You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘User Experience’ category.

Just something Jeff talked about in class about Prejudice (Prejudgement). It made me think of some of the results I got talking with people earlier in the morning about their food experiences. Many people that I have talked to had a hard time accepting or finding certain food weird because they have prejudged it because of some sort of previous way of thinking.

One person did not like the idea of cold sandwiches because of the cold meat in the sandwich. Because their previous experience with meat when he lived in China was that it is always cooked, when he saw meat that is served cold here, there is a kind of prejudgement that the meat may not be safe whether that is true or not.

Another person had the previous experience of just not liking animals like squid and octopus but when she ate calamari and liked it when she didn’t know what calamari is made of. When she found out, she didn’t feel so good because she started seeing the food as the animal that she didn’t particularly like. Though in this case, she moved past that and would eat calamari if she has the chance.


I really liked the quote at the beginning:

“Everything that is absorbed and registered in your mind adds to the collection of ideas stored in the memory: a sort of library that you can consult whenever a problem arises. So, essentially the more you have seen, experienced and absorbed, the more points of reference you will have to help you decide which direction to take: your frame of reference expands.” 

– Herman Hertzberger, Lessons for Students of Architecture 

To me, this isn’t just what you’ve learned academically. It is all of your experiences. Everything that you’ve done is a possible valuable insight. It is a good rationalization for all of the different and strange hobbies you may have. I think it lets me appreciate the good and bad of life. It also lets me want to enjoy life more instead of being stuck on the negative all of the time.

Aack – unfortunate that we won’t have a discussion over this reading, as I’m still pretty lost as to what I should be taking away from it. More than anything it seems to remind me of the power of constraints (as it did Tiffany). The third building seemed to start from a well grounded understanding of the constraints and desires of the users. However they also seemed to need continual re-design as they kept missing pieces or had their sights set too lofty (Moving the theaters underground, cutting out the technology half, etc.)

The second (as I read it) didn’t seem to do well until constraints about separating the hospital and hotel, and treating the rooms within as variable arose. This I probably found to be the most interesting one, as while I disliked the idea of compartmentalizing everything and keeping the aesthetic and function separate, it also gives the most power to the owners of the hotel to re-imagine as needed. (Assuming I understood that argument correctly).

However, it’s the first design that resonated most with me, as it seems very similar to that which we went through in IDP. Build something, evaluate it, find the issues, introduce constraints when necessary. Here of course the problem is that the constraints introduced were up to the architect’s whim, and not inspired by user needs (But that seems like an overall trend throughout).

But yeah – constraints. Obviously a huge huge help for designers – in no instance here could the designers really begin without them. In addition to that, the other really interesting point was that of sticking doggedly to the ‘big picture’, or initial ideas. Sometimes this turned out well. Sometimes it didn’t. When to do this and when not to? Good question.

As I was reading the Crampton-Smith paper, I could not stop thinking of artifacts that are mostly clinical and utilitarian. Those of you who were in Design Theory might remember an assignment on good vs bad design. Pretty much all of the designs I thought were bad designs were clinical or utilitarian designs. However, I think I can explain why I think they are bad better using the lenses she provided. So focusing on an airport full body scanner, this is what I had said originally:

Screen Shot 2014-01-19 at 1.41.43 PM

(Intimidating, Discomforting, Cold & Unnatural, Dominant & Humiliating, De-humanizing)

So using the lenses…

Usability: There are 2 parties involved in usability here, the person walking into the scanner, and the person looking at the scanned results and initiates the scan. For both parties I will venture to say this is usable, the person walking in stands inside the scanner on the clearly indicated footprints, and has clear instruction of what to do through a depiction of a person with the hands above the head. Additionally, from seeing other travelers before, the use part seems clear.

Utility: In this case, it is also clear the use of this device is to increase security, and provide a higher scrutiny in security measures. This is also contextual, perhaps at a party, this device would be unsuitable, or entering church.

Satisfaction: There are 2 sides to satisfaction. For travelers, as long as your time in the device remains short, you will soon try to forget the experience and move on with your travel. For the TSA, they can be more confident people are not smuggling things in their clothes. Again, nothing surprising.

Communicative qualities: This is where it gets interesting, because the machine itself has powerful communicative qualities.  The size imposes a sense of technological power and it forces people into a submissive role, in a way of clearly denoting the power structure. Additionally, people once in the device, have to hold a position where they indicate they are not a threat. According to Crampton-Smith: “The interactive systems we design have implicit as well as explicit meanings. A may communicate its purpose clearly, so that it’s obvious what it is and what we should do with it. But its qualities, its aesthetic qualities particularly, speak to people in a different way. ” I am curious to see what you guys feel these qualities are, and how they speak to you. It’s sterile characteristics to me indicate every person is “equal”, but equally suspicious and not trustworthy.

Sociability: Crampton-Smith says “when [designs/ systems] dehumanize and de-civilize our relationship with each other, they impoverish the rich social web in which we live and operate, essential for both well-being and efficiency.” An airport scanner indeed dehumanizes individuals as they go into the device, however, what would be the alternative? Perhaps in some instances, sociability becomes a secondary concern over security for example.

According to Crampton-Smith, “The symbolic function is as important as the practical one, perhaps more…”, so perhaps this is a successful design after all? If you look at it from TSA’s perspective, and not as a user. Our reality is filled with examples where utility are emphasized over sociability, however, when making these judgements, context of use is still an important consideration. An opposite example would be the the CAT scan machines for children, which are designed to be a welcoming experience for the kid, instead of scary. Could the same principles apply to an airport? Even thinking about it I want to say no, but why not?


(as a side note, I am still hesitant about posting this. I don’t think it is anything super critical or anything, but knowing its public and it talks about airport scanners… maybe the power structure at play is more ingrained in my head…)

As said during class, the first time reading Dunne & Raby was a bit depressing the first time I read it. It kind of just bashed in all of the romantic notions of life like, “Now, a younger generation doesn’t dream, it hopes: it hopes that we will survive, that there will be water for all, that we will be able to feed everyone, that we will not destroy ourselves…”

The next day, I was looking at articles to show my Social Informatics class and I came upon “Sleep-Texting Becoming an Alarming Trend, Experts Says” by Marc Lallanilla ( and it brought back a subject that I feel very strongly about.

I do like smartphones. They are very convenient but sometimes, it does feel like smartphones are taking over people’s lives. People no longer have “nothing” to do. When they have “nothing” to do, they are on their phones and this can be anywhere, while eating, while waiting, in bed… EVERYWHERE!!!! It is getting to the point where people are sleep-texting!!!!

This made me think of a quote I read in Dunne & Raby the previous day, “…it is becoming clear that many of the challenges we face today are unfixable and that the only way to overcome them is by changing our values, beliefs, attitudes, and behavior.” I found that I actually agree with this and this is something to look into to help me “problem frame” a way for a better balance of life and technology.

Personally, balance of life and technology is something I am trying to practice and look into how it can be possible. While my capstone is about couples and the cultural cuisine that they bring into the relationship, I would like whatever I come up with to be a life and technology balance. The technology is just a helping hand to help the couples and maybe it will help the couple understand each other’s values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors.

Apparently Apple’s new ad is showing a more technology enhance life then a technology taking over life view. This is from the article “Apple’s New Ad Finally Recognizes that iPads are Less Important than Life” by Mark Wilson ( This is just a switch of view from a very prominent company that I found interesting.

Since a long time I have thought that the screen of a computer acts as a wall which separates the real and the artificial world.  No matter how immersive the screen-content can be, it still is a different world. It is unreal, but has a lot of elements which are the reasons of our fascinations. Since the 90s, a lot of attempts have been made to somehow penetrate into this artificial world, but they did not achieved what they really promised. It is mankind’s endeavor to somehow get into the artificial world and feel as if it is real. The attempts of Virtual Reality are real and great, but they don’t really dissolve this wall, they just fake being immersed. We have a lot of examples such as virtual reality caves, Head Mounted displays, Augmented reality, but nothing is satisfactory.

We have seen movies like The Matrix, Tron, and cartoons like Johnny Quest where the hero gets immersed in a different world, and this become a great inspiration for reality to come up with something which really gives us this immersed feeling. Many of the people working in this field are trying to achieve this, and one of the attempts is made my Oculus VR by making the Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Display.

The Video below explains the capabilities of the headset.

Oculus Rift is the idea of Palmer Lucky, which he started in his parent’s garage. He is a virtual reality enthusiast  and big fan of head mounted displays. He wanted to buy the best VR headset to get the immersive matrix experience, but there was nothing out there, so he decided to build the Oculus Rift. The makers of the Rift have specifically targeted gaming industry as they want to focus on giving the immersive experience. They want gamers to feel like being in the game when playing it actually. This is a dream of breaking the wall and going completely in the artificial world and feeling like being a part of it.  They never thought of it as for watching movies in an immersive way as because here they focus on games and only games. They don’t want this experience  (even if it is so rich) to be expensive so the device only cost for $300.  They are giving it to the developers (game developers)  to develop content for the Rift.

The Oculus Rift is made of two in-built Hi-definition  screens — one for each eye– and two lenses which allows the eyes to see the things on the screens which are really close to the eye.  Together they give a VR experience. It has a gyro sensor and an Accelerometer which act as the motion sensing couple to track the head movement and translate them into the game, so if the user moves the head, he sees where he is looking. The best part of it is that the motion sensing is very low latency, so the combination of the motion sensing and the one screen per eye generates a stereoscopic 3D image which actually fools the brain to believe that it is experiencing an actual thing. The device itself is very bulky and wired to the PC via an HDMI cable. It has foam layers to make wearing it comfortable. People with spectacle can wear it as because it fits perfectly on a spectacle and also they thick lenses on the device itself can be change to suit the vision of the user. Compared to the traditional VR options available, it is very different. The existing VR goggles give an experience which is like sitting in front of a 100 inch screen kept at a distance of 60 feet, and the head tracking is also very lagging. Oculus Rift has a very low latency head tracking and it feels like being in the environment as you don’t really get to see the ends of the screen so it is a curved, very wide screen giving you a very engulfed experience.

When I tried it for the first time, I was completely astounded. I had never experienced anything that immersive. Initially when you are new to the device, you feel a bit dizzy because your brain is orienting to it, but once you are accustomed to it,  that experience you can never forget. When I tried it I was asked to move my head turn it to right and left to see if I can see stuff, but when I was asked to turn and see what’s behind me, I was simply shocked.  You can move your head and orient yourself to the virtual environment which gives you a feeling of actually being there. The only thing you will say when you are wearing it is “This is amazing”. If you are using something that immersive, then the traditional keyboard and mouse doesn’t work. I was asked to use the keyboard and mouse to move around in the virtual environment, but it seemed not at all intuitive. So I feel that for this kind of technology, the interaction has to be very natural. Using omnidirectional treadmill, gestures, mind-control to interact in such environment is probably the best possible things to be done to make it more realistic. It was hard for me to find the keyboard and the mouse since my eyes were covered with the Rift.  Although, it has all the good aspects of interactivity, it is hard to keep wearing it for a long time because of it’s big form factor and the fact that it is wired.

What effects can we see because of such a piece of technology. Well there can be both good and bad. Good is that there are can be games that help us relax from day to day activities and isolate us from all the tensions. Such kind of immersivity is very essential for relaxing. Instead of visiting families, you will have these virtual hangout  where everyone will meet in this virtual space and celebrate and electronic Christmas. Imagine the future of gaming. What would it feel like actually being the avatar you are playing. How will it feel like actually taking a bullet from the enemy. Will it be for people with a light heart. Imagine the future of porn. Having a virtual sex partner in such an environment will change every thing. You won’t won’t want to come out of it. It being very immersive, the user will get detached from the real world he won’t be aware of the world besides him. What kind of design guidelines with it suggest.  We today are so much immersed our cellphones that we forget the world around us. What will happen when we are totally into different world. What will it change.

Overall, I feel that is a  great piece of technology. It truly gives you a very rich immersive experience. Although, it is not very real, but slowly it will get there. So far there was nothing like this. It has a good side as well as a bad side. It is in the hands of design and the designer of the content how it will be used. Given the applications are made that rich and after carefully thinking about the things this device can change it can really bring about a huge transformation in immersion in to the virtual world completely destroying the wall separating the real and the virtual world.

In fact, I’m not really confident about interaction design, even after I’ve already joined this program for nearly two semesters.

I’m a huge fan and a real lover of literature. I started reading many many fictions and novels when I was very young. Later reading became my habit that I guess I will continue with the rest of my life. Except for reading, I also write. I keep dairy, I write essays, and I used to write critiques when I was in high school. The only things that I remember myself doing pretty consciously are reading and writing. Why do I love literature so much? Well, that’s all about the subtle and sensitive things it can provide. Metaphors, symbols, atmospheres, etc. So today’s Interaction Culture class is my favorite up till now. I know it will before I attend the class, because I just enjoy this film reading so much — it talks bunch of stuff related with metaphors and symbols!

But why do I doubt interaction design? What’s the relationship and connection here? Jeff talked about the idea of bring metaphors and atmospheres into interaction design, so that they can create a rich experience and deeper meaning for user. That’s what I would love to see, but I’m not sure whether interaction design can achieve this or not. Firstly, metaphors and symbols rarely work alone. It is a whole set of symbols that matters to us, unless you have some personal relationship with a single symbol. A set or a series of symbols work together to create an atmosphere, and it is exactly this atmosphere that makes people feel something. One can of course have some senses with one symbol, but it cannot ensure other ones can have the same feeling by encountering this symbol. That’s why a set of symbols is important. A set creates an atmosphere. An atmosphere creates a context, which makes the happen of experience possible. Secondly, except that interaction design cannot bare a lot of symbols, an interaction design can not usually make user engage with it intensively and emotionally for a long time, besides games. Experience can only happens when there’s enough space (context) and enough time (elapse). Films and fictions both provide this possibility, so people can be deeply engaged with them. Thirdly, I doubt how much meaning can interaction design provide. Will you think about the meaning of life when you are using Microsoft Word? That’s what I mean here. An instance of interaction design is usually viewed as tool, rather than a piece of art. That’s exactly different from films and novels. How one perceives a thing determines how much meaning can this thing provide. If one consider interaction design as tool, I doubt one is being respect enough to do sense-making from this design.

I know my thoughts are messy here, but I really want to write them down. I have personal problem here. If I cannot perceive any deep or further meaning of doing something, I will just not do it. I talked about ubiquitous design in class today. From my opinion, ubiquitous design is an example within interaction design field that both provide enough space and enough time, which means that it offers an opportunity to embed some real meanings. It provides me a little bit of hope, too.

I like interaction criticism, because criticism can make people think deep and think further. As I don’t like shallow things, interaction criticism makes me feel secure and steady. I can see a lot of possibilities being provided by interaction criticism here. Well, actually I just want to say I enjoy this class a lot, even if I still have confusion about interaction design.

The two dresses reading was really interesting for the obvious reason of being about cool dresses that respond to your more physiological responses.  They talked a lot about transparency and allowing you to be completely open with your communication.  This is very interesting, but I don’t know that I would necessarily want my clothing to light up when I am feeling certain emotions and making that visible to the entire world.  Perhaps it’s just me, but there’s something a little empowering to be able to decipher another person’s emotions.  If I’m getting all that information from your clothing, then where is the fun in that?  This might be especially true when flirting and going on a date with someone.  There’s a certain playfulness to the act of flirting and trying to read the other person to see if they are interesting in you as well.

Regardless, that was not the point of this post.  I was actually thinking of Philips as an electronics company and what they could do with similar biometric and physiological data in their electronics products.  I am reminded a bit of Pari Razmand’s capstone project of music.  While I’m not 100 percent sure of her specific topic now, she had mentioned designing something for moods and music–either to augment a mood or to change it using music.  What if Philips designed headphones that could read your physiological and biometric data to determine what it thinks the best music for you to listen to given your current mood and state?  This could interface with iTunes or other music software/hardware in order to give you a seamless mood experience.  Instead of going through your music library and finding what music would currently “speak” to you, what if it did all of that for you.

Reading the paper, I also understand the limitations of this data and the biases that come along with it, but I think that perfecting these algorithms or at least examining what information we are getting from people could hold really intense and awesome personalized experiences for people.  Perhaps issues of privacy and whatnot might come into play (perhaps less so for the experience that I was talking about compared to showing publicly your emotions via your clothing), but I still think it’s an incredibly interesting area to look at for the future of designs and “personal informatics” types of designs.

Carroll was talking about that emotion is directed at some object in Horror and Humor as below:

Emotions are mental states; they are directed. They are intentional states. They must be directed at objects, real or imagined. In order to be in love, I must be in love with someone. In order to be afraid, I must be afraid of something. An emotion is a mental state that takes or is directed at some object. An emotional state is not merely a feeling state, thought it involves feeling. An emotional state involves a feeling that is related to some object.

His argument is clear, but I somehow feel that the logic is not quite clear, even though he has provided the example of the drug that can replicate anger. Never mind. John Dewey has talked about the same thing in the third Chapter of Art as Experience:

By the same token, emotions are attached to events and objects in their movement. They are not, save in pathological instances, private. And even an “objectless” emotion demands something beyond itself to which to attach itself, and thus it soon generates a delusion in lack of something real. … In order to become emotional they must become parts of an inclusive and enduring situation that involves concern for objects and their issues.

I suppose Dewey wrote his article before Carroll, and I wonder whether Carroll knows that Dewey has similar argument here. That can be interesting.

I stopped posting on the blog awhile, which is unfortunate in a number of ways (not the least of which is that posting is one of the ways I am being evaluated!)  I was suffering from considerable burn out over the weeks leading up to spring break, but I spent break taking a handful of days to do just the right amount of nothing so that I am feeling considerably invigorated and ready to make up for some lost time.  I mention this only because I know burn out is an affliction that rarely strikes in isolation, and I hope anyone else suffering from it enjoyed their break and got some genuine time to rest reinvigorate!

The subject of my paper is designing ambience as a way of creating worth in video games.  It still needs work, I’m hoping that bringing my pile o’ stuff to class today will help me get a better grip on it.  One of the star or prime HCI papers that I’m using is Gilbert Cockton’s “Designing Worth is Worth Designing”.  There is an idea in it that seems super important to my paper, but I’m having trouble fully understanding it.  Here are some quotes where it appears:

  • “We should judge systems by what endures beyond interaction, and not by ease of use or contextual fit alone. While we may value efficiency as a means to an end, and fun for the moment of experience, there really is more to life (and thus humans) than this. In thinking otherwise, HCI has embraced Taylorism [24], and now sometimes a Disneyesque hedonism ([17], p.133). “
  • “The motivations of individuals and social groupings define what is worthwhile. It is through examining these that HCI can broaden its scope, not only beyond the Taylorist efficiency of office productivity tools, but also beyond the (ludicrous?) ‘Disneyism’ of some affective HCI.”
  • “Cognitive and affective HCI have largely focused on hygiene factors. Motivational HCI would shift the balance to attend predominantly to motivator factors. Motivational HCI differs from affective HCI in that it does not automatically associate positive impact with favourable hedonic factors, which may be short-lived and transient, without long term impact on an individual’s motivation.”

I get the Taylorist part, and I think I understand he is saying that value from design arises after the actual interaction, but my question is what is he talking about with the ‘Disneyism’ of some affective HCI?  What is Disneyism, first of all? And what theories of affective HCI is he criticizing?  The first quote contains a reference; it is to “Design: A Very Short Introduction” ( and page 133 is not getting me any closer to understanding what he’s talking about! When he talks about “Disneyesque hedonism” in the first quote is he talking about the same kind of “hedonic factors” in the third quote? I know these are kind of specific questions, but since I am using this notion of worth and applying it to ambience as a form of experience design, I can’t help but think this criticism is important to me and yet I don’t understand it.  My best guess at the moment is that he is saying that some approaches to affective design, and I would also say experience design, are too focused in the moment of interaction and not on the enduring qualities of the interaction; “hedonism” in design because it is pleasure in the moment but without any long term generation of real value or worth to the user.  Am I even in the ballpark?