Day 1, afternoon, raw notes, Emergence conference

Todd Wilkens: The end of products

  • Eastman: the camera as an entrance to a service (the factory does the rest).
  • "Everything is part of an ecosystem" - not profound anymore.
  • Embrace complexity, build empathy.
  • Products in the lab; services in the field.
  • Stage 1 - it is possible. Stage 2 - features. Stage 3 - Experience.
  • Difference between Rio and iPod: hide the complexity, service of the iTunes store.
  • Giving up control (of every piece of the experience) makes it exponentially harder. Flickr - just sits in the middle and makes it seemless.
  • Not the end of products, but the end of the product mindset.
  • Is this the end of service design (as a niche, special field)? We will be obsolete soon (because everyone will be doing it). "And I hope I never see you again either, Todd."
  • It just becomes "good design", not "a new way to design". AdaptivePath does not sell "service design" but clients understand focusing on experience, not on features. Start with "what are your problems" not on terminology.
  • Designers are good at making ideas tangible - but not only designers have that skill.
  • Are all products in fact entry points into services? Yes, but many are not fulfilling the potential.
  • Also, hang out with marketing/ad people.

Panel: Maybe we can always get what we want?

  • Ubiquitous computing and the future of services.
  • Expectations are high, lead to disappointment.
  • Unintended consequences and the dark side.
  • How can you give people what they want when they do not know what they want?
  • We have no choice, privacy is gone, just participate (e.g., have to use the iPass).
  • It is not rocket science to figure out what people do (e.g., what people do in a hotel room) - good designers have always done it the right way.
  • Declining sense of justice in the world - how can service affect this, distribution of quality of life? "Service" approach helps focus on who is using it, and that leads to good things.
  • Eliminate the broken systems, do not try to integrate as best we can.

Bettina von Kupsch: How to Become a Service Champion

  • Cultural change.
  • How to measure the quality of service?
  • 3 layers: Basics, Behavior/environment, Commitment.
  • "Wow-box" - small idea, quick way to share positive feedback from customers.
  • Employees are the key to superior service. Long-term management commitment.
  • Negative experiences with SwissComm seen as 1-off: good.
  • Touch personally to have it talked about.
  • New products are often aquisition, service is retention.
  • Isn't this just good management? What is novel? Integrated approach, not just working on 1 piece.
  • How did you get service to be so important to the company? We are Swiss.
  • If employee morale goes down, service quality will go down.
  • Looking outside theirindustry for benchmarks of good service.

Off to the Andy Warhol Museum

(Reformatted September 14th for easier scanning)

Blog topics: 

Raw notes from Day 1 (morning) at Emergence 2007

Friday night

Jamin Hegeman, Shelley Evenson: About the conference

Martin Wattenberg, Fernanda Viegas: Visual thinking at a global scale

  • Many eyes with lots of examples of death, drinking, oil and political speeches.
  • Community angle lets visualizations evolve along with the discussions.
  • Text analysis: tag clouds, word trees.
  • Article about Blog discussions of the visualizations.
  • Integration into other sites: Visualizing Earmarks.
  • And many more stories where these visualizations are making a difference. Scientific discovery, personal expression, journalism and advocacy, social interaction/fun.
  • Target pain points (traditional) vs. Erogenous zones.
  • This is an example of "visualization as a service", instead of as an application.

Harold Hambrose: Service as a discipline, Designers at the helm

  • From last year: Service triangle (where technology is in the middle). His model: Technology (off to the side) to enable the human providers of the service.
  • Examples: 911 call center, diner menu system. These "back stage" systems often not designed by designers.
  • Designers are: observers, communicators (visually), modelers, problem solvers.
  • Health service examples from Electronic Ink.
  • Start with observing and drawing the relationships, processes, etc. Visual artifact example: data visualization of transfers to other hospital units, leads to recommendations on physical organziation. Then can come some technology recomendations, like wireless devices.
  • Net: this group of people had no means of drawing pictures (models) to understand what is going on at a high level.
  • Documenting "breakdowns" (not all are bad things).
  • Biggest problem: Selling design here. Quickly provide value (within a week).
  • Needed for insurance, healthcare, etc. - but Design Education needs this the most. "Why would we ever send a designer into a hospital? We do posters."
  • Designers are unique because as they analyze, they start thinking of the solutions (vs. just documenting the problems).
  • Collaborate with human factors, and many others, so it is really the multi-disciplinary team that is the key.

Claudio Pinhanez: Services as Customer-Intensive Systems

  • What is the difference between manufacturing-thinking and service-thinking?
  • Negative definition of "services" - what it is not. Can go too far - everything is a service. Both useless.
  • Definitions of "customer" - the person who pays vs. the person who recieves the value.
  • Customer-intensive is when the "production" cannot really start until the customer arrives (car repair, hospital). YOU are on the conveyor belt.
  • Customer-centered view: provider and receiver, part of the process, it waits for me, it uses me.
  • Official list of services (NAICS) - which are not customer-intensive industries? Movie-making, publishing (including shrink-wrapped software).
  • Continuum of manufacturing to service models.
  • Minimize the perceived time (e.g., fix the PC overnight).
  • Measure of quality of a service includes the process.
  • Emotionally-loaded.
  • Product designers vs. services designers.
  • Good: human-centricity. Bad: New methods needed because of customer intensity. Ugly: Theater director type skills needed, not artistic talent (people, timing, emotions).
  • What happens when the customer is a business? Navy does not know how to procure a service.
  • Back-end systems are impregnated with customer stuff.
  • Question: Utility company, put customer consuming electrons at the center of the model.
  • Question: B2b services, pace-layering.
  • Question: Is service design fundamentally different from product design? Design of the iPod (vs. designing iTunes store).

Time for lunch

(Reformatted September 14th for easier scanning)

Blog topics: 

Emergence 2007 conference, Pittsburgh, September 8-9

I just registered for Emergence 2007 - "Exploring the boundaries of service design." I have been reading up on various service innovation topics and I see a lot of connections with user experience. The Emergence conference looked perfect because it was within driving distance and focuses on the design aspect.

Parts of the program I find most promising are the 3 different talks from IBMers and Todd Wilkens ("the end of product design") but I am sure I will learn a lot from the whole event.

I also find it interesting that this is a weekend conference. Is it a rule that "new fields" start out with weekend conferences and then as they become more established, they hold their events during the week? All based on whether the boss will let you take time off work.

If you are also attending, leave a comment so we can meet up.

Blog topics: 

Abundance, errors and measurement

Chris Anderson of Long tail fame compares the "economic" models of abundance with scarcity. (I found it reading Abundance and UX at UX Magazine.) He explains that user experience improvements like the GUI are the result of thinking as computing power as an abundant resource, vs. poorer experiences because you have limited CPU cycles. A summary:

ROI memo, get green-lighted for a large projectWe will figure it out because it costs so little to try it out, do small projects
Forbidden unless permittedPermitted unless forbidden
We (central authority) know what is bestYou (users, audience, market) know what is best
Command and control corporate managementOut of control: let it happen, measure it, dynamically respond, amplify good, suppress bad

This reminded me of a new book that is coming out for marketers: Do it wrong quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules. Disclaimer: the author, Mike Moran, is my former manager at IBM and I gave him feedback while he was writing the book.

Like Chris' message, you will hear about trying something small, measuring, and then altering your course of action. Mike uses the catchy "do it wrong" message: when there is an abundance, you can afford to make mistakes, and you are better off quickly making smaller errors.

If you have found the experimentation and risk-taking mentality a problem where you have worked, then tell Mike your "most egregious tales of delay, indecision, paralysis by analysis, and refusal to try things out" and win a prize. Better yet: the person who you write about will be sent a copy of the book.

Blog topics: 

Collaborative sensemaking workshop

I will be attending the Collaborative Sensemaking workshop at the HCIL symposium on Friday. I have not been in the "research groove" for about a decade (since I was still at BGSU), but collaborative sensemaking is one research topic that seems to apply to what we are doing on and what information architects do every day. So I thought it was worth coming to the workshop to give my practitioner's perspective - and learn more.

I'll report later with more information (after I get back from vacation...).

Fixing computer science with web science

In the June 2007 Communications of the ACM (Vol 50 #6), Ben Shneiderman has a "Viewpoint" article that hits close to home. "Web science: A provocative invitation to computer science," subtitled "Here's how it can awaken computer science to the interdisciplinary possibilities of the Web's socially embedded computing technology."

I have written about various pieces that Ben mentions (Web science and IA, universal usability, IBM's services science, as examples) but he has tied them together better. And added a wrinkle that I was not concerned with (until now): how to invigorate computer science programs by adopting the Web science framework.

I am not really in touch with the specific woes of computer science, but I can see how the social perspective would make CS research a lot more relevant. Studying social networks instead of computer networks. Researching e-government instead of compilers. Student projects on sharing animation instead of rendering algorithms. Focusing on users instead of computers.

Ben's other main point is that web science can help create a synergy for more interdisciplinary research. Emerging applications like Web 2.0, universal usability and ubiquitous computing are all natural fits under Web science (that traditional computer scientists would likely say are outside their scope).

Ben ends with: "Visionaries say it is time for a change, but will the traditional computer science community accept the invitation? I hope it will."

This CACM article is not online yet but will eventually be in the CACM section of the ACM Digital Library. Here are the references and other mentions from the article while you wait. (Some links lead to summary pages where you need membership to get the full article.)

  1. Japan Prize Commemorative Lecture
  2. Foundations and trends in web science
  3. Creating a science of the web
  4. A research manifesto for services science
  5. The social life of innovation
  6. Crisis and opportunity in computer science (PDF)
  7. Leonardo's Laptop
  9. Web Science Research Initiative

Other reform movements

Microsoft and User Experience

Josh Holmes (Architect Evangelist for Microsoft) is speaking at our local .net user group next week. The topic is Silverlight. I won't be able to make this one, but "Architect Evangelist for Microsoft" reminded me of those User Experience Evangelist job postings from last year - what ever happened with that?

I started hunting around and found the blogs for the first two hires:

Are there more?

I see Chris talking about NextD and IBM and other topics of interest, so I am glad that I found his blog.

I also found this: Microsoft's Architect Evangelists (software architecture, of course, not physical or information architecture) are teaming up with Chris for a "roadshow" that is part of ArcReady: (bold added by me)

Microsoft's journey towards creating new technology strategies, platforms, tools and practices is to drive the next generation of software for consumers and the enterprise. It's not without irony that one of the most neglected and challenging components of the software design process is understanding how to identify, design and implement the 'experience' that an individual will have with an interface. Learn how Microsoft is elevating 'user experience' to a first-class citizen in the software design and development process. Understand why 'user experience' may be one of the most important parts of an Architect’s job in creating new software that will matter.

Our next ArcReady program is called "Architecting for the User Experience." Our guest speaker will be Chris Bernard, UX Evangelist for Microsoft. Together with the Central Region Architect Evangelists, we’ll discuss the role of the 'user experience' in architectural design and provide hands-on, practical guidance for getting better results in your own projects. We’ll discuss WPF, Silverlight (formerly “WPF/E”), XAML and the new Expressions suite of products that allow designers, architects and developers to build great 'user experiences' using the same base technologies. More importantly, we will discuss how architects can work with software design professionals in new and innovative ways to create the next generation of 'experiences' and products that will be demanded by consumers and the enterprise.

The midwest is covered extensively and there will be several shows within 3 hours of Toledo:

Targeted at senior developers, there are 2 parts to the talk: (1) What architects should address as they design software. (2) How architects and designers work together.

Looking at the other cities and dates, makes me think of a rock star schedule...

Agile interview

The parade of interviews continues - I love it. Last night was one about integrating user-centered design into Agile methods with David Fox, a student of Frank Maurer. I met Frank at CASCON where we did a workshop together on the human element of Agile.

Some of the things we talked about: lo/medium/high fidelity user experience work, how our Agile UX team is working with an Agile development team (and less-than-Agile) other teams, what tools would be valuable to get the UX work better integrated, and specifically on information architecture work and Agile.

HCR Manor Care: Web Content Administrator

Here is a local job opportunity for a user experience professional (there are not very many opportunities around here).

HCR Manor Care: Web content administrator, Web Design (CSS) / Portal Administration. "This Web Content Administrator position will work with a team to administer our portal, utilize HTML/CSS for our web applications / web sites, manage and enhance our content management system." Two of the skills listed (in the local newspaper ad for this job):

  • Web usability and user experience
  • Information architecture

I know some of the people there - it would be a good place to work.

To find out more about this job, start with a Corporate office job search. You will eventually get to the job description where you can apply.

Blog topics: 

Being interviewed about how I got started

I have been interviewed twice in the last 3 days about how I got started doing what I do, what influenced me along the way, what were the major events in my career. (Not sure when each interview will debut.)

The first was at Kent State, where I made a video for the IAKM program. They interviewed several people at the IA Summit in Vegas last month. I waited to do mine since I knew I would be visiting them. Questions ranged from how I got started in IA to the challenges I see today. The panel session later in the day also had several good questions about the early days at Argus.

The second was this morning, part of the brand new UX Pioneers project by Tamara Adlin - site launched about 2 hours ago. (Tamara delayed the debut of her new site for an hour and a half to talk to me today.) Just in time for CHI - 3 interviews up so far and lots more to come. I am in the "and later" category: it will take a while for my meanderings to be transcribed, edited and made intelligent.

It took several months to set up this interview. I think the first hurdle was getting over the "pioneer" label, which Tamara finally convinced me did apply. Never written a book, never run a company, never invented an input device, never created software of note, never established a research program, never did anything that I think people would normally think of an HCI, IA, UCD or user experience pioneer to have done. Yet, there I am, listed with many people I admire. Go figger.

Anyway, these interviews have caused me to think back a lot and appreciate how lucky I have been. I am sure I will do some blog entries that look back - I will try not to bore you.


Subscribe to Keith Instone RSS