Friday, September 4, 2009

Interact 2009, Uppsala - KeyNote 3: Liam Bannon, "Towards human-centred design"

Finally, after a great show on the evening before, the organizers of Interact 2009 had been smart enough to organize a third keynote to motivate people to visit the third day of the conference.
Liam Bannon talked about "Towards human-centred design".He started with the quite known fact of how ubiquitous computing has changed the interaction with technologies and, as such, human desktop no longer persists as the most dominant form of interaction. More interesting was his comment about how also industry has changed, he gave the example of a senior executive who has changed his instructions from "evaluate" (something the company has developed) over "develop" and "explore" to "come up with something interesting". Liam outlined herewith a clear shift from industry-driven to user-driven research.
Liam jumped a little bit cross topics in his talk, he also had a vast number of slides with "too much text" on them, as he admitted quite frequently throughout the talk. Anyway, took strong opposition against replacing humans by technology, as human skills are still relevant in technical systems, such that humans always should be the real actors. Well, who in the audience would have ever questioned that...
When Liam started to talk about ambient intelligence he attacked the vision of the all knowing systems prentending to operate on behalf of the user. He rather proposed to design system that extend human capabilities as also critiqued in Rob van Kranenburg's new online book The Internet of Things.
Then Liam did another jump to the topic of collecting data vs. forgetting information. Using Microsoft's MyLifeBits project he questioned the underlying assumption that collecting data is a good thing per-se. He emphasized that also forgetting is an important part of human life which also should be supported through technology, e.g. digital shelters.
The Liam jumped back to the previous topic of ambient intelligence and gave some good counter-examples of the stupid user always being supported by technology: user-generated content and open-source software just show the opposite, how the skilled users spread their ideas and collaborate through technology.

Human agency and technnologies have to come together. He referred to the Mc Namara-fallacy:
The first step is to measure whatever can be easily measured. This is OK as far as it goes.
The second step is to disregard that which can't be easily measured or to give it an arbitrary quantitative value. This is artificial and misleading.
The third step is to presume that what can't be measured easily really isn't important. This is blindness.
The fourth step is to say that what can't be easily measured really doesn't exist. This is suicide.
I find this a quite remarkable counter-position towards high-resolution management.


LeD'z said...

this days, technology plays a big role in our daily life...
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