Find your dream job on Facebook!

I opened my Facebook today and found this ad,

New Facebook feature: job posting

Isn’t it interesting?

I remember to have heard that Facebook is not cool anymore and that basically, it is a platform for old people. I have also come across (on Facebook) a figure showing that Facebook is still one of the platforms with more active users. Sorry, but I can’t remember who posted it, so I can’t put it here. However, if we go to Facebook’s Compay Info website, we can see that it had 1.23 billion daily active users on average for December 2016. Facebook seems to be distant from being a boring social media platform for old people. According to Zephoria, the most common age demographic on Facebook corresponds to people between 24 and 34 years old. Hey, that’s not being old! 

I think the job posts feature is important. It is a reminder of how powerful Facebook is. It is a reminder that many of us are hyper-engaged with our mobile devices and screens. When I saw the ad, I could picture looking for a job while they commute back home or take their lunch break. I could picture social media managers considering serious strategies to make a company’s website look more solid so that any person will take its job posts seriously.

I think it is so interesting to see how any “screen connected to the internet” becomes a potential door for Facebook to become part of our everyday lives.

Have you seen videos from movies or cartoons showing that our future is living in a VR society? Well, have you noticed that we’re there already? Facebook is that VR society! We might not end up wearing VR headsets 24/7, but many of us are pretty trained to deal with a real life and a cyber life in parallel. Facebook is our virtual society in which commerce, professional development, and human relationships are being constantly redefined, add-on after after-on, version after version.

The ad might look naive. But, again, it is a reminder that Facebook is the social media par excellence. Sometimes, it could look like nothing of what we do on Facebook cares or matters in the real world. However, we keep going back to it. We seem to be ok with the idea of virtualizing business, activism, education, and of course, friendship on that humongous virtual world called Facebook.

 

 

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Lecture slides on HCI and Visual Design for UX

It’s been a while since I have uploaded lectures slides on SlideShare. Here are some of the presentations that I have made for lecturing human-computer interaction and visual design for user experience. They are a sample of the themes I have taught at Indiana University Bloomington. However, I do hope you enjoy the slides and find them useful 🙂

Summer 2016 Course: INFO-I 400: Special Topics in Informatics (Visual Design for UX)

Fall 2016 Course: INFO-I 300: Human-Computer Interaction/Interaction Design

Guest lecture for INFO-I 300. Instructor: Gopinaath Kannabiran.

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Quote on designers and expert subjectivity

“An expert subjectivity is needed in design, because “design professionals” require a cultivated ability to read socio-cultural signs and trends; a creative and reasoned ability to explore alternative futures; a verbal ability to articulate these activities; a receptiveness to alternative framings and a willingness to explore highly variable alternative directions; and above all a personal identity or coherence that holds all of these moving parts together through a given process.”

Jeff Bardzell (2012)


Bardzell, J. (2012) Commentary on: Shusterman, Richard (2014) [sic]: Somaesthetics. In The Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction, 2nd Ed. [online] ed. by Soegaard, M. and Dam, R.F. Aarhus, Denmark: The Interaction Design Foundation. available from https://www. interaction-design.org/encyclopedia/somaesthetics.html. 39, 93, 95, 96, 106

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On deprivation and user experience

In the book, “Experience Design: Technology for All the Right Reasons” by Marc Hassenzahl (2010), there’s a section labeled, “Do needs have different priorities?” Below is last paragraph of that,

“Identifying situations, which imply the systematic deprivation of a need, is an important starting point for Experience Design. It is difficult to “sell” an experience of a certain type to somebody, who is already saturated. However, the true challenge for Experience Design is to fulfill needs without making this too obvious.” (Hassenzahl, 2010)

For some reason, this paragraph made think quickly of

  • Issues that I’ve experienced as educator and the possible relation between saturation and learning experiences,
  • the relevance of contrast in design and its use as a mechanism to avoid saturation,
  • and the connection between the use of a particular design and the so-called north-south in the sense that
    • even though the deprivation of needs occurs worldwide, it is likely that they result different for all the people or regions in the world,
    • and how that might imply that a design
      • just cannot guarantee a uniform user experience at all, or
      • it is important for any design to leave enough room for the users to adapt it and thus support the creation of a meaningful user experience.

A small but powerful paragraph from my perspective.

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Definition of “an experience-oriented approach”

Below, there is an extract (part of the introduction) from the paper “Experience-Oriented and Product-Oriented Evaluation: Psychological Need Fulfillment, Positive Affect, and Product Perception” by Hassenzahl, Wiklund-Engblom, Bengs, Hägglund, and Diefenbach (2015).

Sometimes I feel that we have diluted the notion of UX. However, this text reminds me that academia is there for the study and examination of phenomena, including the so-called UX, and that a good aspect of academic work is providing coherent and robust (based on previous research and studies) concepts and methods. What caught my attention from this paper is how it defines “experience-oriented approach” and includes the concepts of emotion, meaning, and dynamic story.

Extract

“Accordingly, Hassenzahl (2010) argued to put “experience before the product” (p. 63), which requires rethinking what technology actually is, why it matters, and what its intended effects are (Forlizzi & Battarbee, 2004; Hassenzahl, 2010; Hassenzahl & Tractinsky, 2006; McCarthy & Wright, 2004). As opposed to a task-oriented approach, the experience-oriented approach focuses on the personal, subjective side of interaction with a product, understanding interaction as a dynamic story, able to create emotions and meaning. Admittedly, we are far from a common accepted definition of what user experience could or should be (Law, Roto, Hassenzahl, Vermeeren, & Korte, 2009) and experience research can be biased and sub-optimal (Bargas-Avila & Hornbæk, 2011). But experience is at the heart of the emerging postmaterialistic, experiential society (Schulze, 1992) and economy (Pine & Gilmore, 1999). Technology firms can hardly afford to ignore it (Hassenzahl, 2011).

In addition to changes in how to think about or even design technology, a focus on experience suggests reconsidering the models and assumptions underlying well-accepted approaches to evaluation. So far, the “product” is often quite narrowly understood as the tangible set of materials it is made of (e.g., screens, keys, buttons, knobs, windows, sliders) and evaluation focuses on those material aspects. An experience-oriented perspective, however, acknowledges that people foremost create meaningful and memorable stories through interacting with a product. These stories become in fact a part of the product and in turn serve as a basis for a more explicit product evaluation. In other words, if asked about aspects of a product, such as its perceived usefulness or the quality of certain features, people will likely probe their memory for experiences they have had and then base judgments upon a particular or a collection of remembered moments. This process is so pervasive that it even works with imagined experiences (Rajagopal & Montgomery, 2011).

This calls for an extended perspective on evaluation, including products and experiences, as well as a better understanding of how people derive judgments from recollected experiences…
…[W]e define an experience (Forlizzi & Battarbee, 2004) as a retrospectively constructed personal narrative, based on feelings, thoughts, and actions remembered from a collection of moments…”

(emphasis added)

 

 

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On Snapchat’s filters, interface, and user experience

Vox has published a nice video about how Snapchat lenses, commonly known as filters, work. As a someone that once researched on digital image processing algorithms, and learned about their possible complexity and computing demand, I’m really marveled about accessible facial recognition algorithms have become. The Snapchat filters motivated me to install this app, and once I tried them myself, I was like “Wooooow… Oh boy, it’s true that we had supercomputers in our hands every day, and it seems that we just take them for granted!”

Have you used snapchat? From my viewpoint, Snapchat’s UX feels very clumsy sometimes, but it’s very interesting. When I started using this app, I felt that gestures and screens were everywhere, I had no idea about what was going on! Swiping here, tapping there! I guess it breaks somehow one of my rules as a designer and teacher: always tell the user where she is, and where she can go from here. However, I also considered that young users are so used to smartphones and gestures, and swiping screens 100 miles per hour, that it’d be me who is a bit old to use snapchat. You know, that snapchat is for cool young fellas. Also, it took me a while to get what the icons (visual cues) in the interface means I wasn’t sure why sometimes I see this or that icon. For example, the public snaps (known there as a user’s story) have a little pie chart icon. I wasn’t sure if it’s about time or number of public snaps. It took me a while to understand that it’s about the life of the public snaps, the remaining time they have before they disappear.

Notwithstanding, I have to emphasize an aspect about Snapchat. This app has a UX/UI quality I do research on: delightfulness. Certainly, applying filters to your face contributes to having a delightful UX. It’s pretty fun to see yourself be converted into a puppy, rainbow pukey person, or a nymph. People love it! I do think that Snapchat filters have contributed a lot to making this app something mainstream, finally. The app’s been out there for a while and it seems that it hadn’t taken off. Nevertheless, it’s not only about the filters. I do enjoy and appreciate how interfaces components are animated in Snapchat. For example, when you close a public snap, it’s quite cool to have that circle out transition when you make a long swipe. I see this combination of gesture (long swipe down) and animation (transition) just great! It breaks the boring idea that screens are only to be tapped on. 

Demonstration of how filters work -- Screenshot from the Snapchat website
Demonstration of how filters work — Screenshot from the Snapchat website

I think part of this UX delightfulness relates to what Snapchat could become: the new television. It seems quite enjoyable to “decide” what you want to watch and follow–of course, we have to consider all the brands (channels) that Snapchat puts there for us to watch. It’s somehow like a new way of switching channels. Just tap on the things you want to watch or not, and do it at any time and any place. Further, there’s a chance to communicate with the snap creator, to influence and be influenced, to be a receiver but also a sender. Snapchat also allows us to emphasize the uniqueness of the moment or experience by adding geofilters, in which imagery functions to add more meaning and also to make an emotional connection. And everything happens so fast, just in 10 seconds! This seems to be pretty convenient for satisfying our need for information consumption in this now information overloaded world but without making us feel that we need to invest to much time on it. Don’t you think that this is exciting but a bit scary at the same time?

I can’t wait to see how Snapchat’s UI and UX will be improved. I’m not talking about having more filters and other fun and funny interactive features. I look forward to seeing how far Snapchat gets in the redefinition of mass media, marketing, and public participation. Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat seem to be on the same playfield. Let’s see how that turns out, and how their game will affect us and our everyday forms of communication and action.

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Online resources about research and for a PhD dissertation

This is a personal post about online resources that talk about conducting research. I expect this list to be organic, and this is for me to not forget while I’m working on my (HCI + design) dissertation. However, I hope it’s helpful for you too!

Please, if you know about a cool resource that needs to be added to this list, let me know! I’m @omitzec on Twitter!

Inspiration: PhD dissertations in HCI and Design

Resources for applying to an academic position

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CHI 2016 Workshop on Visual Literacy & Human-Computer Interaction

ATTN: We have extended the submission deadline for the CHI 2016 Workshop on Visual Literacy & HCI to February 1st, 2016

Call for Position Papers: “Visual Literacy & HCI”
CHI 2016 Workshop to promote visual literacy as first class competency in HCI research and practice

=============================
OBJECTIVE
=============================

The goal of this workshop is to develop ideas about and expand a research agenda for visual literacy in HCI.

By visual literacy, we mean the competency
(i) to understand visual materials,
(ii) to create visuals materials, and
(iii) to think visually.

There are three primary motivations for this workshop on visual literacy in HCI, namely
(i) to engage HCI researchers in the transformative dimensions of visual literacy with respect to modern digital technology
(ii) to assess the relevance and pervasive nature of visual artifacts in and as a consequence of HCI design, and
(iii) to promote visual literacy as a first-class competency in HCI research and practice.

This workshop will consist of paper and visual material presentations, critique, and structured discussion sessions. The overall goal is to detail a viable research agenda that investigates the persistent and emerging dimensions of visual literacy in HCI.

=============================
IMPORTANT DATES
=============================

Extended Submission Date: February 1st, 2016
Camera-Ready Papers: February 12, 2016 (5pm EST)
Workshop: May 8, 2016

==================================
WORKSHOP QUESTIONS
==================================

At the workshop, we will address visual literacy in HCI from the perspectives of researchers and practitioners. We invite the CHI community to consider the following questions:

1. What are the dimensions of visual literacy in HCI?

2. How do visual metaphors and visual artifacts influence the way we think about HCI research and practice?

3. How do HCI researchers and practitioners use visual literacy to conveying knowledge, for conceptualization, for engagement, or as support for argumentation?

4. How is visual literacy efficacy evaluated, sustained, and fostered?

5. Does current and future technology require new ways to comprehend, create, communicate and teach about visual literacy in HCI?

==================================
WORKSHOP THEMES
==================================

In the most general terms, we invite paper contributors to explain notions of visual literacy in terms of three main themes, namely

(i) Visual understanding
how are visual materials understood and explained in HCI research and practice?
(ii) Visual making
how are visual materials used in HCI prototypes and other forms of making?
(iii) Visual thinking
how is visual thinking different than textual thinking, and how does it augment notions of HCI?

There are a number of alternative themes or framings that are germane to visual literacy, namely

(i) Definitions
how may visual literacy be defined in terms of constituent dimensions and competencies?
(ii) Scale
how is the scale and pervasive nature of visual materials implicated in HCI?
(iii) Measure
how can we know what is entailed in claiming visual competence in HCI?
(iv) Transdisciplinarity
how can we transcend disciplinary boundaries with respect to the integration of concepts of visual literacy as they owe to various fields within and beyond HCI?

==================================
ABOUT PARTICIPANTS
==================================
This workshop invites people focused on the development, use, and exploration of visual material in HCI, either in the context of research, design process, or outcome.

People working in the following areas, but not limited to these, may be interested in submit position papers:
* Visual literacy
* Visual thinking
* Design-oriented HCI
* Digital Imagery
* Data Visualization
* Information Visualization
* Interface Design
* Visual and Digital Rhetoric
* Communication Design
* Information Design
* Interactive Art & Media
==================================
FORMAT & GOALS
==================================
Participants are invited to contribute papers that present theories, frameworks, methods, and exemplars of visual literacy in HCI. The workshop aims to build a network of collaboration among those in the CHI community interested in promoting visual literacy in HCI research and practice. Through presentations and group activities, participants will propose the notion, dimensions, and future research directions for visual literacy in HCI. The workshop group activity will include hands-on, visually-oriented, methods to synthesize and present insights.

==================================
PARTICIPANT SELECTION CRITERIA
& REQUIREMENTS FOR IMAGERY
OR POSITION PAPERS
==================================
Physical presence of at least one author of each accepted position paper is required. To encourage the inclusion of thoughtful imagery, submissions have no page restrictions. Papers are to be submitted in the ACM archive format, ACM extended abstracts format, or the SIGCHI DIS pictorial format.

==========================================
WHERE TO SUBMIT IMAGERY OR PAPERS
==========================================
Submit your imagery or position paper to kyle@hcivisualliteracy.com

=======================
NOTE
=======================
All participants must register for both the workshop and at least one day of the conference.

==========================================
ORGANIZERS
==========================================
Kyle Overton (Indiana University — USA)
Omar Sosa-Tzec (Indiana University — USA)
Nancy Smith (Indiana University — USA)
Eli Blevis (Indiana University — USA)
William Odom (Simon Fraser University — Canada)
Sabrina Hauser (Simon Fraser University — Canada)
Ron Wakkary (Simon Fraser University — Canada)

=======================
WEBSITE
=======================
http://www.hcivisualliteracy.com

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The new Facebook “Reactions”

I came across the video of the new Facebook “Reactions.” It was a nice surprise going beyond the “dislike” button that everyone was talking about weeks ago.

Today we’re launching a test of Reactions — a more expressive Like button. The Like button has been a part of Facebook for a long time. Billions of Likes are made every day, and Liking things is a simple way to express yourself.For many years though, people have asked us to add a “dislike” button. Not every moment is a good moment, and sometimes you just want a way to express empathy. These are important moments where you need the power to share more than ever, and a Like might not be the best way to express yourself.At a recent Townhall Q&A, I shared with our community that we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the best way to give you better options for expressing yourself, while keeping the experience simple and respectful. Today we’re starting to test this.Reactions gives you new ways to express love, awe, humor and sadness. It’s not a dislike button, but it does give you the power to easily express sorrow and empathy — in addition to delight and warmth. You’ll be able to express these reactions by long pressing or hovering over the Like button. We’re starting to test Reactions in Ireland and Spain and will learn from this before we bring the experience to everyone. We hope you like this – or can better express how you’re feeling!

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday, October 8, 2015

 

This reminds me that moment when I couldn’t image how an iPod (old generation) could be used to browse the internet. This “Reactions” new micro-interaction design is similar: instead of just thinking that the next step is a “dislike” button, FB now offers a wider range of emotions; which I’d bet they’re thought carefully (if not based on data). Another nice detail is moving away from the tap. The tap is obstructive. Swiping below the emoticons/emoji (with no need of a slider) is not. It’s a subtle but interesting change in the way we understand how gestures, UI widgets design, and affordances work.

What do you think?

 

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Why did I find Spotify using my profile picture as an album cover a little bit disturbing?

Today, when I opened Spotify, I found this (see image below):

Spotify Discover Weekly album coverLater, I mentioned in facebook that using my profile picture for the “Discover Weekly” album is a little bit scary. Moreover, I tweeted that although Artificial Intelligence (AI) could be the next big thing in UI/UX design, we shouldn’t forget taking care of the execution, the how, the form — By the way, this somehow sarcastic since tweets before I was arguing that just paying attention to the looks leads to a poor understanding of what design is (after watching the “Why Design Matters” video).

Later, someone asked me on Facebook to explain what I was meaning of my post and provide an example of how the design could be “better.” This person argued that such a design decision helps to “merge” the self and (his/her) music. I think he’s a good point. However, to me, this design decision was a shocking micro-experience with Spotify. Below, I re-write what I posted on Facebook.

The concept of agency came to my mind when I opened Spotify and saw my profile picture being used as the cover for the “Discover Weekly” album. I think it’s great to like or “plus” a song, and thus to think that I decide what music/genre I like and want to listen. From my perspective, this provides a feeling of empowerment to the user. However, I lost that feeling of agency or empowerment when I saw my profile picture. Setting the music on Spotify is part of my work routine and I was not expecting to find something like that today! Seeing “myself” as an album cover made me feel that I became a thing, an interface component; that Spotify had objectified me, transformed me in another interface component. The idea of being de-humanized crossed my mind. I know it’d sound too dramatic, but coming across this UI change provided me an example or situation wherein micro experiences are important. It’s interesting to see how just a little thing provides an element of surprise that lasts just a little bit! A micro-moment that affected my UX with respect to Spotify for the whole day today! I have to acknowledge, nevertheless, that I might be too sensitive since I’m trying to understand how these ideas of user experience, phenomenology, persuasion and rhetoric, identification and rhetoric, and denotation and connotation work in interfaces.

And about my proposal of making this UI change better, first, I have to say that I wouldn’t argue for “better.” A less shocking transition, perhaps. As I commented on FB, Spotify could have introduced me this idea of the “Discover Weekly” in a more ludic way. As it occurs when Spotify doesn’t allow you to interact with the interface and you have to wait seconds to see an ad, one possibility would be having a similar dynamics. Showing this concept and probably letting the user picking the album cover. Once set, it fades away.

Of course, there is nothing wrong or bad with that design decision for the Spotify’s interface. I’d like to emphasize that. Perhaps, this idea of the profile-album-cover has been evaluated with good results. Possibly, I don’t express the archetypical user’s desires for this case (functionality and part of the interface). Perhaps, a later evaluation will come, and a different proposal will be implemented. That’s the way design is. However, I’d emphasize that the capability of implementing smart functions in a system is just a part of the UI/UX design.

Cheers!

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