Dutch Directions in HCI (Conference Trip Report)
Link to Conference papers
I have been meaning to go to this conference - probably ever since it started - but never got round to it. I'm glad I went this year.
I expected to not know anyone, but before I was in the door, almost, I was chatting to Gerrit van der Veer (VU) and Henk de Poot (TI). I also bumped into Frans Heeman (ex CWI, now Elsevier) and Anita de Waard (Elsevier). Also said "Hi" to Eddy Boeve and chatted a bit about CWI in Bedrijf.
The first talk (Bas Haring - author of IJzeren Wil - and the main reason I actually decided to go) was very good. He used two stories he used in his book (good reuse in different context :-), but he had a nice twist on the story. Basically that for machines to be able to understand us they need to have bodies in order to experience things. He drew no conclusions from this, but just argued the thesis very well. He presented without any visual aids - I was impressed.
Then I went to the "Absolute Awareness" panel. This was mostly a tirade from Rob van Kranenburg, Virtueel Platform, but was interesting about the dangers of RFIDs (Radio Frequency IDs) stuck on everything everywhere. (His slides followed no "good design" guidelines - backgrounds that affected legibility of text, too small fonts, too many words. But they did have their own style and coherence.)
Jaap Henk Hoepman (ex CWI) gave a coherent summary of the dangers of RFIDs - and was my favourite talk of the 3.
Perhaps we are not aware, but cyberspace is expanding into physical space (all the security cameras, e.g..)
Dangers of RFID systems:
No authentication. Rogue reader can link to tag.
Rogue tag can mess up reader.
Connection is insecure.
User profiling can be carried out with very few tags, without the user even being aware of this.
You can copy an RFID chip and thus steal someone's ID (and pay for your drinks on her credit card).
Companies can scan competitors inventory. Eavesdropping tags, querying tags.
Privacy Enhanced RFID Environment
My question was - Everything you do costs time and money, even if you _can_, so how can we assess the real dangers? As Eddy pointed out, Albert Heijne knows a lot about him because of his bonus card, and every time his mobile is on his location is known.
Rob Kersemarkers from Oce had a couple of interesting things to say, but I am not convinced about his fingerprint interface to a printer. The added value of having gone to all the trouble of registering your finger print then the printer will use your preferred options is questionable.
After lunch I bumped into one of the students from the USI course last year - Anita Deshpande. She is now working on a project at Philips. I said I would be interested in seeing what they are doing, but it could be that the project is too sensitive.
The after lunch keynote was by Peter Merholz from Adaptive Path Distilling User Behavior: Deriving Insights from What We See.
He had a nice illustration of information design.
He also had an interesting "design square" (not his originally, but one which he uses in the work his company does):
know abstract -> make abstract
Know real (context, users) <- make real
You start (bottom left) with knowing the real context and the real users.
You then abstract and move up to knowing the abstract situation (top left).
Then you move sideways in the abstract world from what you know to what you want to create (top right).
Then you move down from the newly created design and actually make it (bottom right). You can then subject this to users and you come back to reality and what you (can) know.
I really liked his example diagram, I like his categories, but I don't see how, given the categories, how you make the "magic step" from the abstract problem description to the real representation. Does a flash of magic always have to be there, or can you somehow arrive at it step by step?
Kevin Fox has some photographs taken from the clock tower on the UCB campus. http://www.peterme.com/archives/000073.html
They show footpaths through the lawns created by users of the campus, then these same paths were re-seeded and fences put up so that users wouldn't stray from the paved paths (which were aesthetically pleasing to the garden architect but non-functional to the users). I had heard the path forming analogies before, but not that people deliberately put up barriers to them!
I then attended a paper session. Two were inspirational.
Exploring Semantics of Movement in Context
Pei-Yin Chao, Ismail Cimen, Wouter Lancee, Serge Offermans, Rob Veenstra Technical University of Eindhoven
The goal of the project was to create a physical artefact that would convey the "Thank you and goodbye" message in different contexts.
The designers also play acted being the object itself.
The contexts were:
Indian restaurant, Philips design, health centre, Shop with wooden toys, dinner for 2. They then selected words (= concepts) words to capture the "essence/experience" (my words, not theirs) of the context.
They made the artefact and tested them with a photograph of the context in the background (only because they ran out of time for on-site testing)
The question being tested was - Did users get the message? This was done with the artefact static, and also moving, also with and without the (photo of the) context.
Users were able to matched the words with the picture they got. Movement can serve as an emotion mediator. With the context the movement wasn't understood better.
Using home networks to create atmospheres in the home: Technology push or latent user need
L.L.M.L. Kuiper-Hoyng, J.W.F. Beusmans
TNO Telecom - Industrial Design Delft University of Technology
This was a device for allowing users to select the "mood" of their living room. So lighting and music and dynamic mural projection were all changed with a simple device. The user to select a "look and feel" (my term), or they could select each thing separately. Just as with many things, the preselections (done by the professionals) were experienced as positive, but the exploring the space (of light, music and visuals) was not experienced as positive. The whole package had to be there to create the mood.
(Beware those of us who want to create multimedia presentations in a certain "mood"...)
Gerrit van der Veer was presented with an award from SIGCHI-NL for all his efforts for building up the community, in NL and abroad.
Lynda Hardman, CWI