Posts about Books


About Face 4 diagrams, for you!

As part of its support for instructors using About Face in classrooms, Cooper is pleased to provide a PowerPoint deck of diagrams from the work in a Creative Commons 4.0 BY-ND license. What does that license mean to you? You are free to use all or part of this deck and share for any purpose as long as you do not modify the content, and include the attributions at the bottom of the slides. Drop it into decks, share amongst colleagues, and of course, if you have any questions, please drop us a line via education@cooper.com.

Note that we didn’t try to situate the slides in a larger context of meaning (that’s up to you) but the page numbers have been noted on each slide so you can reference that section of the text.

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As part of its support for instructors using About Face in classrooms, Cooper is pleased to provide a PowerPoint deck of diagrams from the work in a Creative Commons 4.0 BY-ND license. What does that license mean to you? You are free to use all or part of this deck and share for any purpose as long as you do [...]

The Creative Habit


Most of us follow a daily routine. We awake at about the same hour, maybe hit the snooze a few times, grab breakfast and a shower, dress and hit the road. Usually it’s the same road -- and the same mode of transportation, with maybe a beverage of choice on the way, and then in the door at work at roughly the same time, with all the familiar tasks awaiting.

Some might find this a seriously limiting portrait, a sort of Dilbert Dullsville, unconducive to creative production or flights of imagination. But actually, inside that predictable routine lies genius, if you know how to tap it. For many of the great artists, writers and designers, this very kind of structure proved key to their success.

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Most of us follow a daily routine. We awake at about the same hour, maybe hit the snooze a few times, grab breakfast and a shower, dress and hit the road. Usually it’s the same road -- and the same mode of transportation, with maybe a beverage of choice on the way, and then in the door at work at [...]

Cooper Parlor: The Gender, Leadership, Design Axis

When: Thursday,  August 29, 6-8:30pm (Networking at 6, event starts at 6:30)
Moderators: Teresa Brazen, Design Education Strategist and Susan Dybbs, Managing Director, Interaction Design
Where: Cooper's Studio, 85 2nd St., 8th Floor, San Francisco 
Cost: $10
Tickets

At Cooper, we have an internal book club (affectionately known as the “Cook Blub”) designed to encourage conversation, debate, and boost our collective knowledge. After hearing all the hype about Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg’s book, “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead”, we decided to give it a read and tackle the tricky topics of gender and leadership ourselves. Needless to say, that book club sparked rich discussion that we thought worth bringing to our broader community.

So, in this Cooper Parlor, we invite you to take a deeper look at the gender and leadership dynamics in your own organization and the design and tech communities at large. We’ll discuss if/how the definition of leadership is changing, whether gender imbalances in fields like engineering (approximately 14% are female in the USA) are a phenomenon of oppression or a natural tendency for men and women to gravitate toward different fields, what men and women can learn from one another’s approach to career, and much, much more. We also invite you to submit a question you’d like to discuss in the comments below.

 

Please Note!

  • People from all fields are invited to attend. While we’ll talk about some aspects of gender in the design/tech worlds, the conversation will inspire and apply to those of any industry (and we welcome your diverse perspectives!).
  • We encourage you to read “Lean In”, but it is not a requirement of participation. The book is a catalyst for conversation, and you’ll have plenty to share and learn whether or not you had time to read it.

What is the Cooper Parlor?

The Cooper Parlor is a gathering of designers and design-minded people to exchange ideas around a specific topic. We aim to cultivate conversation that instigates, surprises, entertains, and most importantly, broadens our community’s collective knowledge and perspective about the potential for design. Save your spot now!

Additional Reading

It's Not Women Who Should Lean In; It's Men Who Should Step Back
What 'Lean In' Misunderstands About Gender Differences
Stubborn Obstacles: What's Hindering Female Engineers?

 

When: Thursday, August 29, 6-8:30pm (Networking at 6, event starts at 6:30) Moderators: Teresa Brazen, Design Education Strategist and Susan Dybbs, Managing Director, Interaction Design Where: Cooper's Studio, 85 2nd St., 8th Floor, San Francisco Cost: $10 TicketsAt Cooper, we have an internal book club (affectionately known as the “Cook Blub”) designed to encourage conversation, debate, and boost our collective [...]

Playing with iBooks

At Cooper, we love to share what we learn in our consulting work. We've published and socialized techniques and tools for doing interaction design in our books, at conferences, and through Cooper U. Recently, Apple released the iBooks Author platform, and a few of us have been giving it a test run.

The platform itself has lots of potential. There is much to improve, but the possibilities are interesting and it's too early to critique it too strongly. There's been much talk already about the EULA and whether or not this will disrupt education. It's too early to make that call, though. Our initial impression? It's an accessible tool aimed at a user population that, up to this point, hasn't been equipped to produce engaging and usable interactive educational content.


In our trial run, we produced a look book with some of recent work, including slideshows, imagery and video. It's a little rough in some areas, but we'd love to see what you think. You can download it via the link below and share your thoughts in the comments section.

Download the Cooper iBook.

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At Cooper, we love to share what we learn in our consulting work. We've published and socialized techniques and tools for doing interaction design in our books, at conferences, and through Cooper U. Recently, Apple released the iBooks Author platform, and a few of us have been giving it a test run. The platform itself has lots of potential. There [...]

Designing for the Digital Age: Sample chapter available!

On Wednesday, we celebrated the release of Designing for the Digital Age, a comprehensive how-to for getting great products built. The release party was hosted by Autodesk in their amazing new Gallery at One Market in San Francisco. The Gallery is filled with cool toys and overlooks the Bay, so it was a pretty ideal setting in which to host a couple hundred of our closest interaction design friends. Big thanks to our friends at Autodesk for a memorable night!

Designing for the Digital Age launch party Scenes from Wednesday night's party at the Autodesk Gallery. More on Flickr.

Download the chapter here.
[PDF, 1.4MB, requires Acrobat 7 or higher]

Check it out, and let us know what you think. It's entitled "Designing the Form Factor and Interaction Framework," and it contains a discussion of the tools and techniques for generating and iterating design directions. If you're wondering what you're getting into, here's an excerpt from the Introduction.

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On Wednesday, we celebrated the release of Designing for the Digital Age, a comprehensive how-to for getting great products built. The release party was hosted by Autodesk in their amazing new Gallery at One Market in San Francisco. The Gallery is filled with cool toys and overlooks the Bay, so it was a pretty ideal setting in which to host [...]

Book review: Designing Gestural Interfaces

If you've been to the stunning new California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, you may have noticed a number of interactive exhibits in the halls on the first floor. Among them are two game-like pieces by Snibbe Interactive that allow visitors to physically interact with a projected "natural" environment via motion sensors.

Bug Rug by Snibbe Interactive at the Cal Academy of Sciences, from a video of the installation.

One is called Bug Rug and is set on the floor of a Madagascar forest with insects running around under fallen leaves and branches. Visitors can scare the bugs by stomping around, or they can trap them to learn more about them by guiding bait into traps with a very specific gestural interaction. In the other, Arctic Ice, visitors use their shadows to block the sun's rays, allowing ice to form so that a baby polar bear can find its way back to its mother.

After watching kids play with both, and speaking with someone intimately involved in the installation of the works who's watched people interact with both quite a lot, it's pretty clear that visitors tend to be more engaged and successful with Arctic Ice than with Bug Rug. In pondering why this is the case (beyond the obvious fact that for most people, baby polar bears are a lot more compelling than bugs), I've landed upon the theory that the physical interaction of using one's shadow to block the sun's rays is a lot more natural and discoverable than placing one's hands next to each other palm down, with thumbs touching to move things around on the ground.

With the increasing prevalence of physical and gestural interactivity, from the iPhone to Jeff Han's election night Magic Wall spectacle on CNN, to the Wii, it's likely we're all going to be faced with the excitement and challenge of interacting with and designing devices and environments in new ways. One of the biggest challenges associated with physical interactivity is the lack of transparency into the "commands" or actions available with a given device or environment. The graphical user interface was, in many ways, a huge improvement over the previous idioms of the command line because it made it much more obvious what commands were allowable in a given context. Looking into the brave new future of physical interactivity, we're confronted with the need to create idioms and vocabulary that are as discoverable and useful as possible to avoid stepping back into command line-like arcana.

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If you've been to the stunning new California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, you may have noticed a number of interactive exhibits in the halls on the first floor. Among them are two game-like pieces by Snibbe Interactive that allow visitors to physically interact with a projected "natural" environment via motion sensors. Bug Rug by Snibbe Interactive at the [...]

Demand a better ballot

Election Day is finally here, and as ballots are cast and counted, I’m hopeful that voters will declare victory for the candidates and measures that I care most about. But as I review my sample ballot in preparation for my visit to the voting booth, I am discouraged to find that it includes many of the design flaws that the AIGA’s Design for Democracy project has been working to expose and eliminate over the past 8 years. As AIGA reports on their website:

“In July 2007 the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) accepted AIGA Design for Democracy’s research and best practice recommendations for ballot and polling place information design. Guidelines and editable samples were distributed to 6,000 election officials across the country this January. As a result, local jurisdictions now have the tools to apply communication design principles and make voting easier and more comprehensible for all citizens.”

Why, then, am I holding a ballot that violates at least three of the Top 10 election design guidelines, including the use of all caps, center-alignment, and tiny fonts?

Ballot.jpg

As Marcia Lausen notes in Design for Democracy: Ballot + Election Design, typographic specifications are often dictated in well-intentioned but misguided election law. So while the valuable work of Design for Democracy is to be commended, it alone is not enough to bring about the change we need in the design of ballots and other voter information and materials.

So as you head to the polls, review your ballot carefully — not only for its content, but for its design. Make note of the ballot’s flaws, and contact your state and county registrar and representatives to press them to implement the AIGA guidelines. In addition, consider participating in the Polling Place Photo Project, which seeks to document what is politely described as the “richness and complexity" of the voting experience in America.

Most of all, don’t forget to vote!

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Election Day is finally here, and as ballots are cast and counted, I’m hopeful that voters will declare victory for the candidates and measures that I care most about. But as I review my sample ballot in preparation for my visit to the voting booth, I am discouraged to find that it includes many of the design flaws that the [...]

How good designers can create evil

I’ve been reading Philip Zimbardo’s The Lucifer Effect and thinking a lot about system design as a result. In his words, the book “is a call for a three-part analysis of human action by trying to understand what the individual actors bring to any setting, what situational forces bring out of those actors, and how system forces create and maintain situations.” It’s a rather sobering piece of work, especially as a designer who earns a living designing interactions and systems. The author challenges the common tendency to attribute human failings to an individual’s inner nature, disposition, personality traits, and character and demonstrates how situational and systemic factors seduce ordinarily good people to commit evil acts.

A large part of the book is dedicated to detailed case study of the 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment, tracking the transformation of happy healthy college students playing randomly assigned the role of prisoner or guard in a mock prison.

Stanford Prison Experiment Stanford Prison Experiment guard in uniform, from lucifereffect.org.

The experiment was terminated early because of the astounding and terrifying impact it had on the participants. The students assigned to the guard role became sadistic and the prisoners became depressed and showed signs of extreme stress. It was clear from notes and diary entries before, during, and after the experiment that the situational and systemic forces resulted in the students doing things they could never have imagined when outside those force fields.

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I’ve been reading Philip Zimbardo’s The Lucifer Effect and thinking a lot about system design as a result. In his words, the book “is a call for a three-part analysis of human action by trying to understand what the individual actors bring to any setting, what situational forces bring out of those actors, and how system forces create and maintain [...]

Re: Shaping Things

shapingthings.jpg

One of the most interesting books we’ve read recently at the informal Cooper Book Club is Bruce Sterling’s Shaping Things

In the book, Sterling extends some salient technosocial trends to construct a prospective new technology he calls a spime. Sterling lauds designers as the only ones capable of making spimes' (arguably) inevitable emergence into something positive and meaningful, and ultimately, save humanity from its current trajectory of self-destruction. (But no pressure.)

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One of the most interesting books we’ve read recently at the informal Cooper Book Club is Bruce Sterling’s Shaping Things In the book, Sterling extends some salient technosocial trends to construct a prospective new technology he calls a spime. Sterling lauds designers as the only ones capable of making spimes' (arguably) inevitable emergence into something positive and meaningful, and ultimately, [...]

Predictably Irrational

Behavioral economist, Dan Ariely’s delightful first book, Predictably Irrational, heaps yet one more shovel of dirt onto the fresh but deep grave of traditional, rationalist assumptions about human behavior. The book is a simple, personal, easy-to-read account of Ariely’s research conducted over the past 15 or so years. This research was conducted at his various host universities; all of them paragons of ivy-covered scientific rigor, including MIT, Stanford, The University of Virginia, and The University of California at Berkeley.

The clear and inevitable conclusion of his dozens of research papers summarized in this book is simple: humans don’t make rational decisions. What’s more, the irrationality of their choices isn’t random, but can be predicted and measured. While many of the experiments deal with choices regarding cash, several of them cleverly divorce themselves from money to clearly demonstrate that the goofy human behavior is human-related, not cash-related.

He identifies several predictable forces that act upon humans during decision making, causing them to make irrational choices. These include the distorting effect of similar, but slightly inferior, products offered for sale; the distorting effect of simply thinking about numbers; the distorting effect of items offered for free; the distorting effect of sexual arousal; social norms, ownership, procrastination, self-control, clinging to options, expectations, and being observed.

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Behavioral economist, Dan Ariely’s delightful first book, Predictably Irrational, heaps yet one more shovel of dirt onto the fresh but deep grave of traditional, rationalist assumptions about human behavior. The book is a simple, personal, easy-to-read account of Ariely’s research conducted over the past 15 or so years. This research was conducted at his various host universities; all of them [...]

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