I have been selected to present next month at Sapphire Now for SAP in Orlando, where I will be talking about design-led innovation and inclusion in design. I will also be present to talk with attendees about SAP’s Smart Cities. So if you’ll be attending Sapphire, please come find me! I’d love to chat.
I will be in Denton, Texas today at my Alma Matter the University of North Texas where I will be participating in the Applied Anthropology Expo. I will have a poster up for the poster session, and I will be a panelist on careers in anthropology.
Though I didn’t have the typical college experience (I was an older student who already had a career and a full-time job in my field while attending school full-time), I loved everything about attending university. I was that person who actually enjoyed going to class and homework and writing papers. I loved it all.
Learning is a passion of mine and I take it very seriously. I would continue on to get my JD or another Masters or another Ph.D. if I had the money. Sadly, I’m still paying off all of the
In the end, I’m an academic at heart who simply wishes I could support my family of 5 on a professor’s salary while auditing classes I can’t afford to take but would love to learn. Being that I can’t do any of that (largely because I’m still paying off all of that previous education), I very much relish these opportunities and jump on them every chance I get.
So, if you’re local to the area come and check out the expo! See what is amazing about my alma
As I mentioned in my last post, I presented at a local conference in October of last year. Well, my participation in that conference led to an opportunity to teach Design Research Methods at a local university as a part of their requirements for their design tracts. I jumped at the chance to do so and I poured everything I had into the class design from November to January along side doing my day job as a blockchain design consultant.
We are now two weeks away from midterms, so I’m taking some time to reflect on the curriculum I’ve put together and what we’ve done so far. I’m taking the time to do it here, because it’s always nice to be able to look back on it later and because others may find it useful. That, and this blog has always been related to my work and my evolution as a researcher, designer, and now teacher.
To begin, I had to consider what would be some of the essential lessons designers should take from a research methods class. The designers in the class span the gamut from traditional design to graphic design, to interaction design, and more. To satisfy the needs of all and the course, I had to come up with a way to present research methodology to them in a universal way, and I had to consider the fact there were 30 people signed up for the class. So, this class has a slight interaction design focus, but the students are able to stretch beyond that if they find a way to do so within the goals and structure of the class.
Overall Class Goals
As presented in the catalog and the syllabus:
This course will explore a variety of behavioral and attitudinal design research methods. Students will walk away with an understanding of how to plan, analyze, and execute quantitative and qualitative methods, understand ethical concerns related to understanding users, and how to deliver artifacts that summarize your synthesized findings.
This course will help you to:
- Understand how design research fits in the design process and how to apply research results to design projects
- Describe and identify uses of various types of design research methodologies
- Plan, manage and execute various design research methods
- Understand ethical concerns related to design research
- Understand how to report on research in an engaging and useful way
My overall design is an applied one where the students learn about design methods by carrying out research projects on a universal theme. For this semester, I chose social media. I felt this was a great choice because of how ubiquitous it is, because it can be utilized in many different types of environments, and because it is not
They are tackling this topic in groups of 3 to 5. Though they are working in groups, each has individual assignments that contribute to the group work in addition to working collaboratively on various assignments with their fellow group mates.
The first half of our 3 hour class time is based on discussion of the topics (not a lecture!), the second half of class they work together on their projects. The first half of their semester focuses on generative research where they interview & survey people about their social media experiences, not products. The goal of this is to understand the space and to surface problems that currently exist. The second half of the semester focuses on evaluative research where they will have to design something using their research results and then test it using various methods with live users.
We are using tools such as a class Slack with private group rooms, Box with private group folders, RealTimeBoard with private group boards, and a class blog where the students have access to their entire syllabus, all assignment requirements, and thorough write-ups of each class with additional materials provided as needed so they can go back and review what we discussed.
Because this is just a beginning research methodology course for designers, I am touching on a lot of different parts of the research process at a high level to get them familiar with them, what they are, what they are used for, why they are used, and how and when to use them. For their first assignment, we started with a Research Guide where they had to come up with a topic, assumptions, a minimum of 2 hypotheses, a minimum of 2 research questions for each, and then use all of that to create their interview script. They completed this work in class so that I could assist them as they worked through it.
Before stepping out to conduct their first interview, all of the students had to familiarize themselves with research ethics. We touched on topics such as honesty, objectivity, integrity, carefulness, openness, respect, confidentiality, social responsibility, competence, legality, non-discrimination, and human subjects protection. Additionally, though this is just a class project, they all had to provide informed consent to their interviewees and had to have them sign a consent form. Before each and every respondent interaction, they had to explain what the study was about, that the respondent could back out at any time, that there were no right or wrong answers, and that their answers would be kept confidential. Confidentiality was preserved through the recording and transcription where no personal identifying information was gathered or used.
They then set out to conduct their first interview with someone they knew. One of their groupmates transcribed this interview and provided a critique for improvements to take into consideration before conducting their second. They all then took the next class to reflect on their first interviews and their critiques, then updated their scripts in class as needed. They used this updated script to conduct a second interview that they then self-transcribed. The caveat for the second interview was to interview someone they did not know. To find this person, their job was to ask the first person they interviewed to recommend someone. This way they got a taste of snowball sampling. We didn’t focus on recruiting, but I did bring it up as an important part of the methodology in the field.
This process gave them a chance to get used to the idea of interviewing by first doing so with someone familiar. They were then able to take that experience and build on it before they had to try to interview someone they didn’t know. They also had the opportunity to learn how to give and take, then apply critiques. Critiquing is something we will continue to use throughout the rest of the semester as they will each critique all of their groupmates for their final and midterm and will also critique the group presentations. We will also have a full in-class critique towards the end of the semester where the students can get feedback from other groups to incorporate for their final.
Analysis & Synthesis
All of these interviews were then placed on RealTimeBoard so that they could work on inductively coding and theming collaboratively for their analysis and synthesis. They are also to take this data and create three different types of generative deliverables including personas, journey maps, and user stories. Though we are using a form of visual coding via an interactive whiteboard for this part of our research, they will be introduced to an excel method for the evaluation portion of class. This way they get a taste of both and are able to adopt in the future
Surveys & Triangulation
Throughout their analysis and synthesis process, they are to be looking out for research gaps. They are to take these gaps and formulate survey questions to help fill them. We will be doing this in class tonight. They will then use their survey and their interview data to provide triangulated results for their midterm report.
Results & Recommendations
They will then take all of this and create a Results and Recommendations report, a Creative Brief (specifically for designers), and a class presentation for their midterm. This way they take into account all of the different audiences that will have to consume their research. The goal of their presentation is to make it engaging and to tell a story. The class will have 5 minutes to ask questions and each classmate in the audience will provide a critique to the group, which will be consolidated and provided as a part of the overall midterm feedback.
Following their generative research results and recommendations report, they will all receive a set of business needs that they will have to take into consideration along with their user needs to design an experience that addresses both. This way they not only learn why to conduct research and how to do it but also how to apply it and how to deal with situations where the business needs and user needs don’t always align.
Low Fidelity Design
As a part of the short design phase, they will be creating sketches, flows, & storyboards. If their design is interaction based, they will also have to create wireframes. Otherwise, they will have to come up with a creative way to display their designed experience so that it can be tested. I’ve already received feedback about the class being too interaction design based, so we’ll see what they come up with if they decide to do something else.
Testing & Iterating
All students will be required to complete 2 usability tests/evaluations using at minimum 2 methodologies for paper prototype testing. Most of this research will be evaluative/formative in nature rather than summative or for validation as we are keeping their designs very low fidelity so they can quickly iterate for additional feedback.
Design Critiquing & Heuristic Reviews
In addition to their usability testing/evaluations each design will go through a heuristic review and a peer critique. After all testings and reviews, the students will have gone through 3 iterations and will be able to provide actionable objectives to design and development teams.
Their final presentation will be a culmination of their entire process including where they started and the path they took to reach their end design. They will have to do it in such a way that an executive would be able to walk away with what they need while at the same time everyone including project managers, designers, and anyone else working on the experience will understand what their next steps are. My hope is to bring in a few “Executives” for the final presentations to ask questions.
The best part of this class, I think, is the curated readings. Once the class is over, I’ll post a link to all of the sources they’ve been tasked with reading. Their individual homework is to read all of the weekly assigned readings and then ask 3 questions for clarification. These questions help inform our discussion for the following class. Though not all of the students have participated (and this will count off for their grade), most have and their questions have been really interesting! I’ll also post some of those and the answers. My guess is that if my students have these questions, it is likely others do as well!
As with my students who I have provided access to feedback forms throughout the entire semester, I’m always eager and willing to take and learn from feedback. This is my first semester teaching in an academic sense, so I know there is a lot to learn from a pedagogy perspective. Please feel free to comment on this post or contact me if you have any feedback. I look forward to hearing from you!
October was a month of wonderful opportunities. My first was the ability to go to Barcelona, Spain for a Design Thinking Facilitation course. This course was different than previous ones I have attended where design thinking methodologies are introduced. It was specifically about how to lead different exercises and what makes a good facilitator with actual practice doing it. The final day was for advanced people where we focused on different skills that make a good facilitator like talking, walking, standing, and even
Beyond the course itself, I was able to meet a lot of people from my company in person, which was really nice as I work from home. I was able to work in a little sightseeing as well. It was a beautiful city and I am very glad I had a chance to visit it.
After I returned from Barcelona, I was a guest lecturer at UNT on Design Anthropology. There I talked about what I do, what I don’t,
The following week I presented on Team Building at DFW Beyond. I will write a post about this individually with a transcript of my talk for those who are interested!
Though these three things may seem completely separate there is in fact a link between them. All three provided me with opportunities to learn how to help people through facilitation, share how I help people through anthropology, and share how people can be helped through intentional team building. Though I have many passions, my main passion is helping others and I find myself truly lucky that I’ve found a way to do so through design, research, and even gaming. More on the last in my next post!
As you may have recently heard, Twitter and Facebook are in the news due to their recent grilling on Capitol Hill. What is interesting to me about this, regardless of how you feel about the companies and the services they provide, is that not being public utilities they are not susceptible to government regulation.
Rather, they are private companies who have Terms of Service (ToS) people agree to when signing up that state they can ban or remove any content or users they find don’t meet their community standards. This is the same idea that companies all across the U.S. embody when they say they can refuse service to anyone. This is their freedom as a company and has nothing to do with individual rights. You do not have any first amendment rights except for in the presence of GOVERNMENT censorship. It has nothing to do with privately owned spaces including social media platforms. The fact is, social media platforms are for-profit companies who make money when people post their own opinions to them and they make a LOT of money when those opinions are contentious. It is in their own best interest NOT to censor their users when their users are operating within their ToS.
Thus, none of this makes sense for Congress to step into. There are several legal precedents for the government staying out of media-related industry censorship, which is why entities like the MPAA, CCA (now defunct), and ESRB exist – all being industry self-regulating bodies. That said, maybe it’s time social media platforms establish their own so there are standards and regulations across them and content can be rated rather than completely removed. This would certainly help people avoid content they didn’t want to see and could allow for space where more objectionable content could exist within its own bubble that people could venture into at their own risk.
What SHOULD be of concern is personal data privacy. But, we all know that isn’t going to get anywhere. Those of us who do work in this space
I missed posting last month because a lot was happening! Of course, for everyone who is involved with technology and data at a global level, we have all been touched in some way by GDPR. I know my inbox was flooded with emails on the changes to everyone’s privacy policies and probably yours was, too. It’s worth a read to learn more about it and why it’s such a big deal and how it’s affecting businesses all over the world.
For me personally, May was a big month because I changed jobs after almost a decade at The Planet/SoftLayer + IBM where I had been a design lead for Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), IAM (identity and access management), and BSS (accounts) and then head of the Strategic Insights team for Public Cloud Research (covering all of Infrastructure as a Service and Platform as a Service). I moved from there to SAP Leonardo Services where I took the position of a Blockchain Design Consultant. This means I’ve been heads down learning all I can about Blockchain and my new company for the last 3 weeks.
Here’s where I have to have a sense of humor around these two seemingly unrelated subjects considering the paradox of Blockchain and GDPR.
To summarize the article, given the immutable state of data in a Blockchain, there is no way to update or delete it. In developer’s parlance, there is no way to perform the UD operations of basic CRUD. In fact, the entire acronym has been updated for blockchain to be CRAB (create, retrieve, append, burn). The problem is, does burn accommodate the “right to be forgotten” and “erasure of data” portions of GDPR? If personal data is in the Blockchain, then the answer is no.
That said, there is a workaround as discussed via creating a hash and a link in the Blockchain that refers back to PII (personally identifiable information) that is stored OUTSIDE of the Blockchain. This results in the PII data only being accessible through an encrypted hash and link to it provided in the Blockchain that can only be decrypted by those who have the key. To ensure the data hasn’t been tampered with, the data retrieved via the link would need to provide its own hash that can be compared with the hash in the blockchain. If the two match, the data has not been modified. This is GDPR compliant because all of the data off-chain can be deleted thus making the hash/link in the blockchain useless. However, the blockchain is then reduced to an access control mechanism to data that remains centrally owned and located rather than a decentralized encrypted transparent immutable replicated ledger of actual data that is owned by everyone.
This results in the following:
The goal of GPDR is to “give citizens back the control of their personal data, whilst imposing strict rules on those hosting and ‘processing’ this data, anywhere in the world.” Also, one of the things GDPR states is that data “should be erasable”. Since throwing away your encryption keys is not the same as ‘erasure of data’, GDPR prohibits us from storing personal data on a blockchain level. Thereby losing the ability to enhance control of your own personal data.
As you can see, I may have sipped a bit of the Blockchain Kool-aid.
On top of all of those changes, I also finished a side hustle where I completely redesigned a billing system for a friend’s startup.
In the coming months, I’ll be posting more about Blockchain along with some Machine Learning, IoT, as well as other forms of AI from a user and design perspective along with my ever-present posts on the Internet, privacy, security, gaming, and social media. I imagine the various topics will merge at some point down the line. I’m excited to be here in the edge technologies space. It’s exactly what I told my circle of friends I wanted to work on at the turn of the year. Thank you to SAP for making that a reality.
Yes, you, if you’re on the Internet in any capacity, you’ve been data-mined. This is especially true if you participate on any social media platforms. While you might have known this already, now you can see it!
Here is what Facebook thinks about me based on the data I have posted. Note, none of this data is data I have shared directly with them via any sort of survey or other personal research methodology.
This is all data that has been mined from my profile and posts I have made on the platform.
If you want to find this data out for yourself, log in to Facebook, go here and then expand the “Your Information” accordion heading. At the top you will see two navigation points, the second of which is titled “Your categories” and there you have it in all its glory.
While you’re there, take a moment to adjust your ad settings as well.
As I’ve said in several previous posts on Facebook, you pay for your access with your data. If you have children on Facebook, they do this with their data as well. Data is one of your most precious resources in this day and age. Do what you can to protect it or at least be vigilant about how it’s used and where.
Side note: Never in my life have I ever said anything or done anything with soccer. I have no idea where that came from!
Techcrunch has a great rundown on the most recent Facebook scandal. If you haven’t heard of Cambridge Analytica before now, please take the time to read the full piece. One of the most interesting points to come out of it is Facebook stating that it’s “open to regulation”. If you’re a reader of this blog, then you know that I’m very interested in government regulation around our information and data. I’ll be keeping tabs on that as the story continues.
As always, you can read my multiple blog posts on Facebook for a better understanding of what you give up when you provide the company your data. Bottom line, if you don’t want others having your data without your permission, don’t post it on the web.
Lootboxes are in the news again and this time it is U.S. Senator Hassan who is challenging the ESRB. As I predicted last month, the new WHO classification of Gaming Disorder is already starting to make the rounds as a fabulous scapegoat.
“We should be doing all that we can to protect our children and to inform parents about their options when it comes to these types of games,” she says.
This comes right on the heels of 4 bills introduced in Hawaii to regulate games that utilize lootboxes as a game mechanic.
The issue is that though most parents give a cursory glance to the ESRB rating, many fail to recognize when descriptors are used or what they mean. This is a finding straight out of my dissertation. That’s not to say the ESRB shouldn’t note that these games utilize this type of microtransaction, simply that they should do more to inform people as to what exactly it is and how it works.
My prediction is that if any of those bills in Hawaii pass, they’ll be repealed at the appellate court as all previous gaming legislation has been. If you want to know more about gaming legislation, I have a nearly 300-page dissertation I’d be happy to share with you. 😉
Two headlines recently made the news. The first was the World Health Organization’s consideration of adding “Gaming Disorder” to their International Classification of Diseases. The second was how our mobile devices are making us stupid. Both of these have more in common than you might think. What gaming has that makes it addictive is often utilized by the same dark patterns that power much of today’s social media interactions. Most notably, interactions that cause dopamine responses. The problem with these artificial (aka computer-mediated) interactions providing a dopamine release is that if you lack in-person interactions that are the biological basis for dopamine responses, you’ll turn to artificial ones to supplement them.
When artificial interactions work better, faster, and easier than organic ones at providing a dopamine high, they might induce a person to engage in an addictive relationship with the artificial interaction at the expense of an organic one. In layman’s terms, this may cause a person to have problems in their daily life due to their detrimental relationship with technology. For example, a person may forgo an in-person interaction to engage in an artificial one because they find the artificial one more compelling. These may start out as situations like skipping out on going to dinner with friends to instead engage in synthetic interactions but may escalate to neglecting essential responsibilities such as going to work or school.
The real question is, is the subject matter that induces the dopamine response to blame for the addictive relationship that is developed or is the environment where the person cannot find organic interactions that would produce such natural and beneficial reactions responsible for the resulting addiction of looking for them elsewhere? Careful consideration should be made here as people who are diagnosed with an addiction to a particular trigger are thus restricted from engaging with that trigger in the future. What would this mean in situations where grade-school students are diagnosed with gaming disorder and are thus unable to do their school work because their school utilizes game theory and electronics in much of their teaching? What happens when someone recklessly engages in social media and thus is forced to give it up, but must interact in a similar environment for their careers such as utilizing tools like Slack or office Intranets?
Questions for consideration:
Should the underlying cause of addiction not be of more concern than those places to which people look to supplement their natural human needs? What can be done as designers and researchers in these areas to bring possible addictive behaviors to the attention of the user before they go too far? Are businesses at risk of losing revenue by putting the customer’s behavior and mental, physical, emotional health first? Should they be responsible when a user becomes addicted? If so, to what end?