24 August 2008

Cities are all about difficulty

Be the first to share

Adam Greenfield
The PICNIC conference website has posted a short but intriguing interview with Adam Greenfield, Nokia’s new head of design direction. An excerpt about the urban experience, technology and solitude:

“You know, I believe that cities are all about difficulty. They’re about waiting: for the bus, for the light to change, for your order of Chinese take-out to be ready. They’re about frustration: about parking tickets, dogshit, potholes and noisy neighbors. They’re about the unavoidable physical and psychic proximity of other human beings competing for the same limited pool of resources….the fear of crime, and its actuality. These challenges have conditioned the experience of place for as long as we’ve gathered together in settlements large and dense enough to be called cities.

And as it happens, with our networked, ambient, pervasive informatic technology, we now have (or think we have) the means to address some of these frustrations. In economic terms, these technologies both lower the information costs people face in trying to make the right decisions, and lower the opportunity cost of having made them.

So you don’t head out to the bus stop until the bus stop tells you a bus is a minute away, and you don’t walk down the street where more than some threshold number of muggings happen – in fact, by default it doesn’t even show up on your maps – and you don’t eat at the restaurant whose forty-eight recent health code violations cause its name to flash red in your address book. And all these decisions are made possible because networked informatics have effectively rendered the obscure and the hidden transparent to inquiry. And there’s no doubt that life is thusly made just that little bit better.

But there’s a cost – there’s always a cost. Serendipity, solitude, anonymity, most of what we now recognize as the makings of urban savoir faire: it all goes by the wayside. And yes, we’re richer and safer and maybe even happier with the advent of the services and systems I’m so interested in, but by the same token we’re that much poorer for the loss of these intangibles. It’s a complicated trade-off, and I believe in most places it’s one we’re making without really examining what’s at stake”.

Read interview

Meanwhile Greenfield posted on his own blog about the difference between context-aware applications and location-based services.

Referring to the prototypes by designer Mac Funamizu, Greenfield writes:

“The device’s capabilities and available interface modalities at any given moment are largely if not entirely determined by the other networked objects around it. If you pair the device with a text, it’s a reader; at the checkstand, it provides a friendly POS interface; aimed at the skyline, it augments reality.

Why this argument is so self-evident to longterm IxD folks and so relatively hard for anyone else to grok is, I believe, a function of the fact that we already take for granted the (rather significant) assumption from which it proceeds: that the greater part of the places and things we find in the world will be provided with the ability to speak and account for themselves. That they’ll constitute a coherent environment, an ontome of self-describing networked objects, and that we’ll find having some means of handling the information flowing off of them very useful indeed. […]

The second thing Mac got right is more subtle, and it’s a line about the evolution of mobile devices that I think is deeply correct. It’s that the device is of almost no importance in and of itself, that its importance to the person using it lies in the fact that it’s a convenient aperture to the open services available in the environment, locally as well as globally.

Mac happens to have interpreted this metaphor particularly literally, but there’s nothing wrong with that; it’s certainly a defensible choice. The business lesson that drops out of it, though – and of course I would think this – is that the crafting of an impeccable user experience is virtually the only differentiator left to a would-be player in this market, with clear implications for allocation of organizational effort and resources.”

Read full story (and clarification)

Be the first to share
31 October 2017
Waymo focuses on user experience
Waymo —formerly the Google self-driving car project— is investing a lot of time and effort on building out the user experience of its self-driving vehicles, which includes both the external and internal user-facing features of …
3 October 2017
Don’t miss Experientia at Torino Design of the City
Torino Design of the City is nearly here! Experientia will of course be part of this exciting week (10-16 October) of events, meetings, workshops, exhibitions and guided tours about design, and we warmly invite you …
10 September 2017
[Book] Everyday Schooling in the Digital Age
Everyday Schooling in the Digital Age: High School, High Tech? By Neil Selwyn, Selena Nemorin, Scott Bulfin, Nicola F. Johnson Routledge 2018 – 224 pages [Amazon link] Today’s high schools are increasingly based around the use of digital technologies. Students …
29 July 2017
Data ethnographer: the most crucial design job of the future
Data inside of algorithms is incredibly symbiotic with the algorithm itself. In product design, the data fed to algorithms determines the characteristics of a product. This implies radical transparency and giving consumers access to an …
6 June 2017
Developing a mobile chatbot for a Pittsburgh museum
The people at Studio, the design, development and workflow laboratory at Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, are working on the design and the development of a "new kind of mobile museum experience". Because they would like the …
31 May 2017
IoT seeks to remake the fundamentals of our everyday lives
Murray Goulden writes in The Conversation that smart homes, wearables and the Internet of Things are indicative of the development of an entire class of technologies seeking to remake the fundamentals of our everyday lives. These …
31 May 2017
A cultural approach to wearables (and the design opportunities it provides)
In January of this year, Sakari Tamminen and Elisabet Holmgren of the Finnish/USA innovation agency Gemic, published a paper on EPIC entitled "The Anthropology of Wearables: The Self, The Social, and the Autobiographical". A wide …
31 May 2017
 Intervista a Todd Harple di Intel sul tech-fashion
Ripostato da Medium - English version Il mondo del fashion sta diventando sempre di più digitale — e non si tratta solo di dispositivi da indossare, ma anche e soprattutto di abbigliamento, realizzato con tessuti in cui sono …

We are an international experience design consultancy helping companies and organisations to innovate their products, services and processes by putting people and their experiences first.

20 November 2017
Experientia and Italian bank Intesa Sanpaolo announce innovative partnership

Wide ranging partnership also covers collaboration with design schools and public events on service design “Finding the way forward for independent design means building new business models for service design consultancies in the age of the company buy-out.” Michele Visciola, President, Experientia PRESS RELEASE It seems the business world is finally realising that service and […]

26 October 2017
Epic storytelling with video

Another EPIC conference come and gone, and no, we’re not using “epic” in the way under-10s use it about cool things on the internet. EPIC is the Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference, one of the most important annual events for practitioners of anthropology, ethnography and related disciplines. Ethnography is one of Experientia’s key methodologies, underpinning […]

23 October 2017
Experientia is hiring! Service design intern

Service Design Intern: Lausanne, Switzerland and Turin, Italy Experientia, an international experience design consultancy, is looking for service design interns for our Turin, Italy office, to support research, concept development and design. The ideal candidate will be a holistic thinker and designer, with a systems approach to enable complex service offerings, driven by an understanding […]

23 October 2017
Experientia is hiring! Senior Service Designer

Senior Service Designer: Lausanne, Switzerland and Turin, Italy (*) We are looking for service designers with outstanding design skills, methodical thinking, and experience in designing complex service ecosystems using a human-centered design methodology.   Required 2-5 years’ experience in service design and/or user experience design University and/or advanced degree(s) in Service Design, Interaction Design, User […]

23 October 2017
Experientia is hiring! Lead Service Designer

Lead Service Designer: Lausanne, Switzerland and Turin, Italy (*) Experientia is seeking a Senior Service Designer to lead service design projects from the Turin, Italy office (*) or the Lausanne, Switzerland office. The Senior Service Designer will have experience leading a team of behavioral analysts and service modelers in research and service design projects lasting […]

18 October 2017
Innovate through service design – The Innovation Center of Intesa Sanpaolo and Experientia for “Torino Design of the City”

by Erin O’Loughlin – Photos: Naz Kazazoglu In Turin, you only need to tell your taxi driver “Take me to the skyscraper” to end up at the impressive Innovation Center of the Intesa Sanpaolo bank, rising in the heart of Turin, with a fine view of the Turin hills and the Italian alps. Here on […]

See all articles