#Cognition #Clash in the #IoT #SXSW

Thank you to everyone who attended our (Karl Smith and Thom Heslop) talk at SXSW, it’s the start of a long road into a really complex and contextual problem. But being silent in the crowd as the King walks by with no clothes on is not an option, peoples lives, futures and prosperity is at risk, not to mention the risk of multi-trillion dollar lawsuits that can follow by knowingly distracting people who are engaged in critical tasks.

Cognition Clash in the IoT at SXSW16
Cognition Clash in the IoT at SXSW16

The IoT – Internet of Things (Ubiquity) is the next great opportunity for commerce to engage with business enterprises and customers. However, there is no unified approach to the mental load between physical interaction, mental interaction and digital interaction. This cognitive landscape is inhabited by associated experiences that gel human behaviour and machine interfaces through, touch, mouse and keyboard. The usage of sight, voice and thought create new complexities and risks which have until recently been the subject of defence technologies (battlefield and strategic), where clear outcomes and prescribed mental models exist.

IoT clash girl dies
IoT clash girl dies

The diversification of these touch points and multi-point human logic models clash and derail human thinking patterns.

We are looking for people and their knowledge to help create an Ubiquity Open Standard. We are doing this because no one else has noticed this fundamental error in thinking, the hoping that product based companies will work together in creating common standards that are driven by an understanding of human thinking capabilities, cognitive models, relational thinking and machine interactions is unlikely.

While product manufactures continue with supremacy attitude to other ecosystem products and services,

“the human voice and our needs and desires are subjugated to simply another component”

albeit the one that is constantly paying for everything without any input on how it works.

Some Foundations (the rest will go in a technical paper)

Distributed Cognition studies the ways that memories, facts, or knowledge is embedded in the objects, individuals, and tools in our environment. According to Zhang & Norman (1994), the distributed cognition approach has three key components: Embodiment of information that is embedded in representations of interaction Coordination of enaction among embodied agents. Ecological contributions to a cognitive ecosystem.

In Embodied Interaction Dourish -everyday human interaction is embodied; non-rationalising, intersubjective and bodily active.  User, not designers, create and communicate meaning and manage coupling. Not just concerned with what people do, but also with what they mean by what they do and how that is meaningful to them. It reflects the sets of meanings that can be ascribed to objects and actions over those objects as part of a larger task or enterprise

Cognition the key to the mind, how people understand what they can do is by comparison a Diagnostic Methodology (goals, adaptations, conventions) with what they already know by accessing the Active Narrative patterns they have created in their own minds according to Smith (2005).

Cognition Patterns Cognition Clash in the IoT different people think differently
Cognition Patterns Cognition Clash in the IoT different people think differently

Cognition Groups create a communication paradigm, they carry intention, meaning, risks and benefits.

  • Some Cognition patterns are common, shopping basket etc.
  • Some Cognition Patterns are social by Family, Sports Team etc.
  • Some Cognition Patterns change without notice

Guided Interaction, existing websites offer guided interaction – simplified cognitive pattern encapsulating a plethora of interacting technology and data systems: Shopping Basket – This representation allows for distributed cognition > appropriation > cognitive pattern forming understand– once a user has used a shopping basket they will understand how to use them and generalize: transferable cognitive pattern

Some of the issues with the IoT

  • There is no standard of interactivity for humans in the IoT – not a problem if passive background machine-to-machine. A very big problem if actively interacting with humans, who are all different and can create their own meanings for example LOL.
  • How does a user form any cognitive patterns from an invisible system?
  • IoT combines known patterns as hidden machine-to-machine communications that can create mistrust and security fears
  • Detailed component view we have constructed around daily interactions is no longer valid

Some of our initial research

IoT Design Principals

  • What is device / service for?
  • Where will it be situated?
  • When will it be triggered?
  • What other devices will it be interacting with?
  • Where can it clash?
  • Security? – * Lack of security – Shodan
  • Design Principal: “Do No Harm

IoT Design Risks

Context is critical

  • Situational interaction problems for consideration

The following barriers reduce our ability to understand the situation

  • Perception based on faulty information processing
  • Excessive motivation – over motivated to the exclusion of context
  • Complacency
  • Overload
  • Fatigue
  • Poor communications

A possible solution

  • Avatar (can be visual, sound, texture, smell, taste or a combination) – smart use of Artificial intelligence (AI), where the users cognitive interface is patterned on their unique cognition pattern through a learning algorithm
  • This avatar should be directional and instructional like digital signage
  • This avatar should respond to the users behavioural interaction and should fall away gracefully as users behaviour becomes more ‘expert* In effect it should be a learning system – learns from the users rather than based on static rules
  • For example the AI that George Hotz has built into his self driving car while not the answer points to the kind of thinking required to find the answer, don’t tell the machine to watch and learn from a human and then carry out your task (from 3.33 to 5.04) “the point is to drive naturally like a human, not some engineer’s idea of safety“. For anyone who then thinks this is the final solution, please let us know why you think driving a car is like cooking dinner or navigating the street?

The Full SXSW Talk is on YouTube

Connect to the speakers on LinkedIn here Karl Smith and Thom Heslop

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Silverlight ends in 2021 but Banks still selecting it

I remember being in the discussion at a state owned investment bank when the discussion was being had about which front-end language should be used on their new system interfaces and they choose Silverlight.

This choice was known with the full knowledge that Microsoft was going to drop it as it was not in their new architecture.

We discussed HTML5 but Silverlight was chosen, over objections.

So now 3 years on I still see them recruiting Silverlight people.

I have to ask at what point before Microsoft stops supporting Silverlight in 2021 will someone work out that they need to stop building new interfaces and go back and change out the existing ones.

Who is in charge of the technology risk side of the business??

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#Holistic #UX #Customers don’t think or interact along #channels

Business management does not reflect customer (users) activity

The management of a businesses online presence is broken up into various channels in order to simplify the management, responsibility and accountability for overall effectiveness and value. However customers (users) are unaware of these business rules and are only focused on their task or tasks, which will cut across several channels.

Holistic customer (user) experience is cross channel

Given the behaviour of customers (users) it is clear that effectual user experience is cross channel as well. This creates some problems for business, however with the advent of Agile, user stories it may be time for businesses to at last really focus on their customers (users) by changing their online management to reflect key user pathways rather than holding on to legacy notions of management.

Customer experience an example (not everything)

1. Engagement > 2. On boarding > 3. Payments > 4. Servicing > 5. Supporting > 6. Retention > 7. Up/Cross Selling

  1. Engagement – how the customer finds out about the company, where their expectations are set (also includes brand identification) and they self filter based upon personal tasks and objectives
  2. On boarding – agreement that the company provides the service required, through written and visual material, social media, personal recommendations, reviews, sign up routes
  3. Payments – payment or funding pathways related to e-commerce, m-commerce (including micro payments)
  4. Servicing – providing the goods or services, delivery and tracking
  5. Supporting – providing help and support both online and telephony (can complete servicing)
  6. Retention – managing potential loss of customers, analytics, advanced planning
  7. Up/Cross selling – data mining existing customers to up or cross sell other products and services to existing customers

For a customer this process can take hours, days, weeks, months or years and contains three key user experiences;

  1. A transaction (engagement, on boarding, payment, servicing, support)
  2. Customer relationship management (on boarding, payment, servicing, support, retention)
  3. Marketing (engagement, on boarding, retention, up/cross selling)

These experiences cross relate as can be seen by their components.

Managing the web in a holistic manner reduces risk and lowers cost

The problem remains at present that the customers (users) experience is supported by multiple sub-systems with owners and their own agendas.

Digital channel management costs a huge amount of time and money and creates a great deal of risk that valuable customer activity will become secondary to internal politics

There needs to be an importance given to the customers overall experience and the need to join it up in terms of user experience, visual appearance and standard interactions across multiple platforms and systems.

Related

 

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How to Hire a Head of User Experience

Head of anything is evocative of responsibility, power and knowledge, but what does Head of User Experience (UX) really mean and how do you know if your getting one?

User experience in its value and effectiveness is geographical and sector based, that is to say it means different things to different people by country, by business and by route to the role (in-house HR or agency service). With this many variants how can anyone be sure that they have hired a Head of User Experience?

One of my colleagues in a recent contract described User Experience as turning the turd (poo) into a piece of glitter covered turd. If this is the expectation it’s not really surprising if the wrong people get senior roles, then the incompetent lead.

What I want to show is some basic indicators about hiring a Head of User Experience;

Please don’t be offended if it’s what you do for a living (recruitment or employment agent), glean what you can and discard anything you don’t need. 🙂

Who, What, When, Where, Why.

Who do they know and how do they deal with them?

They must know users; understand user drivers and perspective for every project just as they must know the client stakeholders and leaders with the environment that they are working in. The level of knowledge will vary, as much of the information is second hand from Lead and Senior designers or researchers. But the Head of UX will have both their own knowledgebase and be able to elicit extra business and strategic information not visible to other ux practitioners.

Can they let their team work or do they micro-manage? It’s really important when working with a new (to the Head of UX) team that the teams strengths are encouraged and supported. UX is one of those skill sets where diversity of experience is critical in evolving multiple parallel project solutions within a team of peers. Giving the team rights over the group output is critical to maintain quality and to challenge narrow thinking. How they manage, mentor and train people is key to the future of the team? How will they deal with internal applicants for the job they have just got? Conflict is a given in any location where people are, what are their stratagies for conflict? Watch out for people with an ‘I problem’ if it’s all about them they cannot see other people. Get references from colleagues as well as employers, you can find them as connections on Linkedin.

What do they do for a living, how do they describe themselves, their ux work and their colleagues?

How do they describe what they do for a living, a couple of years ago recruitment agencies where told by someone that ux people only focus on the user and that should be their response when ask who they focus their efforts on. Wrong, ux is a service that is based on creating a meeting point between people, organisations/businesses > providers and products/services > content. Any Head of User Experience who does not know this is not a Head of User Experience, it’s a business. It’s a great business that gives an audience access to the content they are looking for, makes it easy to interact with and enables communication with the content provider, but it’s still a business. Watch out for divas they upset clients and stakeholders alike a Head of UX is a savvy business person and knows which things to fight for and which things to mitigate as a risk.

Do they have a process? Can they describe the process and where it came from, how it has evolved through their experiences and which projects made the most change or option routes for it.

When did they acquire their skills?

People involved in user experience who have the kind of experience to be a Head of User Experience come from diverse backgrounds. A colleague of mine started in the US DoD (in the 1980’s) designing graphic manuals for troop training and another NATO information systems. Find out what else they have done and how they evaluate their experiences, because their experience underwrites their other skills and gives them a breadth of understanding about various sectors that may not be on their CV’s. For instance I have had lots of experience setting up business banking accounts, some really lousy (maybe for another post), some grossly inefficient (some excuses of epic proportions) and others utterly fabulous. Ask them to describe an experience, evaluate it and provide a solution to any problem they have encountered. For people like us it’s easy, for example I’ve had a fix for the supermarket self checkout bottleneck for years, it’s obvious.

User Experience in its current form is a fairly recent naming when I meet practitioners with experience before 2005 described as user experience, I know there is something wrong depending on where in the world they say they got their experience.

Where and with whom do they associate?

Confirming the professional level of a person is now quite easy with Linkedin, connect with them and have a look at their connections, if they don’t know any senior people outside of ux they are not senior themselves. It’s a cultural thing we tend to mix with people at or above our own level when thinking professionally, occasionally people come on the radar where they a worth following to see where their career goes. Yes, Linkedin again, if you don’t use it, you won’t know what your missing.

Why do they think they fit?

Based upon their research, they should know enough about the role, the people, the ethos and the clients or stakeholders to be able to pitch a reason why they fit in.

Don’t ask a Head of User Experience;

Don’t ask for a portfolio asks for a presentation. Presentation ability is required when working the board of directors, client stakeholders and when conducting pitches with new business or internal advocacy. Look for the narrative, a really good ux presentation has a story that it’s telling ‘What is UX?’, ‘How can UX help my business?’, ‘Project name UX concepts’, ‘Project name user stories’ etc. Also look for substance over style, the presentation must be meaningful and hint at critical thinking and creative talent, really flashy presentations make me concerned when they lack any real information, interpretation of data or concepts that have a provable pathway from researched insights.

Finally get references

I mean get real references, as if your job depended upon it, because it and your future reputation do. User Experience is still a small field, when someone with little or no experience gets a Head of User Experience role the first question we all ask is what was the agency that did this? When I am really unsure of an applicant (due diligence is critical in client services) I use a private detective, just give them the CV and ask for verification.

 

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Less #UX wireframe #fluff and more #Proof of the #pudding

Less UX fluff and more Proof of the pudding!

In recent years the flaws in user experience design (UX) based in wireframe exercises have become more evident to professional IT people as the business has become flooded with unqualified people.

User experience is the interior designer of the computing world

I recently heard from a Bank that they wanted people with less fluffy thinking, there is a certain perception that user experience design is the interior designer of the computing world. Designers don’t need analytics (engineering principals), computer languages (material science), usability testing experience (ergonomics), user research experience (anthropometrics, human behavioural science), business management, project management all they need is colour theory and basic graphics.

Clients should expect measurable proof (KPI’s) before development

Because user experience appears to afford a rapid project method, the point is being missed on many expensive projects “diagrams are not proof of delivery”, solid KPI’s showing the process to form them, what they deliver, how and when they can be measured and what the success criteria is should be required for investment. Businesses rightly need to show that they are not wasting money to shareholders and the public (in the case of publicly owned or supported) but for the most part UX is not based on research but uses design patterns. The problem with design patterns is that there are huge risks associated with using them without doing any primary research. Such research would also provide UX KPI’s for businesses.

Who is qualified in UX?

This is a difficult question to answer as no professional body currently represents user experience at a professional level (including the UXPA), so in effect anyone can call themselves a user experience designer, architect or consultant.

I know a lot of employment agencies get burned by people who can’t do the job and digital agencies go through a string of low paid, no experience people. In one case I reviewed an in house UX person’s work after the digital agency called me in to smooth out a relationship with a major brand client who said they “would not pay for this crap”. The UX person’s work was rubbish, wireframe notation non-existent and no functional specification how they expected to pass it to a developer I have no idea.

Verbal communication is a key aspect of the job and this person was very shy. From my side I have an MSc in Computer Science and a BA in Design, plus professional qualifications.

Characteristics of UX people

When I interview UX people I look for great communicators who can not only talk about the subject but also about themselves with confidence, who have a wide experience in usability, research and computing (I always use control questions as well, where I know the best practice answer).

  1. I look for opinionated people who can back up their views, passionate people (but not falling into the advocacy fight user vs. business) who are balanced and know what to fight for at the right point in a project.
  2. I look for logical thinkers and while this might sound easy it’s one of the hardest skills to find.
  3. I will usually ask the person to describe an interactive system they have designed as it shows the logic model used and dependencies they have recognised.
  4. I also look for professional people, UX people are not rock stars they are service providers.
  5. I expect them to be respectful of people and their time, attend planned / booked meetings and advise or change meetings if they are running late.
  6. I also expect them to have professional indemnity insurance, why would they not, if they are professionals?

Formal scientific methods, rather than the pseudo science used in marketing

Beyond the above UX people need formal scientific methods, rather than the pseudo science used in marketing that is leaking into UX at the moment.

Business people need proof they can show the board of directors sometime just to release the funding more often to show them they are competent.

I was heartened recently when a VP from a major consultancy mentioned the use of Ethnographics, I think he was shocked to find out I created the method in 2002 for usability studies as a digital enactment method based upon ethnography. Someone has always created methods (I have created six and defined four key concepts in research) so be careful when you talk about them as you may be talking to their creators.

The proof of the pudding or just a guess and can the business afford the risk?

Scientific methods create repeatable (rigorous; extremely thorough, exhaustive and accurate) results that can be used as the bases of complex interactive systems design without these types of methods is just a guess.

In previous years it has been the domain of Managing Directors and Heads of Department to go with their gut feeling about how their customers and clients want to interact with them, now it’s UX people.

Can businesses really afford to risk so much on the guess of a UX person or would they rather mitigate the risk with some research and KPI’s first?

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