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Hey everyone, I’m in the process of working through the draft of my argument for my paper, and would love to get some feedback. This is all very rough, so feel free to ask for clarification on anything that doesn’t make sense. As a point of reference, I plan to take the ultimate findings from the process of writing this paper (namely the schema and/or persuasive patterns I uncover from my research) to inform the latter half of my capstone project on Dark Patterns.


Transactional trust towards a charity is earned over time, not inherently given, and is a byproduct of interactions that occur within the context of a user’s donation experience. (THE WHAT)

  • Trust is built through the fulfillment of promises. This includes the promises you’ve actually made to someone explicitly (e.g., contracts and commitments) as well promises that that are assumed or implicit (e.g., “this website isn’t selling my data”). (van Gorp and Adams, p107)
  • Principle of Earned Credibility: Credibility can be strengthened over time if computing technology performs consistently in accordance with the user’s expectations. (Fogg, p137)
  • The building and maintenance of transactional trust should be considered a pivotal stepping stone to increased donation compliance within an online donating framework. Instead of considering trust and donation compliance as mutually exclusive concepts, commercially driven issues of donation generation should be considered alongside the psychological concept of transactional trust. (Burt, C.D. and Gibbons, S. p192)

The trailing of charity websites to adopt modern e-commerce practices, coupled with the rapid rise of moral commodification of charitable giving has resulted in a unique set of problems of persuasion with respect to interface design. (THE WHY)

  • [G]iving to charity has been characterised as ‘the monetary purchase of moral satisfaction’ undertaken for the egoistic reason of wanting to feel better…The gift conveys a symbolic statement about the person that fits in with his or her self-identify. (Bennett, p120)
  • Overall the findings indicated that there was a lack of strategic intent to harness the potential of online social networks and evidence that charities are not mirroring the adoption of digital media that has occurred in the external environment in which they operate (Slater et al., 2010). There exists a lack of consumer orientation because charities have not embraced digital communications to the same extent as either their target audiences or for-profit based businesses. (Quinton and Fennemore, pp 44-45)
  • In the USA, internet donations for tsunami relief in 2004 accounted for more than a third of the total amount raised. Half of all the donations received following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 were given online (NFG, 2006). It follows from the above that charity managers have become increasingly interested in the website designs and online fundraising tactics that are most likely to maximise the frequencies and levels of online donations. (Bennett, p117)
  • …[I]t is recognized by some (but perhaps not all) that charities are not businesses and therefore reading across and imposing private sector governance frameworks to the charity sector may not be appropriate, and indeed may be counter-productive. (Hyndman and Jones, p153)
  • A needs-based change, animated through a problem-solving approach, assumes that the right outcome is known from the start…Desire is the destabilizing trigger for transformational change, which facilitates the emergence of new possibilities and realizations of human “being.” (Nelson and Stolterman, p110)

A semiotic analysis of the design patterns used in charity websites will yield greater insight into their functions of address, and how the emotive modalities of a website (i.e. its interactivity) can establish a relationship between the donor and the charity. (THE HOW)

  • The ability to use various modalities enables technology to match people’s preferences for visual, audio, or textual experiences. Technology can also create a synergistic effect by combining modes, such as audio, video, and data, during an interaction to produce the optimum persuasive impact. (Fogg, p9)
  • Wider information, particularly relating to performance, is probably paramount in discharging accountability to donors; and this will require the telling of ‘the story’ of the charity (often from the perspective of beneficiaries—if it is possible to operationlize such a perspective. (Hyndman and Jones, p152)
  • Principle of Surface Credibility: People make initial assessments of the credibility of computing technology based on firsthand inspection of surface traits like layout and density of ads. (Fogg, p135)
  • As Forlizzi and Battarbee (2004, p. 264) put it, “emotions affect how we plan to interact with products, how we actually interact with products, and the perceptions and outcomes that surround those interactions.” (van Gorp and Adams, p39)

A framework is needed to better understand the user cognitive patterns that emerge in context, resulting in effective emotive persuasion. (THE CONTRIBUTION) 

  • Principle of “Real-World Feel”: A Web site will have more credibility if it highlights the people or organization behind the content and services it provides. (Fogg, p156)
  • [There are] four developmental stages of organisational websites: contact, interact, transact and relate. At the ‘contact’ level, websites are largely about promoting an image and providing general levels information; at the ‘interact’ level, there is evidence of of targeting specific audiences; at the ‘transactional’ engagement level, websites facilitate online purchasing; and at the ‘relational’ level, sites develop two‐way consumer relationships. (Burt and Gibbons, p192)
  • [There are] strong positive correlations between rated transactional trust and donation compliance ratings…consistent with the idea that building transactional trust in an aid agency is likely to lead to more productive fundraising outcomes (Burt and Gibbons, p191)


I’ll post more about my influential sources and such later…but this is where I’m at right now.



So here is a list of some Dark Patterns I’ve encountered across my capstone travels. Feel free to critique and comment, and see if you can find the Persuasive Pattern I’ve snuck in amongst the lot (they’re the good guys, at least from my research so far!).



nextcouk trammel net patternNYCCTwitter2squre persuasivetrammelnet2Network Solutionsimagedarkpatterns_applewebwizards


“This studio revolves around the exploration of (tangible and actuated) interactive products and systems by means of physical sketching and prototyping. It is a hands-on studio where cardboard modeling techniques are combined with Arduino controlled sensors and actuators (the advanced cardboard modeling platform) to explore the notion of ‘the aesthetics of the third way’. The ‘aesthetics of the third way’ recognizes different approaches to ‘dematerialization’ (the process of the physical becoming digital, e.g., LPs and CDs become digital files and loose the physical media) and tries to balance the qualities of both the physical and the digital in a new manner.”

This studio session was conducted by Joep (J.W.), Frens, Assistant Professor at Technische Universiteit, at the 8th International Conference on Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interaction.

Joep is actively researching the ‘dematerializing’ of normal objects and how digital interfaces and electronics can be combined in order to create products or experiences that aesthetically seem like one piece – to use the “power of programming” and analog materials to create artifacts that show no signs of separation. This end process-goal-technique is what Joep refers to this as the ‘third way’. This is not to be confused with ‘third wave’ of Human-Computer Interaction/Design.

Examples of cardboard modeling:


For more information on cardboard modeling, you can go here:

After a few presentations, I found myself thinking about Google’s Nexus 5 phone. Though the studio session focused on ordinary products and scenarios  (the design challenge was to create a new experience to remind people to take their medicine) I couldn’t help but think how I love the the Nexus’s hardware but hate the experience of the Android.

The two do not seem like one piece. The Nexus feels great in the hand, smooth, sexy, simple, but Android and its customization for me is confusing, not polished, and doesn’t feel integrated ‘with’ the phone.

This integration ‘with’ approach, a perspective on aesthetics, is one reason I find products like the iPhone to be so successful. A majority of the software, though I find some things of iOS 7 to be problematic, feels apart of the phone – the physical and digital at times are one.

Though Joep was discussing a method called ‘third way’ (which I thought he was referring to the third wave at first – we had a discussion about that and he is going to change the title), the third wave in HCI – especially ubiquitous computing, does have a shared goal in creating computing that is intergraded, everywhere, but not obtrusive, and sometimes not obvious.

I’m sure many of you will agree, but I found myself nodding my head continuously throughout Jeff’s lecture on Thursday about the importance of pre-writing. Reflecting on my experience as a writer, it’s a practice, hobby, and fixation that’s very start-and-stop for me. The deeper I get into this program (and design in general), the more I tend to think of “writing” as a single activity, without demarcation between “academic” and “non-academic.”

Now, I don’t mean that all my writing sounds the same, or is entirely directed at one type of audience, but rather that the process of constructing an overarching argument, and transitioning between supporting evidence of that argument is something that I’m starting to see everywhere now. Jeff told us that like many creative endeavors (including design!), writing involves making an argument, and then being able to rationalize that argument in a convincing way to the audience you choose.

This is why I love Medium.

Whether its armchair military aficionados talking about the history of battlecarriers, to first-hand accounts of elaborate tech heists, or one man’s experience with a viral fitness craze, Medium I believe is slowly changing the experience of what it means to write online. And beyond the content that Medium plays host, the claims and arguments of those writing through the service, a second argument is being made, through the design of Medium itself. In their welcoming manifesto (itself a post on the service, free and open to commentary like any other), the creators position themselves in the crowded space of content management systems:

We think great ideas can come from anywhere and should compete on their own merits. On Medium, you can contribute often or just once in a blue moon, without the commitment of a blog. And either way, you’re publishing into a thriving, pulsing network — not a standalone web site, which you alone are responsible for keeping alive.

There are clear arguments being made here: about the democratization (and meritocracy) of ideas, a critique of current content management solutions (one of which, Blogger, the founders of Medium actually started), and the very real struggle of finding a voice and audience in an endless sea of content online. The service aims to harbor all sorts of writers: from your regular, clockwork scriveners to your once-a-year manifesto makers, and provide them with the one key aspect in my mind that is the key component for great writing and interesting reading: an engaged and active readership. From the no-frills publishing platform (no type tools, and minimal formatting controls) to the in-line contextual commenting system, Medium’s argument for a horizontal reading and writing structure runs throughout.

Granted, not all of the content is top-calibre, and abuse of the system certainly does happen, but their efforts set a precedent for what writing online could be. A place to capture ideas, polish them, and share them with the world with minimal distraction. And the stories that emerge have the potential to shine on their own merit, free of external advertisement or endorsement, and any debate that emerges is forced into contextuality through citation of a particular passage or paragraph.

These claims are not accidental; they are a result of a concerted effort, a designerly demonstration of intent, to implement and change the well-worn patterns of blogging into something with greater emotional agency. It is designs like these that for me link together aspects of this course into a real-world context; it allows me to look upon a service I like and understand why I like it. It’s what I think puts the culture in Interaction Culture, that larger scope and set of lenses that reshapes the world around us, and makes the practice of UX so satisfying.

After reading Rowe, I don’t really want to write about only one of the case studies, but rather to focus on ‘episode creation’ as part of design thinking. I will explain why my idea on this makes it so that I don’t think the three case studies Rowe used were all that different in process, at least not in what I would call a meaningful way. I will finish with a claim on the need of designing in teams so as to remove periods of ‘blinding’ in the design process.

In all three of the case studies the designers when through different ‘episodes’. The structure of these episodes is defined by Rowe as:

First, there is the ” to and fro” movement between areas of concern-a movement perceived at the time by the designers in our three case studies.

Second, there seem to be periods of unfettered speculation, followed by more sober and contemplative episodes during which the designer ” takes stock of the situation.”

Third, each episode seems to have a particular orientation that preoccupies the designer. We might say that the organizing principles involved in each episode take on a life of their own, as the designer becomes absorbed in exploring the possibilities that they promise. Here a ” dialogue” between the designer and the situation is evident (Schon 1983, ch. 3).

The last part about these episodes “taking on a life of their own” and a “dialogue” existing between designers and the situation is the most meaningful observation made in this paper. Sure, within the three case studies different constraints were applied at different times, different retractions and backtracking was done, and different models were applied in different ways. To me, this was the implementation of episodic understanding of the design process. That is, each designer created a different episode of the process by selecting its content, be it a constraint, exploratory sketches, or an applied model like the classical Villa. In this way, the content of the episode started a string of events that led, in some fashion, to subsequent episodes. In Rowe’s words these episodes:

These episodes are not happenstance events. They possess an interior logic that seems determined partly by the subject matter at hand and partly by the organizational procedures being used. They also have a consequential connection with one another. Without such logic and closure among episodes the emergence of design proposals would be difficult to imagine.

I claim that this interior logic is a priori to the problem at hand, yet developed through the combination of experience and knowledge acquisition (higher education, reading things). In this way, these episodes are colored by our formations as designers up to that point. These episodes are the manifestations of how we understand the design process. To me this explains the difference in the three case studies. I think they are using the same process, here as episodic design, but the creation and understanding of the episodes themselves rely on their ongoing formation as a designer.

This reminds me of the saying “we need a fresh pair of eyes on the project”.  More eyes = more possibilities for a diversity of episodes and in this way removes the ‘blinding’ that occurs when designers move forward even when ” conditions in which obvious connections between various considerations of importance go unrecognized by a designer (Newell, Shaw, and Simon 1967, pp.107-108).” The more designers on the project, even for a few minutes, could decrease these periods of blinding that occur when no one currently on the project can recognize when a team is going down the rabbit hole.

After reading over Rowe’s three case studies involving various architectural designs, I found the second study, focused on making a building from a “Formal Type” to resonate most closely with the work I do outside of the classroom. My role as a GA is full of situations where our UX team is responsible for evaluating the interfaces and experiences of student-facing services (many of which have long-standing design patterns, for better or worse). As such, much of our design work is done piecemeal, and involves

[a] process of refinement, adjustment, and embellishment…[with] subsequent modifications to the overall arrangement of the complex [arising] through attempts to extend the strategy of expressing various site constraints (18)

This becomes increasingly evident when compounded with the fact that we are not designing for students of IU Bloomington alone, or even the entire IU system. Instead, our team works collaboratively with developers in the Kuali Foundation, particularly on student registration. This foundation for our group’s activities means that we are effectively making prescriptions for as many as 12 other universities of comparable size to IU, each with their own scheduling systems as conventions (e.g. semesters vs. trimesters vs. quarter systems, etc.).

The result is similar to Rowe’s observations in this case study, “often involving the a priori use of an organizing principle or model to direct the decision-making process.” (18) The system as a whole moves very slowly, with small visual or UI changes requiring consensus across a wide variety of stakeholders. It also impacts our own process to a certain extent, as we are also frequently constrained by the framework itself when we provide suggestions for new systems or processes for something as complex as class registration. I feel that many of these complexities are due to the long history of the system that is currently in place “the earlier preoccupations…exerting a pronounced influence over subsequent lines of investigation.” (19)

None of these observations are meant to be a direct criticism of any one group or system, but rather an acknowledgement of the situated context in which a great deal of interaction design work takes place. I’ve worked with the UX team here on everything from small wording tweaks to dialogue boxes, to proposing entirely new tools for sifting and sorting through the hundreds of classes offered here at IU. None of these projects is devoid of preconceived notions of what “scheduling” means or the difference between a term and a semester is. Design itself does not take place in a vacuum, and our goal should be to tailor our design approach in a way that “constraints may be absorbed and whenever possible inverted into positive elements.” (34)