So, I’m almost done reading the Falk & Dierking paper about creating museum experiences and I felt compelled to write this blog post about my feelings towards it. Before I even stop, let me first pay my respects to these museum curators and apologize, once again, for my narrow-minded view on museums and the arts. I know in a past blog post, I admitted my wrong for believing the arts were a useless field but now I must say that I now realize that I didn’t really pay much attention to the care and love that museum curators put into making museums an experiences, especially since they are dealing with a very broad audience that they want to cater to. Just reading this paper gave me a headache. I didn’t realize that museum curators had to take everything like these elements into consideration in order to give the best possible experience to their customers. Even if they aren’t following these elements down to the letter, I can understand how frustrating it can be for you to have a vision in mind for an artifact; but your visitors disclaim it and form their own vision. So, kudos to the curators!!

But getting to the actual passage of the paper, I wholeheartedly agree with what was said in this passage. A lot of things that Falk & Dierking pointed out really sat with me in a deep way, but one that I completely felt like needed to be highlighted, italicized, bolded, and capitalized would have to be on page 141, PDF page 4 where it says,

“Museums need not try to compete with
Disneyland, but they should accept that they are competing
for visitor’s leisure time and they need to be attuned to the
needs and desires of their consumers.”

True, museums are in competition with places like Disneyland and I understand that in order for them to face up to them, they have to make the necessary changes to their exhibits to pull in visitors. But there is a fine line that is set between the fun you have strictly for fun and the fun you have strictly for education. When I have a museum in mind, I don’t picture an arcade. That, to me, would be a waste of my time because I’m there to get something specific such as an educational piece for me to use in my daily life. To me, I believe a lot of people think like this and if museums try to compete with a fun activity in another spectrum, that could lead to ruin. Personally, I feel that museums are the one with the advantage versus Disneyland. Disneyland is seasonal, tickets are expensive to get in, you must pay to get on certain rides, if you’re hungry you can expect to pay an arm and a leg and let’s not factor in gas money and travel fees. Museums are the places that people go to when they know they don’t have the money to indulge in the reckless fun so they go for the fun they can afford and get something out of it.



After an emotional and much needed chat with Jeff- I crumpled up my papers  (skeuomorphically, into my mac book’s trash) and started in a new direction that I finding I am much better suited for.

My new topic is something along the lines of: What can UbiComp learn from museums. Probably per Yvonne Rogers reassessment of Weiser’s vision, in which she calls for the following:

“I propose one such alternative agenda which focuses on designing UbiComp technologies for engaging user experiences. It argues for a significant shift  from proactive computing to proactive people; where UbiComp technologies are designed not to do things for people but to engage them more actively in what they currently do”


I wanted to share an experience I had today while researching for my paper. I went to the IMA, just to see what I could find. I actually felt sort of guilty taking time out of my day to do something fun, do you all feel like research doesn’t count if you’re not sitting in front of a pile of papers? Anyways, I sat in the Robert Indiana show decided to sit down and let myself see what would happen. I wrote down notes and observations. And feverishly at that… like, my friend was probably embarrassed to be near me and my hand hurt from writing. This went on for an hour and a half. I had so much to say and so many things just came to me. I had done some reading about UbiComp Friday night (a really cool way to fill a Friday night) and with that on my brain, so much started clicking.

Afterwards, the museum’s Audience Interpretation Director came up to me because she noticed me taking notes. She gave me some awesome insights and suggested some new sources. She is going to email me some internal case studies, as well (score!). I feel really good about this direction. It feels clear and bright and all those good fuzzy feelings.

Hope all of your paper are going well. I totally recommend leaving a desk and going out into your space (if possible). It felt like cheating, because I actually enjoy my topic.

– julia

So I just finally pieced together what I want to do and am currently pulling quotes from different papers. The basic idea comes from Don Norman’s Emotional Design.

When machines display emotions, they provide a rich and satisfying interaction with people, even though most of the richness and satisfaction, most of the interpretation and understanding, comes from within the head of the person, not from the artificial system

I basically want to argue that emotional intelligence is important for the future developments of computers and robots. I will contrast R2D2 and C3P0 with Siri and Cortana (apple and Windows phone) and show the difference in interactions of systems that are capable of emotional intelligence vs systems that only interpret commands.

For example, the other day Jeff Gadzala was showing off Cortana and was trying to get Cortana make a reference to the video game. Unfortunately, Cortana took him literally (“Cortana can you tell me about Master Chief”) and gave him a wiki answer! In this situation for example, had his phone been able to recognize the emotions (casual, joking), it would have been able to offer a joke or two!

I am probably going to dissect each example based on the readings (Sutcliff, McCarthy and Wright, Folkman, Bradzell and Bradzell) and show why emotional intelligence is important.

My question is, does this seem reasonable and narrowed down enough? Are there any seminal papers that I am missing out? Other thoughts and concerns?

This is an attempt to work with the framework of flow within J.H. Falk and L.D. Dierkling’s The Physical Context: Exhibits and Labels in their book Museum Experiences.






Above is an image I took at the Smithsonian Institute in May of 2006 of the Hope Diamond, found at the Museum of Natural History.

Now, when 18-year-old Mitch was visiting the Smithsonian, he had exactly in mind what he wanted to see and in many was he was the person that Falk and Dierkling described as the person that did not read the labels.  When I walked into the Museum of Natural History, the first exhibit you walk into is the display of the Hope Diamond, the rest just appears to be a bunch of rocks and bones.  I did not read the labels because I felt as if I already knew what they were. There was a disruption of flow based on how Nakamura and Csikzentmihalyi describe in their article The Concept of Flow on page 92

Staying in flow requires that attention be held by this limited stimulus field. Apathy, boredom, and anxiety, like flow, are largely functions of how attention is being structured at a given time.

Walking into the Museum of Natural History, the first exhibit you see and everyone is gathered around it is the Hope Diamond, probably the most famous artifact.  Walking around throughout the rest of this museum went very much against what Falk and Dierking on page 74,

Museums are novel environments, full of strange and wonderful things.

Yes, the Natural History Museum is full of unique items, but the problem is, after seeing something like the Hope Diamond at the very beginning, everything pales in comparison.  It all looks like a bunch of bones and rocks and you are not sure if you are passing the same thing multiple times.

Later, visiting the Museum of American History, I feel as if I fell more in the range of Falk and Dierking’s notion of a person that reads labels — probably because I already knew much about the items there and wanted to both see them in real life and know more about them.  Really, the more I reflect on this and think more about the people I was with while in DC, I understand why I act the way I do in museums when the interest is there.  If I do not know much about the topic, or do not really care, then all I want to do is get through the exhibit and find something more exciting to do.

Chunking information in a subject area that is new to a visitor is not an easy cognitive task.  The visitor who already knows about Chinese ceramics will find it much easier to deal with a case full of Chinese vases, regardless of exhibit design, than one who knows nothing of the subject (79-80).

The flow of the museum is important, but however, if the visitor is there to see one thing and nothing else, especially if the most famous artifact is one of the first things you see, keeping people interested may be more difficult than expected.  Imagine if the Mona Lisa were in the lobby of the Louvre (I have never been there, so I cannot say if it is there or not). Would people go through the rest of the museum when the most well known artifact is at the very beginning?


So, I have been in somewhat confused state lately. Since the semester is coming to an end, I am preparing my final capstone document; framing and re-framing things so that it makes sense to Eli and people who might read it.The journey of capstone is organic, the research phase never ends technically. But for presenting the project, I need to break things down , more specifically in PRInCiPleS format for the final deliverable.

Jeff shared an amazing framework of ‘What, How and Why’ to think about a paper or a design project. It totally made sense to me. I documented my capstone thought process in that flow. But as I was presenting it to Eli, I felt I was struggling a little bit. So, I mapped these two frameworks to understand how can they be related and came up with this:Image

What do you guys think ? How are you bridging this gap between documenting a process and presenting it? Would really appreciate some feedback..

I very much enjoyed the ubicomp paper by Di Salvo this past week. It had an explicit political tone which brings up a lot of important questions about the technologies we create. When and where do we draw the line? How do we draw the line? What does the power structure around this tech determine? Etc.

I wanted to post this video I saw today of a little kid wizard playing with the TV. It’s adorable, give it a watch.

I immediately thought of ubicomp and how cool it could be for kids to play with their environment with this sort of interaction. All the things toys that could be placed in a space could react to the cues providing ample opportunity for entertainment and learning. Imagine the opportunities if the star mural on the wall engaged someone this young instead of a video game. The implications on the future, especially with children, are endless.

Of course, the implications are endless. Where does this lead? What does the internet of things become for someone this young? We already live in a world where children are given devices at a young age and are subsequently glued to them as they develop. What about automation? We’ve seen the impact of robots doing the lifting and computers doing the deciding on auto industry. What skills could ubicomp render moot?

In my mind ubicomp is a slippery slope. I’m not sure I am ok with a WALL-Esque dystopia of slovenly unskilled self-centered society hell bent on ignoring the harsh realities of life. Yet, I can imagine so many other opportunities beneficial to our ability to learn and better society. The design of these technologies is highly dependent, as Jeff has often said, on us. Creating the right thing for the right reasons is super important.

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.



The study of ubicomp (particularly Mark Weiser’s vision for an interconnected workplace) has always been one of my favorite topics in my study of UX. But one thing I’ve always found lacking in ubicomp is a greater discussion of the political implications of ubiquitywhat the ramifications of embedding computers are in the scope of everyday life. Yvonne Rogers approaches this discussion  from the perspective of “calm computing,” and makes the argument that we need to move towards a more proactive form of ubicomp that does not explicitly rely on technology to catalyze creativity:

Instead of augmenting the environment to reduce the need for humans to think for themselves about what to do, what to select, etc., and doing it for them, we should consider how UbiComp technologies can be designed to augment the human intellect so that people can perform ever greater feats, extending their ability to learn, make decisions, reason, create, solve complex problems and generate innovative ideas. (Rogers, p411)

DiSalvo’s approach to ubicomp through adversarial design seeks to accomplish many of the same goals as Rogers, albeit by utilizing the technologies themselves (in the form of articulative collections) to facilitate more holistic approaches to design:

Within the frame of adversarial design, the tactic of articu- lation constructs linkages between objects, people, and actions that transform them into an agonistic collective—an open space of contest in which the elements gathered together are able to act out a plurality of conflicting practices, values, and beliefs. (DiSalvo, p96)

The articulation of different devices within a collective of interconnected technologies allows for a new form of politics to emerge, and prompts the people using it to think more critically about its implications. I feel that as our lives become increasingly connected with the Internet, it is easy to lose sight of the consequences of our actions, both in the real and online spaces. Rather than merely rejecting ubicomp’s proposition of interconnectivity, DiSalvo instead introduces the idea of a countercolletive, which “[unhinge] the joints that bind another collective together…by leveraging qualities of connectedness and the interrelated dependencies that characterized connectedness.” (DiSalvo, p109) The result is an almost critical perspective on ubicomp; a sort of introspective that brings users into the discourse through its experience. Through articulation, we can better understand both how elements fit together in an ubicomp interaction, and the implications of the interaction of those elements on the world at large.

When I read this paper, it reminded me of my own experiences (inspiring moments) and about Philippe Starck’s Squid lemon squeezer. Starck was of the opinion that it was his gift (my understanding of him, maybe not his words), but now that I have read this paper, it makes sense why he made those connections.

For all the fellow IDPers this was one of the first things we learned about the design process, Constrain your design. If we really think about what happened to Starck, I propose that the combination of Calamari, lemon and thinking about making a tray constrained his problem space. He started to see the connections and came up with his sketches.

Creative density means space for odd, surprising, or useless objects in the studio and the chance to find something unexpected in surprising or interesting combinations of those objects.

This is a classic example of constraining a design process. For example, yesterday I was trying to come up with an idea for still life photography for meaning and form. My topic was Propaganda and politics. I was drawing a blank until I saw the duplo animal figures lying about in the studio. By constraining my problem space down to Politics and animal figures….the idea became obvious; a still life on Animal Farm. Now this is not a case of talent or pure inspiration. It is the power of constraints.

The ability to see connections between different things can only take place when you have different things to connect. I think is what brute force thinking is all about. The people who say are being inspired by everyday things in my mind is essentially connecting themes together and synthesizing because of constraints. It is probably why I have such a hard time writing papers, because I almost never have examples to contraint my thoughts. Lesson learned!

The discussion we had on Tuesday reminded me this morning of a quote from Stolterman & Nelson in The Design Way:

“We are lame gods in the service of prosthetic gods.”

The word “prosthetic” was, I think, carefully chosen. According to the dictionary, a prosthesis is, “A device, either external or implanted, that substitutes for or supplements a missing or defective part of the body.” It’s an approximation, at best, of an organic limb or organ.

We closed class by establishing that Kieślowski used formalistic techniques to approximate the inarticulate felt experience of longing, and that this formalistic approximation was analogous to what we do as designers.

In the same way Kieślowski at best could only approximate that inarticulate felt experience, we can only approximate how people will react to and use our designs. Because of our education and experience we can make a pretty damn good guess, but a guess is the best we can hope for.

Technology is a means by which we can create prosthetics for our bodies and minds. We can remember things better, communicate over greater distances, and access information more readily than ever before in human history. But in the same way a prosthetic arm can’t communicate a sense of touch, our technology only can increase our abilities so much.

The best we can hope for is an approximation: there are a million to-do list mobile apps, but I still manage to forget to post on this blog; I can FaceTime with Hillary in Philadelphia, but it can never compare to sitting across a dinner table from her;  I can look up Nelson Mandela’s birthday with Wikipedia in an instance, but the same article could also describe Mr. Mandela as the spawn of Cthulhu. I think this relates heavily to several of Dennis’ posts from earlier in the semester regarding the danger/necessity of normative thinking in design practice.

We build prosthetics, supplements, substitutes, extensions…but nothing more. But my question is: Why not? Why can’t we do better than that? Is it a human shortcoming? Is our technology not “advanced” enough?

The philosophical version of that question could be this: If we could easily manipulate the very fabric of our reality, would we then be able to design the ‘perfect’ prosthesis? What do you think?