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The role of design in shaping new fictions within Web3 and AI

In Brand, Design, Digital Culture, Digital Experiences by Fredy Ore

Caio Braga, Fabricio Teixeira & Luciano Infanti have written an excellent article that explores design in new fictions – the invisible social contracts that we all accept and subscribe to without even thinking.

The article looks at the role design plays in what Steward Brand once described as pace layering – a set of different types of relationship layers, hierarchies & dynamic systems in our world.

These layers (such as Fashion/Art, Commerce, Infrastructure, Governance, Culture & Nature) have a cohesive relationship within society & move at different paces that affect and inform one another. Brand described these relationships as components within a system and each having different change-rates & different scales of size – informing how our world works today, is structured and also organised.

Braga, Teixeira, & Infanti explore the visual representation of Fictions (the aesthetic influences such as symbols, typography, colour, brand, etc) & where old merge with new ones through recent cultural shifts in technologies such as AI, new monetary & financial tools & uses and most recently the introduction of Web3 into the lexicon.

Blockchains, smart contracts, cryptocurrency, virtual reality, the metaverse, and NFTs are very much starting to introduce a new set of visual language, metaphors, interfaces & contexts that is important to take a moment to observe, understand and contextualise.

Apple iPhone 14 Pro & iOS 16 – Dynamic Island UI (September 2022)

As old fictions start losing their place, space opens for new fictions to emerge in parallel. New narratives, new truths, and new worlds are being created.

It might seem that we have no control over this chaotic, contradictory, and overwhelming process. But we must remember that within this transformational period, there is space for new, positive changes. As designers, we have a small but important part to play by shaping symbols and its structures.

Our role & responsibilities as Designers is more important now than ever. ✋

The article is well worth a read.

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Designing for Large Screens in Material Design 3

In Best Practice, Design, Digital Experiences by Fredy Ore

André Labonté (a Product Manager on Material Design) has presented a great talk at Google I/O 2022 on Designing for Large Screens, covering helpful principles, ergonomics to consider, Material Design 3 updates, adaptive Apps, and considerations for new devices including foldables.

The video goes beyond the Stretch to Fit vs. Optimizing for Large Screens discussions from 2020.


It’s also worth checking out Google’s updated Adaptive Design Guidelines for Material Design 3

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Principles & Best Practices for Designing in Arabic (in 2022)

In Brand, Design, Digital by Fredy Ore

A really helpful WWDC 2022 video by Mohammed Samir (a Designer in the Apple Design team) on Designing for Arabic (in 2022).

The video covers a lot of already widely known UX/Design considerations, but goes into Cultural, Use & other important areas such as UI Directionality, Typography, Iconography & Numerals. There is around 660 million people that uses the Arabic script today, which makes it the third most written language in the world after Latin and Chinese.

Below are some important Principles from Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines on RTL (Right-to-Left) such as supporting languages like Arabic and Hebrew via reversing an interface as needed to match the reading direction of related content.

A basic Example Flow of accesing an App from within an App Store

RTL Principles

Align a paragraph based on its language, not on the current context. When the alignment of a paragraph — defined as three or more lines of text — doesn’t match its language, it can be difficult to read. For example, right-aligning a paragraph that consists of LTR text can make the beginning of each line difficult to see. To improve readability, continue aligning one- and two-line text blocks to match the reading direction of the current context, but align a paragraph to match its language.

Don’t reverse the order of numerals in a specific number. Regardless of the current language or the surrounding content, the digits in a specific number — such as “541,” a phone number, or a credit card number — always appear in the same order.

Flip controls that show progress from one value to another. Because people tend to view forward progress as moving in the same direction as the language they read, it makes sense to flip controls like sliders and progress indicators in the RTL context. When you do this, also be sure to reverse the positions of the accompanying glyphs or images that depict the beginning and ending values of the control.

Arabic version of the video – Design for Arabic · صمّم بالعربي

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Remote Design Sprint Templates (Keynote, Miro, Figma)

In Design, Disciplines, Experience Design, Product & Service Design by Fredy Ore

Throughout the pandemic, a number of us have had to modify, change & completely replace established methods and tools for Design which was deemed normal or best practice just a few months prior.

Replacement to such methods hasn’t been easy. It has required taking tactical steps through experimentation to continue delivering similar or better outcomes as running a Design Sprint prior to the pandemic.

Throughout the last few months, and as London and many other cities continue returning to lockdowns and restrictions, I have been putting together a list & guide to some of the most useful and helpful posts, links, threads and articles (to adjustments required) across our processes & practices to ensure we save time, avoid unexpected obstacles and deliver positive outcomes.

The first of these guides will be dedicated to the Design Sprint. I have prepared, facilitated and led a few through the years across projects with clients.

Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky & Jackie Colburn’s post is incredibly useful, as it addresses the biggest questions most are asking, such as How do you handle whiteboards, voting, facilitation, interviews, video and pretty much everything else when running a remote Design Sprint via Zoom.

The steps are very similar, but as Jake, John & Jackie mention, it is not perfect. It requires flexibility & adjustments to cater for your project, your situation and required outcomes from the Sprint.

Sarah McIlwain, Product Design Manager at Abstract recently wrote about running a remote Design Sprint, including benefits, tips and adjustments required to keep teams engaged for the 4 days.

Alongside this, the Design team at Spotify have also put together a Figma template for remote Design Sprints which saves a lot of time.

Created by Alexandria Goree the Figma sample template can be reused in Presentation mode as alternative Keynote versions for the activities on each day.

Both worth a look.

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Upcoming iPadOS 15 introduces much needed Multi-tasking & new Translate features

In Artificial Intelligence, Design, Digital Experiences, Experience Design by Fredy Ore

Apple’s online WWDC Keynote 2021 is introducing some new features for iPad OS 15, including privacy features (private relay) and live translation including from your Photo library.

Pretty neat.

Notes is also being updated to include #Tags and @Mentions.

Translate can now also live translate and text in photos.

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V&A 2021 re-opening day & the Alice Curiouser & Curiouser Exhibition

In Book, Design, Digital Experiences, Gallery by Fredy Ore

I had the wonderful pleasure of visiting the V&A (Victoria and Albert) museum for re-opening day on the 19th of May 2021 following the UK lockdowns and restrictions. It was such a wonderful experience returning to some normality, and visiting galleries again after a year or so of restrictions to public spaces in London & the UK.

The new Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser exhibition, which explores the origin, adaptations and reinventions of Lewis Carroll‘s book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is quite simply amazing.

From manuscript to a global phenomenon the exhibition explores over 157 years of original work, drawings, artwork, costumes, a VR experience and the modern Disney films. I completely recommend it even if you have younger children.

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Config 2021 & Keynote videos are now on YouTube

In Design, Digital Experiences, Experience Design, Product & Service Design by Fredy Ore

Config 2021 was inspiring & a treat this year – particularly facing the challenges we all have working remotely due to the global pandemic. If you are new or already using Figma and collaborating remotely, the conference was for you – covering 2 days of inspiring talks by teams pushing the limits of Figma for use in Design Systems, collaboration within teams and more.

There were so many things I learnt this year, including loads of time-saving practical shortcuts and tricks I now apply every day. The conference was broken into 3 themes:

  1. Embracing the mess
  2. Shifting team culture
  3. In the file

If you missed it, all the recorded videos of Keynotes & talks are now live on Youtube.

Check them out.

These were my highlights:

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Atomic Habits by James Clear

In Books, Health & Well-being by Fredy Ore

Over the last few months during lockdown, I’ve slowly been reaching out to a handful of books I’ve ignored for way too long in my reading list. One I have found extremely valuable has been the brilliant book by James Clear, Atomic Habits.

Well worth a read.

James Clear is an author and speaker focused on habits, decision-making, and continuous improvement. And has spoken at a few events. Below is a nice clip where he discusses the 4 stages of habit formation – 1.Noticing, 2.Wanting, 3.Doing, 4.Linking

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Density Plots series by Twitter on Observable

In Best Practice, Design, Visualization by Fredy Ore

Yuri Vishnevsky has published a series of posts in Observable as a Notebook on Density Plots.

Density Plots are standard charts similar to scatterplots and line charts that are used as an alternative to visualise information when working with large volumes of data.

Density plots work by overlaying a grid onto the canvas and visualizing the number of data points that fall into each bin. This notebook introduces a small library to compute density histograms and render them visually.

Standard charts such as line charts have difficulties scaling as data increases due to issues with performance and overplotting. Density plots are an alternative that handles larger volumes of data.

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Genuary 2021 – a daily January 2021 Generative Art prompt

In Artificial Intelligence, Design, Engineering, Visualization by Fredy Ore

Here is a daily treat during the UK lockdown – a generative art & data visualisation community effort titled #GENUARY2021

50 GOTO 10

Throughout January 2021, and each day, there is a prompt theme for coders, artists, designers to inspire and create a meaninful representation of the theme. So far, it is incredible the creativity on social media.

The instructions are simple, use any language, framework or medium.

The prompt is also featured in Observable and via Irene de la Torre

Daily prompts

Samples via #Genuary2021

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An interview with Gary Kasparov on the authenticity of the Queens Gambit

In Film, Image, Television by Fredy Ore

Slate has published an interview with former Chess Champion Gary Kasparov on his contribution to the authenticity in the Netflix drama, The Queens Gambit.

Nitish Pahwa: Related to the technology aspect: The Queen’s Gambit is obviously a period piece, set during the Cold War and the 1960s. Do you think a similarly compelling story of chess play could be set in the modern era?

Garry Kasparov: No, no. Chess has changed. This is the beauty of the story, that it belongs to America of the ’60s. It’s like the James Bond movies

Garry Kasparov: You can move James Bond, but you see the latest films, they have very little resemblance with the original ones.

Garry Kasparov: The whole story of Elizabeth Harmon, it’s the story of Bobby Fischer, but it’s a female version. You have drugs, substances, and alcohol, but it’s very difficult to uproot it from the ’60s and put it elsewhere. There’s a lot of people talking about the next season. I haven’t spoken to Scott about it, but it’s a big challenge because,

A) you don’t have a book, and
B) where does she go, from Moscow, from 1968?

Update: If you need to know: a queen’s gambit is the opening moves of a chess game where a player aims to swap the queen’s pawn from an opponent:

Nitish Pahwa: There are a lot of scenes where Elizabeth is envisioning games in her head up on the ceiling, playing back certain positions. Is that very common among world-class players?

Garry Kasparov: Not common, but I can name a few top players who did, I mean Top 10 players. Some players just did it all the time, especially at the climax of the game. It’s sort of rebooting your computer.

Nitish Pahwa: How did you get approached for The Queen’s Gambit, and what role did you end up playing?

Garry Kasparov: It came from two sources. One, I got a call from Bruce Pandolfini, [who was a chess consultant for the show]. I know him well. Bruce said that he would be engaged in this project and Scott Frank wanted to have a chat with me. And around the same time, I’m not sure which call came first, but I got a message from my friends, the creators of Game of Thrones, David Benioff and [D.B.] Weiss, who are very good friends with Scott. And they also said, “Scott is doing something interesting in chess and he wants to talk to you.” It ended up with me and my wife entering Boulud Sud, the restaurant on the Upper West Side. Scott was there, Bruce was there, and a couple other guys that worked with Scott, and we had a nice conversation.

Sarah El-Mahmoud has written on the Visual Effects used in the Queens Gambit.

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Our human bias starts from the moment we are born

In Artificial Intelligence, Design, Digital Experiences, Experience Design, Science by Fredy Ore

New research published by John Hopkins University shows that we actually start developing our human biases from much younger than was previously known, and that the choices we make (even as infants) start becoming part of our human preferences, that is the likes and dislikes we depend on as we grow older. This is fascinating.

Over the last few years there has been a growing interest in human bias, particularly pertaining to how we design, build and influence human use in products, machine learning algorithms and Artificial Intelligence. The act of making choices changes how we feel about our options and this is a human quality that starts much earlier than what was previously thought such as from primary school learning, our teenage years & early adulthood.

The mapping of cognitive bias over the years continues to provide a unique perspective to understanding human behaviour, including to the use, design and development of human experiences through technology.

Though researchers have long known that adults build unconscious biases over a lifetime of making choices between similar things, the new Johns Hopkins University research demonstrates that this way of justifying choice is intuitive and somehow fundamental to the human experience.

I want to re-read The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz again.

Journal Reference:
Alex M. Silver, Aimee E. Stahl, Rita Loiotile, Alexis S. Smith-Flores, Lisa Feigenson. When Not Choosing Leads to Not Liking: Choice-Induced Preference in Infancy. Psychological Science, 2020; 095679762095449 DOI: 10.1177/0956797620954491

When Not Choosing Leads to Not Liking: Choice-Induced Preference in Infancy
Babies’ random choices become their preferences
Date: October 2, 2020
Source: Johns Hopkins University
Summary: Though researchers have long known that adults build unconscious biases over a lifetime of making choices between things that are essentially the same, a new study finding that even babies engage in this phenomenon demonstrates that this way of justifying choice is intuitive and somehow fundamental to the human experience.

Related to bias and human choices:

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Seth Godin tells it how it is, in the Design Better Podcast

In Business Design, Design, Digital Leaders, Disciplines, Engineering by Fredy Ore

Seth Godin (enterpreneur, author, speaker) is special guest for the 5th season opener of the Design Better Podcast with Aarron Walter and Eli Woolery from Invision.

S5 Ep1: Seth Godin – Learning to take risks, be generous, and make a ruckus

Leadership does not come from people of authority, but from people who care.Seth Godin

I have been reading Seth’s blog and books sporadically for a while now. His influence on product and marketing are widely known and his blog seems forever eternal, updated almost every day for 15+ years. Incredible. He is a design & business leader who everyone should read & follow.

At an important time for people everywhere impacted by huge changes to pretty much everything caused by a global pandemic, Seth discusses what is important during times of crisis, such as leadership, creativity, business, design processes, engineering and the importance of constantly writing – preferable in a blog.

This podcast is really inspiring. Go check it out.

Below is a snippet from Seth on the required skills we need today during a time of crisis.

Q: What are the hard skills we need today at a time where automation, machine learning and artifical intelligence are becoming so powerful?

There is a difference between soft skills, hard skills and real skills. If it’s easy to measure, we tend to measure it – call that a hard skill. Hard skills that are easy to measure are becoming less and less useful. Because we can outsource them and we can get a computer to do them.Seth Godin

“I don’t call them soft skills, I call them real skills. Real skills, are hard to measure and they range from truly human behaviour, like empathy, the will to show up on time, making promises and keeping them, or becoming an empathic voice around a table. [It includes] what I learnt in engineering school, such as understanding sub-costs, figuring out the interesting choices and making assertions.”

“This is the work of science that can be measured. I think everyone should read these classics, everyone should have an understanding of the literature.”

If you want to go to college – you should study engineering.
Seth Godin

“And do the other stuff by filling in the blanks. Because, figuring out how to solve a problem with a solution, everyone should already know how to do that. That’s hard to do on your own.”

“But, if you can be in a product design, mechanical engineering, even chemical engineering setting – that is the right answer. [These settings] give you way more foundation, such as being able to make creative assertions about what should come next. Simply saying “…I will put on a show for you” is important, but it’s innefficient. It is really also important to say my code compiles.”

Seth created the altMBA and Marketing Seminar to transform online education and help people connect with their audience. He can be reached at Akimbo.

During UK lockdown I started learning Python and VueJS – I’ll share what I learnt in the blog here shortly. It’s good to be back, F.