2017-11-06: privacy as a core aspect of ethical UX design. "Don’t ask yourself 'does what we are doing require a cookie banner', but instead do something that respects the spirit of these privacy rules in the first place."

  • 2+2(+n) beyond tellerrand talks to watch – Berlin 2017

    Early November is beyond tellerrand time in Berlin – the cosy web and design conference hosted by Marc Thiele. Despite something like 500 attendants, this two-day event feels like a family reunion – and just like last year, the talks on offer were nothing short of mindblowing. A friend, yet to attend one of these […]

  • Bookmark: Faded Pictures

    The ever-brilliant Real Life magazine today features a story by Kristen Martin about the ephemerality of digital narratives when third parties are entrusted with their preservation. This is a story about the experience of accruing personal documentation in a space that is not taking serious care of it: That an external force — one I […]

  • “Keeping the human in the loop, and in control” – keynote on AI by Norbert A. Streitz at #WUDBerlin 2017

    Norbert A. Streitz' keynote at the World Usability Day Berlin 2017 was a great sample of critical enthusiasm for technology – an approach I share, yet sometimes struggle to justify as people see it as being against technological advances in general.

  • Bookmark: ‘Our minds can be hijacked’: the tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopia

    Reading why techies stop to use technology they themselves have created highlights how a lack in consideration of the long-term impact of technological advancements can damage not just products and brands, but potentially society at large.

  • Bookmark: What is Sustainable Web Design?

    As we click away on our screens and devices, it’s easily forgotten all this consumes natural resources – directly or indirectly: Bloated websites lead to slow load times, frustrated users and wasted energy. This microsite lists four aspects of sustainable web design and links to a few interesting resources: Findability Performance optimisation Design & user […]

  • Tracking is so much more than just cookies

    The issue with tracking is not only one of obvious trackers but that, at least in theory, every piece of content loaded from other sites than the originating domain enables some degree of tracking.

  • The Prototype Fund Demo Day #1 – or: How I got inspired and felt reminded of my student days

    The Prototype Fund (PF), a government-funded programme run by the Open Knowledge Foundation (OKFN), invited to the Demo Day of projects from the first round of their programme, and a mixed crowd of participants and others assembled in a former-crematorium-turned-event-space in Berlin on the last day of August to see results from 14 different projects. […]

  • Bookmark: For the Moment

    Largely building upon queer theory and its understanding of temporality, “For the moment” by Benjamin Haber elaborates on yet another aspect of human life that the digital economy believes to be able to solve by introducing a simple binary. As it is being understood that the default of public and/or permanent does not meet all […]

  • Bookmark: When services harm people

    Following introductory words on “service needs” and “business needs” vs. “user needs”, Maria Izquierdo and Martin Jordan showcase some instances where data is (even in breach of legal contracts) collected against users’ interest and with the potential to harm them. The responsibility for avoiding such issues, they state, lies with those designing these systems: If […]

  • 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 – […]

  • 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 […]

  • 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: 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 […]

  • 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 […]

  • 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 […]

  • 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 […]

  • 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 [...]

  • 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, […]

  • 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 […]

  • “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 […]

  • 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 […]

  • 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 […]

  • 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.

  • 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 […]

  • 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.

  • 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.