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Web 2.0 Expo NY: Genevieve Bell’s “Designing for the Internet(s) of the Future”

I had to miss the Thursday morning sessions at Web 2.0 Expo NY in order to get some work done. The first session I attended in the afternoon was by Genevieve Bell of Intel. As a former anthropologist and academic, the talk was much more research-focused than others, which was actually really refreshing — real facts! It gave me a whole lot to think about.

My Twitter notes from the session:

  • A revolution is going on. It’s not technological, it’s social. The internet is going feral, web well beyond the PC. Many devices
  • Affordances, constraints & preferred usage models mean web is changing shape. More transactions, less surfing. More widget-interfaces
  • There will be some people who never encounter the web on a PC. SE Asia, Latin America, etc. on mobile. Lists and text, not Flash
  • This year the number of Internet users in China eclipsed those in the U.S. And it will keep happening around the world.
  • It’s an end to the “anglosphere.” The web will become more languages, more stories. Diff languages have diff attendant practices
  • New sites, new experiences, new services will all arise. Incommensurability (impossible to measure or compare) seems inevitable.
  • Content of website will be in not just another language, but a whole other set of cultural references.
  • Fat pipes, narrow pipes? Different models of connectivity: Korean (2-way), UK (fast down, slow up), highly variable speed worldwide
  • India has asynchronous connectivity. Video content needs more bandwidth. 20% of episodic content viewing occurs in US (female 25-44)
  • Different payment structures are evolving: contracts, pay-as-you, all-you-can-eat, capped downloads
  • Regulating the internet: participation, citizenship & control. Govt makes strong links b/w ideas of good citizenship & tech use
  • Govts also play important role in contextualizing the internet and access to it. Indonesia e-mosque program. Cairo wireless cloud
  • The Treaty of Waitangi (1840) shapes contemporary spectrum policy
  • Govts control content types and experiences. Limited access to sites. Regulating internet practices. Turkey & UAE turned off Flickr
  • Myanmar turned off Internet in order to prevent citizens from reading about prosecutions of monks
  • Prom, trolls & social regulation. Web has complicated dystopian side, magnifying social concerns. Lies about location/intent/identity
  • Men lie about height: add 2 inches. Women lie about weight: subtract five pounds.
  • Cornell researches found 100% of US online daters lie about something.
  • Social regulation and stalking, “human-flesh searches”. Chinese web users punishing perceived wrong-doers by publishing their lives
  • Major Marijuana grower caught because his GPS had the last five locations he had been, all growing locations. GPS didn’t know to lie
  • Socio-technical concerns. New anxieties, old anxieties. Web linked to privacy, trust, security
  • New devices, infrastructures, services produce new concerns: reliability, access, reputation, participation, health, wellbeing
  • “Google thinks I’m stupid”; “TiVo thinks I’m gay” Internet has an agency it’s never had before
  • Designing toward futures: possibility of *many* webs. No longer one fixed notion, no single trajectory of adoption or use.
  • Non-users and ex-users require a great deal more study. What about ppl who aren’t compelled to keep using it? What are these values?
  • Disconnection and switching-off are also interesting phenomenon. Ppl who buy their way out, becoming priority in households
  • Choosing vacation spots because you know it’s a dead zone, only to find out upon arrival that “the internet had arrived”
  • Maps of London “peace-chalking” that show all places you can be legitimately disconnected.
  • Audience Q: Great talk, but what does it have to do w/ Intel? “You sound like my mother: That’s nice dear, but why do they pay you?”
  • She’s director of UX in Consumer Electronics at Intel. “You have to have an eye to the framework of these experiences”
  • “If you don’t understand your users’ motivations, experiences, behaviors, you end up designing stuff for yourself” — Genevieve Bell
  • Conversation needs to be had around the potentials of what we’re creating, not just the products.

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