Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Emotional Design

Donald Norman's book Emotional Design is another treatment of many topics covered in his original book The Design of Everyday Things, but from a new point of view—that of a reluctant technologist. He seems to track back over many of his original principles simply because he seems to thing now all things are based on emotion.

Within the book itself, Norman finds time to explain the asthetics he now proclaims--including the design terms dressed in new clothes: visceral, behavioral, and reflective. These mirror (in design terms) the classical ABCs of attitude (affect, behavior, and cognition). He also goes into "emotional machines" and applies these three design terms to them.

While he does go through a through explanation of the changes in thought on design, I find this to be a long based collorary on rehashed points. The whole series of Norman books could have been condensed further. This book could be culled to its focus affect, behavior, and cognition and their effects on design. Ultimately, I was quite disappointed with the text. I do appreciate the updated view on design though. Emotion does matter, and the emotions I have from this book is possibly between Jacques Carelman's "Coffeepot for Masochists" and Michael Graves's "Nanna" teapot. At first it looks like it's self-defeating but in the end (after quite a bit of reflective time) it is another charming Norman read.

Indeed, in the end, we are all designers.

I commented on Ben Carsten's, Tyler Henning's, and J. Chris Elgin's blogs.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

"The Man Who Shocked the World" Review

Thomas Blass's book The Man Who Shocked the World, was a thorough biographical view of Stanley Milgram through his years both academic and personal, including world events that shaped him. Blass gave detailed information not only of the famous experiments like the Obidence Experiment during his years at Yale but also the "Six Degrees" of separation, "lost letter" experiments, and even one on subway riders and social interactions there.

The Obedience Experiment, Milgram's most noted and most detested, was one that bordered very much on that of staged theatrics to deliver the unbiased results of such an experiement requires. The subject was teamed with an actor playing the "learner" who was being "shocked." Well, with the firmness of the experimenter's voice, Milgram went on to show how much the human will can be bent if prodded enough. In the dangerous possiblities, it showed essentially how the Germany could be so complicit during World War II, but also how much our society could as well. Some of the study seemed contrived. Namely, how the subjects were rebuffed by the experimenters. In a way, Milgram did not fulfill his ethical requirements to be true to the outlined rules and rights of the experiment. However, when the subjects did remember this, they did become more rebellious.

In all, the book was an excellent view into the man of Stanley Milgram—not only his eccentricies but also his brillance to see something extraordinary in the little things of human action. The book also was a great purview into academic life, and just how difficult academic research can be. He truly did "shock the world" with the stretches that we humans can end up going if probed enough.

I commented on Lei Gu's, Tyler Henning's, George Lucchese's and blogs.

Friend & Foe Paper Review

I did my presentation on the CHI 2008 paper, "Friends and Foes: Ideological social networking" by Michael J. Brzozowski, Tad Hogg, and Gabor Szabo. This paper was as a replacement for the previous UIST 2008 paper's presentation.

The paper essentially did a study of the web site Essembly.com which is, according the authors, "a 'fiercely non-partisan social network' that allows members to post resolves reflecting controversial opinions, e.g. 'Overall, free trade is good for American workers.'" That said, it was similar to the social networking sites Facebook and MySpace, among others. With the social connections, there was a difference in that there were friends, allies, and nemeses on voted upon issues. Their findings were as follows:

In the end, the paper was a reaffirmation of previously held thoughts: (a) that the nemesis type wouldn't be implemented, (b) that there was little voting accept on that of friends, and (c) the allies feature was hardly used.

Posted: Sarah Gray, Drew Logsdon, and Nicholas Harris.