People are great interfaces.

Characters Everywhere, a video feed from Stanford, illustrates its own point: why is it so much more fun to listen to a (good) lecture than to read an article? Some quotes:

The world is easy to learn in because it has a great interface: people. (They even personalise themselves)
– She then concludes a human interface for the internet would be a “Holy Grail”. I think she’s missing the point.
– The single most powerful thing you can do to increase learning is to give them a one to one tutor.

What makes me wonder: what are the elements that are in speech that aren’t reproduced in an article? Maybe trying to add these to the web (we got video, audio, the works!) would be better than try to recreate a human…

Some interfaces are kindof nice already: the Dell Service Assistant

Another interesting point is how conversations are predictable – constrained. She gives the example of the entertainment industry, who are very good at making us say-do certain things. What are the lessons here for web design? (Which are conversations as well in some ways)

Before seeing this, I was kindof against trying to simulate humans, maybe because I hadn’t see it work properly, and many demonstrations focus on technical issues (language recognition, 3D, …) – but I forgot about the “willing suspension of disbelief” – people want to believe.

Still, I think the social computing approach is a lot more interesting.

Now I’m thinking, when I send an automatic email, that kindof sounds like a real response, that’s the same thing. When I edit discussions to steer them in a certain direction, that’s influencing a conversation.

You can try some things out here.

The ongoing fascination with ethnographic techniques continues

Maybe it’s just my D844 exam (I can recommend this course – you can study from home) coming up this week.

From Intel ethnography:
CHI 97: Design Ethnography: Using Custom Ethnographic Techniques to Develop New Product Concepts (CHI 97)
Engineering Ethnography in the Home (CHI 96)
Getting Out of the Box: Ethnography Meets Real Life: Applying Anthropological Techniques to Experience Research (UPA 01)
From the dreams of children to the future of technology (The Independent – newspaper article)

There is lots more at this Google search for “Intel ethnography”.

Other good queries on Google:
IBM ethnography
Nokia ethnography
hewlett packard ethnography

Research, deliverables, process and the team

I was playing around with this fairly stream-of-consciousness kind of diagram to get a clearer picture of how the different types of research and deliverables you do as an IA feed into the process and the team.

The diagram definitely needs work, but I’d like to know how it compares to your practical experience as an IA. I’m not trying to define the perfect process here, just trying to clarify how things work in the messy real world. So if you have comments on how you work in a team, what deliverables and research and processes you find useful / not useful, go ahead!

I haven’t found a good way of showing the iterations and feedback between all the different research and team members yet. The two darker bits are the two main documents for signoff. (Visual design gets signed off as well)

It’s a bit big and messy, but look at it this way, at least it’s not a Venn diagram ;)