The Design Process in HCI

I am here continuing my notes from the ICT and the Humanities Summer School at Södertörn’s University College (only two days of notes left). The theme of Experience Design continues from my last entry with Professor Ann Lantz from the Royal Technical College (KTH) Stockholm, who works with HCI and design. Lantz began by stating that, in some contrast to Jonas Löwgren’s thematic and critical approach, it is usability which is important at KTH.

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technology is not irrelevant

Yes, this seems a weird title on this particular blog, but in times of tragedy sometimes the last thing you think you need is a working Internet connection. This is what I thought when I saw an article about wireless being provided free for Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi. While, yes, this is great I could not help but wonder…what about the food and the water. Would that not be great too? But then I realized that as the phone lines are overwhelmed right now the Internet is providing a much needed service. The great people at skype have come up with a way to help that patches calls through their skypein and skypeout service. Providing people a way to find loved ones, reassure family and cry out for help not only relives tensions, but potentially diffuses stressful situations. To read more about what skype is doing, or to help, read my post in the extended entry…
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Media networks

The members of the Media Networks Project are having a project meeting here in Umeå this week, and will be visiting HUMlab this afternoon. The project serves to enhance both media literacy and intercultural communicative competence among students from the partner universities. What I like about this project is that the students are presented with very practical and concrete tasks. They begin by working online and then meet on Achill Island to work there together with the local community. Last time around one of the things that they did was to put up a virtual community for the inhabitants of Achill Island and those who have moved away. Knowing that there is a very real purpose with the task is bound to have a great motivating effect on the students!

I’ll write a little bit

I’ll write a little bit about the Nolia exhibition a while ago.

These experiences are strange to me, as part of it is highly enjoyable – and part of it is quite disturbing. Talking to people about art, letting them try to paint, and showing how the tools and the tricks work in Photoshop – that is something I absolutely love. Teaching has always been a wonderful part of my job, and something I hope to be able to hold on to for many years (before the digital art world swept me up, I was studying to become a teacher after all: I love it). There was a lot of lovely people there this time around. I love when groups of children come by – they are so eager to try and paint for themselves… not at all as hesitant as adults always are.

But there is also the aspect of someone looking at what you are doing over your shoulder. I can fully understand why it would be interesting to watch, but it is also discomforting to be watched. Imagine, if you will, writing a highly personal essay – something that you might show people once it is finished, polished and perfect, but you’ll be writing it by yourself, won’t you? Then imagine that during the process, people will be standing next to you, reading every word you type into the essay, and commenting on the potency of them.

Like I said, it is both fun and not so much fun, though in the long run – meeting the people, talking to them and showing them how much FUN digital art can be, and how much you can accomplish on the computer… that makes it worth the discomfort.

Either way, here is the piece I was working on at Nolia.