Monday, March 28, 2011

In Form Fate

Testing news includes uTest Express, user experience, threats versus vulnerabilities (PDF), actors, NASA Mars, and radioactivity. Printing has expanded from 3D prototypes to add mobile antennas, computers, insect bots,  and human kidneys. Technology discusses exoskeletons. Trends include a plastic computer processor, Chinese chips, an artificial leaf, biological computers, and nerve cell chips. Beta sites were WorkFlowy. There were 71 recent links.

Book reviews:

The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood, Gleick, 2011

The book covers how information has been treated in the precursors of the Information Age up to and including Google, Twitter and DNA databases. There is no standard definition, but there is the theory that the title refers to of Claude Shannon, and the overload of too much (TMI). The only irreversible process, and thus of any cost in terms of physical energy such as heat generation according to Landauer and Bennett, is erasure. The text briefly comments on data mining and machine intelligence, but does not dwell on the directions, not does it consider metadata, ontology, semantic web or augmented reality. Some of the author's previous interests in chaos theory, quantum, entropy and thermodynamics are summarized. It goes more deeply into the abstractions of concepts such as meaning, language, writing, cryptography, paradoxes, numbers, measurement, logic, communication, transmission, computers, networks and genetics along with the major contributions of a host of researchers. There are fifteen chapters and extensive notes and bibliography. Author video.

Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, Turkle, 2011

There are two parts about the author's concerns about social intimacy and solitude based on practice and research. People decide how to keep devices busy. Questions about privacy and civil society bear on democracy and sacred spaces. People tend to identify with their machines They are vulnerable to overanthropomorphizing the capabilities of social robots. The companions offer safe havens. Some of them require nurture and others can double for caregivers for self or valued others. They may be an alternative to digital immersion. Online self-presentation has become a constant, in some cases also when in physical proximity like cyborgs, while in others for retreat to rehearsal or confession. There are fourteen chapters. Author site.

Storytelling for User Experience, Quesenbery and Brooks, 2010

There are sixteen chapters which appropriately have anecdotal stories. Business narratives are usually told in either reports or presentations. The latter can be oral, written or multimedia. User experience can be structured as prescriptive, hero, familiar or foreign, framed, layered and contextual interludes. Ingredients include perspective, characters, context, imagery, and language. These are intended to engage the audience in some way. They put a human face on research data. They can describe usability tasks for tests and reviews, and design ideas and requirements. Analysis activities identify fragments which are built into stories and personas. These can be found from listening, questioning, instructing, logs and note-taking. Good research ethics are relevant.

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