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Showing posts from 2015

Book note: Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom

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The question of intelligent machines has always fascinated me. And obviously not just me. There is a huge number of sci-fi books and movies built on the idea that machines surpasses humans as the most intelligent 'species' on earth. It is of course a wonderful idea to develop since it opens up for an array of possible futures. As someone who works with technology and the design of technology, the question of intelligent machines is of course not only entertaining--it is a serious question that deserves serious treatments.

In the book "Superintelligence--paths, dangers, strategies", Nick Bostrom a philosopher, among other things, presents a serious attempt to explore the notion of 'superintelligence', that is, machines that are more intelligent than humans. Bostrom discusses how we can define and understand superintelligence, the possible ways for it to become real, and what the consequences would be if it actually happened. It is one of the most thoughtful tre…

Leaving Facebook

Today I closed my account on Facebook. I did that a few years ago but then reactivated it again. I don't know if that will happen again, but I do not think so. I have slowly 'starved' my Facebook during this last year. I started to unfollow (not unfriend) people I did not want to read updates from. Then I became more strict and unfollowed most students and colleagues and old acquaintances. Lately I have only kept my close family members and some good friends. And now I deactivated my account, I kind of unfollowed myself. So, for now, no Facebook...

And since I am doing this, I also deactivated my Twitter account that I really never use anyway.

So, I am not on any social media anymore....

Influential bloggers in interaction/UX design

In my class my students had an assignment where they had to analyze two blogs by people who work within the fields of UX design, interaction design and related areas. They had to read a substantial number of post on each blog and then compare them. Very interesting results. In many professional fields today, professionals who blog about their profession and practice have a huge influence on the field. Here are some of the most popular bloggers that my students selected and analyzed. An interesting list in itself.

Aaron WalterDesign leader @ Mailchimp Luke WroblewskiProduct director @ Google Mike MonteiroMule Medium Jared SpoolUser Interface Engineering Matt WebbBERG London Kevin GauntIntern at IDEO Simon PanUber Julie ZhuoFacebook Meng ToHeyzap Catriona CornettInspireUX Jenny ReavesUX designer Andy FitzgeraldUX architect Jack MoffetInteraction Designer Michael J. Darnell@BadDesignsCOM Nils SköldUX Designer   Karl VredenburgIBM Tobias van SchneiderSpotify David AireyGraphic designer Na…

Are you looking for great UX designers

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Our MS program in HCI design students are planning their yearly employer event again in February. See info below. If your company is interested, get in touch with Kate (info below). Help spreading this to anyone who may be interested.


Some new readings...

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I have a habit of ordering books that I find interesting and then they show up on my desk. It is great to have a stack of unread but exciting new (and sometimes old) books, even though it can also be a bit stressful since there is no time really to read them. But at least, I can show them...


Donald Schön – some reflections on his popularity

[This is a text a wrote many years ago for a workshop devoted to the work of Donald Schön. Is has been published in Swedish but I don't think in English. I apologize for the language in this text. This is also too long for a blog post but... A PDF version of this text can be downloaded here.]

Donald Schön – some reflections on his popularity "Working methodically is the order of the day, and during this collective work in closed ranks it can happen that individuals forget to make use of their finest, most individual gifts. Their thoughts are for a time completely occupied with the task at hand, the one most available for being carried out according to plan. They become removed and lose feeling for that which is less tangible and only with difficulty perceivable, and as such for some questions they no longer have the necessary refinement." (Hans Larsson, 1892, Swedish philosopher, my translation)

The scientific approach creates endless…

What makes a research prototype/system a knowledge contribution?

Once again I have been involved in discussions on what is the role of a prototype or a demo system in HCI research. What is it that makes a prototype or a system valuable in itself and when do we know that it is a knowledge contribution? These are old questions in our field that for instance Jack Carroll and others discussed over a decade ago. However, I do not think we have a good answer to any of these questions.

I wrote a blog post on this earlier
http://transground.blogspot.com/2015/01/what-makes-prototype-novel.html
where I talked about a paper I wrote with Mikael Wiberg where we tried to answer or at least approach these questions. Unfortunately, I have not seen a lot of discussions lately and would like to see more people engage in this topic. It is crucial for our field when it comes to how we evaluate papers, demos and system at conferences, etc.

[If anyone has some good references, please send them to me.]

Paul Dourish comments on our article "Faceless Interaction"

I have earlier on this blog mentioned the article "Faceless Interaction" (see ref below). The article was recently published and we are both happy and honored that Paul Dourish has written a commentary on our article in the same journal (see ref below).

Dourish writes "In their article on faceless interaction, Janlert and Stolterman offer us an examination of a foundational concept in interaction design that is both generative in the conversations that it provokes and surprising for the fact that such examinations are not undertaken more often."

Dourish continues "Their examination is driven primarily by a need for conceptual foundations,
rather than an empirical effort to grapple with new interaction modalities, although
of course the rise of surface-based interactive devices, the increasing use of speech
and free-form gestural technologies, and the decentered interactional style of ubiquitous
computing all point toward a need to recognize the importance of w…

Amazon Echo investigations

I have now had an Amazon Echo since May (see post) and it is amazing how many questions about the future of HCI the use of this device leads to, especially in relation to what Lars-Erik Janlert and I call "faceless interaction" (see earlier post). I am convinced that Echo is a type of device that in the next few years will fill our personal and private environments. Of course, it may be that devices such as Echo may disappear into the environment itself and be less distinguishable as a 'device' and become more a 'function' of the environment.

I have had the privilege to work for the last couple of month with a couple of excellent students who together with me are investigating Echo. We are trying to map what happens when people are confronted with 'faceless interaction' in the form of Echo. What do people do and think? How do they behave? And most interestingly, what questions about interaction in general does this lead to? We are starting to see some…

Core and target systems: HCI research and the measure of success

HCI research is usually seen an academic activity meant to create knowledge about interactive experiences between humans and computers, and about the technology that makes those experiences possible and about the process of shaping these technologies. Design of any artifact and system is complex and has to satisfy many requirements, needs, wants, and desires, which means that it is not easy to know how to measure the overall success of an interactive system. This means that the measure of success of HCI research is equally complex.

I will not discuss this problem at any length here, only mention one aspect that I frequently see manifested in papers, articles and in phd dissertations in the field.

We might call the artifact or the system that a HCI researcher is developing, studying, or evaluating for the core system and the (social) system where the design will be implemented and situated as the target system (or context or environment). For instance, if an interactive artifact is sup…

HCI Pioneers website

Ben Shneiderman is one of the most well known and highly respected researchers in HCI. His contributions to the field over the years are many and foundational. Now he has taken on the responsibility to collect and display what he calls the "HCI Pioneers". This is an excellent project and highly valuable since we, as a discipline, have to know and understand our background and history. Reading about these individuals will help all of us, and in particular I can see this site as a wonderful asset to new PhD students in the field.

Ben explains in an email the purpose and work behind this project like this:

"After 40 years of photography and two intense months of work, the website with 45 personal profiles & photos of leading human-computer interaction researchers and innovators is ready for public showing:

       “Encounters with HCI Pioneers: A Personal Photo Journal” http://hcipioneers.wordpress.com
My goal is to make HCI more visible and tell our history more widely.  T…

Faceless Interaction

I found out today that our article "Faceless Interaction - a conceptual examination of the notion of interface: past, present and future" is now published in print (see ref below). The Abstract of the article reads:

"In the middle of the present struggle to keep interaction complexity in check, as artifact complexity continues to rise and the technical possibilities to interact multiply, the notion of interface is scrutinized. First, a limited number of previous interpretations or thought styles of the notion are identified and discussed. This serves as a framework for an analysis of the current situation with regard to complexity, control, and interaction, leading to a realization of the crucial role of surface in contemporary understanding of interaction. The potential of faceless interaction, interaction that transcends traditional reliance on surfaces, is then examined and discussed, liberating possibilities as well as complicating effects, and dangers are pointed o…

Apps, products and misunderstandings of design

The design and development of apps has in many ways become easier over the years. Today there are tools and development kits that make it possible to fairly easy put an app together that actually works. The app can also easily be released on a market (if accepted by the 'platforms') . An app does not have to be manufactured, packaged and shipped.

At the same time, it seems as if many of today's most influential interactive products are actual products, that is, they are made of materials, have a shape and form and have to be manufactured. It is of course possible to see software design and product design as similar in the same way as we can see similarities between many design fields. But the similarity is usually on a more abstract level than seems to be usually understood.  Software design is, even though to some extent similar, it is radically different from product design.

In a great article about Silicon Valley industrial designers, Bill Webb (at Huge Design), is inte…

HCI research and the problems with the scientific method

A few years ago I read an article in the New Yorker about the phenomenon of 'declining truth'. I have been thinking about this article since then and today my PhD student found it and I had the chance to read it again (thanks Jordan). It is an article that asked critical questions about the scientific method in general and specifically about replicability. Reading this article today makes me reflect upon the present status of HCI research of course and its relation to the scientific method. Will come back to that.

The article is "The truth wears off -- is there something wrong with the scientific method?" by Jonah Lehrer. The article was published in 2010 so things may have changed a bit since then. The questions asked in the article are interesting and challenging to any science practitioner. The topic of the article is a phenomenon that has been described and discussed by several scientists over the last decades. It is by some called the "decline effect".…