Designing for peace: 6 inspiring ideas and thoughts

There is too much hate in the world, particularly towards people from different countries, different nations, different religions – just “different”. This made me think, due to recent events – Acid Attacks in London, Far Right in America and so many incidents (way worse than my experience) related to racism and xenophobia, what can we do to bring peace and respect back to humanity?

I know it sounds very miss universe talk (world peace cliche like Miss Congeniality movie), but what are we doing to bring peace after all? What are we doing to slow down this wave of hate? What are we doing to bring respect to each other? I’m not specialist in world-peace or social sciences or anthropology, but I do know design. So what can we do as designers to decrease this horrible scenario of hate and change it?

1- Designing games for peace

While looking for references in Design and Peace, I’ve found the Peace Innovation Lab from Stanford University. This is their video below. All they are talking about is behaviour change and how games and game-techniques can help to change people’s behaviour. One aspect mentioned in the video is the classic B=mat, from Fogg’s model of behaviour change that uses motivation, ability and triggers. Thus, games can promote motivation, they can make people learn new abilities and they could function as triggers for people to change their behaviours. Adding to this, games provide real-time feedback, which also helps people to get immediate rewards and improve their behaviours.

There is also the games for change, or in other words, games created to change people’s behaviours, attitudes and perceptions. For example there is a category of games to learn how to manage conflicts, like games that show the how difficult it is to live in war zones and so on. There is also the World Peace board game, which helps players wot work in teams in order to understand political conflicts and make important decisions. Other games also enhance social collaboration, which can be very useful while dealing with conflicts not only in the theme of the game with within the dynamics between players. Perhaps we should be designing more games like these.

2- Using technology for good

This is quite broad but it involves a lot of tech for good and tech for peace. The insight here is that when we interact with systems we create a large amount of data, which can be tracked and can be used to enhance human experience positively. This place here is already doing this type of research. This is quite based on Persuasive Technology, which tends to bring triggers and tools to help to decrease conflict and empower peace makers, for example. With AI no, it is possible that machine learning could predict possible conflicts in the future and avoid them. However I’m not sure how this would work yet, but it might be already happening. From the design perspective I believe that this should be designed based on respect – respect of values, respect of cultural backgrounds, respect of beliefs and human rights. Yet, I still think that technology could be used as a way to explore cooperation and collaboration. That is, peace can’t be done by one individual – it is a collective experience. Thus, if technology could enhance our network and make it stronger, we could make a change. Perhaps communities might emerge through technology empowerment. Some are already there.

3- Designing for empathy

One thing that came in my mind was empathy and virtual reality (VR). That is, VR can teach empathy, since it provides an immersive connection between the user and the environment. In other words, people could live in the “skin” of others and therefore understand their issues. Empathy has always been in the agenda of Design Thinking and all design-related techniques. We need to design for people; thus, it is good to know what they would need, desire, think, feel and so on. In the case of conflict and peace, empathy is crucial. We don’t know what the others are thinking, or if something happened to them before getting into a fight. People don’t know your stories unless you tell them.

4- Positive design

You’ve probably heard about ad blockers. Now imagine if you could have negativity blocker and just read and embrace positive news, interactions and so on. Designing for positivity should be key. Why people are reacting with hate? Perhaps something in the media? Let’s admit, we have been bombarded by so many negative news. People losing jobs, economic crisis, poverty and other things. Can we get something positive out of this? Is there something that we could do? There is this framework for Positive Design, which combines Design for Virtue, Design for Personal Significance and Design for Pleasure. I would say that perhaps the one that would require more work is the virtue side. How can we include moral aspects without imposing them? What a big challenge for designers! Perhaps if I didn’t have any moral or virtue I would have argued with the old man in the bus – who knows? The framework is very good, but I would say that we need to think about the collective as well as the individual.

5- Culture matters

Understanding culture is another thing that we should do as designers. We need to work together to respect values, symbols and rituals from people that have other cultures, values, religions and so on. Cultural differences exist but also do cultural similarities. I know we tend to focus too much on what is different – but what about the things that we share? What are the values that we share?

6- Collective design

Change can come from the individual but it will only have a big impact if it is a collective change, especially in the case of peace. I know that alone I can make some difference. For example, I decided not to argue with the old man in the bus and I will never put my foot on the seat again. But the impact we tend to see in the collective side of things. This is where we should get out of our bubbles and collaborate, cooperate. Tech can help us to do this. Let’s use it.

Conclusion

What can we do? We could use technology to empower communities. And we could all start thinking differently and embrace diversity. We could use tech to help us change our behaviour. But most importantly, we need to WANT this change. I think that even with all those tech around us, we still need to acknowledge that we need to change our behaviour. Perhaps games could help to trigger this “willingness” to change – or perhaps just provocative art could make people think about those issues – or just VR could create empathy and make us change. There is still a lot to do. This is why I say to people that culture is important, values are important – but most importantly, we are HUMANS. So please, be kind, respect others and smile. Look up to the stars and think.

The era of AI design and what it means after all

AI design. Artificial Intelligence Design – and you can become an AI Designer (of course!). Recently I’ve been bombarded by thoughts, ideas, robots, the end of the world and this new name – the AI designer. So what is an AI designer after all? And what does it have to do with robots taking control of human life?

An AI designer, according to definitions, is nothing more than a designer, who perhaps uses AI as a tool to solve human problems. As mentioned in this post published in Medium and later in the ACM interactions, AI designer is a designer, who knows at least what AI could do to solve a problem. That is an important position to take in the middle of the courses in Machine Learning, coding, AI, chatbots, robots, Deep Learning and all those things that we are trying to learn as soon as possible.

Why are we talking about AI and why everyone is running against time? Well, according to this article published in different sites and places, it looks like Facebook created an AI that can talk to each other. That means that the AI created its own language and now we lost completely control. So if we don’t know this language, we are in trouble! What can they be talking about? Destroying the human race? Or perhaps it is just a normal aspect of the evolution of AI, after all having a simpler language might be more logical and easier for them to communicate.

Other people are now worried that they might lose their jobs because AI is so much better. Well, it will depend on your job. Apparently, skills that jobs require are more human and we should be doing more “human” work. However, this brings into question what is a “human” work? Perhaps this will change the economy and there would be no human capital to sell or maybe there would be a new definition for human capital. Some say that the best way is to take the robotic work out of the work. Or just like Don Norman said, it is all about “human technology teamwork“. With this in mind, I believe that design will be the key element in all this new era. This is why I will try to put in points what I think we as designers should do and understand.

1- Problem definition

As mentioned in this article from designer Nina (Zhuxiaona) Wei in the ACM Interactions (one of my fav magazines to read) – it is all about the problem and what is the design problem you’re trying to solve. Just like a normal research – you need to know what is the problem you’re trying to solve before even thinking about a solution that would involve AI. Maybe AI is not the solution – the end.

2- Users are still getting used to it

It is not mainstream to talk to your phone, for example. Okay, this might change in the future when you actually control everything with your mind (please read Michio KakuThe future of the Mind). But until there we are trying to make everything a bit more personal, and transforming AI into “human”. For example, IBM wants to create something that is not awkward with AI with personality and social skills. Sounds cool, but are we ready for it? And do we need it? Or are we just replacing things for something that it is easier? That reminds me of the movie Her. Is AI just replacing something that as humans we cannot achieve? (time to think).

3- Users are humans (yes!)

This is what we forget sometimes and we presume that AI is so much better than humans. After all, AI is smart and doesn’t need much to survive. But AI can’t understand comics! That sounds boring! So the question here is what makes us humans and therefore different from AI? Is this just about emotions, feelings, spirituality? Or is there something more? Can we strengthen our human character by giving more attention to it?

4- Embrace the teamwork

What does it mean to work with a machine that thinks just like a person? As mentioned by Donald Norman in this video below, AI should be a reinforcement, not replacement itself. In very black and white words – let’s leave AI to do the repetitive work and then we deal with creativity – other jobs that would require imagination. Perhaps in that way AI could work (time to think 2) and it would leave us to do the “fun” part. Definitely this will change the way we do things and this is quite exciting because this post could have been so much more insightful if we had some help from technology, for example. Perhaps we should embrace technology and work together, find new roles and new dynamics. Would AI become more than an extension of our human life? I don’t know. But for now, as designers, we have a huge responsibility.

5- With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

Uncle Ben was right – now more than ever. Imagine that you can now build all those AI entities that think and act like humans – this shows power. The power is actually in our hands, but not as a way to control other people (hope not) but to build things that would actually help other people and give them autonomy. I think that one part of this teamwork mentioned by Norman is autonomy. The interaction starts with us, as input, in some way, no matter how – if it is just pressing a button or just blinking or just thinking. The power is in our mind and what we do with it. This gets very philosophical in some point (sorry but I love it some times and it makes me question everything), but it is important that we include this in our thinking.

What inspired me to talk about that was basically the popularity of the topic and a few concerns as a designer. For example, another thing to think about is the trendy word chatbot. Since it is a “robot”, then it is considered as AI, after all it talks alone and replies to people on time. But are chatbots just a selection of answers to a question? Or can they be more intelligent and give you predictions, something that “thinks” – instead of a memorisation of answers? We will come back to that later.

In some way, I still think that movements against AI and technology may rise if it gets out of our control. We like to have autonomy, to have a sense of control and perhaps the only way to do this is to be offline, disconnected, living in fields without Internet (if this is possible). We are in the middle of this transformation and it is our responsibility to think the best way to deal with it.

So, if you’re a designer and don’t know what to do in all this AI bubble and you don’t know coding or machine learning or all those things, just take a step back. Think: why is this important? Why AI? What problems is it trying to solve – if any? Pause to think.

Read more:
What Are The Best Intelligent Chatbots or AI Chatbots Available Online?
Two Chatbots Talk With Each Other, Awkward Hilarity Ensues
So, you want to be an AI designer
You can be an AI designer
AI has a bright future in HR, and is already making waves in shared services
This is what will keep us human in the age of AI

Sustainable actions through Design: 6 insights and ideas [#sdc17]

On the 18th February 2017, I’ve attended and helped to promote the Sustainable Development Conference, hosted by the Southampton Hub and supported by the University of Southampton – very cool partnership – all created by students from different levels, undergrads, postgrads, PhDs, etc. It was a very good experience (I was a volunteer) and I’ve learnt so much that I would like to share with you. The conference had two themes at the same time: the sustainability and the international development. I was full time in the sustainability side and I will post some notes from my perceptions as a designer (and game designer) from the sustainable side of things – and how can we promote “small actions” to perform a “big impact”.

1. Community design

We live in a community – and this is not only about “society” itself; it is about local communities, people-oriented, people helping others, people making things – PEOPLE. As Seb Mayfield mentioned in his talk, sometimes we feel overwhelmed by the many actions we could take to be more sustainable, but the feeling that we are part of something bigger could help to decrease this “anxiety”. He mentioned about the Circle of Control and the Circle of Concern, in which we can influence people based on where we live, what we do, etc; instead of worrying too much about the natural disasters for example, which is something difficult to control. This shows that being part of a community makes sense and could reduce this “anxiety” of changing the world with just our hands. That is, looking at your surroundings can help you not to feel too overwhelmed.

The idea of community is a key aspect in sustainable living. For example, there is the Repair Cafe, organised here at Southampton, in which people can take their broken things and there will be people in this cafe that could help you to fix broken things: electronics, clothes, anything. In the cafe, people give advices if it’s worth repairing or throwing away. Also there are many activities involved. For example, sewing it’s another form of repairing. That is, knowledge is shared among the community and it becomes something like people helping people, giving value to the “social capital“. Food has also a big impact in communities.

Another example is from Friends of the Earth. They are working with schools in order to raise awareness about the Bee cause. Children grow many different flowers around their schools or hospitals. In the end is all about aesthetics and pollination! They also had a limited gardening for people recovering from stroke.

2. Tiny habits

We should be also thinking about doing small steps. Seb Mayfield said that it is good to grow our own food and in fact, growing our own food can bring many benefits to our mental health (see image below). Thus, growing our own food is more than just having a healthy diet. Seb mentioned that it gives us back “control” over our diet, over our body and over the environment. Thus, when we think about habits, we should start small, like growing pea shoots and in 4 weeks, it is possible to see the results!

Another thing to think: Did you know that even having a shower, you can be more sustainable? Choices of shampoo and even drying your hair could influence the environment. Soooo many things! In the talk about Eco Hair, shampoo choice and other things were very interesting to think. If we put in the paper, there are many things we can do for the environment and perhaps, the way advertising shows shampoo products and our habit of cleaning our hair might change. Sometimes, we learn from our parents – perhaps other lessons can be taught in that level.

3. Storytelling

The talk about Transition Southampton started with an important perspective about what it means to do a transition towards a sustainable life. For Clare and Angela, “Transition is about telling stories”. There were many concerns about clean air and super homes. For example, in the Super Home project, people can visit homes that are very sustainable and “green”, in order to feel more inspired. You can book to visit homes like that. Super cool. It is a way to tell stories about how people do things and feel inspired by them. In this Super Home project, people can also see the heat map from the homes to see if there is any heat coming from different parts of the house. Another example is the action of free books. TheTransition Southampton team showed that we can leave free books in different places like a train station for example – and people could help themselves to read while they commute. Simple as that! Storytelling can be also present in clothing. Do you know where your clothes are from? You might. But do you know ho made it? How was it made? No. Asking for information crucial! Products should tell these type of stories as well! Have a look at the Labour behind the Label website for more stories around clothing and fair working conditions.

In the talk from Friends of the Earth, Gill showed many examples of community engagement in schools. For example, they invited children to write post card for the world! They had in total 1600 postcards in the end and they’ve presented that in the London climate march. What a beautiful way to engage children and tell stories to the world. Gill also showed the example from Oswaldo bikes to Paris, using social media to raise awareness about the environment!

4. Designing Choices

The UK is still behind the Netherlands in terms of the use of bikes to commute or transport. As mentioned in the talk from Sustrans, 65% of people use cars for trips that are less than 5 miles. Another important message is that we need to first empower, then make people aware and then promote activities. That is, if there are no choices or if people can’t have access to the choices, then the action failed. See the photo below!

Seb Mayfield also mentioned that food poverty is not because of lack of food, it is how we are providing food. That is, things for us to think as people and communities on how do we grow our food and how do we share it. Also, it is possible to grow food everywhere. This guy here has built many vertical gardens! Thus, we can apply this to big cities as well. But I can imagine that in terms of design, this might be difficult. But in some cities they are already planting food on the top of buildings. It is like a combination of current possibilities with adaptations in order to become more sustainable. That is, we can do things in small spaces that would have a big impact.

5. Experience Design

Things should last longer than they do. This would increase the level of experience that people have with things and bring more value to them. In her talk, Dr. Emma Waight talked about being materialistic, in a way to value things and not replace them every time – things should last longer! And we might create more emotional links with things, giving them more value. This shows that experience design is key when looking for sustainable actions. What Emma said is that materialistic values are all about measurements: it’s all about more and we put responsibility on stuff. She also mentioned that second hand shopping is one example of people giving value to things that will last longer, but still the main reason why people buy it is because of the price. In the end, people buy second hand goods to save money. However, there is a movement towards vintage shopping as a style and people creating an identity around vintage look. 

6. Calling people to action

Interestingly, in many of the actions showed in the talks, there is an element of “fun” and humour involved in the message. For example, in the talk from Sustrans, a campaign called for “Tax your thighs instead” and “Love handles”. Creativity here seems to be the strategy – together with fun aspects. I can see that there is room for a little bit of game actions here. The movement towards vintage shopping as a trend could be one way to call people for action. It is a way to combine sustainability with style or sustainability with identity. If we can send the message as identity through sustainability, perhaps it will last longer. People might adopt sustainability as a lifestyle and influence others around them. Another aspect to think about is clothing. When talking about fair conditions and fast fashion, Nicola from Labour Behind the Label mentioned that there is a lack of information and lack of transparency  and we should ask brands to give more information. Also, we need to place more value in the clothes, instead of just changing our clothes because of fashion trends. Someone also said that we need to “Change the red carpet to the green carpet”! Why not? Another thing mentioned by Gill from Friends of the Earth is about showing signs around the campus or around places. She said that when there are eyes, people want to take the action! Signs need to be friendly!

Imagine the amount of things that we can do! Each city has a different problem. In the case of Southampton, I believe that the issue is engaging more and more people to have a sustainable life. Many students from the University are here just for their courses and they don’t create a bond with the environment – sometimes it lacks of a link. It is our role as designers to not only engage these people but to also engage everyone around us. We can start small, design our own choices, plan properly our meals and transport, for example, and then help others. But as designers we also need to make sure that we empower people – we need to make the choices available. And then we need to make people more aware of the options. Can we redesign packages and add new information that was missing? Can we create games that will promote a conversation between people and brands? Can we promote games that are critical and will change people’s behaviour? Can we influence people’s habits by designing new choices? What can we do? Reflection time.

Antoni Gaudí and Interaction Design: thoughts about nature and sustainability

If you ever been to Barcelona, you’ve probably visited Antoni Gaudi’s famous places: La Sagrada Familia, La Pedrera, Park Guell and Batllo House. Everywhere in the city you can see his fantastic and incredible master pieces.
Gaudi was an architect and designer. His inspiration was founded around nature. Organic compositions, vibrant colours and breath-taking buildings are part of his work.
But what does it have to do with interaction design? While interacting with his work, a few aspects called my attention: the sense of spirit and respect towards nature, organic interaction with objects, the integration of elements (consistency), colour information, attention to detail and his inverted model of visualisation. Most important, however, was Gaudi’s respect towards life. This could be explained not only by nature but the thought about human interaction inside those buildings. For example, in the Batllo House,  waves in the window’s glass could bring a sensation of being inside the water. Nature had a purpose in his work. This shows that the integration of natural forms is part of interaction design. But also the inclusion of human factors in the centre of the design process. With that, I’ve selected a few elements: nature, maths, storytelling and reutilisation of resources.
Tiles at the Batllo House
Tiles at the Batllo House
Nature
Gaudi’s relationship with nature was almost spiritual. One of his most wonderful works is La Sagrada Familia: a breath-taking church, built around natural forms. In interaction design, it is crucial to understand the context of each experience. The lesson that we can learn from Gaudi is that natural forms can evoke a certain familiarity and a sense of belonging. This could be evoked by different elements, textures, colours and combination of those elements. This reminds me of the old term Bionics and its applications around biological methods.

Toccata e fuga Bologna /Barcellona.#lapedrera #barrigotic #casabatllo #sagradafamilia ….tapas birra shopping😄😄😄

A photo posted by Barbara Roncaglia (@barbara_roncaglia_) on

Mathematical approach
Maths were also mentioned in Gaudi’s work. This could also evoke a sensation of “perfection”, particularly through mathematical equations utilised to build organic forms. The columns in the Sagrada Familia church were built around hyperbolic equations, in order to sustain the weight of the pillars and the roof. This could suggest that in interaction design, it is important to follow natural patterns of interaction. Mathematical models of structure could be also effective while dealing with interaction design projects.
Storytelling
Another important element was storytelling. Every detail in the church could tell a story. This suggests that integration of elements and narrative are crucial while designing interactive projects. The attention to the order of problems and the representation of this narrative could also bring a sense of flow and understanding. This logical order of information is crucial.
Reutilisation of resources
Most of the decoration was reutilised from old pieces of glass. This reminds me of sustainability. I remember listening to the audio at Bartllo House: Gaudi started to think in terms of sustainability even before the term “sustainability”. This reutilisation was organic and natural. We couldn’t see that glasses were reutilised to bring different textures to Gaudi’s work. This integration was crucial. As an individual walking inside and outside his buildings, I’ve felt inside a wonderland of fantastic and useful objects at the same time. It was like a mix of hedonic and utilitarian approaches all at the same time. For sustainability, Gaudi just ticked the boxes of sustainable interaction design. The promotion of both renewal and reuse was in his work and integrated with the whole building.
Sustainability is a word that has a strong relationship with Gaudi’s work. Some say that it is a reflection of sustainable architecture, represented by good utilisation go green spaces and coherent constructions. Gaudi’s work can also inspire Design Thinking and human-centred design. For example, Gaudi was able to empathise with human needs and expectations, looking at human interaction with the environment and replicating it into buildings.
Of course, in terms of sustainable behaviour, it was unlikely that after being at Gaudi’s buildings you would remember to save energy. However, the main sensation while being around his buildings was that we have to respect nature. It sounds cliche, but the experience was that we are part of the environment and we have the power to change our surroundings. Gaudi’s legacy is unquestionable. If you have the chance, please go to Barcelona and visit his fantastic buildings!
La Sagrada Familia - Photo taken by the authorLa Sagrada Familia – Photo taken by the author

Let’s talk about Game Design Economy

I’ve decided to write this post for probably the same reason why you came to read it. What is about Game Economy Designer or Monetisation Designer? It seems that the story of freemium, in-app purchases and other aspects came really to stay. And it makes totally sense.
As a designer, I was questioning myself about the skills for this type of job.
First, let’s try to analyse what do they really mean by Game Economy Design.
In this article, published almost 2 years ago, the focus of the economy in game design was strictly in virtual currency. As we know today, the game economy expanded to free-to-play games and IAP. It’s not about virtual currency anymore. It’s a combination of real-world money and virtual goods.
The amount of examples of mobile games that have IAP is huge. In order to progress in the game, the player might have to buy some virtual goods with real money. That’s how it works. However this could be more complicated.
How to make it work great in the game not influencing totally on the gameplay?
That’s the main challenge. In order to combine money and gameplay, the designers need to pay attention to a lot of details, including the gameplay journey and price.
How to know if people are really keen to pay a certain amount to proceed in the game? And if the player doesn’t pay, is he/she able to continue playing?
So in this article I will try to show some of the patterns of game economy design like waiting, asking for friends’ help and virtual money.
But the question is: how to make it better?
I think that for IAP, it should work as different journeys for the player. Let’s take as an example the Four Bartle’s types of players:

  • Killers: influence the game world or the play experience of other players
  • Achievers: want to achieve everything in the game, focused in challenges and levelling up
  • Explorers: discover the game world
  • Socializers: create social relationships with other players

And the Four Keys for Fun, from Lazzaro:

  • Hard Fun: personal achievement, strategy
  • Easy Fun: related to curiosity, exploration
  • Serious Fun: excitement, relaxation
  • People Fun: amusement, cooperation, collaboration

So, let’s try to combine this with the “Game Economy Patterns”:

Candy CrushWaiting…
Most of the things that some games do is that they make you wait. You wait. And wait. If you don’t buy more lives, you will need to wait. Nice. That’s good for games that are quick and simple. Fast feedback, fast achievement. So points and levels are important game design elements to invest. It matches serious fun and achievers.

A little help from your friends
If you don’t pay, you will need to ask your friends to give you something in return. It’s like showing to everyone that you need people’s help. Your experience becomes other people’s experiences, because you will depend on them. It could work for games that have leaderboards. It matches people fun and socializers.

Wild_Mustang_Ask_For_Help

You don’t have virtual money anymore
You can buy with real money! So if you need more goods and superpowers, you can buy them. Fantastic! It could be good for players that like to customise the game or to have more freedom to manipulate the elements of the game. It matches hard fun and easy fun. It could also be work for explorers and “killers”.

ipad-supercell-clash-of-clans_iap

However, again the game could get boring after a time if there is no element new, or that could add more value. For example, maybe a new challenge in some games could influence achievers to play more. Or the addition of more social features could be good for people that love to compete with their friends. It’s a way to say that games are quite “organic”. For this reason, data is one important element to add in the combination in the Game Economy. It is important to know what the players are doing and measure it.
No wonder some of the skills necessary for the role in Game Economy Designer involved data analysis and deep knowledge in Economics.

For example, most of the job posts that I’ve found in my Linkedin asked the candidates to at least:
1- understand how a game works as a service
2- develop purchase drivers
3- data-driven recommendations on design
4- define metrics

For me it’s a kind of combination with Game User Experience with Economics. But the most important thing is to think about the USER. Players will pay for something that MATTERS for them and not what is imposed. It’s hard to play games that force the player to pay a certain amount to proceed. That shouldn’t happen. The idea of paying to play is not that new. Remember fliperamas? We had to buy coins to play. It’s a bit like that. But everything could get wrong. If the player is “forced” to pay something to proceed in a game and there is no other way, this is not good.

I’m not familiar with Economics theories, but they might have something to add! :) That’s a work in progress.

Read more
http://getinmedia.com/careers/economics-designer
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/09/28/the-economics-of-video-games/
photo credit: what kind of gift can I buy with $11.52? via photopin (license)

What my grandfather taught me about social media

 

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It’s been more than 2 years that my grandfather created his first Facebook account. It may not sound something extraordinary, but what called my attention was his purpose.

My grandfather is full of life. He loves people, social events, music, his students and his family. He uses Facebook to basically stay in contact with people, finding ways to support them in their activities or just giving his opinion. He is 80 years old.

I’ve been researching some articles about social media and Facebook and what caught my attention was the idea that “oh no, teenagers are moving to other chat apps” and this sounded like the end of the world. First, I’m not a “pro-Facebook” or something like that. Second, teenagers can do what they want. If they want privacy, good for them. I think everyone does.

The main concern here is that it seems that sometimes those articles forget that elderly people are now using social media to communicate and this can’t be overlooked. Basically, designers from social media websites and apps need to understand this phenomena and start designing for those people’s purposes and needs. Why not? I’m not saying that designers are not doing it at all, but this concern should be in the mind of design professionals from different parts of the world. This is big challenge and shouldn’t be left unnoticed.

Take as an example, my lovely country, Brazil. According to a research, the number of elderly Brazilian doubled since 1960 and it will grow with time. Technically, this is something new for Brazil that used to have a very low life expectancy and now, because of investments in health and well-being, this context changed significantly.

Taking back the issue of social media, Facebook was found to be one of the most popular networks in Brazil, but there was a lack of concerns around a proper inclusion of elderly people into those systems. I can imagine that this could be related to the interaction with the network’s interface and tools, familiarity, access to the page, especially if using a computer and privacy settings (of course). But who should take the blame?

It could sound easy to say that because people are getting older, they are not able to do some “stuff”. We all know that this is wrong (and sad). That’s not the point and we need to stop making a “gap” between ages, because this is not fair.

First, the possible problems highlighted before could be applicable to any human that is interacting for the first time with a system. Second, privacy issues are an universal concern. So, we are not talking about gaps. We are talking about designing things for people.

Taking back the example of my grandfather. He had to learn how to interact with the network by himself, as he wasn’t familiar with it. However he knew what social media could do. His “needs” were that in the social network, but they weren’t presentable or usable for a “newbie” user. However, even in that way, something just happened that he decided to experiment.

giphy

If we, as designers, could understand that once people want or feel motivated, they will act, maybe we could not get worried about people choosing other websites or behaviours. If we could pay attention on how to build things for people, we should not overlook elderly people’s needs, which are basically human needs and that’s all. It’s not because of age that people can’t interact with something new.

It’s necessary to understand that once the perception of needs and reality, combined to a “good” design are integrated, people can feel motivated. And this could happen in all ages because, well, we are human.

Read more:

Can technology help us to support the ageing population?

Why Should We Listen to Old People? A Very Good Question
photo credit: 2010 – May – 18 – NodeXL – twitter social graph 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.

Experiences
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

References
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)