Human Centered Design or Technology Centered Design??

9 Nov 2009 - 4:42pm
4 years ago
8 replies
1597 reads
Al Di
2008

Hello...In last few months of my Study as Interaction Design Student I
was wondering if we really forget that Interaction design is here to
helps us to make our life easier or just to makes it more complex and
problematic?

I think that we invent new technologies and then trying to
implemented them into each aspect of our life, e.g we design a smart
house to reacts and interacts with its owner ,trying to help the
owner to fulfill his need to be with somebody or his need to
interacts with other people, and then this design mentioned as very
successful project and designers of younger generation trying to copy
this point of view and following same road.

Shouldn't we instead of implementing new technologies into user's
life and writing "technology" as an answer in front of every
questions ,try to think really outside of the Box and help our user
to learn how to communicate with his own world???

I'm really confused ....Can we find a way some days that we give the
users the wide range of possibilities without adding any fancy, good
looking technologies to his life?

Comments

10 Nov 2009 - 4:25am
Dave Malouf
2005

Well, of course you are right.
Unfortunately, the reality for most of us is that the technology is
created and it is our job to do our best to make it "not suck".
Very very very (way too) few of us begin our work truly with open
ended discovery of needs/motivations. We almost always start with
something existing.

A great example to the contrary is the work that Robert Fabricant
presented at last year's Interaction09 conference. where no new
technologies were used, but instead existing technologies were
brought to bear with new communications/messaging to creae new
services. (video available at http://library.ixda.org/).

And it is where service and interaction meet that the repurposing of
existing technologies instead of the invention of new ones probably
has the greatest design opportunities.

Yes, this all proves that the examples are too few. But one could
easily say now that the web is such a ubiquitous part of
industrialized life that no matter what we add there (or more
generally to the Internet) is not an invention of technology but just
the use of a tremendous broad utility much as Robert's example of
using SMS demonstrated.

-- dave

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10 Nov 2009 - 12:26pm
Michael Eckersley
2007

Ali,

Thanks for your post (and David for your reply).

Yours is a common concern of mine as well. In my experience, design
efforts usually begin at the wrong place-- a client throws a
"stick" and the design team happily fetches up a technological
treatment to a problem they can't fully describe. Almost inevitably
the "stick" is symptomatic of a deeper problem that goes
unresolved.

Years of working with health care pros has taught a useful diagnostic
discipline that cuts thru immediate concerns to underlying issues
(i.e., skills of good gum shoe detective work). That's where
interaction can really be beneficial in diagnosing the actual cause
of the problem and offering up a practical solution. "Technology"
may (or may not) be part of that solution. Fighting for even a small
research budget on any such project is important to getting at causes
and advising on a thoughtful "design intervention".

This conditioned, "fetching" behavior among designers is an
enormous waste of resources. Knowing something about rigorous
design-planning (offered up by folks like Chuck Owen and others at
ID-IIT), and being willing to push back against precipitous action
can afford strategic rigor and respect to a design team that they
otherwise don't command.

Best,

-ME

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10 Nov 2009 - 6:09pm
Al Di
2008

Thank you Michael and Dave for your replies...

Today I was attending a lecture session by Adam Greenfield about
"Elements of a Networked Urbanism". The ideas he was showing us
were great, cities with great level of intelligence which could be
our future cities but still I've found the same struggle within my
mind and I would like to share it with you,here it is.." during late
80's and 90's medias started to create a new future for human beings
with lots of movies and comic books and stories, A future in which
every single object has its own intelligence and they try to show
that life would be so much easier in near future and put this concept
in mind of every child during those years.
Now we found out that those utopias that we have created on those
days have tons of side effects which at the time of their creation we
were not aware of them or they were not so important as today. Now we
start to think about finding the way to solve those problems ( side
effects) .
The good part is we actually looking for a way to solve these
problems but the dangerous part is that we still use new technologies
to solve our problems without concerning about its future side effects
which we may cause for next generation...let me give an example:

we created a mp3 player which every individual can listen to the
music she/he wants.after years we are facing a group of people which
all of them wearing headphones and stand side by side of each other
on queues without even thinking about the other persons that are by
her/his side (iPod life Style)..after few years Psychological studies
reveals that we are facing a new problem " People become lonely "
and this cause lots of social problems. Then we start to solve these
new emerged problems by offer people new devices which instead of
only playing music , help them to communicate with other people
around them via Blue tooth or WiFi connections.
But there is nobody to tell us hey..the only thing that these people
really needs is face to face communication with other people just like
the things that they had before we changed their life Style.

I'm Wondering How can we address these Needs and How we can come up
with new ideas that in future would not cause of these problems?

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10 Nov 2009 - 9:27pm
Dave Malouf
2005

I think it is a false correlation to assume that technology caused the
problem. Way too easy. B/c there are tons of cases where technology
has been used to break isolation. Look at what Twitter and YouTube
have done. Look up the work of Michael Wesch on YouTube and you'll
see who groups of people finding each other, not hiding out.

People are lonely, not b/c they are wearing headphones. People are
lonely b/c we have disintegrated the extended and now the nuclear
family and replaced it with materialism and false ideologies.

So w/ that in mind, I appreciate your POV, but I feel it is not a
complete story, nor fully representative of the complexities facing
people today.

-- dave

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11 Nov 2009 - 6:16am
Al Di
2008

Dear Dave

I know that it is not the whole story but as far as our concern as
interaction designer I think designers should be aware of misusing
the technologies or using it too much that may cause the problem.I
also believe that technologies have lots of benefits and I'm aware
of them and appreciate them.
But I think there must be a way to help designers not to fall in
trap.

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11 Nov 2009 - 12:08pm
david.shaw6@gma...
2004

Hi Dave,

Wanted to let you know your comment really rang a bell for me:

"*People are lonely, not b/c they are wearing headphones. People are
lonely b/c we have disintegrated the extended and now the nuclear
family and replaced it with materialism and false ideologies*."

I wonder how we as interaction designers can influence culture to move
beyond materialism and false ideologies and really connect as people once
were. Love to hear any thoughts people have around this!

Cheers!
David

On Tue, Nov 10, 2009 at 10:27 AM, dave malouf <dave.ixd at gmail.com> wrote:

> I think it is a false correlation to assume that technology caused the
> problem. Way too easy. B/c there are tons of cases where technology
> has been used to break isolation. Look at what Twitter and YouTube
> have done. Look up the work of Michael Wesch on YouTube and you'll
> see who groups of people finding each other, not hiding out.
>
> People are lonely, not b/c they are wearing headphones. People are
> lonely b/c we have disintegrated the extended and now the nuclear
> family and replaced it with materialism and false ideologies.
>
> So w/ that in mind, I appreciate your POV, but I feel it is not a
> complete story, nor fully representative of the complexities facing
> people today.
>
> -- dave
>
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=47301
>
>
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11 Nov 2009 - 1:36pm
Dave Malouf
2005

I struggle with this same thing. I think its why I went into education
(among other reasons). But since we have all been effected (me
included: if you only knew how much TV I watch, e.g.) by these
realities, it makes it really hard for any of us to truly push out of
them.

But this is why I have been concentrating on my work being less about
designing the behavior of products and more about designing the
behaviors of people through the behaviors of products & services.

There is an idealism to this though that doesn't map against the
realities that all designers are facing. Work in our world has to pay
for the food & shelter minimally required according to the cultural
standard of living you as a designer have said is what you
need/want/deserve, etc. We all can't do everything pro-bono or even
go work for Bono. ;-)

I also think this is all very difficult b/c of the needs of the
economic structures we are embedded in. We just can't stop making
stuff on a dime. Part of the story of stuff (reference on purpose)
that we have to acknowledge is that the money they generate does
currently make the world go round. So working to "stop" that is
well contra-indicated w/o HUGE social, cultural, and economic
changes.

Oy! I'm depressed ... I think it is time to play a game on my
iPhone. Ah! Doodle Jump will soothe my mind. ;-)

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12 Nov 2009 - 5:22pm
Cris
2009

Here's great article that talks about how some technology is NOT
causing social isolation.

http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/05/does-technology-reduce-social-isolation/

...which references this Pew study:

http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2009/18--Social-Isolation-and-New-Technology.aspx

...all of which just goes to show how hard it can be to predict the
influences of technology on behavior.

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