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RLD is a means to examine and create a solution to a large but rather transparent issue we face today. Our physical and virtual worlds are connected by technology, and somewhere along the way, we have lost exactly what we are trying to accomplish. That is, communicating more effectively and maintaining the meaning behind our interactions with each other. The largest issue I see with this is where we are headed. UX design is based off of past events and standards, so the sooner we address the issue of distraction from interaction the sooner we can make our usage more effective. The image below shows how the division of our physical and virtual worlds are run by the same degree of social etiquette. But within the virtual and physical connections are these other factors such as location, responsiveness, devices, and an ever increasing responsibility to monitor it all.



I’m approaching effectiveness not only as how well our interactions with smart devices produce desired individual results but on how those interactions effect future results and ultimately eliminate the noise created by the current relationships between the physical and the virtual. In order for our devices to be as effective as possible and create meaningful experiences for us we have to somehow connect ourselves virtually to other physical things in our lives. We can’t expect to be completely connected through our smart phones when there are so many other devices we interact with throughout the day. We have become reliant on the smart phone as our only means of connecting with each other that it has become a distraction from real interactivity resulting in making the user physically and mentally un-present. Our ability to stay present in the future of UX is reliant on our innovation in connecting the virtual with the physical, i.e. GPS tracking of a phone, and an output of data on something physical such as a window in your home. This narrows in on what the most important aspect is here, the current task.


In this second image, I’ve shown the same diagram but with the areas of interest highlighted. The connection between virtual and physical, and our increasing responsibility to interact with each other in these ways. Using my GPS output on a window example, the task here could be as simple as letting someone in your home know you have stopped to get gas and will be a little late coming home. Your task is to direct the phone to tell the person that you are going to be late. In reality, the phone knows you have stopped at a gas station and you shouldn’t have to reach into your pocket, pull out the phone, and text that message. Currently, one has to do exactly that. Small tasks like these are repeated hundreds, if not thousands of times a day, that distract us from what is important, being present now.

Presence // Misuse

What does it mean to be present now? First of all, we have a tendency to be somewhere else in our minds, even if we aren’t on our phone. We think about lots of things like, something bothering us, an event this weekend or where we are going to go for lunch. No matter how important or near or far off the event is, we distract ourselves naturally from being present now. Once we unlock the smart phone, we are no longer present. We are physically off in virtual space on the internet, connected with a lot more people than when we are here and now.(Kevin Ashton, 2013)

“We are a little bit confused what is really important in life, I’m here with you, my phone is silent, but there are millions of things I can do… am I really with you?”
– Younghee Jung

Kevin Ashton talked about social etiquette being a backbone when discussing importance in communication. Essentially, whatever rules apply in real life socializing apply to the web on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks. If someone Tweets you asking a question you should respond just like you would if someone asked you a question in person. With these new kinds of social networks that connect millions and recently billions of people, come new forms of the same etiquette. Though they are new it is mostly common sense. You shouldn’t follow people on Twitter because of the desire for them to follow you back and then drop them later to increase your numbers. You shouldn’t say or show anything on Facebook that you wouldn’t say or show outside of it.

I think some people will argue that these new kinds of social networks have given us the opportunity to say and show things we wouldn’t otherwise, and it completely makes sense. It’s understandable that people feel more comfortable talking about private or possibly embarrassing issues to people they don’t have to speak to up close and in person. For the most part, this kind of behavior is considered misuse and it’s to be expected. How come we are so shocked when we see someone acting out of line on the internet? People misuse technology all the time. You can use a drill improperly and hurt yourself, the fact is, millions of people won’t see it. On the internet, everything can be seen by anyone using it. And of course this has a positive side too when considering the amount of exposure now available to smaller business, freelancers, and writers. It comes back to etiquette. When the internet is used properly, it does some really amazing things that we could never go without now. When used improperly, it has the same effects as any other piece of technology that is also misused.

On // Off

When we start to relate the misuse of social networks with the idea of being present, the answer is clear. If you aren’t present because of the use of social networks, you are guilty of misuse. Dissecting the problem further, it’s not actually your fault that you have been misusing this technology. The technology has created the ability for distraction. It has been designed in a way where one becomes un-present when texting, or updating your status. You are enticed to look at, touch, even talk to, and in general, interact with the device. All of these actions have become so normal that it is hard to say that there is anything wrong with any them. When you look at your phone, un-lock it, and dive into the world of Facebook, Twitter, and text messaging, you are no longer attentive to the physical world. Engaged with the virtual world (the screen of your phone) you are now virtually on. Therefore, if you are virtually on, you are physically off.

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This concept of differentiating being physically and virtually on and off came about when discussing positioning and personal presence with Pablo Wenceslao at the beginning of this project. He talked about how easy it is for us to be virtually or physically on, or virtually or physically off. But never both on, or both off at the same time. We concluded that you can never be physically off if you are virtually off. He asked, looking at our grid, “what would it look like to be virtually and physically on at the same time? How do you do that?” We can’t currently do this with our design of this social networking structure. He also introduced an idea that dealt with real time events versus “my time events”. The events being interactions between the devices that belong to me and devices that belong to the rest of the world. (Wenceslao, 2013) This proved to be a vital part in my solution which I will demonstrate later. It was clear early on in the project that these questions would provide a great challenge, both in scale and in my interests. I needed to look at activity centered design (ACD) and break down what it means to perform a task.

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In researching task completion and ACD I discovered that it’s not the performance of tasks on our devices that takes us off the physical and puts us on the virtual. If you back chain an activity in ACD, you can see that it encompasses many different parts. (figure 2) The devices we use to schedule, communicate, and even participate in these activities are what carry out the different actions thus performing a task. (, 2012) As users, we are operators, precisely inputting the next action to perform a task. When all tasks are completed, our activity can take place. In order to know what particular moment of the UX needs re-designing we have to look at the root of the issue with performing operations on our devices.

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We didn’t always have so many operations we needed to perform. In 8th grade, I could text my friends as much as I wanted and not tie up our home phone line. Further more, I could do this while watching T.V. and talking to my parents at dinner. All I had was texting and I was connected to anyone who shared this technology. So what is so different now? There are many more things we can use our devices for, and we want to experience the things they can do. In my interview with Kevin Ashton, we came to a critical realization that over time, as our ability to communicate became more varied and mobile, the access to stay connected increased. The other aspect that came with increased frequency of communication is also the responsibility of social etiquette. The responsibility to respond to other’s actions toward us.

Now that we can ask, comment, and criticize others at any time of the day, we have a new responsibility to respond to those doing it back at any time of the day. It’s that same social etiquette and manors we all expect just used in new ways of communicating. If someone asks you a question, you answer them. If somebody gives you something, you say thanks. In a technical sense, it’s the corresponding output of the others input.  Though we think that our social networks have become strung out on knowing what’s happening right now and only now, we have really just quickly increased our social responsibilities. This notion of having answers now, knowing what’s going on now, and seeing what’s here now. We are getting our now, without being here. We are physically off, and still knowing what is now. How are we doing this? We do it by being on there, virtually on and physically off.

Responsibility // Responsive

When back chaining even further from activity centered design, I look past the operations that we perform and instead, looked at why we perform those operations. The answer was clear. We have a social responsibility to perform those operations, to be responsive. When we do this we leave the physical, enter the virtual and the importance of connecting is lost, the importance of remaining here physically on. As the level of output we expect goes up, the level of input required rises as well. It creates a distraction from the here and now. We are actually living in two worlds that until recently were not connected at all, and still have a very long ways to go in order to be effective to us.

How we can take this information about an increase of social responsibility and start re-designing UX? How can we continue connecting, socializing, and staying here, physically on while we are also virtually on? By addressing our disturbability, we can start re-designing how our devices interact with us. They chime, vibrate, show little red numbers to indicate quantitative data, and flash banners on their screens, even if we aren’t using them. They demand our attention and it’s not that we are being sensitive to the devices feelings by picking it up and using it. The fact is that there is another person on the other end. That’s who we answer to. And we answer because it’s expected of us. What happens if you don’t answer it? “I asked you a question on Twitter and you didn’t respond till the next day. What’s happened to you?” By carrying your smart device, you are now obligated to respond here and now, and have given others permission to disturb you to do so, wherever you are. If we were able to just ignore our devices when we needed to, we would. But the truth is that we don’t. I’ve been sitting at my desk typing for two hours, and I haven’t made a single operation into my phone. But it’s still sitting here face up showing me alerts as they are received. It’s not important to me that I stay connected to everyone while I’m writing this, yet I still have this need to know at least what’s going on. And as indirect as it may be, the badge flashes, dings and vibes are noticed by me. They are distracting, and affect my thoughts in one way or another.

Relevant Locational Disturbability

So it’s clear now. In order to return to the days where we can enjoy communicating without being so responsible to be there now while still remaining physically here, physically on, we have to look at managing disturbability. And as they say in the business, “there’s an app for that”. There are actually many apps that have been made in the last 5 years that attempt to monitor when you can be reached and when you can’t. The single largest problem with these apps is that it only solves the smallest part of the entire activity. You don’t get disturbed, but what about the person on the other end? How do you own a smart device, gain this increased social responsibility, prevent your phone from interrupting, and maintain the normal social etiquette? The answer is addressed in two parts, your location and you. Location is made up of your current location, the location of those around you and the location of devices that belong to the world, (not you). You are made up of your disturbability, your friends, your friends disturbablity, and devices that belong to you. In summary, this creates a term I’m calling, relevant locational disturbability, or RLD.

We spend so much time using our devices, but they never use us, unless we tell them to. Maybe we would like to keep it that way, but we can definitely get more out of them. The level of output could greatly surpass the level of input not from us physically using the devices, but by how effective they are at delivering the experience we ask of them. Fact is the internet was not designed initially to communicate as we do right now. It was designed strictly to share data with each other. We were never expecting to stare at the internet for extended periods of time, reading and posting our lives together. It just so happens that we considered this method previously used for transferring content, good enough for displaying content. The important aspect of designing a device is no longer how the user will interact with it or use it. It is about how the device will interact with the user. There is no need for a response from the user. The device does not have to chime or vibrate and demand our attention.

We have now focused so heavily on using our things, that we forget what is important. We use these things to communicate, stay organized, and overall, assist us. It comes down to interaction design in the sense of creating less interaction as we know it. The degree of interaction between user and things decreases, but increases between devices. Using RLD is a means of grouping certain activities and our devices recognizing patterns in our everyday repeated behaviors. Through an increase in device interaction, a rise in experiencing their output of data can occur. Ultimately this is what’s important and why we have things.


Research Notes

Connecting – Documentary

  • We have focused interaction design so heavily on devices (tech, mobile) but without humans, “there is nothing interesting to talk about”
  • Most commonly is the mobile phone
  • “Interaction design implies that what we design is only complete when there are people using it”
  • “it does what you want” – rather what you think – Blaise Aguera y Arcas
  • “we are a little bit confused what is really important in life, I’m here with you, my phone is silent, but there are millions of things I can do,.. am I really with you?”
  • “ needs to be done in a way that feels natural and feels like a conversation”
  • “feeling the difference in different kinds of touches”
  • “too fascinated with interfaces that look like they can be touched” –andre herasimchuk
  • “fake analog”
  • “More about the content and experience and what we are trying to do and less about trying to use a device” – Jennifer Bove
  • “chrome is void of meaning besides a signal, and every time you see it, it is just a noise, where the content is real and will never go out of style. ..bridging this is the sweet spot”
  • “living systems” – as soon as they are released, they almost immediately change
  • Thinking about “patterns and desired outcomes and behaviors you want to achieve, versus just moving the user through a single experience” – Robert Murdoc
  • maps coming out once a year “idea that it’s different in the morning than it was in the evening” – Erik Rodenbeck
  • something that exist across devices instead of contained in each device
  • “the internet of things” – connecting all kinds of things that are not currently connected digitally. Connecting the physical world with the digital – Jonas Lowgren
  • “things being done in the background.”
  • The kind of information you want varies depending on where you are(work, home, town)
  • Presenting the data we collect not as a list, but something more subtle. Like a data visualization in the town you are walking through, showing where your friends have been. Not on your phone – that is not subtle anymore.
  • We are turning real lives into digital content(posting pictures, status, video, music, events)
  • This “network” is sampling the world, and mapping it. “creating a much more literal sense of what’s going on in the world”
  • “there is a super organism building up where humans are no longer at the top of the food chain.”
  • “access to Facebook can determine the fate of a government, yet that human layer is so critical” there is this new layer where there is a “secondary power that is purely delivered by interactions, good interfaces driven by people.”
  • “Behavior becomes more collective”

Some notes / thoughts

The information collected is not utilized. Utilization includes meaningful experiences being sent back to the user it was collected from. Everyone is a part of creating the links between each genre of data. usage should be less disruptive than they currently are. Most importantly, what are the issues with the interface and interaction that we currently use? Instead of creating new technology, how do we incorporate our current collection of tech and data into our physical objects. Actual & Virtual.

  • Linked Data
  • Connecting
  • Look at Activity Center Design

Smart devices are only smart when commanded to be, by us. Are they really smart?
The phone being able to search the internet, or know where I am. – That’s not smart, its just more portable. I still have to command the device.

These devices are taking over what used to be important not changing it. Instead of conversing with each other on a bus or train, or just absorbing our surroundings, we face down at a device. This is only because, we have to connect ourselves to what we want. The device doesn’t do it for us. – We want to do both!!!
Why do we have to refer to a device to find information.

  • to check the weather
  • to see when a friend will arrive
  • to ask a friend where they are, why does the friend have to respond?

The device should connect to another device – it should be smart enough to do this on it’s own.

Sure we can do these things anywhere, but we still have to do them. It is not as convenient as it seems. It just feels that way because it’s new.

New things are exciting, but then new things take their place. If it’s replaceable, is it really that important?

Is the future of smart devices, really just about being able to connect to more different platforms? Shouldn’t these connections start to occur on their own?

Is it really that important for you to tell your wife, that you will be home in 20 mins? “I’m leaving the office now”. – Maybe it is, but your smart device knows where you are, thus it knows you are leaving. It CAN send that message, why do you have to tell it too? Why do they have to check there phone every 2 minutes to see if you have responded? It’s obvious you want to know where they are, if you didn’t, you wouldn’t be checking your phone, but you are.

We have grown accustomed to having these “quick updates”, “status updates” but really it has just given us one more task/ many more tasks. Is that really what we need? One more task?
Why can’t we be connected like we want, and not have to command it?

GPS knows that there is a gas station on a map, if you go to it, why should you have to tell someone you stopped for gas? We are not getting rid of the interaction that takes place. In reality, we created this interaction that we didn’t use to have before texting/ smart devices.

All of the technology is there

  • motion tracking
  • facial recognition
  • frosted glass projection
  • frosted glass touch
  • image recognition
  • holograms
  • networking
  • algorithms
  • speech recognition
  • predictive interests algorithm / found in online marketing
  • schedule planning
  • GPS

The technology we need and as stated above, is small, it can fit anywhere, it requires very little power, it is all available. The question is, why aren’t we using it?

Using a computer – moving a mouse on a horizontal surface, controlling a cursor on a vertical surface.

“After millions of chair designs. Why haven’t we come out with the most ergonomic chair?”

“were in the 21st century and we still have to move these knobs to adjust our chairs.” “sometimes you don’t design anything, you just propose.” – Pablo Wenceslao

Steve Ater Notes

We talked about consumer electronics, mostly stereo and theater.

Everything should always be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.- Albert Einstein

Contrast and comparison

Taking a stand
Engineering versus usability

VCR amazing failure, economic success

Can’t buy a system that makes home movies and television, you have to by all these pieces.

  • What’s the design approach?
  • Intuitive versus just doing a lot

If we really make smart devices

  • no learning curve
  • not so many controls

devices and products and service

Ornament versus instrument
Whats our survival path?

Late 1980s Mostly Hi-Fi, home theater

2000’s – now its mostly home theater.

Possible Thesis

  • I’ts not about what can we engineer, or the software,What are the real things we want to be able to do that we need devices to do.

How big companies survived the long haul. The 70’s
They made really good stuff
Look at Bower and Wilkens, KEF

Interface – 79 – 80’s
Tom Hulman, dolbe processing
Linn – founder (look up) first co to build really high end cd players, $20,000 CD player
NAD – 3020, do sonically what multi-thousand dollar amps

Hi-Fi – closer than others to connecting our digital and physical lives,

Simple systems are still 3 or 4 remotes even if they are the same brand

Some ending conclusions

This will change: The way you say “on my way”
How you locate
How you translate
How you schedule
How you wake up
How you eat
How you communicate
How you research
How you connect
How you decide
How you drive
How you touch devices
How much you touch devices
Why do you need to touch devices?

Instead of the device being a part of interaction, it’s collection of data and predicted outcomes of it will be what you interact with.

Kevin Ashton Interview

I asked Kevin 3 questions and we built our conversation off of them.

1) Has our current method of connecting to each other, (digitally) made our lives easier. Not necessarily better, but easier? I think about this in the input v.s. output sense. Do we receive more output then input to our devices, whatever they may be.

2) At what point in the evolution of connecting, from computer, to cell phone, to lap top, to smart phone, did we loose what was really important? because it has been said that we have. Another way to word this could be, “Where did the problem start?” The problem being that we feel like we have not designed UI and UX correctly.

3) Please give me your thoughts on this statement. “There is more to this than just creating more apps, interaction, more things to use. Could we gain more from these things using us?”

Notes Start

We are in the 3rd wave or 3rd age of computing

1st age was computers get invented

computers started as big calculators, then gradually started to get screens, and the graphics got better The front end was no longer about doing math (word processing, graphics etc.

What was happening was the beginning of the computer as graphical as well as mathematical

The point of that is computers were not invented for communication,

They mutated into these graphical devices before networking really happened

THEN, the second way of computer started, which is connected computing.

Get access to each others math – that was the concept.

The notion of email was a side effect

Instant messaging then the world wide web

Then social media, some people think social media a new thing.

  •  Reading books in 94’ 96’ about connecting

Connecting is an un intended use of the computer

  • It was really not in the minds of people who designed the computer
  • Douglas Hofstater( in the link) – First guy to do a graphic user interface

There were a few people out there who did see this coming, but they had a hard time explaining it to anyone else.

The complains about social media sound like “Elvis Presley is a devil”

This is a generational thing, but it’s interesting because we’ve reached a point where all generations use email

To say it’s bad is just an inherently way of saying it’s new

It’s a tool, you need to know how to use it. There is miss use, etiquette. Dates staring on their phones.

Any tool can be used for good or bad.

Input vs output – When do you need to shut up and listen and when do you need to have something to say

Replying tweets, that’s good manors

Social etiquette takes precedence, part of being good at being social

Most of the other rules we use for social communication

1) It’s about managing interruption. Interruption management technology, interruption management apps.

2) These things have evolved into mutating devices, they weren’t initially created to be communication devices.

What is important?

“Presence Technology“ – technology that knows you are there

  • Technology at it’s worse makes you not present
  • What’s important is to be here now.
  • We have a tendency to be somewhere else in our head, (the bad day we had, retirement fund, the girl that got away)
  • Giving value to other living creatures.
  • The interuptiveness forces us into a mode where we not here or now
  • On our devices, we are no longer here or now. We are in cyber space, (on the phone, facebook, twitter blogging. You are no longer present, you are absent.
  • What mobile brings is fewer excuses to not being responsive, makes you absent from the moment you are in, bringing you to where the phone asks of you.
  • Periods of un-interuptibility
  • The problem started as soon as real time communication happened. Phone,
  • Teenage girl in the 80’s avoiding their family to talk on the phone all night.
  • Basic telephone technology was enough to create interruptibility, this absence.
  • Throw mobility into this,
  • Ways to be interrupted on one axis, and number of ways that technology is available on the other axis
  • As our ability to be interrupted goes up, so has our access to these technology.

3) You want UX and UI that makes you present and uninterrupted.

  • Automating the choice of interruption.
  • Putting something in the technology to make us avoid it,

Build a phone app that constantly looks at location on GPS

  • Behaves differently depending on how close you are
  • Creating zones
  • Geographical zones where you are uninterruptable

Start with trying to manage interuptability based on where somebody is.

My Conclusions

The idea of connecting using a computer/ the internet is actually not the
intended use of the computer. We have designed our current method of connecting
on a platform that was not meant to do so. What would communication be or look
like if it were built with a proprietary platform? This idea of communication
started when we wanted to get access to each others computations. SO we had to
connect ourselves to our co-worker. Thus email was born.
There are complaints on social media, miss use and poor social etiquette. Any
tool can be used for good or bad. The same social rules apply to online social
interaction as in the physical world. Replying to a tweet is just good manors, and to
not reply, should not be seen as a smaller deal because it is a virtual method of
communication. The same social rules apply. Why wouldn’t they? You are still
talking to real people.
When this method of communication is added to a cell phone, something
else happens. You are now expected to be able to reply much sooner than
if you only had email or instant messaging at your house. Now the issue in
online social networking is interruption management and interruption
management technology. So as some will say that we have lost what is important in
communication due to this technology, you must first define what is important.
Technology at it’s worse makes you not present. No matter what we are
doing we have this tendency to be somewhere else in our head, (the bad day we had,
retirement fund, the girl that got away.) Technology, online social interaction takes
us away from the here and now and puts us out there. You are no longer present you
are absent from here. This is the interruption mentioned, even if it is for very brief
periods of time like to respond to a text message or tweet, that’s an interruption we
didn’t used to have.
Throw mobility into this theory and your ability to be interrupted increases
very drastically. You are now expected to respond quickly (become interrupted). So
why can’t we just force ourselves to ignore our devices? Why do we have to force
ourselves? It says something about the power of this technology when we have to
put something in the technology to make us avoid it. (an app)
We need UX and UI that makes us present and uninterrupted while
preserving the social etiquette. How can we make ourselves uninterruptable
while not just ignoring or blowing off the people we communicate with or cannot at
the moment?

Self conclusions – I think this is not just about us communicating. There are so many
other things that we interact with every day. Physical objects like doors, and other
devices that aren’t currently “connected”. There’s more to UX than just making
another app that connects the user to their home in a way that it didn’t before. If this
data isn’t utilized by all devices, then it is purely static and not meaningful enough
to where our input is outweighed by the output of the device. If we want technology
to help us and make our lives better in more than just the sense of having the ability
to do “something” now, know where I am now, ask when they will be done from the
time of NOW, then we have to start designing with something else besides NOW in
mind. What about the next time? Have our devices learned anything from what is
happening NOW? Then, are they really that smart?