Various sensors worn on different body parts. Multiple tracking systems, different data produced.
Zykluserkennungssoftware, die: German word "drive cycle recognition" software, a term used in a comment seen on Spiegel Online... that refers to software used to pass pollution tests (🚗💨)… modified by VW (so that they work only during tests).
AI trainer : a new job profile that consists in supervising/train computer programs: "A team of 'AI trainers' works with the program, and if there’s a request that M doesn’t understand the trainers take over. M then learns from what the human trainer does, and can use that technique with later requests." (seen here, thanks Fabien Girardin)
Plogging : the transposition of the (we)blogging logic to social networking platforms such as Facebook or Twitter (which may allow longer posts), seen in this article (merci Virginie Bejot)
开挂 (abbreviation of 开外挂 "kai1 gua4") : a Chinese term used to express disbelief or that something has been enhance/forged (e.g. a Photoshopped image), and which originally refers to "the act of running an illegal plug-in on a game, either for practical usability purposes (translating an interface into Chinese) or to cheat (faking in-game presence to accumulate more virtual currency, or even packet modification to make a character move faster in an online game)" (Source: BoingBoing)
Seen in Paris few weeks ago, a private car using the Autolib infrastructure to power up its batteries.
Why do I blog this? The need to recharge electrical objects – ranging from smartphones to cars – is more and more prevalent... and lead to such kind of behavior... reminding me of people looking for power plugs in trains (obviously toilets can help here) or in weird urban places (such as the outlets made available for farmers market owners).
My interest in design fiction has always been related to my ethnographic practice (see for instance this piece about it) which is why I find it interesting to run into these two notions :
"Ethnographies of the possible", coined by Joachim Halse (2013):
"are a way of materializing ideas, concerns and speculations through committed ethnographic attention to the people potentially affected by them. It is about crafting accounts that link the imagination to its material forms. And it is about creating artifacts that allow participants to revitalize their pasts, reflect upon the present, and extrapolate into possible futures. These ambitions lie at the borderland between design and anthropology. For designers involved in this type of process, it is a new challenge to craft not beautiful and convincing artifacts, but evocative and open-ended materials for further experimentation in collaboration with non-designers. For anthropologists, it is a new challenge to creatively set the scene for a distorted here and now with a particular direction as a first, but important step toward exploring particular imaginative horizons in concrete ways."
Halse, J. (2013). "Ethnographies of the possible", in Gunn, W., Otto, T. & Smith, R.C. (eds). Design Anthropology: Theory and Practice, Bloomsbury, pp. 180-196.
"Anticipatory ethnography", proposed by Lindley and Sharma:
"Anticipatory ethnography suggests that the properties of the traditional inputs to design ethnography (situated observations) are analogous with the ‘value adding’ element of design fictions (diegetic prototypes). [...] Assuming that these suppositions are correct, then we can infer that combining the exploratory and temporally independent techniques of design fiction, may allow design ethnography to glimpse the future. Conversely, design ethnography’s established tools for sense making and analysis can be applied to explorations in design fiction. Can anticipatory ethnography lend speculative, the gravitas of hindsight?"
Lindley, J. & Sharma, D. (2014). An Ethnography of the Future. Paper presented at ‘Strangers in Strange Lands’ – An anthropology and science fiction symposium hosted by the University of Kent, Canterbury.
Why do I blog this? These definitions echo with my own research interests. More specifically, a project like Curious Rituals is based on a dual movement : a field research phase that aimed at designing a fictional representation of everyday gestures with digital technologies. To some extent, it is close to the two concepts defined above... and I see design fiction as a sort of "downstream user research" approach to test scenarios about the future... for instance by running focus groups with users and project stakeholders, generating a debate about pieces of technologies by taking concrete instances/scenarios (videos, catalogues, user manuals, etc.).
These definition also reminded me of Laura Forlano's text on Ethnography Matters. Called "Ethnographies from the Future: What can ethnographers learn from science fiction and speculative design?", it dealt with similar issues and ended up with this insightful remark:
"As ethnographers, it is not enough to describe social reality, to end a project when the last transcripts and field notes have been analyzed and written up. We must find new ways to engage and collaborate with our subjects (both human and nonhuman). We need better ways of turning our descriptive, analytical accounts into those that are prescriptive, and which have greater import in society and policy. We may do this by inhabiting narratives, generating artifacts to think with and engaging more explicitly with the people formerly known as our “informants” as well as with the public at large."
(I used to run a daily idiom thing on twitter few years ago, never had the time to continue, but I guess a weekly lexicon is easier to maintain)
Speakularity (spotted on Nautilus) : a word proposed by journalist Matt Thompson and that corresponds to the transition between a society in which "the default expectation for recorded speech will be that it’s searchable and readable, nearly in the instant." (while the default nowadays is that it's not)
Sega-core (found in Killscreen) : sub-genre of chiptune music, produced by machines with 16-bits processors (Sega Genesis in particular)
Stratocaching : evolution of geoaching (a game in which participants use a GPS receiver or mobile device to hide and seek containers, called "geocaches) with flying objects (balloons, flying capsules, etc.) dropped to earth from the sky.
Fork bomb (also called rabbit virus, or wabbit) : a denial-of-service attack wherein a process continually replicates itself to deplete available system resources, causing resource starvation and slowing or crashing the system.
Why do I blog this? Seen in the Arlanda Express in Stockholm this week, this intriguing signage is meant for an invisible interface, the (standard) automatic door which always leads perplexed user to wonder how to open it. Although I like the icons here, I had to help two persons during the trip to downtown.
The kind of wearable computing you find at the market in Geneva. It's been a while these sound-activated t-shirts exist and I find it fascinating to see them around in 2015. Future mundane at its best here.
Here’s a list of services offered in an AC-intense mobile phone repair shop in Trinidad (Cuba): "desbloqueo decodificatión y liberación de celulares, código de usuario, cambio de idioma, cambio de frecuencia, reparación de software (flasheo), reparación de celulares Chinos, reparaciones generales de hardware (display, flex, táctiles, bocinas, micrófonos, régiment de carga), eliminación de humedad a móviles, instalación de aplicaciones, actualización de sistema Android, actualización de sistema IOS, configuración del coreo nauta, información et asesoria gratuitas."
A rather broad and interesting inventory. Some of the services can generally be fond in this type of shop ((I regularly visit these stores while traveling here and there )); unlocking the SIM card and change components (speaker, microphone ...) in particular. I also understood "eliminación of humedad has móviles" is not related to the climatic constraints of moisture as one might think, but rather to the fact that many people, there as elsewhere, seems to drop the phone in the water 📱💦. The other services are less common : assistance with phone configuration (language, messaging software, update OS) or app installation. The precision concerning the Chinese mobile phone repair is obviously intriguing too.
Basically, this type of store is not very different from those I have just a few meters from my home in Geneva. However, Cuba has many other shop/counters/garage/apartment????) offering repair services for all kinds of other artifacts : for automobiles of course (from 1951 Plymouth to the latest Audi), electro-mechanical watch/clock, garden and kitchen hardware, bikes, etc.
Given the difficulty to acquire property on the island, this is not hardly a surprise, but it reflects a important“repair culture". However, unlike many titles of articles or reference guide saying that a visit to Cuba is a “frozen in time", it is a lively present. With, one the one hand, a variety of technical objects both old and new, not necrotic at all. And, on the other hand, altered artifacts, with more or less recent parts. The best example being the bicitaxi (bicycle taxi) that are certainly rudimentary at first but whose sound consists bluetooth speakers hanging on the ceiling (cardboard, metal or wood) and controlled by a smartphone (iPhone or Android ). Similarly, American cars are certainly old, but the driver may well have a bluetooth headset for phone calls, and a USB key inserted into car stereos with tons of mp3s collected in in music stores delivering content more or less fresh downloaded from the Internet (and potentially via the Paquete Semanal). The government also contribue to this, as attested by the Soviet-like toll arches on Havana highways ... on which fixed cameras read the registration plates (according to our taxi driver) in a very contemporary robot world-readable fashion. This type of arrangement is also not limited only to hardware tinkering, it is found in fact in the service of such design… with Airbnb being available for in some casa particulares (guest capita ) with a payment made through an intermediary in an agency in Miami.
Another consequence of this culture of DIY also concerns the recycling of objects, materials and spare parts from multiple devices. Some examples encountered : along with the inevitable mention of 1950s US cars, I ran across a lawn mower made up of a screw motor metal rods and a small motorcycle tank, a leaf blower assembled with a vacuum cleaner motor mounted on a leather harness and a North American switch, a Lada VAZ-2101 engine placed in the hood of a 1957 Dodge, etc. This kind of bricolage is also described by the anthropologist Sarah Hill in a fascinating article titled "Recycling History and the Never-Ending Cuban Life of Things" ... who goes into more detail on what I describe here. Without idealizing these practices, it would be intriguing to compare this practices with other recycling and repair cultures including Gambiarra described Felipe Fonseca in Brazil.
Without offering the same conditions (political, social, technological and other) that the Western world, the island is far from being “frozen in the past” as I’ve seen written here and there. And one can also wonder wether this type of lively hybridization cannot be also considered as our future. It seems reasonable to think that a culture of recycling or DIY could become widespread in the Western world due to the scarcity multiple commodities / rare metals.
Two visualizations (among many others) from unknown authors.
This two-pages document is from a magazine called EPOCA:
A simple series with some design parameters presented with icons from 3oneseven:
The next one is made by Bogdan Răuţă for usell.com:
Why do I blog this? I recently started a project about smartphone gestures, a sort of follow-up to Curious Rituals. These representations (which are not perfect of course) are relevant for that matter, as they show how different parameters evolved over time.
"Fortress of Solitude" by Space Caviar (Simone Niquille), sound by M.E.S.H:
"is an essay film in three chapters investigating the technology used to make the home smarter. The internet and alternative network protocols are the backbone to home automation. Much of the technology infused into homes and our everyday lives have a history of defense funding or only exist because of military research. Is the smart home in fact a militarisation of the domestic, home.mil? Is our home becoming a data machine rather than architecture for living? Are our most privates spaces broadcasting our lives involuntarily instead of providing shelter?"
Why do I blog this? Both because the topic is important wrt to recent project (cloud computing project, as well as smart cities scouting reports), and because the format itself is intriguing. This is a great exemple of how design work materialize issues, situations and consequences of domestic technologies.
Futures research, foresight and speculative design often use the notion of "possible", "potential", "plausible" and "preferable" future. See for instance the work by Stuart Candy who uses the diagram above based on the work of different researchers. This typology is described in more details in these two articles:
Hancock, T. & Bezold, C. (1994). Possible futures, preferable futures. Healthcare Forum Journal, vol. 37, no. 2, 23–29
Voros, J. (2001). A Primer on Futures Studies, Foresight and the Use of Scenarios, prospect, the Foresight Bulletin, No 6, Swinburne University of Technology
Why do I blog this? It seems that this graph spread like an internet meme, and it's relevant to get back to how it has been produced, why and how.
Here's a photo of the poster we presented two weeks ago at the European Academy of Design Conference in Paris. It's based on a research project conducted at HEAD – Genève which led to this book (we're working on a second edition). The diagrams depicts the different profiles of designers (regarding the way to carry out field research in their projects) and the set of steps they go through (from producing data to analyzing them and creating design elements out of it). This is the type of process I am using in my workshops about design ethnography, as a pedagogical tool to help participants. We're going to use it in the upcoming studio organized with Annelore Schneider at the Geneva School of Art and Design in order to explore the future of mobile photography.
The graphic design has been done by Fabienne Kilchör and Sebastien Fasel from emphase.ch
Here's the PDF if you're interested in printing it (and you have access to a plotter).
"At a time in which the digital is omnipresent, the interdisciplinary group exhibition Short Cuts highlights the dialogue between two generations of artists who operate between art, design and technology. This comparison makes clear how technology and its influences are present in the electronic arts of our own times as well as in the concrete and kinetic art of the 60s and 70s. In these works we see graphic design, algorithms, innovative production processes of series and new kinds of aesthetic forms. Comparable with the view through a kaleidoscope, the exhibition allows access to a variety of formal and discursive approaches which refer to the interplay between the increasingly digitalised world in which we live and artistic practices influenced by digital media."
Some examples below, among many inspiring pieces.
"Teacher of Algorithms" by Simone Rebaudengo and commissioned by thingtank.org/ is an highly intriguing project "built with Cardboard and a lot of randomness". It's basically an exploration of algorithm training, how "smart/learning objects" are not finished entities and can evolve by observing contextual data such a people's habits.
Why do I blog this? A fascinating speculative exploration of an important topic; i love the notion of "teach of algorithm" based on the fact that people might be too lazy to train their so-called smart things. It's the "internet of things" equivalent to goldfarmers to some extent. Besides that, the future mundane flavor is great in there.
Some serious business going on here: a Facetime-enabled visioconference operated while walking (seen in Geneva, Switzerland). Verbal and non-verbal communication in the context of a heated debate on a subject I could not parse because of my lack of knowledge of this language.
Why do I blog this? Such situation is nonetheless utterly fascinating as a curious rituals happening these days (with or without a selfie-stick). The "private bubble" located in the public sphere in a new way with different instruments.
This coffee machine encountered at the University of Lausanne (thanks Olivier G. for pointing me this example) seems like an interesting example of an everyday situation reconfigured by digital technology. Apart from cash, coffee drinkers can use their RFID "campus card" (see the plastic things that hold the card on the reader), which also happens to open door and pay restaurants among other tasks:
Why do I blog this? documenting the digital everyday, as mundane as it may be.
An inspiring article in ACM interactions called "on the importance and implications of studying technology non-use" by Eric Baumer, Jenna Burrell, Morgan Ames, Jed Brubaker and Paul Dourish. It revolves around the idea that the "the dominant discourse in HCI still focuses primarily on technology users" and that "non-use and other forms of technological relationships" are both common and relevant to analyze. The topic that caught my attention is the typology of non-usage:
"Non-use could be understood as the absence of action and, as such, may not be amenable to study through methods traditionally used to study participants’ actions. [...] In contrast, Jonathan Lukens’s study of visual artists who avoid using tools such as Photoshop for specific portions of their work demonstrates how non-use can require as much, if not more, conscious, deliberate, effortful action as technology use does. In this way, while non-use is often understood as the absence of a phenomenon or practice, something else likely exists in place of use, and it is that something we should be studying. [...] Lindsay Ems’s research highlights that even individuals or groups famous for non-use, such as the Amish, do not avoid information and communication technologies entirely, but rather selectively take them up, mediated by cultural norms and religious values. [...] non-use could be understood not as an identity, where a given individual is either a user or a non-user, but rather as a continually negotiated practice. For example, Alex Leavitt’s work studying situational non-use of Google Glass points to the moment-to-moment negotiations, often around privacy, between the Glass wearer and others about when and how the technology should (and should not) be used."
See also the position papers from the workshop that led to this paper.
Why do I blog this? Because this kind of blind spot might be interesting to focus on in a design ethnography class.
"Activate switch", "Touch to Exit", "Push to Exit", "Press to operate door": the vocabulary of doors is impressive here.