Table of Contents

VOLUME XV.4 July + August 2008

  • WELCOME
    • Interactions

      Richard Anderson, Jon Kolko

      Our previous issue of interactions issued a loud challenge to practitioners: Richard Seymour’s cover story asked readers to consider that the problems you choose to solve are as important as how you solve them; he and others demanded that you focus your creative energy on issues that resonate in a…

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  • The changing relationships between producers and consumers
    • COVER STORYChanging energy use through design

      James Pierce, David Roedl

      When it comes to sustaining ourselves and the planet, nonrenewable energy and the looming consequences of global climate change are among the most critical issues of our time. In our view, interaction designers have the power and a responsibility to address them. While the creation of a renewable-energy economy and…

    • ON MODELINGLearning curves for design

      Hugh Dubberly

      When businesspeople discuss growth, they often refer to S-curves or “hockey sticks”—diagrams depicting quantity changing over time, typically units sold per month or quarter. Growth begins slowly and gradually increases to an inflection point; from there it accelerates. Eventually, growth begins to slow and tapers off, for instance, as a…

    • FEATUREOrganic digital marketing 2.0

      Conor Brady

      The work of a digital marketing agency has changed dramatically over the past several years. Agency projects now extend far beyond simple website design—the work continually ventures into the realms of content and brand experience. Digital agencies have started to play an expanded strategic role for clients, and designers now…

    • FEATUREMashing up the marketing mix

      Michael Graber

      A driven, busy 50-year-old executive turned me into a werewolf. A renowned product designer poked one of my friends. I lost a movie-trivia quiz to the former CEO of a global marketing holding company. Welcome to the business side of Facebook—where a little play releases stress, where thought leaders plug…

    • FEATUREKnowledge architecture that facilitates trust and collaboration

      Xanthe Matychak

      With every new technology comes fascinating discussions about how technology shapes human relationships. Socrates took issue with one of the basic building blocks of all technology—written language—because he felt it negatively affected public perception of truth. Victor Hugo [1] wrote extensively about how Gutenberg’s printing press shifted the ownership of…

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  • Shifting perspective to look at things differently
    • TRUE TALESHold your horses

      Steve Portigal

      In the documentary “Keep the River on Your Right,” anthropologist Tobias Schneebaum is the cultural expert aboard a cruise ship traveling the waters near the Asmat region of New Guinea, where Schneebaum once lived. He brings fellow passengers ashore to witness tribal dances and circumcision rituals. Schneebaum characterizes these passengers…

    • FEATUREThe dilemma of the shared mobile phone—-culture strain and product design in emerging economies

      Apala Chavan, Douglas Gorney

      Consider the cell phone. For us it’s essential, and what’s more, it’s everywhere. It is, in fact, hard for people in developed markets to remember what it was like not to be available 24/7. The ability to reach anyone, anytime, from absolutely anywhere has become a given. BlueToothed or iPhoned,…

    • Ps AND QsMaps and moralities, blanks and beasties

      Elizabeth Churchill

      Jane was unusually quiet. Normally, at this point she would be chirruping suggestions and admonitions, being helpful and accommodating. Silence was definitely odd. I glanced at her to make sure she was alright. Yes, she seemed to be okay. Given that I was driving, I turned my eyes back to…

    • LIFELONG INTERACTIONSOlder adults, health information, and the internet

      Bo Xie

      Margaret (not her real name), a 64-year-old, says she is interested in finding out more information about Vitamin D. A recent blood test performed as part of her annual checkup showed that Margaret’s Vitamin D level was low. She has since been taking Vitamin D, following her doctor’s directions. Margaret…

    • THE WAY I SEE ITWorkarounds and hacks

      Donald Norman

      For years I have been pondering the similarities and contradictions among the ways of coming up with new ideas for products. “Design research,” as this phase is called, offers a wide range of methods. The marketing community has long championed focus groups, surveys, and questionnaires, whereas the user-centered community favors…

    • TIMELINESTag clouds and the case for vernacular visualization

      Fernanda Viégas, Martin Wattenberg

      This is an exciting moment for visualization. It’s a time when the mainstream media is embracing sophisticated techniques born in university research labs—a time when you can open The New York Times and see complex treemaps and network diagrams. But just as exciting is the fact that some new visualizations,…

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  • Enabling better outcomes and experiences
    • FEATUREDesigning worth—-connecting preferred means to desired ends

      Gilbert Cockton

      ”...thingness has only been invented by us owing to the requirements of logic, thus with the aim of defining, communication (to bind together the multiplicity of relationships, properties, activities).”—Nietzsche, The Will to Power (III Principles of a New Evaluation 558, 1887) Thingness is a consequence of physicality. Objects have boundaries,…

    • UNDER DEVELOPMENTInvolving local undergraduates in fieldwork

      Matthew Kam

      In the summer of 2005, I spent two weeks at a remote village school in Uttar Pradesh, Northern India [1]. Even though I had prior experience in user-centered design, that episode was the first time that I had worked with rural school children as partners in the design process. The…

    • FEATUREThe theory of conservation of complexity

      David Bishop

      As designers and usability experts, we have always claimed that we “tame complexity.” What does that mean? Are we removing the complexity, rearranging it, hiding it, or resolving it in some other way? Depending on the situation, the answer is that all of these methods come into play. We remove,…

    • FEATUREWeb-conscious content experiences

      Luke Wroblewski

      Ted stared at the looming input field in front of him, its importance clearly enhanced by the stark emptiness around it. No sense hesitating any longer. A few taps on the keyboard produced the phrase that came to his mind first: “chicago olympics.” He then shot the mouse to the…

    • (P)REVIEWWeb form design

      D. Haine

      Luke Wroblewski Rosenfeld Media, 2008 ISBN 1-933820-24-1 $36.00 (paperback and digital) $19.00 (digital only) Reviewed by D. Philip Haine “Forms suck.” So begins Luke Wroblewski’s new book on how to design Web forms. Nobody likes having to fill out a form; it’s just that bit of red tape that must…

    • FEATUREInteraction design for software engineering

      Claude Knaus

      Interaction design is used to create useful, usable, and desirable software products for its users. However, there are groups of people who interact daily with software products but do not benefit from interaction design: software developers. These are the people that build our software, yet the tools they use are…

    • FEATUREImage search at the speed of thought

      Santosh Mathan

      The problem of finding information in large volumes of imagery is a challenging one, with few good solutions. While most search engines allow users to find information in collections of text quite efficiently, there is a lack of similar solutions when it comes to searching for imagery. The problem is…

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  • Interactions Cafe
    • On marketing, sustainability, and pessimism…

      Richard Anderson, Jon Kolko

      Jon: I’m tired of advertising, and to be completely frank, I’m tired of marketing. The entire infrastructure for corporate marketing has arisen from a desire to convince the public that they need more, faster, better, now. We keep talking about sustainability, but we—and I include myself in this, as I…

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