Greetings fellow visitors. As the whole blok_blok team is currently almost fully occupied with our pet project Edgar, you'll find us there. As well as all the news.
Greetings fellow visitors. As the whole blok_blok team is currently almost fully occupied with our pet project Edgar, you'll find us there. As well as all the news.
This is the story about me as told by my makers:
" Edgar is a funny figure, with a funky story that started loooong before winning the AngelHack Berlin in 2013.
He was born in between two conferences Damjan attended in 2012: The Web and Beyond and NordiCHI. The first sketches were drawn during one of the lectures in Amsterdam. Or perhaps, after a beer at Café Langereis? Doesn’t matter, returning home from Amsterdam, Damjan, an avid storyteller by nature, told the idea of a storytelling tool to his artist girlfriend Maruša. How such a tool could tell the story behind her artworks. How cool is that, right? Real life and boring stuff such as writing the PhD kicked in...
But in October 2012 it was during the NordiCHI Transmedia Storytelling workshop that Edgar got a second chance. After having a great time, and some sushi in a wicked hotel with lovely girls such as Sabiha and Annika Edgar was finally born. He got the name after the great, though a bit morbid, storyteller Edgar Allan Poe.
After several months on standby Edgar simply had enough, he was all “Make me happen, you lazy bunch!” And there they were, Sanja and Jan - two ingenious coders and former students of Damjan’s. They asked Maruša and Damjan to join them for the AngelHack Berlin. They needed a cool idea to pitch in Berlin and... Edgar was just the thing.
The team Edgar had nothing but a few sketches of the flow and the interface concept. What was more important was the idea - to empower small businesses, craftsmen and artists. After thousand kilometers and more than twelve hours on the road (yes they drove from Maribor to Berlin! they reached Berlin where they were greeted by their awesome host Tilla. Hackathon was held at the You Is Now Lab and there were more than 120 hackers, developers, designers and entrepreneurs, all competing for one crown.
After 30 sleepless hours the time was up and... Edgar was on them internets. Really tired, the team waited for their three minutes to impress the jury. Damn, they had to pitch as 28th team out of 40. Still, they waited patiently, sipping their well deserved beers while other teams were pitching some really amazing projects. But hey, Edgar was there to have fun, right? Finally, it was Edgar’s time to take the stage. Damjan told the story of Drago, Maruša’s amazing dad and his lovely wine. Bribing the jury, the team left the wine and left the stage, patiently waiting for others to finish and hear the results. The jury returned and started announcing the winners. And boy, was Edgar in for a surprise. The team won the PayMill special prize and the First prize and the AngelHack Berlin crown!
As the best project, Edgar was accepted in the AngelHack Accelerator and the team got tickets for the Disrupt conference. Sadly real life kicked in for Sanja and Jan and they left the team, but 2 superstar developers joined instead. Both Lovro and Tomi are experienced developers and also former students of Damjan’s. The team worked together on several project, the biggest is the @Life project.
The team was more confident than ever that they will rock the world with Edgar. From a fun project with an important mission, Edgar grew into a proper startup with a superstar team and a proper story to tell. They begun telling the story on events such as the WebVisions in Barcelona and UX Camp Europe. Edgar was also selected to pitch at the TechCrunch Balkans event and, taaataaa, were one of the finalist in the Mini SeedCamp in Rijeka."
Edit: on the June, 6th I successfully defended my thesis and received the PhD. Hooray. Now escape from the academia for a while.
Today a funny thing happened while on lunch at my parents'. My mom asked me what is the title of my PhD thesis. When I told her, she didn't have a clue what it means. Oh, the title is: Integrating users in the interaction design of ubiquitous systems. And don't get me wrong, my mom is an intelligent person, very much so. But still, she didn't understand neither what's the difference between integration and involvement, or the meaning of ubiquitous systems. Not to get started with interaction design… While I was pitching my thesis to her, I was realising, again, how detached academia is from everyday life. At least here in Slovenia. One friend even got asked to change her PhD title, to make it sound more "sophisticated." WTF?
OK, I get it, the whole point of doing a PhD is to be smarter, to theorise and kick some academic butts. But at the end most of the dissertations are almost non-readable to people outside of the small bunch of the "chosen ones." For example, I'm a designer working with hard-core techies. But we get along extremely well. At first I didn't have a clue what they were talking about, but slowly they started adapting to my presence and after 4 years at the University I consider them my good friends. And it's not that I started studying embedded systems, circuits, sensor networks etc. NO, it's them who, often in ironic ways, adjusted when I was around. The same goes the other way around. I started poisoning the guys with design thinking, I even persuaded one of them to join us for the Service Jam, right Bojan? :) What happened is magical. We started talking, ideating and creating cool stuff. Art installations, robots, sensor boards, ubicomp prototypes… It's almost like the stuff one of my favourite childhood heroes used to preach. That's Captain Planet and his "Be your powers combined" mantra. Sadly this call for interdisciplinary collaboration and "happy sharing-is-caring" did not spread to the higher ranked "wise men."
So, yes, I decided to change that and share the stuff I learned. Big time. Hence I started pitching my academic stuff to whoever I meet. Be it my mom or that one professor I always disliked. And it's fun. And you know what, I think that's how it should work. But than again, who am I to tell. I'm leaving the University in two weeks after all :)
No, really. We've both so busy lately that there was literally no time for reporting. I filled in my PhD thesis this week. Together with two amazing fellow PhD students we created a start-up to be. We called it JIM as it helps both trainers and trainees in the strength training. For now it's still heavily under construction, but you can check TrainerJIM.com for updates or follow us on Twitter.
And there's the usual stuff with Maruša being super productive. Just check her ever growing Behance portfolio. She really is a force to behold :)
Okies, more exciting news soon. Promise. Double promise.
One weekend we were jamming and the next I was presenting some of the insights about design thinking activities (with GSJ as an example) at the World Usability Day 2012 here in Slovenia. Sadly we did not have time with Maruša to prepare a proper talk based on the latest Sustainability Jam so we presented some of the lessons learned at the Jam held in February. In the short talk, I was focusing mostly on the "making sense & gather meaning" aspects that we already discussed during the Architectures of Meaning workshop at the Pervasive 2012 conference. Together with Maruša we added some new lessons learned and focused even more on the information architecture (IA) as a tool for sense making and engaging participants.
This year's WUD was lovely also because we moved to the lovely village Dolenjske Toplice. And yes, it was a fun event, always nice meeting colleagues and friends, also met some new faces like Satja from the interesting Entia project. Thanks again to Emilija, for inviting us to share our experience. Oh, bellow is the PDF.
The weekend from 2-4.11.2012 was a sunny one. And hey, it was a special one. I had my birthday. There was some beer, some sweets and... there was the Global Sustainability Jam. With Maruša we are both super happy to organize our second Jam this year. We already wrote bits about it and the call to participation was really successful. Officially 25 people signed up for it, though at the end there was 17 of us jamming. That is also the reason why we moved from blok_blok HQ to a more spacious place and we are über grateful to Zadrga who hosted us.
So, what is a Jam then? It all started with the Global Service Jam (GSJ), which is just like a music jam session and best described by it's founders:
The Global Service Jam works in just the same way. But it's not music you are Jamming - it's ideas. You'll be working with people you might never have met before, bouncing ideas off one another and building on what bounces back. And it's not just talking - you are here to turn your ideas into a concrete design, prototype and plan of action which you or somebody else might want to make real. Can you prototype and plan it in a way that someone could go out and make it real, knowing what resources they would need, what they should do, and who they should talk to? That's the challenge of the Jam.
The rules of the Jam are simple: people come together for 48 hours, design/prototype a cool, innovative (human-centered, of course) service on a given global (secret) theme and... have fun while doing it! Sustainability Jam uses the same format with a global theme: sustainability. This time the theme that was revealed on Friday evening was: ((Heart))Beats.
Because the mantra of the Jam is "Doing, not talking" let's do that and instead of words, show some photos and videos.
Instead of boring introductions, we masked and presented ourselves as superheroes with 5 super strengths.
Morning begun with short introductions of 4 different takes on the theme, by 4 different teams. Beer the night before actually did help boost the creativity as we had 4 really wide & wild angles: 1. Medical/Physical (the obvious choice), 2. Emotional (trigger emotions), 3. Metaphorical, 4. Artsy (focus on poetry and music).
Before noon it was time for some research in the wild to meet the users. We flooded the city, from the hospital to local bars, we covered them all. Time to synthesise research and gather meaning. Fast! Personas, scenarios and most of all user journey maps that functioned as a global structure (+ a reference point) during the weekend. In the evening we were joined by the "Observers" who offered the teams an outside view. The night ended closer to the morning.
Coffee, tons of coffee and tons of work to be done until the deadline at 2pm. The teams were so much in the zone that two of them run out of time to make a video presentation. But hey, we created final scenarios, some produced hi-fi mockups and all of the teams presented an innovative and fun projects that could and should be implemented straight away.
With Maruša we are once again really happy to host the Jam and a loud shout to all of the guys participating. It was probably the best way to celebrate my birthday, really. But the Jam did not end there, on 4th of November. We still have to organize a follow-up event and make sure the projects are presented to a broader audience. That is a must! So, see you soon everyone.
Even though we work mostly with virtual stuff and design mostly digital interactions (and we DO want to move beyond that!), both Maruša and me love good old fashioned personal touches to branding and storytelling. Like for example business cards that were one of the defining elements of branding. Personally I'm not fond of them and the forced habit of presenting them to random people you meet for lunch or conference dinners. But hey, when (if) I get one that is funky and different, I remember it. Forever.
And there we were at the kitchen/working table when Maruša has the urge to create some business cards for blok_blok. We always talk about the importance of being personal and telling a bold and unique story with whatever you do. And so we did make a set of "limited edition" cards, purely for fun, mostly for our friends and partners. Out of potatoes that is. :)
You want one? Claim it before they ran out.
SI/ Lani smo skupaj z Ano (ki je organizirala Jam v Ljubljani) pripeljali Global Service Design Jam v Slovenijo. Imeli smo se odlično, oblikovali smo dva prototipa storitev in se ob tem učili drug od drugega v izjemno raznoliki skupini (najdeš nas tudi na FB kot Service Jam Maribor ). Čas je da spet našponamo mišice in se zberemo na novem kreativnem in zabavnem vikendu soustvarjanja. Tokrat gostimo Global Sustainability Jam. Če te zanima bodisi sustainability bodisi storitveno oblikovanje ali pa si enostavno radoveden/na kaj zmore ustvariti skupina ljudi v 48 urah, se nam pridruži v Mariboru od 2-4.11.2012. Dobimo se v petek 2.11.2012 ob 18:00 v "prostorih" blok_blok na Kamniški 6 v Mariboru. Prijavi se tukaj in si zagotovi brezplačno vstopnico. Za dodatne informacije se oglasi na firstname.lastname@example.org ali @damjanobal oz. @marusanovak.
EN/ Last year, together with Ana (who hosted the Jam in Ljubljana) we brought the Global Service Design Jam event to Slovenia. We had a blast of a time, creating 2 magical service prototypes and learning from each other while working in a highly diverse group (also on FB as Service Jam Maribor). Now it's time to come together for another über creative & fun weekend. This time, we are hosting the Global Sustainability Jam. If you are keen on sustainability, service design or just curious to see what a bunch of people can create in 48 hours, than join us in Maribor from 2-4.11.2012. We are meeting on Friday, 2.11.2012 at 18:00 sharp at the blok_blok "HQ" (Kamniska 6, Maribor). Apply here and reserve your free ticket. Further info on email@example.com or @damjanobal ; @marusanovak.
NordiCHI 2010 in Reykjavik Iceland was my first real academic conference and what a conference it was. 3 days of cool research projects that demonstrated that research can be (and should) be fun. In so many ways, NordiCHI changed my perspective on things and I came home full of ideas and intended to engage my colleagues into some weird and out of space projects.
So, came 2012 it was only natural I attended the 2012 edition of NordiCHI hosted by the IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark. This year's theme was "Making sense through design" which again reflects what I'm trying to communicate with both my teaching at the University and through our work at blok_blok. Day before the conference was as usual the Workshop day, though this year there was almost to much on offer. At the end, I chose to apply to participate in the "Designing Seams for Transmedia Experiences" workshop organised by Sabiha Ghellal and Annika Wiklund-Engblom. The reason was mainly my obsession with experiences spreading across channels, touchpoints and various media types. I was still under influence of some really fruitful discussions at the Pervasive 2012 Architectures of Meaning workshop with Andrea Resmini & co (especially the uber active Jon Fisher who started and is keeping the multi channel discussion alive). In Copenhagen we tried to define what actually is Transmedia, how it should not be Intermedia and how we are all on the same boat towards a more holistic UX. It was great that there were not to many of us so the debates were flowing like crazy, especially because of the diverse audience. From theatre, games, internet fiction to e-learning. We were even encouraged to join the Fools Revolution by Jesper. Really was one of those workshops to remember. And definitely one that calls for further elaboration! One try was the sushi dinner after the workshop :) (thanks again for the treat Sabiha!).
And than there was the conference. Opening with Paul Dourish. A fun and interesting dude, but sadly the topic (Materialities of Information) was a bit HC to stay focused for an hour. But hey, Paul based his talk on the dude extraordinaire, Lev Manovich. The "Design Practice" session was contrary to the keynote very vivid with critical design and guys from Goldsmiths (University of London) even proposing a new way of presenting academic papers - with a photo essay. The next session was even more tangible beginning with Jo and Harald from Oslo who presented their very tangible (read: cushions and carpets, check Rhyme) tangibles based on the concept of familiarity. The last session I attended on the first day was "Creating and Engaging" that was also one of my favourite. Dries de Roeck opened it with a Manifesto for DIY Internet of Things. How cool is that, right? Oscar Tomico and Marcel ven Heist in their "Designing for, with or within" talk only continued to entertain. Their case was actually developed in rural India where Marcel was designing from within the community. Jon Back concluded the session with an interesting take on spontaneous Civic Discussion - a paper he wrote with Matthias Korn.
Second day started with an engaging, fast-paced and inspiring keynote by Rosan Bosch who showed some examples of her work in changing the working/learning spaces. Also, her fun and engaging take on art, the project Free Zone was presented. My next session was the "Public and Urban Spaces" and the first presentation was a fun IxD experiment guys from Aarhus, Denmark did with their BannerBattle - visualising the crowd experience during a football match. The next paper was from our Austrian neighbours in Graz University of Technology. Jens Grubert presented how we should better use augmented reality, QR codes and similar. Instead of simply adding AR and VR to everything just for the sake we are able to. Topic which has been frustrating me lately, hence I was happy someone else is working on that. After lunch I joined the "Design and Collaboration" session that started with one of the stars of this year's NordiCHI, Florian Geyer from german University of Konstanz. He presented the IdeVis prototype for interactive collaboration that empoweres mainly the design facilitator. Because this session was missing one paper, I used that time to take a deeper look at the demos on show. Especially the idAnimate (system for sketching & modifying animations on the fly), Beat Haiku (a cool interactive poetry application), UCDtoolbox (find, learn and improve methods for UCD) and DrawUX (web tool for long-term UX evaluation) caught my attention. The day continued with the "Dolls, Dance and Fire" session starting with "Doll based design" presented by Betina Jakobsen who uses dolls in participatory design sessions. Berto Gonzales presented really inspiring work where design and IT mixes with dance on the stage. Guys from Portugal showed another more art-oriented exploration of HCI. Their art installations provoked people to light the forest with fire and than told them to take care of the forest until it gets better. The second day ended with the gala dinner where stars of the evening were definitely the singing Fins :) I was so proud to sit next to them during dinner.
The third day should start a bit later, though my promise to Petri (Saarinen) the evening before kind of kicked me out of bed. Petri had to present in the morning session "Spatial and search." And it really was a great first "big" presentation Petri, congratz once again! Petri talked about an interesting methodology for exploring Spatial Experience he developed with his colleagues in Tampere, Finland.
In this session there was also another presentation from Florian Geyer, this time on grouping and clustering in interactive tabletops. The next session was my favourite, the "Rural and Global Communication." Started by Sarita from Samsung India who presented interesting work on how to understand group communication in rural India. It was really great to hear their insight, especially from their experiment of miming a teleconference in one room (and seating 4 people each in his own corner). He was followed by Kasper Rodil who presented another inspirational research conducted in Namibia with the Herero tribe. Kasper talked about metaphors and perception of live, and how we should encourage local people to find their own use of technology. Really inspirational talk. He also urged everyone in the room to join their project . The session ended with another take on rural communication in India. My final session of the day was "Design Materials (and Some Sex)" which was well attended, probably because the Sex thing in the title :) It was a very interesting session indeed. The star was of course Gopinaath Kannabiran presenting his study on technosexuality in HCI and how it should be researched further on. He's done the study on the case of I Just Made Love web site. The session ended with Nicolai Brodersen Hansen from Aarhus who touched another hot topic: the productive role of material design in participatory design events. Cardboard for the win, right? Daniel Fallman from Interactive Institute at Umea University delivered the final keynote and wrapped the whole conference beautifully talking about the third wave of HCI and ending with his triangular model consisting of Design Practice, Design Studies and what he calls Explorative Design.
This year's NordiCHI was again a real inspiration and a perfect example of why Scandinavians are still "top shit" in HCI and especially human-centered design and of course the participatory design practice. It all just emphasised my admiration of their research/business approach. There, I said it :) And because I really do love these cold and windy places, I prolonged my stay for 2 days and used the time to visit some of those damn cool Scandinavians, like Fredrik in Malmo (thanks for the local beer tour again). Oh, and yes, I did visit probably the most beautiful (yes, not only cool but beautiful) museum in the world, the Louisiana.
... Or why we love working with people. Two weeks we had the final user research session with my original user group here in Maribor. It was June (at least I think it was) that Ana from GDS approached me if I can "lend" her my über powerful user group with whom I've been working on my PhD research projects. GDS had the goal to design the toilet cistern and they decided to do proper user research and involve users in the design process. And we love them for that :) Together with Maruša we helped Ana and David from GDS organize and facilitate three design workshops with 10 participants. The last one was more of a test session which ended with an absolute climax - David introduced the final prototype which was accepted with a loud and homogenous "WOW." The participants were literally awed. Both Ana and David did an amazing job, and the participants were especially happy because they actually saw the end result, the finalised cistern (we are waiting with the photos of it for now :) ). Once again, great job GDS and thanks to all who participated in the research. They will also be the first buyers of the cistern, we are sure about that. Wish more companies were opening their processes like that and going for a certain win-win.
Sure, it is true that I'm a half academic and working with students a lot, but this two weeks... Been talking about the practice and importance of UX research at the HCI in Tourism conference in Venice, at the international youth conference (full day workshop with @marusanovak) on the topic of New Media (Mladi.info), and finally, to my dear students. Sure was fun and can't wait to see what we'll design together with the students (Ubicomp in Media & Technologies of Collaboration) this year. Will keep you updated. By the way, I have not been that good with keeping my presentations backed up, but here are those I managed to upload.
Interaction12 conference, Dublin, Ireland. 1-4 February 2012
Last years UXLX in Lisbon was my first big UX event. It was almost like love, or better said magic, to meet your UX heroes. Especially when coming from Slovenia where UX is still considered as lipstick on a pig. You know, “here’s the product, now add some chrome to it” kind of way. After Lisbon I got a jump start, met some cool people and today, I’m fighting my Don Kihot style fight for a better UX.
And what better way to get a boost than go and meet the UX community at the annual IxDA conference. So I did, went to Dublin to attend the Interaction12. And again, building a recap, mostly as a note to myself and as an excuse to relive the amazing week in Dublin. Cheers.
I suck at reviewing stuff and everybody who knows me, knows that I talk long but usually miss the point... Thank you Yoda, girls and boys from the Johnny Holland crew (Vicky Teinaki @vickytnz, Louise Taylor @sugaredeggs, Boon Chew @boonych) did a great job reviewing the conference. From day one, day two, to day three.
Thanks to the amazing sketchnoters who shared their Interaction12 notes. Eternal glory and may you live in an abundance of JellyBeans :) Here are some of the notes by: Krystal Higgins, Eva-Lotta Lamm , Mark Congiusta, Boon Chew
And my personal best? It’s really hard to pick one...
Well, the workshop on emotional engagement with Steven Anderson was amazing, and I got a special Mental Notes card :) We were tackling some huge chunks of data and Steven, as always was thought provoking with his ideas.
Out of all the presentations I’ve seen, the most magical one was definitely performed by The man himself, the hobby magician Adrian Westaway, from Vitamins. His talk was on Bananas, Technology and Magic where he presented the process behind their award winning (also Best Concept in this years IxD Awards) packaging for mobile phones done for Samsung.
August de los Reyes (now working on a top secret Samsung NUI project) also had a top notch presentation and we are all really lucky he survived his eat-raw-chicken experiment. He did a great job combining inspiration from his personal guru Massimo Vignelli (August went visiting him in Grasse - I envy you August) while presenting his take on what he calls The New Modern. Oh, he also cited the Slovenian Slavoj Žižek, AND he compared vampire/zombie ratio with democrate/republican rule in the US - so a plus point here.
Not to forget, I really really enjoyed the talk from Tom O’Rahilly, the creative lead of the new Leprechaun museum in Dublin. He was talking about imagination and identity, and darn, is he a great storyteller. Oh, and we had a joint fight with the British Dyson dryer at the toilet - no, nothing kinky, pure fun.
Another fun and dynamic talk was held by Abi Jones from Google as she explained why our users are just like Hobbits. No, really, this one was amazing. Guess, Frodo is popular among UX folks, as for example Jeff Gothelf compared the project manager with Frodo.
My affinity for the Scandinavian approach to design is also well known, so, I really enjoyed both Andrea Resmini and Sami Niemala. If first is my academic hero, the latter works in one of my favorite studios, Nordkapp. Andrea presented how gamification could also work as a process to engage with the stakeholders. Sami presented their project with urban touch-screens in Helsinki, Urbanflow.
Of course the more experienced speakers like the always amazing Jeff Gothelf, the astounding Genevive Bell, cyborg-ish Amber Case and, well almost everyone, were amazing as well. It was a great event, topped with great Award ceremony and the last party which was in the Guinness Storehouse (I know, right?).
At this years World Usability Day (FB Page) in Kranj, Slovenia, together with Maruša, we presented how we envision the bridge between art, environment, IT and us: homo sapiens sapiens.
We used the Biomodd project as a case study, as well as Marusa's babby project I<3Plants :) It was a whole lot of fun as it always is when speaking to IT geeks about abstract stuff such as flowers and art :)