The unexpected, choices and the filter bubble

First, let’s paint a scenario. People are getting information from web every day and since then, this content seems to be shaped for them, according to their previous choices. With this, people that have the same interest are meeting up and sharing experiences. Also web companies are giving people tailored services, based on their profile.
It seems cliché blaming technology to take us privacy, unexpected discoveries and choices. If you say that you don’t have more privacy, then, it’s Facebook’s fault, for example. But, well, you can choose not sharing your life on the internet… Can’t you? So, what is that all about?

The bubble
The filter bubble is a situation when you have this sensation of being sealed in a world full of the same opinions. Imagine this: you are interested about elections and you want to know more about the candidates. So, you search for their names. With that, the search robot will see, well, you have this type of ideas, so I’m going to show you more about it. That’s one feature of the filter bubble. Because you’ve made a choice in the past, then the machine filters will show you content that seems to be more relevant to you.
If you didn’t have the opportunity to watch Eli Pariser’s TED talk, I suggest you to do this now. Pariser created the concept of filter bubble on 2011 and also published a book with the same name. He said “Personalization is based on a bargain. In exchange for the service of filtering, you hand large companies an enormous amount of data about your daily life–much of which you might not trust your friends with.” Well, this means that we must be aware of the data we are sharing in the web. But, do we really have a choice? That’s one point of this discussion and I don’t have an answer. Maybe yes, we do and we are choosing to see more relevant content, why not?

Another point is about experiencing serendipity moments. Where can we find the unexpected? Where is the moment when you discover something really new? Magic happens out of our comfort zone, right? So, if we stay tied up in our opinions, we will be safe and flat. And, well, that doesn’t seem creative, because we lose the opportunity to discover new ideas to problem-solving. Living in this paradox is very complicated.
It seems pessimistic, but I think we are allowing this to happen. Well, you can filter things according from your interests. Why not? But you must be aware that if you choose to see one side of your idea, you will be losing other opportunities. That’s the nature of choice. And I also think that unexpected moments are not random. They should have a little logic inside it. They are insightful.

Choices and logic
Well, I think choices are related to actions, logic and complexity. Too many choices can create confusing or frustrating experiences and normally you think before choosing (unless you are guessing the lottery’s numbers). In my opinion, if we can see logic in choice, than we can try to develop some insightful experiences.

Maybe it’s possible to design experiences like that by finding some patterns in the user’s choices and insights. Well, if something is insightful, it has a meaning. So, in order to design meaningful experiences, designers need to find what can be significant for the users. And this is related to metaphors, culture, semantics and signifiers.

Is really the filter bubble the bad guy in that context? I think the bubble is something that we need to be aware, because we share our data in the web, more than we share things with our friends and family.
However, knowing one side of the coin, like the tailored-made services, people should try to find other opinions, out of the comfort zone and I think this is where the designer should be. Designers need to create new experiences that will be meaningful and this is a challenge. Finding patterns in the choices can be one way.
But as everyone, I’m learning about it. So, please share your opinion here :)

How is web personalisation affecting the news?
Are we stuck in filter bubbles? Here are five potential paths out
Has Google Popped the Filter Bubble?
DuckDuckGo’s New Video Targets Google’s “Filter Bubble” Of Personalized Results
How Organic Development Generates Serendipitous Experiences

photo credit: Bubbles via photopin (license)

Why is everyone running?

Everyone is running. Competitions are happening all the weekends and people that used to be sedentary are now moving their body and burning calories. The competitions became a party where people meet each other and share their new accomplishments. Is this the consequence of the healthy apps rise? Why is that happening now?

Mobile and health
Have you ever had the opportunity to see your friend’s apps? Well, I bet that if they are trainning for running, they must have a run app. I have one friend that said that the trainer on the gym said to her to download an app and she sent the right trainning for beginners. So why are those apps becoming famous? Well, they help people to get prepared for running anytime you want – without a personal trainer – and some of them are game-like. A good example of games and running is the “Zombies, Run!“, That’s a fun and healthy app, that creates a scenario of zombie invasion, and then you need to escape from it.

Being social
The apps are also connected to socialmedia, so people can see when you achieved a goal. One example is Runkeeper, that helps you to track your workout and also share your results. Due to it, your friends can also create a motivation for running, thinking that well, if someone can do it, why I cannot?
I personally hear this a lot, like “how can you manage to run at 6am?”. Yep, it’s possible become a “morning person”.

In this context, I think motivation comes from:
– Part of the community: “Everyone is running, so why am I not doing the same?”
– Apps that simulate games: “The zombies are going to attack me, I must get prepared”
– Physical sensations: “Yay, serotonin!”
– Health: “I want to be healthy. This is good to me”
– Competitions in unusual places: “I want to run through the Chinese wall” – Experiences :)
– Medals: “One more medal to my bedroom wall” – Taking a picture and posting of Facebook

People are now training for the competitions that seems more like a big event. “When I’m running I feel free” – I’ve heard this from one friend. People are looking for experiences, more then being healthy. They want to run the Chinese Walls, mountains, old cities. The objective is not being a professional runner, like Bolt.

The color run, for example, is one big event that creates an experience. You run 5k, and in each km people will throw colored powder on you. By the way, I’ve found out that it’s part of indian culture. During the spring time they do exactly the same thing… Curious? On 16th december we will have this running on Rio de Janeiro and, well, I’ll be there.

The prize now is not only a medal or just being healthy. What you win is the experience. So, what are you waiting for? :)
The author will post about this experience in the next week. I hope to survive!

Read more
Can apps and GPS watches really make you run faster?
10 Essential iPhone Apps for Runners
The Great Wall Marathon
Midnight Sun Marathon

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The future of mobility and smartphones

This week people were talking about the imminent end of the smartphone Era, driven by the launching of Google Glass and Microsoft’s version of the same object.


The smartphone Era exists because we are living a moment that mobility is a reality. We are accessing data everywhere from a variety of devices, that could have different sizes, weights, platforms and brands.

It’s difficult to say that Google Glass or other tool will be the future or a fad. It is the behaviour that will determine what kind of object that we will want to use. Devices are tools, not the objective. First we need to understand mobility.

App economy
However, some people say that this smartphone Era can be called as the app economy: we are buying apps for everything. Again, it reflects the people’s desires and emotions. Mobility is not the act to acquire apps. Actually, some people prefer to have one app that combine other apps, promoting an accurate experience and access to relevant information.

I’m not saying that Google Glass is the future. We don’t know what will be people’s desires in the next years. A non-screen experience?

In my opinion, mobility is the way we transform our reality and add more interactions to it. We access data everywhere. It’s the way we use a tool to get more information about our context. The experiences are highlighted and complete. That’s why mobility puts services in the core of the present situation. But again, will smartphones be the right tool for this context?

photo credit: Heads Down Device via photopin (license)

Creating meaningful interactions through games [#isa2012]

Yesterday, I posted about Prototyping experiences. Last week we had a conference about interaction design(#ISA2012) in São Paulo and I decided to make separated posts about the talks.

During the third talk of the day, Olli Leno, explained why the future of games is emotional and how we can relate experiences and cognition.


Meaningful playability

We create meaning from the quest for more emotional computer games, transforming games into playable artifacts. Olli Leno says that emotions define the way we relate to experiences, that’s why it’s important to design meaningful and emotional playability.
The future of games is emotional, not technological. Games are in pre-Citizen-Kane Era. They need to be reinvented in terms of content and address some issues from the real world. You need to feel the game as you are feeling the real world.

Playing is believing
Play is a primal mental action and emotions are judgments and interpretations of the world. The more we care, stronger is the emotion. This is known as a relative intensity.
The origins of the emotions in play is the interpretation of the game. The system’s content is the object of emotion.

Engagement and context

Caring about is a necessary condition for emotional judgment. So, why do players care? They do it because of threats of violence, rules, goals, challenges… Therefore if the challenge is right, the game is fun.
Games can also transform the context and its artifacts. Playable tools and elements can be meaningful if we create playable forms from this context. For example: a pinball machine it’s a game that became material.

Game-rules x rules
The players can get a positive description of the game behavior or rules that they need to incorporate. We are responsible for the freedom we enjoy and choose.

The possibility of failure makes playability
The GAME OVER meaning is that, you can fail in your quest. What makes Tetris playable? That you can lose. Failure is about significance. It provides a baseline for caring about in-game objects.
The Sims, for example, is a sandbox and it has no pre-defined goals but lots of opportunities to fail (like setting fire into the kitchen and letting your Sims to die)

But how to create caring?
Players need to survive in the game world. This creates a fear of failure that moves the game forward and gives an emotional commitment to the scenario.
The context became material and meaningful, so the players don’t want to lose the game, because it’s important to them to maintain this relationship.

Interaction through meaning
So when we create emotions through games, it’s possible to understand and offer more experiences for the players through meaningful choices. In order to create a complete interaction, we need to consider the logic of caring, emotional cognition and feedback.

On simulation, aesthetics and play: Artifactual Playground
Bringing emotions to video games
What is Love?
Social psychology
Emotions about the Deniable/Undeniable: Sketch for a Classification of Game Content as Experienced

photo credit: Art of Video Games Exhibit 15104 via photopin (license)

Arduino and prototypes – designing interactions [#isa2012]

A week ago we hosted in São Paulo a big event of interaction design. We had great people talking, like Massino Banzi, Martin Zabaleta, Olli Leino, Roger Pujol, Dan Saffer, Jonathan Hull and… Don Norman. Well, I decided to write a post about my impressions of the Interaction South America (#ISA 2012), but this post became so big that I decided to make it in parts. So this week you will have content to read every day. :)

Why prototype with Arduino?
Arduino is a small tool for computers to control the physical world, through open-source platforms. Massino Banzi opened the first day of the #ISA2012 talking about prototyping with Arduino and the possibilities to build interactive electronics projects.

Collaborative technology
In order to make Arduino we need a piece of hardware, software, process and communication. All the contribution of new tools (Arduino has some derivatives too) and new experiments goes to a ‘community’ that uses and shares everything. This is possible because Arduino works in an open-source platform. So, it shows that we are living a democratic place in technology, where you can share things and experiment the world. Exemples: GitHub that promotes collaborative coding and CERN OpenLab from LHC project.
So, things made with Arduino are a mashup of tools and elements and the documentation is creative common license. The only thing that is ‘protected’ is the brand.
Making collaborative things shows that we are transforming technology on our time. We are sharing knowledge and testing new things very fast. That’s why Arduino seems to be the right tool in the moment to build and improve new possibilities through prototype. We are now creating more interactions. Quick-and-dirty.

Internet of things
The planet, human and physical objects are connected and we can have access to all the data we are sharing through interaction. Devices are linked together using networks. Those networks can happen through internet.
So we can say that today we are living in the internet of things, which means that things (devices included) are connected together everywhere, through the cloud and related by data. Well, we are always transmitting data that can be transformed and storaged in the cloud. This cloud is not a place, but it is anywhere. We don’t see, but it’s here.
But let’s talk about things. So, things = things made with Arduino? That’s the key of what I’m talking here.
Arduino can help us to create things that talk to each other and use the data we transmit. Transforming data is transforming new forms of social relations and we can do this by our own hands.

3D printers and prototype
Prototyping is creating an early sample of a thing that we want to test in a specific context and get some feedback from it. Well, we have more examples of prototyping and transformation. The 3D printers are already a reality. You can imagine, create something in your computer as a prototype, print, test and see if it works. A new industrial revolution?

Creating possibilities
Experience can be promoted by a bunch of interactions. We can transform the virtual/fantasy into something real and tangible. Imagine the Clock in Harry Potter, for example, alive:

We can add another function to clothes:

Ruffletron – demo from lara grant on Vimeo.

And… Use Arduino in the Large Hadron Collider at CERN:

The possibilities seem to be huge in this scenario and everything is promoted by new ways of interaction. The role of the designer today is bigger than we can imagine.
Now the designer has the autonomy to create and prototype. It’s like a DIY technology, exploring the world through new materials. You can make whatever you want in single prototypes. Interaction appears everywhere.
That can help us to think out of the box. We need to image that things can happen out of our comfort zone, where plants can talk and tweet.

It’s a mixture of things, experiments, here and now. Break your paradigms!

One observation: I didn’t have the opportunity to create any Arduino prototype yet. Hope to build it soon and then I will post my experiences here. :)

Open-source your projects — and upload them to space: Massimo Banzi at TEDGlobal 2012
The Internet of Things: how it’ll revolutionise your devices
Medical and Health Related Projects with Arduino

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