Saturday, March 8, 2008

Think Globally, Act Locally: Exploring the Problem Space

Top-down, bottom-up, local and the global...

I've been thinking about this slogan's permutations, and how the concepts behind this slogan relate to the design, development, and deployment of interactive displays in public spaces. I've also given some thought to how the same concepts relate to the ways people interact with hand-held devices when they are out and about.

One of the biggest problems with usability, interaction, and user-experience design, in my opinion, is the failure of techies (and designers) to look at the "problem space" from multiple perspectives, levels, and ranges. (An example of this can be found in a previous post about my frustrating user-experience trying to interact with large touch screen displays at an upscale shopping and entertainment center.)

I'll be discussing this topic further in future posts.

The Norman Nielson Group's website provides a variety of examples of things that have gone wrong, and offers a variety of solutions.

I especially like Bruce "Tog" Tognazinni's article, "D'ohLT #1: Think Globally, Act Globally". Tog discusses his experience with an automatic rain sprinkler, but the points he makes apply to all forms of interactive technologies and applications.

Tog's "Interaction Design Section" is fun to browse, especially his links to articles that provide a history of design gone wrong.

According to Tog, " a D'ohLT is a person who screws up some product or service so badly that, when you attempt to use it, you end up slapping your head and yelling that famous homersimpsonian cry, "D'oh!"

I'd like to come up with a rubric-based checklist to rate applications and devices on the "D'oh!" factor!

On the Positive

Here is an example of something that might be quite useful and usable, once deployed:

InfoGallery allows users to have control over large interactive displays in order to access information available from the web. Although it can serve as web-portal, it doesn't look like a typical website.

InfoGallery's concept embodies what I'd like to see when I'm out and about and come across an interactive display. If I knew I'd have the chance to control the display to access web content for my own purposes, I could tolerate some annoying interactive digital signage content to do so!

Note: I have not tested this application.IG_postkort

From the website:

"The InfoGallery is a new media that makes digital content visible in the physical space. With this media it is possible to expose digital content other places
than on the internet, and the system is a most welcome alternative to the physical poster or billboard. The content can be changed dynamically which makes a short distance from sender to receiver."

"The InfoGallery was at first designed for libraries, but we intend to deploy it in broader contexts - such as at museums, in stores or other public places."

"Think Globally, Act Locally" , as applied to various disciplines:

W3C Quality Assurance - Web Standards
"Think globally, Act Locally"

Service Oriented Architecture (SOA)
"Think Globally, Act Locally for SOA Security- Strategies for Securing Applications in an Insecure World"

GIS and Data Visualization
Think Globally, Act Regionally: GIS and Data Visualization for Social Science and Public Policy Research

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