Week 6 Assignment

Thoughtful Interaction Design by Jonas Lowgren and Erik Stolterman

I really enjoyed this reading and found it so inspiring! It is so interesting to read about simply being a designer and the responsibilities and excitement that can come with it. Studying in this area I regard myself as a designer already and this reading really made me think about what that means.

It means having the privileged to be creating and implementing new ideas into society, working with a range of people on a range of projects, constantly learning about new technologies and new ways to think about design and the design process. It incorporates the challenges and risks you have to accept in order to produce unique products/services, as well as the rewards of contributing to human life. Design spans across so many different areas, which you often forget, and works in so many different ways for example to allow certain behaviours, and even restrict them.

In a way this reading also reassured me that there is never a perfect design process and that things can often happen unintentionally and by mistake. Design is all about the process and if you don’t do that right and without making a few mistakes along the way, you might not create the most effective design. I think this ties in with the concept of being a thoughtful designer because you don’t immediately have the great idea/concept and implement it, you really have to go through the process to shape and develop an idea in order for it to fit with the user needs and functional requirements.

The design experience I’ve had has helped me to recognise good and bad design. Last year I completed a course on app design and since then I notice myself getting frustrated when apps don’t have the qualities or functions that they should have, or the design is just generally poor. Bad design really does stand out.

In saying that, who’s to say what functions they should have? Clearly just because a designed product/service is on offer, doesn’t necessarily mean it is successful or even useful. This addresses the balancing act of designers to please the client and the user, giving the client what they want and the user what they need. Should one have more input than the other? Ideally the client would also be able to relate to the user? As a user I feel annoyed when the app doesn’t serve the purpose I am using it for, or it is difficult to navigate. In today’s world when there is so much choice and variation, this user frustration is dangerous because if it’s not satisfying the user they will simply move on to another product. Therefore not only is it a challenge to keep up with new and improving technology, it must be done at a rate quicker or more effective than competitors.

I think this relates to the design as knowledge construction because everyone involved in the process needs a certain amount knowledge to get the most out of interaction design. As well an understand of the design solution, the reason and context for the design.

I liked the author’s comment about designing for the future from the now. How can we effectively design for the unknown? Do we just experience the now and recognise areas that could be improved? It’s funny to think about but it is exactly what happens, with technology advancements especially. Rapid change is a big part of our world today, in every manner, and we are forced to keep up with that. As designers we hold some of the responsibility to accommodate it, push the boundaries of what it can do and offer us, as well as being apart of implementing such change. After all, “to design is to create something new” and that is what we aim to achieve. “Design is an amazing activity” and I feel lucky to be in such an innovative industry where we have the power influence people and their lives in such a big way.


Using Technolology – Day 1

  • alarm
  • message friends/family at home
  • read the news during breakfast
  • snapchat throughout the day
  • listen to music at the gym
  • message friends to meet for dinner
  • message classmates for group projects

I’ve discovered I use my phone so much throughout the day! It even starts my day by the alarm waking me up. Then I check my messages/facebook/instagram (such an effort keeping up with social media right! Sad that we feel the need to). Another observation I made is that I’m often on my phone most in the morning time talking to friends from home because of the time difference and them being 4 hours ahead of Singapore. I often use my phone to communicate with friends here to meet for meals or to do something – go out/to the pool etc. I’d say I use my phone mostly for communication, more so now I am also trying to keep in touch with my family and friends back home, as well as those friends I have here. Other uses would be listening to music (generally and at the gym), taking photos, reading the news (which I try to do once a day, and often get update notifications of current events), checking emails, checking bank balance/transferring funds, setting reminders. Also there are a lot of times where I receive notifications which prompts me to use my phone, instead of me making the conscious decision to use it- terrible excuse when notifications can be turned off!

I’ve observed that everyone else is also using their phone almost every minute of the day. Our phones are never far away from us, on the desk as we study, in our hands as we walk, in our pockets during class etc. We have developed this reliance and habit of having it close by at all times. People walk around heads down on their phones, they use it on the bus, during meal times and while they study.

Going without technology – Day 2

  • No alarm
  • I was able to start my day without the delay in checking my phone
  • I probably paid more attention to that activities I was taking part in
  • I wasn’t constantly checking my phone for notification although I did miss checking the time! I should really buy a watch…
  • Wasn’t able to do much homework as its all on my computer -oh no!
  • I could relax better, I had less possessions to keep track of as well as things to keep track of

It was even tricky to choose the right day to do this because of how attached and reliant I am on my phone! On the weekend I went to Penang with some friends so took the day of our 15 hour bus ride to go without technology- even though that was during the night/morning. During this time I observed my friends using their phones to listen to music, take photos and message friends and I resisted!

I didn’t miss not having a laptop because I mostly use it for doing work or Facebook, and I was out doing stuff so I didn’t notice that change too much. Being without my phone though was a big change! Even just not carrying it or having it in my hand was different- how sad is that!

Luckily already being with people allowed me to have company or else I would imagine that it would have just been very lonely not having access to technology in order to organise meals/activities with other people, something you learn to do when you live by yourself. It also meant that I didn’t have the means to take photos (but my friends did phew!) but it did give me a sense of freedom. I didn’t have to worry about where my phone was (I find I get worried when travelling about loosing it as it would leave me very stuck!) or communicating with people and ‘keeping up to date with social media’ -nice to not have to do that! I did rely someone on my friends and their phones in order to take photos, find directions for us, plan where we were going to go – but nice that I could leave that to them! I felt more connected to my surroundings and definitely paid more attention to it.

I should really do this more often as it is so easy to get too attached to technology, phones in particular. But in today’s world it has become a tool that is required, and even requires constant attention -eg lots of my classes have group work and the way we communicate is obviously through technology. Social media sends constant updates (irrelevant!) but so do news websites/apps and I find it a good way to keep up to date with current events. I noticed this particularly during the Olympics and the updates were a great way for me to keep up the different events and particularly how NZ was doing as I got notified whenever our athletes competed or won medals! Basically technology has sucked us in and got us addicted to being informed. It offers us access to information about what is happening in our friends lives (can be relevant but not always!) as well as what is happening throughout the rest of the world.

Week 5 Assignment

Reading Response – Chipchase, Hidden in Plain Sight, You are what you carry CH4.

Again Chipchase has encouraged me to think about the ordinary and mundane tasks I perform in everyday life, in a way that I haven’t before.

I was able to relate to many of the points he discussed -I too have the ‘keys, money, phone’ point of reflection before leaving my room everyday to ensure I have remembered everything, but it was the analysis of these objects that interested me. Thinking about these objects in terms of offering us our primary needs is so accurate, and the secondary needs come from the other things we carry around -sunglasses, paper, pens, water, panadol etc are all ‘non-essential’ things that I take with me to alleviate my sense of perceived redundancies, they are the contingencies/items I may need.

This reading made me realise that I have a very small range of distribution, I like my belongings where I can see them. I think this is due to a high perceived risk, perhaps because I am in an unfamiliar country and still getting used to things in Singapore and also from past experiences like my house at home being robbed a few times. Therefore my sense of security has heightened both inside and outside of my home. Other contextual factors include being a foreigner and a traveller which has also boosted this sense of awareness and the safety of my surroundings. As I go to foreign countries my parents always remind me to be careful with my belongings particularly as getting replacements for any important documents/objects could potentially be very difficult being so far from home.

My organised personality has meant that I use centres of gravity to help me remember where I leave things. I try to put my things back in the same place (such as my keys/purse) and I definitely think that this mental convenience holds equal importance to the physical convenience.

The idea of physically carrying everything on your phone with you each day, instead of having it digitally stored, made me realise and appreciate the amount of information we have such easy accessibility to. Despite maybe not using all of my apps often, I still need them all as they will get used at some point. Chipchase touched on the idea of backing up data which made me recall how recently my mum’s hard-drive broke so we went to investigate getting it fixed and basically were told its not possible, they are made only to last a couple years and then you must purchase a new one. This seemed so strange to me because then you would have to back up one hard drive to another and surely you would run out of space very quickly? However this seems to be how technology is controlling us and taking advantage of our consumer practices, like how your iPhone will eventually slow down and loose function after a few years to encourage customers to buy a new one and constantly upgrade. Is this a result of technology advances occurring so rapidly or is it a marketing ploy to get us to continue to spend? It shows how we are “at the mercy of the network” and almost controlled by technology companies and the products that they produce.

I am intrigued by the idea of limiting our ownership while also increasing the number of things we use. This could increase the network of renting things, which already is a popular form of ownership. There seem to be so many platform sand opportunities to rent things temporarily rather than buying it as the use of that object doesn’t warrant or require a complete ownership. I wonder how far this concept could expand? There are already platforms for people to rent out their clothes, for example dresses for special occasions, so are there other objects that we use everyday which could be rented to us instead of purchased?

Finally I will address the notion of convenience, our need and appreciation of things to be smarter and faster. While the world is constantly changing and therefore technology is giving things the ability to be smarter and faster, should we really demand much more? The talk of putting sensors and tracking devices on us to analyse our habits seems too far! If we have companies guessing our next moves and being one step ahead where does that leave us? It takes away our control and our decision making, leaving these companies to influence our behaviours to the degree that they almost control them. I understand and appreciate technology and the ease and aid it allows us in different situations, however I would still like the ability to control my behaviours and be conscious of the decisions I am making without getting lazy and having it done for me. While “the easiest way to never forget anything is to never have anything to forget” (and that would be great) it shouldn’t be the end of the world if you accidentally forget something.


Ubiquitous Technology 

Ubiquitous Technology is made to feel accessible and available anytime, everywhere, in any device and in any format.

The trend of smart phones and apps make ubiquitous technology services accessible at any time and location, given you have cellular service. Google Maps for example uses ubiquitous technology as its GPS services mean that you can locate yourself on a map and therefore find your way to another location/find the nearby methods of transportation etc.

A futuristic* example is iris scanning being projected for use on PCs, ATMs and Smartphones. Iris detection capabilities are already used in various prisons and airports. The speed of recognition can be a few seconds which is faster than fingerprints, despite using more data points for the biometric identification. Iris scanning is a passive process unlike fingerprint scans where you have to touch the surface, which can be viewed positively and negatively. It removes the conscious action of opening/unlocking the phone/computer and would speed up the process by occurring immediately. However it could also activate the action without intention if the person wasn’t aware or wanting it. Every iris is different so it would offer excellent privacy and would be reliable as your eyes are always ready, unlike fingerprint scans which don’t work from a certain angle/wet fingers/has to be right finger.

* although the article was published in 2011 it still appears to be an idea for future investigation as it has not been commonly implemented