Prototyping Social Action

De Casiopea

Prototyping social action.jpg

TítuloPrototyping Social Action
AutorEsko Kurvinen
Asignaturas RelacionadasTaller de Diseño de Interacción, Taller de Diseño de Servicios


The problem of social action

Recent changes in information technology have made social interaction an increasingly important topic for interaction design and technology development. Movilephones, PDAs, games and laptops have eased interpersonal communication and brought it into new contexts. In this situations, the old paradigms of one person interacting with technology, or a group at work in an office or collaborating over a shared system are inadequate in guiding the design of such systems. These technologies represent new challenges for interaction design, wich has inherited its methodological baggage mainly from three sources, non of which specifically focuses on how ordinary people use social technologies.

The main problem in studying social action for design is not the lack of methods, but the aproach: how should circumstances for social action to happen be created, how should it be observed, how should systematic, detailed inferences about it be produced for the purposes of design, and what design-related activities does such research serve? In this study, ethnomethodology (EM) and conversation analysis (CA) provide a perspective for seeing structure in social action. As will be shown, without a proper and tested framework social action is a slippery topic. The main contribution of this study is that it articulates how this framework can be brought into design studies. This study also demonstrates empirically that this approach works.

The articles

  • Article 1 “How industrial design interacts with technology: A case study on the design of a stone crusher” (Kurvinen 2005)
  • Article 2 “Emotions in Action: a Case in Mobile Visual Communication” (Kurvinen 2004)
  • Article 3 “Only When Miss Universe Snatches Me: Teasing in MMS Messaging” (Kurvinen 2003)
  • Article 4 “Towards socially aware pervasive computing: a turn-taking approach” (Kurvinen and Oulasvirta 2004)
  • Article 5 “Are You Alive? Sensor Data as Resource for Social Interaction” (Kurvinen, Lähteenmäki, Salovaara and Lopez 2007, forthcoming)
  • Article 6 “Prototyping Social Interaction” (Kurvinen, Koskinen and Battarbee 2007, forthcoming)

The data discussed in the articles comes from six different studies or projects,listed chronologically below.

  • 1999-2001: Mobile Image study (Articles 2 and 6)
  • 2001-2002: Between project (Article 4)
  • 2002: Wireless Imaging study (a part of Article 6)
  • 2002: Radiolinja MMS Pilot study (Articles 3 and 6)
  • 2002-2004: Proomu project (Article 1)
  • 2004-2006: IST MobiLife project (Article 5)

User-Centered Design and Social Action

UCD and usability

The interdependence of human-centered design activities (ISO 1999)

User-centered design, also called human-centered design (ISO 1999), is a research and product development orientation that utilizes end-user or customer information for making better (efficient, usable, enjoyable, etc.) and thus commercially successful products. In practice, this is achieved by involving the end user in the product development process. Gould and Lewis list the key principles of UCD, dating back to the 1970s:

  • “Early Focus on Users and Tasks. First, designers must understand who the users will be. This understanding is arrived at in part by directly studying their cognitive, behavioral, anthropometric, and attitudinal characteristics, and in part by studying the nature of the work expected to be accomplished.
  • Empirical Measurement. Second, early in the development process,intended users should actually use simulations and prototypes to carry out real work, and their performance and reactions should be observed, recorded, and analyzed.
  • Iterative Design. Third, when problems are found in user testing, as they will be, they must be fixed. This means design must be iterative: There must be a cycle of design, test and measure, and redesign, repeated as often as necessary.”

(Gould and Lewis 1985: 300)

Similarly, ISO 13407 (ISO 1999) presents human-centered design activities as an iterative process that consists of user studies, specifications, design solutions and evaluations. Term usability goes hand in hand with UCD. Depending on the context,usability means different things.

  • First and perhaps most often, usability is referred to as a measurement. ISO 9421-11 (ISO 1998) defines usability as the extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction. In addition to effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction, other components that make up the overall usability measurement, have also been outlined (see Keinonen 1998; Säde 2001).
  • Second, usability can be seen as an attribute of the product(Keinonen 1998). This means that products have properties that delineate or affect how the user experiences their use.
  • Third, from the perspective of product design, usability can be seen as sets of checklists, guidelines or heuristics to follow during the process (Säde 2001). For example, Nielsen (1993) provides a list of ten usability heuristics, things to take into account when designing interactive products.
  • Fourth, usability literature provides not only things to measure but also methods and techniques for measuring (Rubin 1994; Säde 2001).
  • Finally, practical methods and techniques are not enough. Their benefits are realized better when supported by organizational

programs, usability strategies and milestones (Rubin 1994. 297-312).

Beyond usability, the new school

The beyond usability movement (Jordan and Servaes 1995; Blythe et al. 2003; Battarbee 2004) sees traditional usability as a performance-oriented approach which fails to take the broader issues that relate to human-product relationships into account. The problem is not that the definitions, guidelines and so on, outlined within usability do not match the new approach. Usability literature indeed provides extensive lists and hierarchies of important issues, including all the emotional, subjective, social or context dependent aspects that the beyond usability movement also considers important. For the new camp, the problem resides what not so much in the definitions as what they see usability is in practice.

The basic old school usability is about seeking problems people have with particular products. This is fine as long as we have products to test, but less useful when designing experience-rich interactions or anticipating the use of some as yet non-existent product.

Three key themes have emerged from the new school:

  • Design for user experience. The key objective is to provide people with experiences created or mediated by products and services.
  • User inspiration. Designers can be inspired about the doings or the users and material they produce.
  • Empathic design. We need deeper understanding of the users. We need to know them as individuals.
  • Hedonism. People seek pleasure through products