Authors Karl Fast and Stephen Anderson on “Figure It Out”

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WOW, WOW, WOW.

If your job involves designing anything, or communicating information to others, then I think you need to read this book.

On this episode of Human Tech we interview Karl Fast and Stephen Anderson about their recently published book:  Figure It Out: Getting from Information to Understanding.

On the episode I act like a fan girl at the beginning, but really, the book impressed me that much. It may change the way you think about thinking and how people process information. It should change the way you present and share any kind of information, whether text, visual, digital or physical.

It’s not a “quick bites” type of read. It’s fairly substantial,  but it is so well written and with lots and lots of examples, that I recommend it to everyone involved in any kind of information design/communication.

The publisher,  Rosenfeld, has a coupon code for us:  Go to this webpage:

https://rosenfeldmedia.com/books/figure-it-out/

and when you are checking out use this code: humantechfigure0820

for 20% off through October 31, 2020.

Figure It Out
Figure It Out

 

Amy Bucher and Behavior Change Design on the Human Tech podcast

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Amy Bucher, Vice President of Behavior Change at MadPow, and author of Engaged: Designing for Behavior Change, joins us for this episode on Human Tech.

And if you are interested in purchasing the book the publisher,  Rosenfeld, has a coupon code for us:  Go to this webpage: https://rosenfeldmedia.com/books/engaged-designing-for-behavior-change/

and when you are checking out use this code: HumanTechEngaged0620 

for 20% off through August 15, 2020.

 

Engaged Cover


 

 

Userlytics User Testing Tool Helped Us Get Through a Difficult Semester

I teach courses in user experience as an Adjunct Professor at a campus of University of Wisconsin (the campus in Stevens Point Wisconsin). Like campuses around the world we are shut down because of the Covid pandemic. We’re teaching remotely on Zoom and students are trying to finish their coursework while sheltering at home.

I’m used to working remotely and teaching remotely, but it doesn’t mean that students are used to learning this way.

I’m teaching a class this semester “Evaluating User Interfaces”. The class has been learning about heuristic evaluations, cognitive walkthroughs, and user testing. When the campus closed down we were in the middle of our unit on user testing. The students tried out conducing in person user tests first (using Zoom and doing the tests remotely for the most part).

Then they used Userlytics to run unmoderated tests. Userlytics arranged for the students in the class to have credits so that each student could run 3 tests. For most of the students this was their first experience at planning, conducting, and analyzing unmoderated remote tests.

Because they are all sheltering in place this was especially important to them. It allowed them to continue learning and to do their project even while staying at home.

So a big THANK YOU to Userlytics for providing this opportunity.

2nd Edition of 100 Things Book

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When I wrote 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People I, of course, hoped people would like it (every author wants to be a “best seller”!). It has turned out to be even more popular than I had thought and hoped, and I am very grateful to all the readers who have read it and who have reached out to me about it since it was first published.

Over the last few months I’ve been working on a 2nd edition. I wanted to update some of the research and include some new ideas. So I’m happy to say that I’ve finished the 2nd edition and sent it off to the publisher for printing. The official date it will be available is June 30 (2020) but it is available for pre-order now at Amazon.

My publisher has also given me a promo code for 35% off if you pre-order it through their outlet. (good through June 30). The code is 100THINGS.

If your copy is dog-eared and you want a new one, or if you want to buy one for a friend or recommend it to others, try the 2nd edition.

Our Digital Lives After Death

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In this episode of the Human Tech podcast we talk with Elaine Kasket, author of All the Ghosts in the Machine about our digital lives after we die. Who owns our data and what happens to it after we’re gone?

To learn more about Elaine and the book: 

https://www.elainekasket.com/

 You can reach her at write@elainekasket.com


 

Read Your Heart Rate From Your Smartphone Camera: Dr. Phillip Alvelda from Brainworks on the Human Tech podcast

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Dr. Phillip Alvelda has been working on AI projects for many years. His latest project with his new startup can measure medical vital signs, for example your heart rate, from looking at your face on your smartphone camera. In this podcast episode we talk with him about artificial intelligence, especially in healthcare, and privacy and ethics issues with AI.

If you are interested in what Dr. Alvelda and Brainworks is doing check out their website, Brainworks.ai

 


Kristen Gallagher from Google asks “How do you know you are enough?” on the Human Tech Podcast

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We met Kristen Gallagher from Google in Scottsdale in June at the UXPA conference. She intrigued us by sitting at a lunch table with strangers and asking the table to opine on gender differences in answering the question: “How do you know if you are enough”. So we brought her on the podcast to talk about the answers she’s been getting to her question in her conversations with people and responses on social media.


Creating Decision Points With Partitioning

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How do you make large scary ideas seem small and not so scary, or the reverse — make small things seem more important? You use the behavioral economics idea of “partitioning”. It’s all explained in this episode of the Human Tech podcast.


The Art and Science of Doing Nothing

Woman in hammockI read an article in the New York Times today about “niksen” which is a Dutch word meaning doing nothing. The article talks about how doing nothing can be good for you.

Ironically the article touts the idea of doing nothing so that you can be more productive. Which to me would mean you are doing nothing so that you can be better at doing something else. This does fit with the science of how the brain works, and how creativity works. (I’ve made an entire online video course on the topic). When you give your Executive Attention Network a break by not thinking or focusing on anything in particular, that frees up your Imagination Network (I know, I know, but this is actually the name given to this brain network by scientists) to work on solving problems and coming up with new ideas based on what you were concentrating on before. So it is true that if you take a break and stare into space for a while that will help you come up with ideas and problem solutions.

But doing nothing so you can then be better at doing something seems to run counter to the idea of niksen. What about doing nothing so that you just do nothing?

I’ve been teaching an 8-week Mindfulness Meditation course once or twice a year at my local yoga studio (a wonderful place called 5 Koshas in Wausau Wisconsin). The 8 week class includes homework, such as practicing the meditation we learned in class that week every day at home and so on. It’s a pretty intensive class. 

The last time I taught it I added to the homework. I asked students to practice 5 minutes a day of niksen. I asked them to sit in nature or stare out their window, or sit in their comfy chair at home and look at the fire in the fireplace, or just stare into space. This was the one thing I got push back on.  They were willing to practice meditation for 20 minutes every day, but to sit and do nothing for 5 minutes? “I don’t have time to do that” was the typical answer. “I have responsibilities, children, work…”.

I’m not disputing that they are busy people. I get it. I remember when I had two young children at home. But the vehemence with which they fought this idea seemed out of proportion with what I was asking them to do. 

I think the real reason for the resistence is that many of us have created a “busy habit”. We’re addicted to doing stuff. We have to prove something to ourselves and the world. I’m not sure what that something is, but it involves striving, being productive, being busy, working hard, playing hard. Everything has to have a purpose and be connected with a goal. Even our leisure time has to be busy, busy, busy.  Even our “down” time has to be filled with all the ways we are making ourselves better. We need to be learning to play piano, getting more exercise, learning how to make wine and so on.

I’m glad that the New York Times wrote about niksen. I hope this idea becomes more mainstream. I’ve always loved doing nothing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as ambitious as the next person. I write books and run a business. I compose music and grow an extensive garden. I teach meditation classes and organize my photos. But I also love to sit in one place and just look around me and do nothing at all. Maybe now my seeming “laziness” will become smart and trendy. 

If you haven’t tried out niksen lately I highly recommend you do so. It’s easy. Sit down somewhere and don’t do anything. Don’t bring your phone, or a book, or someone to talk to, or a podcast to listen to. Don’t try and take a nap. Just sit and stare or look around you lazily. You might like it.