Curation & Ideation in Social Media: HCI Seminar

I just realized that I should make a post explaining some of the new material going on here.

I’m currently taking a class from Andruid Kerne, of the Interface Ecology Lab. We’re analyzing the topics of curation and ideation and how they manifest through modern social media.

As a part of this, I’ve opened a gallery that hosts all of my class work, for your perusal and comment. Feel free to explore the materials as they update. Artifacts within the gallery include tweets, essays, and even multimedia collages based on the readings we’ve covered in class so far.

All of this will result in a final project that will be posted here, for analysis by everyone who’s potentially interested.

If you’ve got any interesting insights or reactions, feel free to share them here or through my Twitter, @eccentriccog.

Additionally, I’ll be updating with details from other class projects and competitions as the materials become available.

Stay tuned to my little experiment.

Empathy

In a recent piece of news, a dolphin distressed by a fish-hook sought out human divers to provide assistance. This, while heartwarming, has several distinct levels of astounding attached to it:

How did the dolphin know to ask people for help? This dolphin likely has very little personal history in receiving help from humans, and while we’re entirely capable of giving aid, how can it know that? This goes way beyond conditioning into actual intelligent action. The dolphin was able to actively request help from strangers.

How did the dolphin predict that they would even consider to help? The dolphin, somehow knowing that humans might be able to help it, had to have some sense of whether or not they would. This suggests, in my understanding, that the dolphin had a sense of not only its own pain, but the potential empathy that the divers might have towards it.

In short, what is remarkable about this case is that we have a reasonable example of a dolphin showing enough empathic recognition to identify the divers as significantly similar to itself, but how could it possibly do that?

Continue reading

Continuum Visit

During my trip to Boston for the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society annual meeting, I got to go on a tour of Continuum, a innovative design consultancy. It was incredibly fascinating and resulted in a semi-permanent “kid in a candy shop” feeling.

During our visit, my tour group got to participate in a design competition for a Halloween candy machine prototype. Well, it looks like Continuum just did a small writeup of the whole thing, so take a look!

My group took the approach of utilizing a more tactile sense of fright, something that might have a larger impact for children. What was surprisingly unsettling about the whole process were the flaps over the candy holes. Different materials with vastly varied textures lent a hair-raising physical sensation to reaching into the machine, not to mention the possible chance encounter with our slimy booby trap.

Swarming and Trading Algorithms

My friend, Mel White, was kind enough to take on a question that has been buzzing around in my head for awhile, particularly after the Bio-Inspired Swarms panel at Human Factors and Ergonomics Society annual conference (Mike Goodrich’s visualizations were amazing). While my question and Mel’s analysis largely boils down to a small thought experiment about resiliency, it should be of interest.

More after the jump.

Continue reading

Why Human Factors?

As a human factors student, I usually encounter blank confusion when casually discussing work. In many technical disciplines it’s common to need an education to even begin to understand the basic ideas behind a field. This is why many engineering students, myself included, change majors. It’s difficult to tell if your interest in plasma should be directed to the physics department or mechanical engineering.

Simply: human factors (or ergonomics), is the design of things to fit people, physically and mentally. Most confusion over this occurs due to the lack of awareness. Engineers regularly design things but rarely do people consider that someone will have to use said thing.  If you’ve ever wondered why something was so feature rich and still horribly unusable (usually about the point where said item is being defenestrated), we’re here to help.

A common misconception of our field is that we design office furniture. Admit it, you immediately thought of the ‘ergonomic’ buzzword you see splashed across every highly marketed item. While ergonomists certainly do help design these things, it’s far more common for their work to never truly be noticed. The better a design is, the less you think of it.

Continue reading