Last thursday we organized the 4th Behavior Design meetup. A gathering in Amsterdam where we connect designers, scientists and entrepreneurs to share ideas and lessons about behavior design.
Who’s in control?
We touched the discussion about the implications of designing behavior without people noticing it several times. Overal people are confused about this topic.
Nir Eyal – one of the speakers – said behavior design will have a wear out effect. The same effect you notice when you look at old commercials. “Did people really believe this?”.
Attention as a business goal
In the digital landscape the design of a digital service that forces itself into your lifestyle can be an important business goal. Digital services are often focussed on attention and engagement.
Behavior design helps these services to succeed their goals. The addictive design elements in Facebook are an important part of it’s success (“you’re tagged in a photo, want to know what’s on the picture, come and visit”).
Is this right or wrong? It’s an interesting question because you usually don’t notice behavior design. The idea is to influence your behavior without you noticing. The result is that it changes something real. It changes the choices you make or it changes how you spend your time.
A designer has always given meaning to a product or service by it’s design. Even if it’s not intentionally. Design is about making choices and choices are as much about what you do as what you don’t.
In the end behavior design is just like any other design tool. You can use it for good or bad. Designers can have a role in pointing out where it’s being used and what for. Since if you design this stuff, you’re likely better in noticing it.
The other thing that came up in the discussion is that effect or addiction in digital products is measurable. Facebook knows what group of people is unhealthy addicted to their service. You can design behavior for this group as well.
This month we’re organizing the 4th Behavior Design Meetup Amsterdam. A mix of technologists, designers and researchers talking about influencing behavior by design. And we have only 7 5 spots left.
For this meetup we have a diverse range of speakers. Bay Area investor, author and consultant Nir will talk about how to build habit-forming products. Game designer Kars wil talk about how playful interactions can trigger intrinsic behavior and intelligent perception systems professor David will talk about how technology sees and acts for us.
Nir Eyal writes, consults, and teaches about the intersection of psychology, technology, and business. He is the author of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products. Nir founded two tech companies since 2003 and has taught at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford.
Nir is also an advisor to several Bay Area start-ups , venture capitalists, and incubators. Nir’s last company received venture funding from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and was acquired in 2011. In addition to blogging at NirAndFar.com, Nir is a contributing writer for Forbes, TechCrunch, and Psychology Today.
Nir will be in Amsterdam for a few more days. He will be at the Hooked workshop and Habbit Summit.
Kars Alfrink (MA, Utrecht School of the Arts) is a designer active in the area of games, play, technology and society. Currently, he is principal designer at Hubbub, a Dutch/German design studio focussed on inventing games and forms of play that open up possibilities in existing contexts and create new ways for people to have fun and do things together.
Kars initiated and co-curated the Dutch offshoot of This happened, a series of events about the stories behind interaction design. He has worked as an educator and researcher at the Utrecht School of the Arts, and before that as an interaction designer at a couple of web agencies.
Dariu M. Gavrila received the PhD degree in computer science from the University of Maryland at College Park, USA, in 1996. Since 1997, he has been with Daimler R&D in Ulm, Germany, where he is currently a Senior Research Scientist. In 2003, he was further appointed professor at the University of Amsterdam, chairing the area of Intelligent Perception Systems (part time).
Over the past 15 years, Prof. Gavrila has focused on visual systems for detecting humans and their activity, with application to intelligent vehicles, smart surveillance and social robotics. He led the multi-year pedestrian detection research effort at Daimler, which materialized in the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and S-Class models (2013).
He is frequently cited in the scientific literature and he received the I/O 2007 Award from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) as well as several conference paper awards.
I really like these early meetups of new technology. Everyone is open to new ideas and sharing learnings.
The current state of Glass
The general consensus amongst Glass users at the event seemed to be that although Glass is magic in a way it still lacks the urgency to wear it. The ‘contextual’ services are disappointing.
Yesterday we received Gimbal proximity beacons. These beacons – or iBeacons as Apple calls the technology – have a small battery and submit a low energy bluetooth signal. This signal can be used within apps to detect if someone (a smartphone) is close (proximity) to a beacon. The app can trigger actions based on the signal.
No, this is not to make fun of Excel or WhatsApp. Excel is this piece of software people either love or hate. What’s important is that Excel is software that has given people in companies a lot of freedom and possibilities to create little pieces of custom software.
The spreadsheet on the shared server
One thing you can find in almost every company is that some part of the business is build on Excel. There’s always this spreadsheet on a shared server that is used for schedules, orders, forms, or anything else quite critical.
The reason for this is simple. Excel is powerful and easy to use. I gives every employee the power to create little pieces of software and thus create or support a business proces.
The last year we’ve seen WhatsApp groups being used in almost every major company as well. Employees setup a small social network where they share private and work related information.
Easy private social networks
We’ve seen it everywhere from people working in hospitals, department stores to higher management in office workspaces. WhatsApp is this easy to use tool to create private social networks. No regulation, no control from the IT-department, no hassle.
Is this good or bad?
It’s bad if you want to control business process, it’s good if you trust your employees, they just want to get things done and for now WhatsApp is doing what Excel has done for years