Looking for a pledge, or ideas for same, concerning designing interactions

4 May 2005 - 10:34am
9 years ago
3 replies
538 reads
Nick Ragouzis
2004

Hi folks,

The context for this request is the possibility that
I may resume the teaching of a methodology that can be
used to help designers build interactive systems that
more powerfully lead users to satisfying ends, but
that *could* be used in a strongly perverse way.

I would like to hear of examples of, or even your ideas
for, a pledge you might agree with and to sign up for.

Nothing seriously binding, but enough to:
* Keep you thinking
* Give standing for others to call you out
* Offer some steel in the spine when attempting
to direct a client from something that's borderline

For those who want to avoid the bright lights of the
list, any links/ideas sent to me offlist I'll collect
and re-post in summary with attribution (unless you
direct otherwise).

What I'm looking for is something simple. Along the
lines of:

Having recognized that the interaction design project
explicitly entails manipulating users, I pledge to use
these tools ethically. Such use entails introspection
and vigilance in seeking identification with the user's
perspective, of both means and ends, and helping the
user towards that end.

. . . . . .

More details:

I'm not interested (on this thread, or in general) in
countering the usual arguments against the axioms
concerning designing interactions and experience.
(An _un_usual argument could be entertaining, but
please start a separate thread :-).)

Those who would be likely candidates for the pledge
(and learning and using these methods) already agree
that it's uncritical, even irresponsible, to design
as if it were otherwise.

Even though designing experience may be axiomatic among
the targeted crowd, interpretations will run the gamut.
I am not speaking of playing three-card monte (Follow
the Lady) with users. Neither is this a pledge of
neutrality or fealty to users' surfaced choices.

Every card shuffler has grounds to claim that they are
giving players precisely what they want (which for
the "mark" is an emphasis more of means than end). But
their TCM enterprise intimately depends on a perverse
interpretation of these needs.

But it is not enough to pledge that we would avoid the
TCM artist's sin, which we might say is revealed by the
mechanisms designed to draw the mark into a false sense
of skill. Think here of activism through design, where
designers entrain users in a course of action that draws
otherwise unlikely results from users (with the claim
that it benefits the commons, e.g.). In this very little
separates the environmental signage designer's program
of influencing traffic flow in public spaces against
'natural' instinct (in order to change pacing or even
encourage use of trash receptacles, to chose examples
from the benign) from the retail store designer's
program.

So I admit it: even once you align with the overall
program, the simplicity of a two-sentence pledge
belies the difficulties. I may be seeking the impossible,
something more user-directed than a professional code
(such as AIGA's) and less concrete than the objective
measures of safety found in various engineering codes.
I've looked at many of both of these types, and
variations.

For some time we've had variants of this discussion,
so I'm hopeful someone's figured it out. Possibly in a
way we can all use directly. For a more personal note,
see the postscript.

Thanks,
--Nick

The postscript:

For me it's gone beyond the *doing* problem to the
*teaching* problem. It's been an unresolved problem for
me since 1999 when I first derived this method. I've
often coached the problem in the question: Would you
use these tools to help design a casino? My answer has
been "No".

But would I teach these to others, who might use them
in that way? Well, I've flirted with it. In 2000 I
noticed how this impacted designers and researchers with
whom I shared it; including potential partners and
investors in a business proposal that put them to practice.
Subsequently I was conflicted about the prospect of
a book project of which I was a part, and somewhat
relieved that it did not get picked up ... saving me
from having to lay this out, including to my co-authors.
In 2002 I taught a short overview (including to some on
this list) but seeing the impact on some in the group
could not bring myself to share the materials afterwards.
The 2002 AIGA meeting in Las Vegas reinforced and sealed
that decision, I thought. But by the 2003 DUX I could
see that the method was seriously needed, as is research
to extend it (and to obviate a bunch of other flailing in
our discipline). By that time I had more actively been
using results from it with clients (without explanation).
In early 2004 I'd begun thinking the method could be
ethically shared and actively pursued an engagement to
teach it. Now I'm considering that again, and hoping to
improve my cover, ethically-speaking.

Ah, the joys of situational ethics ... aka real life
dilemmas.

Comments

4 May 2005 - 11:22am
Robert Reimann
2003

Hi Nick,

About Face 2.0 contains a set of Interaction
Design Imperatives that were the result of a series
of meetings between Hugh Dubberly, myself, Kim Goodwin,
David Fore, Jonathan Korman, and a number of other senior
designers at Cooper.

I think these imperatives address the concerns you raise,
and perhaps some others as well. They state that interaction
designers should create solutions that are:

- Ethical [considerate, helpful]
+ Do no harm, including
- Interpersonal harm
- Psychological harm
- Physical harm
- Environmental harm
- Social and societal harm
+ Improve human situations, including
- Increasing understanding
- Increasing a sense of enjoyment/satisfaction
- Increasing efficiency or effectiveness
of individuals and groups
- Improving communication
- Reducing socio-cultural tensions
- Improving equity (financial, social, legal)
- Balancing diversity with social cohesion

- Purposeful [useful, usable]
+ Help users achieve goals and aspirations
+ Accommodate user contexts and capacities

- Pragmatic [viable, feasible]
+ Help organizations achieve their goals
+ Accommodate business and technical requirements

- Elegant [efficient, artful, affective]
+ Represent the simplest complete solution
+ Possess internal (self revealing, understandable) coherence
+ Appropriately accommodate and stimulate cognition and emotion

These are listed roughly in order of priority. Note that
they apply equally well to almost any design discipline.
I've added "Increasing a sense of enjoyment/satisfaction" as part of
ethical concerns, which I think might have been an omission
in the original set.

Robert.

---

Robert Reimann
Manager, User Interface Design and Research

Bose Corporation
The Mountain
Framingham, MA 01701

-----Original Message-----
From:
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesign
ers.com] On Behalf Of Nick Ragouzis
Sent: Wednesday, May 04, 2005 11:34 AM
To: discuss-interactiondesigners.com at lists.interactiondesigners.com
Subject: [ID Discuss] Looking for a pledge, or ideas for same,concerning
designing interactions

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
material.]

Hi folks,

The context for this request is the possibility that
I may resume the teaching of a methodology that can be
used to help designers build interactive systems that
more powerfully lead users to satisfying ends, but
that *could* be used in a strongly perverse way.

I would like to hear of examples of, or even your ideas
for, a pledge you might agree with and to sign up for.

Nothing seriously binding, but enough to:
* Keep you thinking
* Give standing for others to call you out
* Offer some steel in the spine when attempting
to direct a client from something that's borderline

For those who want to avoid the bright lights of the
list, any links/ideas sent to me offlist I'll collect
and re-post in summary with attribution (unless you
direct otherwise).

What I'm looking for is something simple. Along the
lines of:

Having recognized that the interaction design project
explicitly entails manipulating users, I pledge to use
these tools ethically. Such use entails introspection
and vigilance in seeking identification with the user's
perspective, of both means and ends, and helping the
user towards that end.

. . . . . .

More details:

I'm not interested (on this thread, or in general) in
countering the usual arguments against the axioms
concerning designing interactions and experience.
(An _un_usual argument could be entertaining, but
please start a separate thread :-).)

Those who would be likely candidates for the pledge
(and learning and using these methods) already agree
that it's uncritical, even irresponsible, to design
as if it were otherwise.

Even though designing experience may be axiomatic among
the targeted crowd, interpretations will run the gamut.
I am not speaking of playing three-card monte (Follow
the Lady) with users. Neither is this a pledge of
neutrality or fealty to users' surfaced choices.

Every card shuffler has grounds to claim that they are
giving players precisely what they want (which for
the "mark" is an emphasis more of means than end). But
their TCM enterprise intimately depends on a perverse
interpretation of these needs.

But it is not enough to pledge that we would avoid the
TCM artist's sin, which we might say is revealed by the
mechanisms designed to draw the mark into a false sense
of skill. Think here of activism through design, where designers entrain
users in a course of action that draws otherwise unlikely results from
users (with the claim
that it benefits the commons, e.g.). In this very little separates the
environmental signage designer's program
of influencing traffic flow in public spaces against
'natural' instinct (in order to change pacing or even
encourage use of trash receptacles, to chose examples
from the benign) from the retail store designer's
program.

So I admit it: even once you align with the overall
program, the simplicity of a two-sentence pledge
belies the difficulties. I may be seeking the impossible, something more
user-directed than a professional code (such as AIGA's) and less
concrete than the objective measures of safety found in various
engineering codes.
I've looked at many of both of these types, and
variations.

For some time we've had variants of this discussion,
so I'm hopeful someone's figured it out. Possibly in a
way we can all use directly. For a more personal note,
see the postscript.

Thanks,
--Nick

The postscript:

For me it's gone beyond the *doing* problem to the
*teaching* problem. It's been an unresolved problem for
me since 1999 when I first derived this method. I've
often coached the problem in the question: Would you
use these tools to help design a casino? My answer has
been "No".

But would I teach these to others, who might use them
in that way? Well, I've flirted with it. In 2000 I
noticed how this impacted designers and researchers with
whom I shared it; including potential partners and
investors in a business proposal that put them to practice.
Subsequently I was conflicted about the prospect of
a book project of which I was a part, and somewhat
relieved that it did not get picked up ... saving me
from having to lay this out, including to my co-authors.
In 2002 I taught a short overview (including to some on
this list) but seeing the impact on some in the group
could not bring myself to share the materials afterwards.
The 2002 AIGA meeting in Las Vegas reinforced and sealed
that decision, I thought. But by the 2003 DUX I could
see that the method was seriously needed, as is research
to extend it (and to obviate a bunch of other flailing in
our discipline). By that time I had more actively been
using results from it with clients (without explanation).
In early 2004 I'd begun thinking the method could be
ethically shared and actively pursued an engagement to
teach it. Now I'm considering that again, and hoping to
improve my cover, ethically-speaking.

Ah, the joys of situational ethics ... aka real life
dilemmas.

_______________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Group!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixdg.org
(Un)Subscription Options ... http://discuss.ixdg.org/ Announcements List
......... http://subscribe-announce.ixdg.org/
Questions .................. lists at ixdg.org
Home ....................... http://ixdg.org/

4 May 2005 - 10:14pm
Marc Rettig
2004

Hi Nick, Hi all,
There's one I like at the end of John Thackara's "Design Challenge of
Pervasive Computing". Not exactly a pledge, but it might provide some good
raw ingredients....

[The first pdf version that popped up when I asked google is here:
http://www.cs.brown.edu/courses/cs227/2002/pervasive/Thackara.pdf]

Articles of Association Between Design, Technology, and
The People Formerly Known As Users

Article 1
We cherish the fact that people are innately curious, playful, and creative.
We therefore suspect that technology is not going to go away; it's too much
fun.

Article 2
We will deliver value to people, not deliver people to systems. We will give
priority to human agency and will not treat humans as a "factor" in some
bigger picture.

Article 3
We will not presume to design your experiences for you, but we will do so
with you, if asked.

Article 4
We do not believe in idiot-proof technology, because we are not idiots and
neither are you. We will use language with care and will search for less
patronizing words than "user'' and "consumer."

Article 5
We will focus on services, not on things. We will not flood the world with
pointless devices.

Article 6
We believe that "content" is something you do, not something you are given.

Article 7
We will consider material end energy flows in all the systems we design. We
will think about the consequences of technology before we act, not after.

Article 8
We will not pretend things are simple when they are complex. We value the
fact that by acting inside a system, you will probably improve it.

Article 9
We believe that place matters, and we will look after it.

Article 10
We believe that speed and time matter, too, but that sometimes you need
more, and sometimes you need less. We will not fill up all time with
content.

This text may be copied and distributed as long as you mention Doors of
Perception
(www.doorsofperception.com).

Cheers,
Marc Rettig

-----Original Message-----
From:
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.
com] On Behalf Of Nick Ragouzis
Sent: Wednesday, May 04, 2005 11:34 AM
To: discuss-interactiondesigners.com at lists.interactiondesigners.com
Subject: [ID Discuss] Looking for a pledge, or ideas for same,concerning
designing interactions

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]

Hi folks,

The context for this request is the possibility that
I may resume the teaching of a methodology that can be
used to help designers build interactive systems that
more powerfully lead users to satisfying ends, but
that *could* be used in a strongly perverse way.

I would like to hear of examples of, or even your ideas
for, a pledge you might agree with and to sign up for.

Nothing seriously binding, but enough to:
* Keep you thinking
* Give standing for others to call you out
* Offer some steel in the spine when attempting
to direct a client from something that's borderline

For those who want to avoid the bright lights of the
list, any links/ideas sent to me offlist I'll collect
and re-post in summary with attribution (unless you
direct otherwise).

What I'm looking for is something simple. Along the
lines of:

Having recognized that the interaction design project
explicitly entails manipulating users, I pledge to use
these tools ethically. Such use entails introspection
and vigilance in seeking identification with the user's
perspective, of both means and ends, and helping the
user towards that end.

. . . . . .

More details:

I'm not interested (on this thread, or in general) in
countering the usual arguments against the axioms
concerning designing interactions and experience.
(An _un_usual argument could be entertaining, but
please start a separate thread :-).)

Those who would be likely candidates for the pledge
(and learning and using these methods) already agree
that it's uncritical, even irresponsible, to design
as if it were otherwise.

Even though designing experience may be axiomatic among
the targeted crowd, interpretations will run the gamut.
I am not speaking of playing three-card monte (Follow
the Lady) with users. Neither is this a pledge of
neutrality or fealty to users' surfaced choices.

Every card shuffler has grounds to claim that they are
giving players precisely what they want (which for
the "mark" is an emphasis more of means than end). But
their TCM enterprise intimately depends on a perverse
interpretation of these needs.

But it is not enough to pledge that we would avoid the
TCM artist's sin, which we might say is revealed by the
mechanisms designed to draw the mark into a false sense
of skill. Think here of activism through design, where
designers entrain users in a course of action that draws
otherwise unlikely results from users (with the claim
that it benefits the commons, e.g.). In this very little
separates the environmental signage designer's program
of influencing traffic flow in public spaces against
'natural' instinct (in order to change pacing or even
encourage use of trash receptacles, to chose examples
from the benign) from the retail store designer's
program.

So I admit it: even once you align with the overall
program, the simplicity of a two-sentence pledge
belies the difficulties. I may be seeking the impossible,
something more user-directed than a professional code
(such as AIGA's) and less concrete than the objective
measures of safety found in various engineering codes.
I've looked at many of both of these types, and
variations.

For some time we've had variants of this discussion,
so I'm hopeful someone's figured it out. Possibly in a
way we can all use directly. For a more personal note,
see the postscript.

Thanks,
--Nick

The postscript:

For me it's gone beyond the *doing* problem to the
*teaching* problem. It's been an unresolved problem for
me since 1999 when I first derived this method. I've
often coached the problem in the question: Would you
use these tools to help design a casino? My answer has
been "No".

But would I teach these to others, who might use them
in that way? Well, I've flirted with it. In 2000 I
noticed how this impacted designers and researchers with
whom I shared it; including potential partners and
investors in a business proposal that put them to practice.
Subsequently I was conflicted about the prospect of
a book project of which I was a part, and somewhat
relieved that it did not get picked up ... saving me
from having to lay this out, including to my co-authors.
In 2002 I taught a short overview (including to some on
this list) but seeing the impact on some in the group
could not bring myself to share the materials afterwards.
The 2002 AIGA meeting in Las Vegas reinforced and sealed
that decision, I thought. But by the 2003 DUX I could
see that the method was seriously needed, as is research
to extend it (and to obviate a bunch of other flailing in
our discipline). By that time I had more actively been
using results from it with clients (without explanation).
In early 2004 I'd begun thinking the method could be
ethically shared and actively pursued an engagement to
teach it. Now I'm considering that again, and hoping to
improve my cover, ethically-speaking.

Ah, the joys of situational ethics ... aka real life
dilemmas.

_______________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Group!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixdg.org
(Un)Subscription Options ... http://discuss.ixdg.org/
Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixdg.org/
Questions .................. lists at ixdg.org
Home ....................... http://ixdg.org/

1 Jun 2005 - 12:33pm
Nick Ragouzis
2004

Thanks to all who've written on the topic. This is an
interim update on the question.

Actually, I'd gotten this far, plus have still in reserve
a more developed concept as a result of a follow-up dialog
with Robert Reimann (hinted at below). But before I got
that all together I'd received a very interesting email
from Brad Lauster ... in which he proposed the kernel to
something pretty interesting, and to which I have not had
the time to respond and develop further with him, or to
integrate.

But here's the interim update:

I've received a lot of advice to contact BJ Fogg. That's
understandable. Although I missed his presentation at
the IA Summitt, I have talked with BJ about the specific
capabilities I’m concerned about, back in 1999. You'll find
in most of my presentations since then recommendations to
his team's work. This particular case, however, remains as
then, the bête noire of interaction design, in research and
practice.

David Heller suggested I contact Andrew Dillon. My conclusion,
from above, was reinforced by my exchange with Andrew. Well,
actually even a bit worse, as our conversation quickly tended
to dispair.

In an interesting way that conversation mirrored an early note
from Marijke Rijsberman. The common theme, paraphrasing Andrew:
we depend on nothing more substantial than the designer's
goodwill and intentions. That latter point, however, can hardly
be a comfort since (and I hope Andrew doesn't mind me quoting,
but it's too true) "Classic HCI is barely a step above the
old Tayloristic approach to management of the Victorian
steelworks."

Thanks to Marc Rettig for posting John Thackara's "Design
Challenge: Articles of Association" That was new to me. We can
see how that's really another version of designer aspiration
(and inspiration). Always good, but in a perverse way it tends
to lean on the other false leg, also commented by others: that
users (people, consumers, ...) know.

This gives me a basis to regroup. I point out that what I'm
seeking is something that forces less dependence on that mythical
designer goodwill, and **enables stakeholders to know.** For
although we wax philosophic about these questions in the future
tense, as if every design is a new one, we rarely give users, or
any stakeholders, the tools to call us to account, directly and
specifically. Not only would this improve the user's own sense
of needs (in the next iteration), but it would change the
designer's outlook. Hopefully.

When I conduct that Dancing about Architecture dialectic on
web design aesthetics [1], in order to provoke exploration
of the issues -- about placing the audience, use of aesthetic
distancing through technology affront, the role of tension,
and forced modes, and the control of their resolution -- I
advance the following question (somewhere around slides 25-27):

Is it ethical to raise confusion in order to de-center
the user and position them to be more receptive to a
'better' solution? Would that be answered from a means/
ends perspective? Or common greater-good? Or parsimony?

Now we can speculate that there is very likely a solution to the
particular design challenge that doesn't require this. But if
you wished to acquire the generative design technology to know
how to do the above, in varying degrees, to programmatic ends,
to what "pledge" would you agree, binding you to use it only
for "good"?

Robert Reimann's contribution to the list reiterated his
guidance from About Face 2. Although I had seen that list as
useful philosophy, I had viewed it as insufficiently concrete,
subject to wide variation, all equally 'ethical'. For example,
how might the principles of Interpersonal, Psychological, and
Societal ... plus Understanding, Efficiency, and Socio-cultural
tensions be applied to justify (not just equivocate) a design,
a particular solution (and the path taken) to the design problem,
of the kind questioned above?

... to be continued ...

--Nick

[1] <http://www.enosis.com/resources/dancingarch.ppt>

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