Thursday, March 26, 2009

Emotional Design by Donald Norman

Summary:
Don takes a look at emotion and design in this book. He argues the idea that in order for media to communicat better with people it needs to be able to understand our emotion and in order to do that it needs to have emotions as well. He makes references to the Reeves & Nass book The Media equation when talking about this. He stresses three levels of design: Visceral, Behavioral, and Reflective and that the best products attempt to use all three of these in its design.

Thoughts:
This book is a lot less repetative than Future Designs and really addresses some good fundamentals. I would say it is comparable to his first book The Design of Everyday Things. I am hesitant to compare the two though because I read his first book when it was dated and it's really unfair to compare the two because when the first one was published it was very ground breaking. 

The only problem I had with this book was Norman's logic when trying to make the argument that media needs emotion. He claimed that without emotion something like the Roomba would have no "incentive" to do a better job of cleaning because it wouldn't have "pride". I thought this was a circular argument. First of all media doesn't have incentive that implies that it has free-will and a choice of whether it wants to actually do what it was designed to do. Media only does what it is programmed to do and I would hope that it is programmed to clean as best as it can. The media would have to have emotions already to make the "incentive" argument so to say media needs emotions or else they might emotionally decide to not do as good is retarded.

Also, I don't really like the idea of media having emotions to begin with. My media devices should be tools not friends. I don't want to have to deal with any kind of retarded ethical dilemma later down the line with the slavery of media devices that some nut-case (probably from PETA) proposes. Plus I already have to deal with emotional women much less adding my iPod to the list of things I don't want to see cry.

The Design of Future Things by Donald Norman

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Summary:
Norman attempts to extend and modernize his widely acclaimed book The Design of Everyday things and takes a look at the future. He looks at cars and future automation of our motor vehicles as well as talking about the psychology of people and machines. In addition he takes a look at automation in general and talks about its role in future designs.

Thoughts:
This book can be skipped. The only interesting thing to me was when he talked about the different ways of automating cars with swarm and platoon techniques. Unless you want to count the afterword when he goes crazy, that was...interesting. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

CHI 2008: Collaborative Interaction with Volumetric Displays

Collaborative Interaction with Volumetric Displays by Tovi Grossman, Ravin Balakrishnan

Summary:
This paper tries to address the difficulties with collaborative interaction with volumetric displays. They use the Actuality Systems Volumetric Display (see first short video). The way the volumetric display works is there is a virtical projection screen that rotates around the virtical Z axis and a projection engine using relay optics that projects an imagine onto this spinning screen so that a 3D image is then seen by the user (see image below).


Collaborative control is used with handheld devices to manipulate the display and hats with sensors are used to determine different users position around the display.



The paper goes into great detail on some of the many problems with collaborative interaction in general 2D space and then addressses some new problems that arise in 3D space. The prototype they create attempts to solve many of these problems including: location awareness, navigation, 3D cursors, options dialog box, etc.

The paper also talks about their unique algorithm for hidden surface removal. This always for the user, depending on his position around the volumetric display to only see that side of the 3D object, as opposed to seeing outlines through the object of the otherside.

Thoughts:
Seems like very useful research beginning research. They made a point to say that their goal was not to show cool ways of interacting with it which is why the used hand held remote controls and keyboards, but to come up with a way of collaboratively interacting with volumetric displays. So the hardware technology may not be that impressive compared to some other volumetric display research, the fact that the software is designed for collaborative interaction is the main thing to keep in mind.

Videos:



video

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Man Who Shocked The World by Thomas Blass, PH.D.

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Summary:
This is a biography of the life of Stanley Milgram. Blass starts with a very detailed description of Milgrams parents their Jewish heritage and quickly dives into Milgrams education and the struggles he faced. Blass covers not only Milgrams famous Obedience experiments but also describes the conformity experiments he did leading up to the Obedience experiments as well as many other experiments after the Obedience experiments such as the Six Degrees of separation, and his many Urban City experiments. Thomas didn't gloss over some of Milgrams failures either as he talked about Milgrams Cyranoid experiment attempts.

Thoughts:
I really enjoyed this book, mainly because of my side interest in psychology/sociology. I found all of the experiments Milgram did very interesting. Towards the end of his life however, his experiments did seem pretty out there and not very applicable to any kind of serious study. For the most part Blass was pretty objective in describing Stanley's life however, at times I guess he couldn't help himself and was more than willing to give his two cents on Milgrams failures or bad judgement. Overall, it was a good biography on the life and legacy of Stanley Milgram.

The Mole People by Jennifer Toth

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Summary:
Jennifer Toth documents several trips down into the tunnels beneath New York City as she immerses herself into the lives of the "Mole People". Her ethnography on the mole people covers mostly qualitative data on the culture as opposed to quantitative. She describes the living conditions of various underground tunnels throughout New York City in addition to describing in great detail the individual people she encountered. Toth addresses the different reasons people are forced underground and discovers that many do not even wish to return to the surface. Women, men, children, runaways, drug addicts, and gangs are all among the many different kinds of people she interviews and comes in contact with during her study.

Thoughts:
This book was very beneficial to the ethnography I later did on the culture of open-mic events. The qualitative data she collected gave me a good example to follow in collecting the qualitative data for my ethnography. As a computer scientist the qualitative approach was very informative since we are mostly exposed to a more quantitative approach when collecting data. Overall I felt the book was a good and easy read. At times I felt it got side-tracked in talking about tunnels of different cities and it felt like Toth glossed over some of the dangerous situations she was thrown into and didn't go into enough detail on the fear she must have felt. Even though it was an ethnography and she should be separated from the culture, I feel describing what she was feeling would paint a better picture of the situation and event to the reader to better understand the culture.