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WIAD 2016 Joburg: Pervasive Information Architecture

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  • Hi everyone! It’s a pleasure being here in this wonderful country with you today!
  • I’d like to thank so much to the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture at the University of Johannesburg for having me here
  • A special thanks to my friends Jason Hobbes and Terence Fenn for this opportunity. Also thanks to that guy behind, Andrea Resmini, who I had the luck to have as my supervisor in the PhD, with prof Mamede Lima-Marques from Brazil.
  • So, why are we here today? What is the main topic of World IA Day? Jorge Arango gives us this challenging motivation… We need to make sense of all these devices coming online everyday... And they are really a lot...
  • The less optimistic predictions says we’ll have14 billion devices by the year 2022. Meaning for us 3 billion user interfaces at least. Cisco predicts 50 billion of devices.
    We have so much to do...
  • This facts leads us to the Internet of Things. And what it means for us, IAs??? Information everywhere. Ubiquitous information spaces to design.
  • McLuhan predicts it a little earlier… he is incredible. I mean, he has envisioned the smart cities in 1964.
  • And we have smart cities being building from the ground all over the world.
  • Which means... this cities are sensitive and context-aware; they gather, store and distribute information; they act by themselves; they are able to learn and anticipate behaviours. William Mitchell, from MIT, wrote about it in City of Bits, in 1996.
  • They include smart cars… many interesting things.
  • Yes, Internet of Things is going mainstream also in actual places (ok, my mother still don’t get it, but…). It’s been used even to protect rhinos here in Africa.
  • But, as we can imagine, it presents a lot of challenges.
  • Imagine a world with ordinary objects talking to us all the time. Demanding our attention, which are one of our most precious value nowadays. And more, acting by themselves. Personally, I believe it can brings many benefits… I’m an optimistic.
  • But, we have to face the challenges… as Privacy. This device has had all to be amazing. But it underestimates some important social and cultural values. This is a real situation in a São Francisco place. We can see a lot around. People don’t want to be filmed, to have their privacy invaded in a very unequal situation of interaction.
  • Security. It’s about the power of the information everywhere in wrong hands. Technology is not evil; people use it in good or bad ways.
  • Safety. This car was invaded by hackers. The point here is now, the possibilities are multiple, and bad acts has worst consequences. Imagine a virus in app at an implanted nanochip. Worst than zika, maybe.
  • Unpredictable behaviour. This smart cars are really amazing. And I believe in a very short future they will be everywhere. And they will be safer than us (I’m talking specially about Brazilian drivers… don’t know here. So, no doubt its great. But we have a lot to learn, and also do this machines in terms of automated behaviour is unpredictable situations.
  • And we have regulation issues too. What happens if such cars crash and kill someone? Who will be gilt?
  • There is many conversations around this topic in our field. Peter Morville talks about it in 2005, ambient findability.
  • Adam Greenfield has a very critical view of the IoT, a little acid sometimes. He talks in his book Everyware, and also in Against the Smart City, who are defining priorities for IoT, who are make the important deciions which will soon directly affect our lives? Are this people, as designers, regulators and markets, taking in consideration the public interest or just commercial values? Well, maybe we can talk for the first group right? And try to make some difference is this cenario.
  • I strongly believe that we need principles. Its our first step.
  • This book is needed to the ones who want to go deep in this subject. They talk about principles and the fear to have a world with incoherent, unmanageable and malignant complexity.
  • So, why principles? Because they last… they are focused on the essence of the problems…
  • See… Hiroshi Ishii says that a vision, based on principles, can last 100 years. If we focus on technology by itself as an innovation factor, nowadays it lasts around one year.
  • In this conversation with Andrea Resmini, he points out all values involves in IoT building, some of them sometimes neglected in actual applications. That’s what we should be aware. That’s what we are going to discuss here.
  • So, how can IA contribute to IoT? What’s our role in this challenging context?
  • Or, how Peter Morville puts it, how do we rise to the new challenges of creating paths and places that bridge physical, digital and cognitive spaces?
  • By this M3 Methodology, based in Thomas Kuhn concepts, we are facing a paradigm shift.
  • We have information everywhere; we’re not designing for a single computer screen anymore. Until the 2000 we were focused on websites. So, we must reframe IA. We need to find theories and models from different areas of knowledge to rebuild the body of knowledge from IA.
  • IA is essentially a transdisciplinary area. It brings theories and models from many other fields and incorporate them in its framework of knowledge. It’s about capturing the power of similarity and the beauty of difference. I’m gonna talk to you about a research that I made in the last 5 years.
    I’ve selected some disciplines with transdisciplinary relations with IA
    It’s based mainly on theories and models from all this fields... Philosophy, Cognitive Science, System Science, Computer Science, Architecture and Design…
    This dialogue between disciplines is extremely positive and enriching, since it is based on reciprocity and an alignment of foundations. As defined by Jean Piaget at OECD workshop (1970), “transdisciplinarity” is an evolved stage form interdisciplinarity, “which will not be limited to recognize the interactions and/or reciprocities between the specialized researches, but which will locate these links inside a total system without stable boundaries between the disciplines” (Nicolescu, 2010).
  • I was looking for principles that could be applied to the design of information ecosystems for the Internet of Things, to deal with its technological, informational and social issues. I synthetize what I found in 16 principles, classified by 3 perspectives: human, architectural and systemic. It’s just a division based on points of view to be highlighted. They’re very interrelated. They’re not sealed.
    Why these perspectives?
    In the Human perspective we consider the individuals, the subjective factors... How do people interact in the world? What is the nature of these interactions? We consider human experience here, how human beings behave, what do they need… We cannot design the experience itself, but we can definitely influence it. How? (that’s why we need philosophy and cognitive sciences theories)
    In the Architectural perspective we consider the objective factor, in which we can directly act. The spaces we transform. The artifacts we create, making them useful, reliable and attractive for people. Promote better human experiences.
    And above all, we need to understand the relations between those elements… we are talking about ecosystems. Everything is related.
    So, in the systemic perspective we are interested in the relations between people and objects or spaces, people with each other, people and the environment, objects with each other (M2M relations).
  • The model purposed is based on Phenomenology, a branch of philosophy, which is interested in how human beings perceive, experience and act in the world. And what is the nature of interaction between humans - as cognitive systems - and other systems (spaces and objects)?
    The interesting about Phenomenology is that it’s not focused in the subject perspective, nor in the objective one, but in the relation between them. So, we design spaces or artefacts (in the objective level), for people to have experiences and make them places.
  • Here is the 16 principles.
    The human perspective considers the nature of human experience in information spaces and the interaction between people and artefacts. It emphasizes the essential role of technology, which is the improvement of human potential to act in the world. It includes three principles: embodied cognition, sensemaking and human empowerment.
    The architectural perspective refers to the design of information spaces based on the Vitruvian pillars of utility, structure and aesthetic. This perspective embraces also placemaking and wayfinding, and the principles of information ubiquity, seamfulness, responsiveness and affordances, all supporting the design of information spaces as places.
    The systemic perspective seeks to understand Internet of Things as an ecosystem, and points out a set of systemic principles in order to explain the dynamics of information flow between actors and artifacts into an ecology. The selected principles include complexity, coherence, and the theories of conversations-for-actions and ontological design.
    I’m gonna explore briefly each of them. Obviously we cannot go deeply in this presentation. So, I’ll try to give some insights on each. The slides will be available at slideshare.
  • Embodied cognition - We must design IoT having in mind that… we are embodied beings, our experience is physical… our cognition is for action. How humans make sense of their environment depends on embodied experience. So, we should design IoT objects and spaces to support embodied and situated actions.
  • Pinch to zoom is a good example of how to use the body for direct interactions. It’s easy to learn, responsive, requires minimal effort.  
  • Here is other example. These images are from an eyetrack application. They show that a layperson focus directly on the face in the picture, but an artist sees the whole points of it. We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are, with our body structure.
  • Marsha Haverty is doing an interesting work on this topic, just as a reference from IA.
  • Sensemaking - What are we looking for when we interact with spaces and objects? It’s the “design behind the design behind the design”, Jason would say.
    We cannot predict the behaviour of an ecosystem, it’s a systemic principle.... but we can effectively influence it. We should design IoT objects and spaces to promote engaging and meaningful experiences, based on human values.
    The values are always there, whether we are conscious or not.
  • And why it is so important? Because man is a being in search of meaning, as says Plato.
  • Have you seen this movie? It's kind of a modern blade runner, isn’t it? The machine establishes a meaningful relationship with the guy. Who is responsible for this connection, who makes it possible? Some designer.
    I mean, a designer needs to go deeper to grasp the imponderable of the human nature. The deepest feelings, needs, weaknesses... and maybe we are somewhat predictable in some ways... maybe it is really possible in the future mapping patterns of behavior and put it into algorithms, with deep learning features. The "girl" from the movie has a huge knowledge base to learn and improve her interactive power.
    Scary, isn't it? Well, but what is the point here? I took an extreme example to say that we, as designers, must go deep into the theories of cognition and human nature to make intuitive and sensemaking artefacts.
  • Andrea calls is the Poetics of IA, the production of meaning.
  • Human empowerment - automation is not an end in itself. We must have this in mind. Technology is there to allow us simplifying our lives and also going beyond our limits.
  • A glass by itself is a device of empowerment. What to say about a glass embedded with information and processing capabilities? Well, this is a good example of a powerful artefact that fails someway in its purposes because of contextual issues, as we saw before, right?
  • OK, let's not talk about this World Cup... It reminds me number 7, don’t know why... :D Here we can see a typical example of human empowered by technology. I think this is one of the most purposeful and inspiring things about working with technologies. Make people’s life better.
  • The Vitruvian Triad is still a valid model to apply to information spaces, because it is based on principles... Remember Hiroshi Ishii? Thousand of years of life span in this case. So, the point here is asking who is gonna use the space, for what and how.
  • Usefulness - Information objects and spaces should have a clear utility. Automation is not an end in itself. We must have this in mind. Technology is there to allow us simplifying our lives and also going beyond our limits.
  • This site is funny. It shows many unworthy or silly IoT applications.
  • Firmness - Structure in IoT comprehend all aspects of its technological and physical architecture. We must mind issues as confidentiality, integrity, availability, reuse, interoperability and sustainability to design.
  • This is an important example. Predictions say there will be between 25 and 75 billion connected things by 2020. IPv4, the actual internet protocol version, has address space only accommodates 4,3 billion unique identifications.
  • Aesthetics – it is understood here in a Kantian sense, refering to what is perceived by people, as interfaces. Information objects and spaces are manifested aesthetically. We should design IoT objects and spaces considering principles as harmony, symmetry, composition, contrast, clarity, organization, simplicity, reduction.
  • We can see an aesthetic coherence is all these channels. Aestetics are associated also to accessibility, usability, all that appears in interfaces.
  • Responsiveness - IoT objects are agents (actors) that interact with environment, communicate with each other (M2M), make decisions and act with varying degrees of complexity. These smart objects must function effectively, reliably, securely. We must design them considering principles of accessibility, contingency, empathy, predictability, portability, calmness (not demanding excessively) and user’s autonomy (to control and choose actions).
  • This is an automated blackout drape in my house. It just works with a tablet application or a remote control. It not always respond well when demanded, because sometimes we run out of light.
  • Otherwise, it is not a direct manipulation. I dream with a puller like this.
  • Technology should work even when it fails. It should be responsive. There is a principle that say, “meet the basic needs before the higher levels"
  • Donald Norman talks about responsiveness in the context of smart objects, and about the difficult designers have to anticipate conditions of the context to automate responses.
  • Affordances production - affordances are the possibilities of (inter)action that arises between an agent and an object/space by its perceivable properties. Affordances are related to the object but also to the subject. Here we talk just about the objective ones, the ones we can design. We should design IoT objects and spaces considering the action to be supported, the resources needed to perform it and the situated context; and communicate clearly its proprieties to enable action.
  • Andrew Hinton and many other authors are talking about affordances theory applied to IA.
  • This is one of my favourite approaches. In this presentation, Stephen Anderson talks about how to make an environment affordable, keeping users in control. He bases his ideas in the educator Maria Montessori. What he says, basically, is that we must invest in well-done possibilities and functionalities, more than in imagining what path the user will follow.
    When we make platforms... users can do what they want... there is flexibility, autonomy. The question is: what is possible to do with this artifact/space and how it is able to relate with other elements of the ecossystem (people and other objects)?
    It’s just like Lego, he says... We invest in each peace, each silo, put in it multiple possibilities of action and let people be free to interact in creative ways. We will have unpredictable outcomes.
    But Anderson points out that paths can be necessary in some interaction design, they are not mutually exclusive.

  • Seamfulness - Seamfulness is a balance between natural/transparent interaction and the elegant clarity of ongoing processes. Mark Weiser, considered as the father of ubiquitous computer, was against this notion of seamlesness. He argued that we should know, in an elegant way, what is going on in the system. And we should be able to opt how much we want to know when interacting; or to configure in the systems the level of transparency. The steps taken by the system must be clear, and shall be interrupted, when feasible.
  • Here is how he puts it. Seamfulness, with beautiful seams. He has this idea of calm technology, technology that disappear, that is just a means to an action.
  • This is an example. It is clear what is going on. “Everything looks OK. 9 devices are connected”. It’s a good example of a conversation with the machine.
  • Placemaking - It reflects a conscious arrangement of elements to create objects and spaces that accommodate activities and interactions in a meaninful way. By this principle, we should design IoT objects and spaces in order to improve people experiences, not only meeting expectations but exceeding or transforming them. We include in this discussion the appropriation of public spaces by IoT applications. We should design IoT having in mind the preservation and enhance of public spaces and their meanings. We must understand how they should be serving collective interests.
  • Architecture is this thoughtful making of space, as Louis Kahn said. We cannot make places, just transform spaces that can be transformed by people in places. Places are the meaning of spaces to people, as Tuan mean it.
  • And things are also transformed in places. This is a place for me (iPhone). My life is here, my favourite music, my favourite pictures, the private digital worlds I created with my friends and family. This is a fundamental idea o Internet of Things.
  • Adam Greenfield and Nurri Kim wrote a book criticising Smart Cities. It’s an interesting point of view related to placemaking. They don’t believe in artificial cities to be transformed in places by people. They argue that those cities has a lack of historical and human values.
  • Let’s talk about Wayfinding, which is totally related to placemaking. It is a fundamental principle to IoT. It is about using spatial and environmental information to improve sense of orientation in space. Some of the most valuable features in IoT applications is the possibility to inform people their actual position and paths to follow; making destinations uniquely identifiable with reference points; providing scalable views; and showing navigation clues.
  • Here is a literal example.
  • And other one, self-explained
  • Information ubiquity - Ubiquitous information spaces are materialized by Internet of Things. We can see perceptual or linguistic information everywhere, embedded in daily objects and spaces. This is one of the most obvious principles. But what we should be aware here is the proprieties of information. We have technical, ethical and legal limits for archiving, analysis, mining, interpretation and sharing the mass of data generated in IoT context.
  • These guys McEwen & Cassimally have written about the data subject. What are the rights of the person who had his data collected? Transparency of what is being collected, access to it?
  • Now we entered into Systemic perspective. Complexity is how the ecosystem Works, how things connects with each other. We are talking about systems interacting with other systems. People as well are complex systems.
  • Information architectures become ecosystems… So, we should focusing on the experience as a whole, considering multi-channel relations, not only individual products.
  • Objects and spaces in the IoT are presented at different scales (from tiny nanochips to whole cities).
  • So, we must design considering the larger context… as Saarinen said (pause).
  • Coherence – it is about creating continuity through the paths and possibilities of the ecosystem, building a shared meaning. We should design IoT objects and spaces promoting and sustain internal and external coherence into each system, in a functional and aesthetic levels; every action, every response, every information (verbal, visual, audible, tactile) all as part of the whole.
  • Disney experience is a very good example of an exosystemic view. The same device possibility many actions is a very elegant way.
  • It’s all about the quality of connections.
  • Conversations-for-actions - when we design an interactive product, we are creating a language that is spoken between the product and the person, or between products. Information flows into an ecosystem as conversations that lead to actions. We are talking about dialogues and negotiations that make actions real. So, when designing IoT objects and spaces we should focus not only on individual features, but in interoperability and flow of information. And these conversations includes perceptual and linguistic information. A picture is worth a thousand words, right?
  • So, here is an obvious example of a conversion with a device. We are dialoguing and negotiating to promote an action.
  • Ontological Design – is the last principle, father of all of them. It’s a way to view design. It’s a perspective that we must have when designing. We must be aware of our powerful role on the society. We must design with clear values in mind. I mean, will this product make the world better? Will it empower people? Will it be nice to environment? Be sustainable?
  • Those ones are classical. But that is precisely it what McLuhan and Churchill said. We become what we behold. We shape our tools and then our tools shape us. We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.
  • We were created by the world we live in, in Gibson words.
  • This is the graphic illustration of the model. It represents each of the perspectives in a layer. The bottom one is like the objective world, the space with objects. It is the architectural perspective, the layer we can act in as designers and architects. We just can directly manipulate the objective world, right?
    Man are here just considered by his body, his materiality. His feelings and experiences are represented is this second layer, the green one. Here lays the sense of place and the experiences, the subjective world. The human perspective.
    And the top layer is the systemic one, which connects everything. We are cognitive systems, objects are systems and it all are intertwingled, in Ted Nelson’s words.
  • Well, that’s it. We have a new paradigm in IA. We have people, objects and information connected everywhere. But we must design these connections, these ecosystems, having in mind human values. We have to making sense of it, creating it for people.
  • Thank you so much! The slides will be at slideshare.