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)

Designing with details [#isa2012]

Today’s post it’s about microinteractions and the importance of the details. Last week we had a conference about interaction design (#ISA2012) in São Paulo and I decided to make separated posts about the talks.
Microinteractions are the way we experience detailed events. So, when we try to approach a design process with attention to details, we are talking about creating microinteractions. Thus, while trying to solve massive problems through design tools, the details are often lost during the process. We should work by the bottom up system, giving more attention to small things. This is the theme of Dan Saffer’s new book, “Microinteractions“.

Do one task well
Improving the microinteractions is creating engagement. This means that we should attempt to small details. “The details are not the details. They make the design” – Charles Eames. So, details must be seen as special parts of one big project.
Besides, it’s better to manage and control the work, when we are building a fragmented and complex scenario. For example, creating a small form, or the feedback from translation words on Facebook.

Transform moments into instances of pleasure
Microinteractions are good for accomplish a single task. We can interact with a small piece of data and get the maximum of feedback from it or even create a small part of content that is totally relevant.

Do not overlook microinteractions
If the interaction is poor, the features get surrounded by pain and frustration.
While designing, we must consider the big picture and details to improve the user experience.

Small interactions fit well on small devices. Dan Saffer says that while designing microinteractions we can adapt the features to each device, allowing consistency.

Previewing actions
With the attention to details and micro interactions we can try to preview actions. This happens when we focus in loops and modes, by the tripod made of trigger, rules and feedback. It’s about bringing the data forward and understanding the user needs.
A good feedback can transform they way we learn the rules and the loops.

I think that maybe with established microinteractions, we can try to create interaction patterns. So while designing a product, we can see which small interactions are concrete. It’s like going to the library and follow a guideline. Perhaps with an accurate pattern, we can develop tools for a better experience. If the big picture can be created by microinteractions and detailed experiences, we can try to approach to human interactions.

Designing for Interaction
Changing Perspective: A New Look At Old Problems
Touching the desktop – Modern micro-interaction and burdens of the past
Interfaces on the go

photo credit: four points via photopin (license)

Prototyping experiences [#isa2012]

In the last post, I talked about Arduino and my impressions. The posts of this week will be about the Interaction South America, a big event that happened a week a go in São Paulo. Hope you like them! :)

The second talk of the day was conducted by Martin Zabaleta, partner and director of Insitum. He started talking about sketching user experiences, where prototyping and design are essential part of the process of innovation. This means that to create a user-centered approach, we need to think about people and prototypes.

“The only important thing about design is how it relates to people”

This is a quote from Victor Papanek, a designer and educator that defended responsible design. The relationship between design, social and environment can’t be ignored. “Design must be meaningful”. Meaning is the deepest and strong connection between people, context and expressions. That’s why experiences must be meaningful.

Innovation begins with an eye

Observation is learning from people’s needs. We need to understand how the social cultural scenario configures and then create a relationship between cognitive emotions and physical reactions. Observe extreme users, not the average people.

Quick, dirty and cheap
Prototypes must create a tangible and physical representation of an idea. You must learn its aspects and reactions.
Experimentation, risk-taking, learning, failing and fearlessness, must be your guides. The prototype doesn’t need to be too much planned: you need to build, learn, refine and build again. Fidelity can appear in different levels, depending on what you are trying to achieve. You can prototype services, strategies, business models, interfaces and interactions.

In order to describe relationships between services components we need to think about a conceptual prototype. For this, we develop a scenario (or multiple scenarios), that we can illustrate the experience and create empathy. We can prototype the user journey through the entire service.
Also in that context, trust can be built through design. The experiences created by tangible elements and prototypes. We need to design for people’s needs and factors that matter to people.

Approach a problem solving
It’s important to have empathy for the context and creativity in the generation of thoughts. In that scenario, design thinking should be the key. We need intuitive and analytical thinking.

So, can we design a better way to educate?
It’s possible to improve education in Latin America. We can create a better network computer, applications to learn math, an ecosystem or the method of teaching. Everything is related to the experience between students, teachers, parents and the society. The good thing about prototyping education is to build experiences that are related to the context and culture. Building an experience in Brazil is totally different from Singapore, China… Or even the experience in the same country can be diverse. It’s important to prototype to learn fast and build good and coherent experiences inside one culture/context.

This post was a brief introduction about prototyping experiences. Martin Zabaleta also gave a workshop in the first day of the #ISA2012.
*Images from Facebook/Corbis

Teaching Kids Design Thinking, So They Can Solve The World’s Biggest Problems
Designing to Build Trust : The factors that matter
Agile Problems, UX Solutions, Part 1: The Big Picture and Prototyping
Co-designing with Children
Design For The Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change
An Early Champion of Good Sense
Iterating for Visitors at the Exploratorium

photo credit: e350 paper prototype via photopin (license)