Mark’s UX clippings: reflecting on data visualization

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Each week Mark will bring us the latest UX news from around the world wide web. This week he reflects on data visualization.

Data visualization as an actionable tool in our lives

This week I watched the excellent online documentary “Journalism in the Age of Data“, which is a video report on data visualisation as a storytelling medium that Geoff McGhee created during a 2009-2010 Knight Journalism fellowship. I first didn’t write on it in my blog Putting People First, as I considered it a media story. But I changed my mind.

Apart from the fact that this video provides great inspiration for interaction designers and interface designers of all sorts, and not just those working in journalism, it also inspires a wider reflection.

With people rapidly moving to a world inundated with data capturing devices and the resulting data streams, our challenge as UX designers is to create tools that make sense of these data, and transform this data flood into useful and actionable informational experiences that help us better conduct our lives.

Smartphone applications seem to me an intermediate step. Yes, indeed, one can find apps for almost any need and they are sometimes quite useful. But we cannot conduct our lives with hundreds of apps: one for parking, one for driving, one for shopping, one for dining, etcetera.

What could be the future of actionable data visualisations in a multi-sensorial world?

Journalism in the Age of Data from Geoff McGhee on Vimeo.

Other interesting news

Ford’s design principles for automotive interfaces
Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/10/automobiles/10FACE.html

The New York Times reports on how car designers have recognised the challenge of keeping vehicles’ controls up to date in an era when technology evolves far more quickly than automakers can move.

“Ford’s goal in establishing a set of design principles for automotive interfaces that would be consistently applied to all models was to improve what it called the cabin experience. The program was given the internal code name HAL. [...]      The guidelines that resulted from the program, a sort of universal logic for all the cars’ switches and systems, helped shape the dashboard controls in the redesigned Ford Edge and Explorer. The standards will apply to future Ford models around the world.”


Donald Norman on design without designers
Article: www.core77.com/blog/columns/design_without_designers_17587.asp

In his latest Core77 contribution, the acclaimed Donald Norman reflects on the role of testing versus creativity in design and innovation.

“There is a trend to eliminate designers. Who needs them when we can simply test our way to success? The excitement of powerful, captivating design is defined as irrelevant. Worse, the nature of design is in danger.” [...]      “Design without designers? Those who dislike the ambiguity and uncertainty of human judgments, with its uncertain track record and contradictory statements will try to abolish the human element in favor of the certainty that numbers and data appear to offer. But those who want the big gains that creative judgment can produce will follow their own judgment. The first case will bring about the small, continual improvements that have contributed greatly to the increased productivity and lowering of costs of our technologies. The second case will be rewarded with great failures and occasional great success. But those great successes will transform the world.”


Depth of field: Film in design research
Article: www.formakademisk.org/index.php/formaka…

Timo Arnall and Einar Sneve Martinussen have published the article “Depth of field: discursive design research through film,” which discusses the role of film in interaction and product design research, and the use of film in exploring and explaining emerging technologies.

“This article is about the role of film in interaction and product design research with technology, and the use of film in exploring and explaining emerging technologies in multiple contexts. We have engaged in a reflective design research process that uses graphical, audiovisual, and time-based media as a tool, a material and a communicative artefact that enables us to approach complex, obscure and often invisible emerging technologies. We give a discursive account of how film has played an intricate role in our design research practice, from revealing the materiality of invisible wireless technology, to explaining complex technical prototypes, to communicating to a public audience through online films that may fold broader social and cultural discourses back into our design research process. We conclude by elaborating on discursive design approaches to research that use film as a reflective and communicative medium that allows for design research to operate within a social and cultural frame.”


Is social media catalyzing an offline sharing economy?
Article: shareable.net/blog/is-social-media-catalyzing-new-sharing-economy

The results of Latitude Research and Shareable Magazine‘s The New Sharing Economy study released today indicate that online sharing does indeed seem to encourage people to share offline resources such as cars and bikes, largely because they are learning to trust each other online. And they’re not just sharing to save money – an equal number of people say they share to make the world a better place.  The research was prompted by a recent surge in sharing startups driven by social technology, a generational shift, and new consumption patterns brought on by economic and environmental crisis.

Mark Vanderbeeken

Mark Vanderbeeken is a senior partner at Experientia, an international experience design consultancy, based in Turin, Italy. He is also the author of the successful experience design blog Putting People First.

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