Approaching Concepts

August 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

Following the presentation of a narrow range of concepts, we were introduced to different introductory waypoints to explore concepts.

These were:

  • Need.
  • Form.
  • Technology.
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Whereas ‘need’ was the predominant entry point to a concept, a concept can-not exist without two of these elements. All three are required for a product. (See product management reading).

As such, ideas can be generated through moments of insight, observation, or the analysis of data (especially looking at expert works).

In generating ideas, one must keep in mind that Group Creativity is Benefitial, and, at least initially, no ideas are bad. The more ridiculous and wacky the better!

Other methods include forcing ideas and stimulai together (turn the tv to a random channel). And the most cited; simple ‘lateral thinking’, trying to see something and address it from as many point of views as possible.

Malcom Gladwell’s “What the Dog Saw”, though not as related, provides some interesting perspectives on different things through psychological and marketing annecdotes.

HCE – Ideas

August 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

Ideas for a project centred on new human computer experiences, and the internet of things.

Need for Needfinding

August 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

Assigned reading included:

  • Chapters 4 and 5 of New Products Management.
  • Paitnik, D., and Becker, R. (1999) Needfinding: The Why and How of Uncovering Peopleʼs Needs, Design Management Journal, 10(2), 37-43.
  • Preface, Ch1,2 of ‘Getting Started with Arduino’
Havn’t had the chance to check out ‘New Products Management’ from the library yet, on my short todo list.
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The Needfinding article was an extremely well written and useful article. It served as a great reminder to the important lessons taught in user interaction design.
Arduino brief. It reminded me of the need for user observation and why focusing on needs are important:
  • Needs last longer than any specific solution. Therefore, we must look beyond the immediately solvable problem.
  • Needs are obvious after the fact, not before. “People become acclimated to their problems, often developing work-arounds to circumvent a need. In doing so, they can become oblivious to the need’s existence.1”
An article on some practical advice in direct observation was also linked.
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The introduction to ‘Getting Started with Arduino’, was inspiring, especially it’s take on leveraging existing hardware (and software) to experiment and create.

Technological Progress – Good or Bad?

August 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

( Aside: The lecture began by repeating the studio theme of hacking the physical world, touching on the constantly growing space in-between the virtual and the physical. )

Our technology, as a society are progressing in a measurable sense. There are both optimistic and pessimistic views to this movement.

Matt Ridley writes in “The Rational Optimist”, that we are in fact richer than Louis XIV due to our increasing, sometimes specialised, division of labour. This is due to the principles of “Comparative Advantage” (strength of ideas through the division of tasks amongst a suitably economic (big) population). Ridley also writes of the evolutionary nature of ideas, where a few can genetically reproduce better ideas, known as the “Ratchet Effect”.

Pessimistic views of technological progress are put forward in Jared Diamond’s “Collapse”, along with Ronal Wright’s “A Short History of Progress”. Diamond mentions that when agriculture was developed, there was an unhealthy lack of diversity of food sources, though allowed success on a social level. The self-inflicted and natural collapses of societies of Easter Island and Tasmania are also presented.

What about culture-as-evolution? Memes (ideas, behaviours or styles that spreads from person to person within a culture) could potentially be a more balanced approach to progress, even though many things such as art, music, etc. don’t appear to aid in evolutionary development. Richard Dawkins’ “The Selfish Gene”, Richard Brodie’s “Virus of the Mind” and Richard and Boyd’s “Not by Genes Alone” discuss evolution through culture. Understanding evolutionary psychology will help explain culture and technology.

Some interesting readings:

“Technology is constantly improving and enriching our lives. For example we are all healthier, wealthier and happier than Louis XIV. This is possible because of both innovation and an increasing division of labour, related to the idea of comparative advantage.”
– Ridley, “The Rational Optimist”,
Ridley on Ted Talks: When Ideas have Sex

“Meme theory. The idea that the law of survival of the fittest applies to culture. The most successful behaviours and ideas may not be the ones that are best for us, they can also be parasitic (e.g., drug addiction).”
– Dawkins, “The Selfish Gene”,
(Chapter 11 of the Selfish Gene – discussing the idea of memes – link).
– Sperber, “Seedless Grapes”, (pdf)

“The internet has helped us move from passive to participatory creative media, with everyone now creating content. This has resulted in an increase rather than a decrease in the quality of these outputs.”
– Shirky, “Cognitive Surplus”,
Shirky on Ted Talks: How Cognitive Surplus will change the World

“We have always been cyborgs. Even fire, wheels and clothes are examples of humans-as-cyborgs. But some of the latest innovations have been much more “cognitive”, extending the activities of the human mind.”
– Clark, “Natural Born Cyborgs”
– Laland, “Niche Construction, Human Behaviour and the Adaptive Lag Hypothesis” (∞)

“Showing off, gossiping and bonding with friends are some of the most important things that humans do.”
– Miller, “The Mating Mind”
– Dunbar, “The Social Brain Hypothesis” (link)

The Linked Ted Talks:

Ridley on Ted Talks: When Ideas have Sex 

Shirky on Ted Talks: How Cognitive Surplus will change the World 

DECO3200 – Introduction

July 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

{ This is a student blog for the subject “Human Computer Experience Studio” at USYD (the University of Sydney), taught by Dr Oliver Brown, Semester 2 2011. }

Hi, I’m interested in User Interaction and Experience Design, with specific regards to handling mass data (through such areas as information visualisation and context awareness).
– Han

Today the class watched an interesting talk from the conference “Future Everything“, by speaker Bill Thompson (a technology writer for the Guardian newspaper in the UK).


Bill Thompson covered many areas, the beauty of information visualisation, ubiquitous computing, the growing “space between the real and the virtual”, visual cognition and our (needed) adaption to digital tools as designers of the future).

Thompson made several themed statements in his talk (which I have personally expanded upon):

“As technology becomes more sophisticated it disappears from view, and becomes an invisible part of the environment that we inhabit.”

This has been witnessed in such maturing technologies as gesture-based input and has been witnessed in the predicted evolutions of other technologies (especially those involving artificial intelligence). However, technologies (more predominantly computer-science rooted areas) such as object and voice recognition, and virtual assistants (such as Clippy and Siri) often neglect the user experience (and testing) and become more like obstructions.

“Hackers are returning to the physical world after a “brief sojourn in the digital world”.”
This is definitely true, with the growing accessibility to various sensors, the age of the “internet of things” has become predominant through makers and dabblers.

“We are now developing computing technology that serves your purposes instead of you having to figure out how to work the technology.”
This is also true, whereas computers were once seen to only be usable by younger intellectuals. Such inevitable advancements like the GUI, cheapening of computer chips (and embedding into more everyday objects (microwaves,clocks)), multitouch gestures, tangible interfaces etc. have striven to make technology more accessible to the average consumer.

“When writing was invented, major changes took place to our relationship with information: similar changes are taking place today. “

Writing changed how we Delivered information, through scrolls, letters and so forth. Similarly technology has changed our pace and methods of communication.
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