June 2009

Confusing Information with the Form

by Andy Polaine on June 29, 2009

in General

Information from MAYAnMAYA on Vimeo.

Lovely video from design and research consultancy MAYA on the difference between information and the form we give it.

I came across this on David Sherwin’s ChangeOrder blog in a post about moving beyond words for better brainstorming, which is also and interesting article. He asks why it is so hard to break people out of their regular ideation habits. Words are one problem, but it is also an issue of corporate and company culture, even within design agencies.

The rules of brainstorming are pretty much the opposite of what a usual business culture is. Working in a company that has a traditional hierarchy encourages sniping, competitive, uncooperative, pressured and role-based behaviour. It’s the way people “fight to the top”, create “creative competition” and so on.

It’s very hard to convince people to take suspending those habits seriously if they’re not taken seriously at a company culture level and we have come to consider that the normal way of working. Companies like IDEO or Pixar spend a lot of time and effort on not working this way. It’s no surprise that they are successful in this area and why so many other companies fail to bring ‘innovation’ into their culture, despite bringing in consultants who specialise in ‘innovation training’ or whatever the latest business buzzword is. The consultants, of course, are temporary blips, outside the main culture of the company, so easily dismissed after they have gone.

Much like MAYA’s video, you have to re-think what it is and means to work together, what the purpose and idea of a company is to really change its culture. A company is the form given to a group of people working together, but it is by no means the only, nor the best, form.

The Little Man in the Box

by Andy Polaine on June 25, 2009

in General

Hi from Multitouch Barcelona on Vimeo.

All of us anthropomorphise our machines, perhaps no more so than the car and the computer. Hi, A Real Human Interface from Multitouch Barcelona (an interaction design group that explores natural communication between people and technology) is a charming example of how we think about computers and interfaces from a human perspective.

Whatever we might know about the technology and how it works, we talk about the “server having some trouble” or our computers “having a bad day” or “going crazy”. We’re so biologically programmed for interaction to be with other beings, it’s very hard not to think of the little man in the box.

(Via @LukePittar and all the little people who run messages back and forth in the intertubes.)

Schematic and Public Multitouch Social Interaction

June 17, 2009

Touchwall Demo from Joel on Vimeo. Joel Johnson’s exclusive (on Vimeo?) video and interview with the folks at Schematic about their new touchwall shows them dealing with some interesting public multitouch issues. I hate the marketing crap that goes with it and the inevitable Minority Report reference (please, stop making that reference multitouch people), but […]

Read the full article →

Social Play

June 15, 2009

I’ve just finished up a chapter in my PhD about social play. Most of it is about online interaction, but quite a bit is about how to bring strangers together to make connections in public spaces. Serendipitously, Iain just posted this clip thanks to Knotty’s. If you don’t get why social networks work, watch this:

Read the full article →

Don Tapscott on the Demise of the University

June 4, 2009

Don Tapscott has a piece in Edge today called The Impending Demise of the University. In it he takes the same line that I have been for some time in Designing Education’s Future, The Future Isn’t What It Used To Be as well as the idea that Google isn’t making us dumb, smart is changing. […]

Read the full article →