Saturday, June 27, 2015

This Week in EID - Episode 60

We started off the week with an article on food nutrition labels – which is coincidentally one of the first projects I ever worked on as a professional HF designer.  But the FDA didn’t implement my recommendations so we are still stuck with some very ineffective persuasive design.  Perhaps the app-based system I shared on Monday will be an improvement.  The jury is still out.

Then on Tuesday we went back to the Supreme Court – which is a surprisingly good source of human factors cases.  In the two cases I discuss, the main legal issue is whether a particular medium of speech is “government” speech or “individual” speech.  Obviously, these two are governed very differently in terms of First Amendment issues.  The human factors dimension is whether a typical observer will think the speech is government supported or not.  It is part of our constitution that people in positions of low power don’t get the impression that the government is against them.  This is the basis (or at least one of them) for separation of church and state. It is also the reason that many government facilities in the South are taking down their Confederate Flags at the moment.

The Wednesday article on group identity is a good piece of psychology wisdom.  What are you saying with the logos you wear?  It is something to consider next time you leave the house.

Finally, we tried to evoke some deeper thinking for the weekend in our article on Robot Ethics.  As we advance the sciences of AI and perception, robots will soon be able to feel physical pain and emotional pain. Is it OK to inflict this pain on a robot for no particular reason?  We can do it with our toasters.  We can do it with stuffed animals, even the animated ones that seem pretty real.  But they don’t feel. 

I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on these. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Who Do You Trust

By nature, I tend to be a trusting person.  But as a good (if I do say so myself) user experience practitioner, I have developed some pretty good instincts for imagining a wide range of possible behaviors when someone interacts with a design.  And the ones most important to consider in design is when events might go seriously wrong.  I call this my fantasy suspicion mode.

What I would like to know is which of these you think are real problems. And which ones are my suspicions just good food for thought.

·         I brought my car in for an oil change and emissions inspection today.  When it was done, I walked outside and there was my car, completely unattended, with the keys in the ignition. Anyone could have casually got in and drove away.  Corollas might not be glamorous, but they are one of the most stolen cars because the parts are the easiest to fence.
·         I brought in a case of empty beer bottles (Stone IPA if you must know) to the redemption center located in the back of my neighborhood liquor store.  They have automated machines that you insert your cans and bottles and out pops a ticket you bring inside the store for your refund. The store also uses that area to store cases of juice and soda.  It is completely unattended.  Anyone could walk inside, grab a case of their favorite beverage, and walk out.  It abuts the parking lot, so this person would be gone before anyone was the wiser.  If someone is willing to go to the trouble of returning a bunch of cans and bottles for nickel refunds, are they (me) the type who might be tempted?  If it was beer . . . .
·         UPS, Fedex, and the postal service all leave packages in the mailroom in my apartment building. We have tiny mailboxes, so they are just lying there on the table.  Almost every day there is something from Amazon. I wonder if any of these get pinched. I saw a sign there once that someone’s mail order medicine went missing, but it could have been a mix-up.  I’ve seen packages from Macy’s, Maybelline, Fantasy Gaming, and lots of other attractive sources.  Would you ever be tempted?

I could go on but I think this gives you the idea.  I am sure none of you would ever engage in any of these.  But am I crazy that of the 100s of people who are exposed to these temptations every day, it is too much to ask that even 1% or 1/10 of a percent might?

Monday, June 22, 2015

Prospective memory errors

I am suffering from a string of prospective memory errors today.  

1.  I just got a new computer and it has the button where my old computer had the button.  I use the button a lot to save, cut/copy paste, etc. I keep hitting the button and nothing happens.  At least nothing bad happens!  

2.  I usually eat steel cut oatmeal in the morning. I like the savory/nutty natural flavor rather than oversweetened packets.  But every once in a while I grab a box and eat sweet for a week.  Today is one of those days. The packets come pre-salted, but I am so used to salting the plain ones that I added a few shakes of salt before stopping myself. Doh!  

3.  The oatmeal packets need less water (because the sugar doesn’t need to absorb any). But I am so used to adding a specific amount that I added too much water before stopping myself.  Double Doh!  Watery and salty.