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Mobile Community Design
Research and design information for mobile community developers.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The old way is the innovative way

OK, so I don't have any idea what this has to do with mobile communities - but it's way too cool not to post. Why is it cool? I'm not sure. But it is - trust me. It has something to do with the glue. And the low-fidelityness of it. And paper prototyping. I think this has something to do with idea mapping, creativity, and research methods. Or at least that's my excuse.

In any case, my very cool new friend Mike did something awesome when I gave him my business card. He took out his big (unlined, yay!) journal, opened it up and took out a GLUE STICK! What? Didn't glue sticks go out of fashion ten years ago and aren't they primarily used in like kindergarten? And that is why they are so cool.

So he proceeds to cover my nice pristine business card in glue, and then slap it into his journal. How great is that? Perhaps it doesn't seem like an epiphany to you, but there's something nice and simple here. You get an exact record of the original content. It's placed in a rough time-line of everything else you've been thinking about automatically.

And there it is, stuck in a tangible, modifiable space. He also mentions it is purple glue (to show where you've gotten the paper sticky) but then it slowly fades to clear, so that it doesn't ruin the page aesthetic. And then Mike proceeds to draw arrows from it to some thought bubbles about topics we were talking about, and then starts diagramming a product idea we were brainstorming next to it.

When he goes back to look at it later he's got my info directly placed next to a record of everything we were thinking about at the time. How can a digital product compete with the pure simplicity and usability of that solution? I think it's possible, but I think closely looking at low-fidelity examples such as this offers some great requirements for the generation of new systems.

Quick Review of the Glue-Their-Business-Cards-Method:
- fast'n'easy
- can record people and conversations
- natural integration of text and images and drawings (multimodal)
- you have to carry the book and glue
- the back side of the business card is glued down (hope the phone number isn't there)
- not searchable
- Mike rocks. And I want him to design 'smart furniture' for my new house. Wait, I need a new smart house first.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Paper on Contextual Postcards

We have had another paper published by First Monday on the topic of using contextual postcards to determine user requirements for mobile communities.

Axup, J., & Viller, S. (2006). Sampling mobile opinion: A contextual postcard questionnaire study. First Monday, 11(9).

Understanding requirements of mobile communities is challenging because of their geographical distribution and frequent movement. We present a study of backpackers travelling in Australia which utilizes a research method called contextual postcard questionnaires. The method uses brief, open–ended questions to solicit contextual responses from backpackers that are relevant for development of tourism and mobile communication technologies. Eight hundred postcards were distributed via hostels and a travel agent, questioning travellers about their current situation. Questions asked how they had heard about their present location, what kinds of virtual–graffiti they would leave there, and what their greatest worry currently was, among others. Results indicated that backpackers have a great deal of practical and serious concerns to contend with as they travel. They are physically cut off from family and friends and rely on a range of communications media to stay in touch and exchange emotional support. They have a great deal of practical travel experience that would be useful to other travellers, but which is currently only conveyed haphazardly via word–of–mouth. Practical usage of the contextual postcard questionnaires is discussed and design recommendations for mobile group products are offered.

Exurban Noir Workshop Proceedings Online

The papers for the Exurban Noir workshop to be held at UbiComp are now online.
read the proceedings
Details on the workshop.

My paper is entitled The Third Way of Empowering Urban Social Systems and is on page 14 of the pdf.

Democratic societies benefit from hearing the diverse voices of
the underprivileged which increase equality and promote public
debate. This paper argues that the UbiComp research community
should focus on providing inexpensive and uncensored mobile
group communication technologies to further these ends. To aid in
this process, a third approach is proposed as a research strategy to
augment the existing effective approaches of ethnography and
technology development commonly in use. It combines lowfidelity
prototyping and design oriented in-situ requirements
analysis. The combination of these approaches would efficiently
facilitate the development of community-centered ubiquitous
tools; this would in turn enable groups to seamlessly form,
coordinate, and collaborate – regardless of their location or
socioeconomic status. Creation of this type of a mobile social
technology is a reasonable goal for those interested in fostering
more humane urban societies.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Anybody going to UbiComp?

Is anyone going to be at UbiComp (ubiquitous computing) in Irvine, CA this year? For those of you who don't know it's a great conference, which in part addresses devices such as mobile computers that are imbedded into our environment and social networks. You can still register if you want to come hear some interesting talks.

I will be in a cool workshop run by Johanna Brewer on transitional spaces (like doorways and freeway onramps) which I'm looking forward to. I'll also be in a two day workshop on urban computing run by the good folks at Intel, and as part of that I'll give a short talk entitled 'The Third Way of Empowering Urban Social Systems' which addresses ubicomp development methods and mobile community devices. (I'll get this online ASAP). And I'll also be giving a talk with Stephen Viller about our full paper 'Lo-Fi Matchmaking: A Study of Social Pairing for Backpackers' (see my publication list on this site for a pre-print of this).

If you would like to meet up when I'm there, please send me an e-mail.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Australian OZCHI 2006 Workshop Announcement

If any of you are interested in an excuse to go to Australia (or are already there) you might want to check out a cool workshop looking at some cutting edge methods, which are potentially applicable to mobile and community research.

The object of interaction - the role of artefacts in interaction design

Workshop website: http://hdm.acid.net.au/workshop.html

A day-long workshop at OZCHI 2006 - Sydney, Australia, November 20th - 24th.

This workshop explores the role artefacts play in informing or inspiring the design of interactive technologies. We are interested in the match between method and context, with the workshop exploring how ‘creative’ versus ‘engineering’ approaches in user centred design lead to different engagements between people, design and context. This workshop will build on discussions of Cultural Probes, Playful Triggers and in-situ methods like contextual design that support discussion between user and designer.

We invite researchers and practitioners to submit examples of their experiences of using or creating artefacts to support the interaction design process. In discussing the roles that artefacts play, we are interested in how design-led approaches make use of the artefacts in a generative way.

The workshop aims to provide ‘scaffolds’ to investigate the design space, led by the unique contexts provided by workshop participants. Through their submissions and attendance, we ask all participants to actively participate, experience and explore their own design space, in their own context of interaction design. Engagement in this experience will hopefully provide participants with a deeper insight and a greater awareness of their own design methods and processes, as well as informed knowledge gained from their peers.

Outcomes for participants

+ Playful, interactive and participatory activity based on open-ended conversations led by participants,

+ Experiential learning environment to understand design-led processes for interaction design,
+ A place to explore artefact-based interaction design methodology with a like-minded community.

Submission & Workshop Activities

Interested parties should submit a position paper on the nature of design process in their workplace or research context. Submitted papers should be up to 4 pages long, A4, and formatted according to the ACM SIG style. Templates and instructions are available from http://www.acm.org/sigs/pubs/proceed/template.html.

Submissions should be in PDF format only, and sent as an email attachment to the Matthew Simpson

It is assumed that authors of accepted papers will present their work and participate in workshop activities. Accepted papers, propositions and artefacts will be displayed on the workshop website. An open discussion forum has been created at http://hdm.acid.net.au/community/ to enable discussion on this topic prior to the workshop and into the future.

Key Dates
Call for papers: 29th August 2006
Submission deadline: 22nd September 2006
Author’s acceptance: 6th October 2006
Final workshop paper submissions: 27th October 2006
OZCHI 2006 Conference: 20th - 24th November 2006

View the workshop website: http://hdm.acid.net.au/workshop.html

To view the full workshop proposal - http://hdm.acid.net.au/assets/OZCHIArtefactWorkshop.pdf

We hope to see you there,

The Organising Committee:
Matthew Simpson, Stephen Viller, Laurene Vaughan, Jeremy Yuille, Yoko Akama, Roslyn Cooper.

Matthew Simpson
Information Environments Program
School of ITEE
University of Queensland
Brisbane, Australia