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Reasons to be Cheerful

This is a draft of a column I wrote for ACM interactions magazine. I have been thinking a lot recently about physical and emotional health, and especially about the tricks we play on ourselves to uplift mood and perspective in challenging times. I have an “earworm” for challenging times, a 1970’s single that was released in the UK by Ian Dury and The Blockheads. This column is named after that song, Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 3. More »

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The Currencies of Paper Currency

This is a draft of a column I wrote for ACM interactions magazine for early 2014. I have thinking about the “greenback”, the US’ banknote, and its design–instantly recognizable and horribly challenging from a usability standpoint because of the uniformity of the notes. I have also been thinking about the future of banknotes more generally. As virtual currencies emerge and more and more of our transactions are through credit/debit cards and online services like digital wallets, I am wondering what will happen to paper banknotes, often a “billboard” for a country, showcasing people and things that are seen as central to that country’s identity–the face of Queen Elizabeth II, Dame Nellie Melba, Mount Fuji, cherry blossoms, starfish, a chollima, a bee pollinating a flower…… More »

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Fit for Halloween

I have been thinking about the plethora of fitness apps that are available and contemplating which ones work and why. Invited by Patricia Lange, I wrote a blog post on zombies, stories, motivation and fitness for the CASTAC blog – the official blog of the Committee on the Anthropology of Science, Technology, and Computing –… More »

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Putting the Person Back Into Personalization

In this draft of a column I wrote for ACM’s interactions magazine, I propose that we need to rethink and expand our ideas about “personalization”. Building on my discussion of data and data sciences, I believe we need to think about process “process” personalization, where we design for interactive exchanges more carefully as well as “outcome” personalization which is what we are currently focused on in the search, recommendation and collaborative filtering world. As interfaces and interactions get more adaptive, the “intelligence” embodied in the data we gather needs to be put to the design of adaptable and socially adept user interfaces as well as carefully filtered content. We need to think about the ‘how’ as well as the ‘what’. More »

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