Archive for ‘system design’

December 3, 2011


Joana Conill, Manuel Castells and Àlex Ruiz produced a new and interesting documentary that collects stories, cases and reflections on a different way of running economy and life. it’s about services, it is about new currencies, it is about local and sustainable production and consumption, lifestyles, social innovation,and many other things

March 16, 2010

describing journeys as narrative

I’m trying to put together some idea about using a narrative approach to service design, and in particular I am trying to understand if we can use this approach to describe uers’ experience when approaching a service.

I found this description of the characteristics of a narrative on edutechwiki (according to Jean-Michel Adam’s definition)

  • a narrative involves a succession of actions (a description of a landscape is not a narrative);
  • a narrative involves at least one character, even if this character is not human (animal, object);
  • a narrative concerns a transformation from one initial state to a final state;
  • Unity of action: the actions is organized into a bigger unit, which forms a whole.
  • Causality: actions are causing other actions. Actions are not just following each other but are a consequences of each others.
  • Final evaluation: a narrative intends to exhibit a point of view, either explicitely (in the morale) or implicitely. In that sense, a narrative is a communication device.

Can a use case (or what many call “the user’s journey” be considered as a narrative, on the basis of this definition?

I hope someone will see this post and give me some feedback

April 6, 2009

Help finding scenarios

I’m organising a project on tracking systems for elderly people. The scenario is as follow:

Elderly people, their relatives, friends and assistance personnel living in a specific area can carry a GPS device (it maybe their own mobile phone) which make it possible to visualise their position on a map (maybe google maps). They can also send short messages as in Twitter or Google Latitude. The visualisation may be possible both on a mobile phone screen or on a computer at home, possibly using applications like facebook (or any other application that support any kind of social interaction).

I’m trying to figure out how this scenario could define new services for 

  • functional use (i.e. telemedicine, assistance services, ask for help)
  • Persona use (i.e. reassurance when living alone)
  • Social networking (i.e. inviting people for lunch, going out for a walk)

 

So, this is a call for contribution: any idea about how to use this opportunity?

I promise that I will publish a list of all the possible scenarios on this blog. We may also think of an award for the best idea, but if I promise for instance a trip to Aalborg I’m not sure I will have too many contributions.

February 16, 2009

Google latitude:the net becomes local

I was waiting for it, and finally, here it is: a google maps application to connect maps with mobile phones, in order to “trace” people’s geographical location.  the application is Google Latitude, With this applicatio you can locate your mobile phone on a google map and you can also see where your friends and family are (provided that they want to make themselves traceable). You can exchange messages with them and you can decide upon activities to do. In the past there were other applications, such as Brightkite, which had similar funzionalities, but this application on Google seems more powerful to me, because it directly works on google maps, which is now commonly known by many people.

Why is it so innovative?

Because I think this is just the beginning of a big conceptual change in the use of the internet and Web 2:0 applications. So far those applications have been relatively indefferent to geographical locations, you could chat with friends on the other side of the world or those next door, but their position was not relevant, after all. Of course in facebook and with Twitter people were sometimes using messaging to take appointment or to exchange information about local happenings, this means that there was a need to bring context-neutral Web2:0 applications to reality, to local contexts. With goolge latitude people can have a rapid view of what is going on in their city/neighbourhood, check what their friends closeby are doing, and possibly retrieve local-related knowledge. In other worlds this application has a huge potential to support geographically placed communities, to support active social participation to local life, to generate social innovation

I’m thinking of using those applications for elderly people living indepdently, this should be a research project, however, at the moment I’m looking at other users of latitude, to check the potential of this application. Anyone around?

December 15, 2008

Three good reports on service design

Three very interesting reports are on my desk in this moment. I’m very slow at reading them, but I think they are a must for whoever wants to work on service design, especially in the public sector.

The only one I managed to read so far is “the Journey to the Interface”, by Sophia Parker and John Heapy (Engine) (Parker and Heapy 2006). The other two are “Designing for Services – Multidisciplinary Perspectives “(Kimbell and Seidel 2008) and “Innovation by Design” edited by Emily Thomas (Thomas and Grace 2008). In fact there are many interesting reports on public services coming out almost every week and mainly from UK (Damn!!! How comes the other countries are so late in this?) Therefore I created a new page in the service design wiki on recent reports on service design.

The report by Sophia Parker and John Heapy is VERY interesting. In fact the report was written in 2006 and things seem to change very fast in UK, but probably this document was a good step towards the most recent announce of a design council program for the development of innovative public services in UK.

Initially, the reference to the journey and the interface made me think that this was yet another report on experience design. In fact the report doesn’t go very deep in the question of how to design the “mechanism” of a service, but it considers the whole strategic and political framework for the development of innovative services. The report considers the shift from fordism to mass customization and to new needs for services to be co-produced, thus it emphasizes the importance of designing the point of contact in a way that supports individual needs and local solutions.

I found the third part particularly interesting, because, for the first time, I’ve seen someone mentioning the need for measuring service performance. The authors propose to measure service performances not just in terms of traditional metrics (e.g. waiting time) but also in terms of user experience. “this form of measurement – in customer terms, not universal standards set centrally and sometimes arbitrarily based on what users might judge to be good – can be called my metrics” (p70)

Also part 4 – on the politics of service design – Considers the main assumptions in the existing public service system (about efficiency, personalisation and devolution] and analyses those assumptions in a service design perspective. By focusing on the relationship between services and people, rather than on organizational efficiency, service designers can really think of improving services on a day-to day basis. This can be done thourhg harnessing users’ participation, feedbacks and insight generation.

Another concept I found very interesting and very close to the way I see the question of innovation in public service is the investment in “in-between” spaces. Traditional public services are creating “light spots”, in which services are offered. Within those spots services are working at their best. However those light spots are also creating deep shaded areas, in which services are not very efficient or are not accessible. For example some elderly care services may work very well in an area, but may be very inefficient or may not respond very well to people needs in another areas. Childcare services may work very well for people working in standard working areas, but be inaccessible or inefficient for people with unusual working hours. Meal services for elderly people may work very well for people with relatively normal diets, but be inefficient for people with very special dietary needs. Serving those interstitial areas would be very expensive or sometimes almost impossible. Investing in “in-between” space, as far as I understand, means giving spaces for people to work out solutions in those spaces. This would be possible by making space for people to contact each other, thus promoting horizontal network and forms of collaboration institutions and the users of public services. (e.g. the patient opinion website, http://www.patientopinion.org.uk)

In such interstitial spaces the wisdom and creativity of people emerge, harnessing this wisdom would be a big resource for innovation in services. Of course the intervention in those places requires a very delicate approach. In fact the authors pose the question of how can the government invest in those spaces without legislating for everything that takes places within them.

Kimbell, L. and V. P. Seidel (2008). Designing for Services – Multidisciplinary Perspectives: Proceedings from the Exploratory Project on Designing for Services in Science and Technology-based Enterprises. Oxford, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford: 56.

Parker, S. and J. Heapy (2006). The Journey to the Interface – How public service design can connect users to reform, Demos.

Thomas, E. and C. Grace (2008). Innovation by design in public services, Design Council – Solace Foundation inprint – The Guardian: 64.

<!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–>

<!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–>

May 6, 2008

Some interesting links on service design

I found some interesting links on service design, which I would like to share:

Erik Mohr proposes some thoughts on service design in his Blog. In his recent posts he also links to the podcasts of the recent “Emergence 07” conference on service design and to information on Carnegie Mellon’s work on service design. This page also include an interview to Dan Boyarksi, from Carnegie Mellon, on service design
754388996