• Bookmark: The Tyranny of Convenience

    This NYT op-ed by Tim Wu speaks to me in so many ways. It links my fascination for research on technology non-use with what I call a "constructively critical approach" to interaction design, and justifies all the countless days invested in debates on the Indieweb, on discussions about decentralisation and empowerment, on considering alternatives to mainstream solutions and working to promote the value of design ethics.

  • 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: The Future is (not) a Problem

    Niall Docherty and Dave Young look at the “crises” of our technological era as described and “solved” by the big tech giants of today and present their critical call for understanding these design fictions as what they are: narratives that aim to establish new markets for their products. The challenge of connecting all the “disconnected” […]

  • 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 […]

  • 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 […]

  • 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 […]

  • “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 […]

  • 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 […]

  • 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 […]

  • 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.