Happy day; our newest book, Jorge Arango’s Living in Information: Responsible Design for Digital Places, just launched! You might already be familiar with Jorge’s writing; he co-authored the 4th edition of the polar bear book with Peter Morville and me.
Jorge’s background is in architecture and—not surprisingly—his book is structured around the concept of designing places, rather than products and services. As an information architecture guy, I’m really excited by this metaphor; it opens up whole new possibilities in how we understand what we’re designing. We already have a whole vocabulary around place; it’s time we applied it to our design process and saw ourselves as placemakers. Really, we have no choice—as Jorge points out, we are already literally living in information. And i’s up to us to own that responsibility, as recent events make clear.
I hope you’ll enjoy Living in Information. It’s our latest book on our Two Waves imprint and—like all of our books—is available in PDF, ePUB, MOBI, DAISY, and a lovely color-illustrated paperback printed on high-quality paper in the USA.
The Chromebook x2 seems to have a lot of potential, but there are some big questions — and not just about whether the hardware is as good as it looks. The real open question is whether Chrome OS is cut out to work on a tablet. Google has been overhauling the operating system to work better with touchscreens for a couple years now, but it’s still very much a desktop system. (It’s based on the Chrome desktop browser and its display of desktop websites, after all.) That’s likely to limit how useful it is, especially in comparison to an iPad, which was designed for touch from the ground up.
Wait, what? Is it 2018 or 2008? Ten years ago it was just starting to become clear that Nokia’s Symbian mobile operating system, a system designed to work with buttons that never made sense with touch screens, was going to get killed by the touchscreen-native iOS and Android. Fast forward 10 years and it looks like HP and Acer are doing the same thing by (mis)adapting Chrome. Why? And who is going to pay $600 for this? Especially when great Android tablets exist for around $500?
We’ve been hard at work changing our conference curation process to create more diverse speaker rosters—for Enterprise UX 2018 (June 13-15, San Francisco), and soon for the second DesignOps Summit (New York City). Guess what? It all comes down to user research.
If you’re interested in what we’re considering for future books — as a potential author or just because—you might want to check Lou’s short piece on our editorial agenda.
You might know that, last November, Rosenfeld Media hosted the first conference dedicated to discussing design operations. The DesignOps Summit sold out, and we’re now planning a second edition for this fall in the US northeast.
You might not know that we’ve organized a free monthly conference call to keep the DesignOps discussion going. We’ve held two, and our last one had 60 participants. Next one is February 15, 4-5pm ET. We’d love to have you join us too; email email@example.com to request an invitation.
This is a fantastic book and should be in every designer & PMs’ collection. https://t.co/UZ9ymWNSu4
— Jared Spool (@jmspool) December 15, 2017
Update—November 29, 2017: thanks to you, we sold 77 books on Giving Tuesday—and raised US$385 for the Electronic Frontier Foundation! Thank you very much!
Back in the late 1980s, when I was a student in library school, we debated what the dawning “information superhighway” should be. Some classmates saw it as a huge boon to the global economy. Others argued that “information wants to be free,” and money shouldn’t taint public access to the Internet’s information bounty.
I’ve worked at both ends of the spectrum—as a librarian and as a publisher—and have always taken the middle road: “Information doesn’t want to be free–it just wants to be used.” Although the pendulum has swung back and forth, we’ve managed to find a middle road that works well enough for most of us.
It all may change in the US if the FCC’s proposed changes to Net Neutrality are approved.
Companies like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T would likely transform their policies from customer-unfriendly to completely hostile to the free and open exchange of information. It could jeopardize your career, your kids’ education, free speech, independent journalism, and just about every aspect of contemporary life.
I’ll leave you with links to learn about Net Neutrality and the FCC’s proposed order from two of our great nation’s most trusted and respected sources: the American Library Association and The Oatmeal. Please read them and spread the word. Thank you.
It’s hard for me to believe that Rosenfeld Media turns 12 today. To celebrate, I thought about ordering brownies from Zingerman’s (my favorite bakery in the world). But hey, it’s more fun to share your birthday with friends.
Here are two sweet ways to celebrate the day from wherever you are…
Enter to win a free library pack. Yup, that’s literally the complete set of Rosenfeld Media ebooks (over 30 books) for your personal or team library. Here’s how:
Tweet your answer to this question: What one book do you wish someone would write for you, right now?
Tag @RosenfeldMedia and add hashtag #Happy12thRM
Tweet it out before midnight PST today, October 31st
We’ll announce the results on hashtag #Happy12thRM
Get 12% off all books in our stores today. Use the Happy12thRM code to stock up on classic design and UX titles, learn how to select the right technologies for your team, or boost your business and leadership skills.
We’re so thankful for your support over the years. And hope our books, trainings, conferences continue to help you grow and succeed.
The upcoming DesignOps Summit isn’t just a conference—we’re looking at it as a way to help define what design operations means. Read all about it (Lou Rosenfeld in Medium). And learn more with this lovely resource list compiled by Melissa McGrath.
Alexandra Wills is an ethnographer working at Fuse by Cardinal Health, an innovation center in Columbus, Ohio. She told this story on stage at Midwest UX 2017.
I’ll never forget when I did ethnographic research for a project aimed at helping a car manufacturer learn what Millennials with small children really needed.
The project was hard. Taking on a project at the height of the Great Recession meant navigating a radical change in client engagement from what I had experienced since starting the work two years prior. “It’s Friday at 5 p.m. in Ohio and you want me in Los Angeles on Monday?” Okay. “We’re doing video diaries and in-home interviews and a post-interview ideation session with participants in two cities, all in two months?” Okay.
Added to all that, I had a nine-month-old and simply didn’t want to leave her for days at a time. Over the past few months of work, I had already breast pumped on an airplane and in dirty airport bathrooms. I had already begged flight attendants and fast food workers for ice to put in the cooler carrying pouches of my “liquid gold.” Did I mention it was my birthday?
At one point in the project, I was hanging out with a family in Austin who had a toddler. I knew nothing about toddlers. After all, I had a nine-month-old. Did I mention I am not a ‘kid person’?
We had just returned from running errands in their car. As we got out of the car, they were showing me some specific details about the vehicle. They had a Honda Element – the car with the interesting doors that open and close like a book. I was paying close, close attention to the parents and I had no idea that the little kid was right near me. So I closed the door. Suddenly, we all heard the kid screaming! His parents rushed to his side and looked him over, examining his hands. All I could do was yell impulsively, “I didn’t do it!” I was horrified. I thought, “I hurt a child! This child! A participant’s child! Oh noooooo this is bad. How am I going to fix this? What am I going to tell Melinda (my boss)?” To this day I don’t know if his finger got caught in the door, or if me closing the door just scared him.
There was no blood, no broken fingers. But inside, I wanted to die. I already felt plagued by my own mommy guilt and that feeling spread throughout my body like lava. So, not only did I feel like a horrible mom for leaving my kid, but here I was in Austin, making someone else’s kid cry. What a moment. Needless to say, any rapport I had developed in my time with the family evaporated in that instant.
I stopped recording, stepped back, apologized to the mom and waited for the parents to finish calming down their kid. I waited for them to say, “This is over.” They didn’t. Miraculously, they continued the interview, even if I could feel all their judgment the entire time as we wrapped things up. “Maybe I didn’t traumatize this family,” I thought insecurely.
The icing on the cake was that we used video to capture all our data, so not only did this happen, but my boss got to see the whole thing when she reviewed the video. Later in the project I mentioned the incident and she said, “Yeah I saw that.”
Steve Portigal is the founder of Portigal Consulting. He’s written two books on user research: Interviewing Users and Doorbells, Danger, and Dead Batteries. His work has informed the development of music gear, wine packaging, medical information systems, corporate intranets, videoconferencing systems, and iPod accessories. Follow Steve on Twitter or listen to his podcast Dollars to Donuts.