24L/ How to make SSI systems that inspire people to act rather than be acted upon?
How to Make SSI Systems That Inspire People To Act Rather Than Be Acted upon?
Convener: Bruce Conrad
Tags for the session - technology discussed/ideas considered:
Discussion notes, key understandings, outstanding questions, observations, and, if appropriate to this discussion: action items, next steps:
Transcript of the session:
Bruce Conrad: So let me just start out by saying that I am by nature an educator, and I love everything about computer science, have since I was 14 or 15. I went to the library in the small town near the farm I grew up on and I checked out all of their books on computers, and I read both of them from cover to cover. And ever since then, I've been talking about computers and computer science and this kind of ideas to anyone who would listen. And I must say the biggest surprise was that most people weren't interested at all, in any of it. And so it's, it's been kind of a lifetime challenge for decades now, more than five decades, of getting people to listen, trying to figure out how to explain it to them. And one of the frustrations is that most people don't seem to want to take control of anything about themselves on the web. They're happy to obtain a car, and take control of the car, or obtain other things and take control of that. But very few people are willing or interested even in acting on the web.
Most people that I know want to just sit in front of their devices, and be entertained by content provided by others. And so the question I'm asking all of you and I hope you have some answers, is how can we get people to choose to act on the web, rather than just be acted upon by the web.
So take it away. That's the question.
Jeff Orgel: Let them know it's possible. A lot of people have lost hope because it's so complex and it's been so trust-broken for a long time.
BC: Well, that's definitely the first step.
Marc Davis: There's some traditional answers, one is game dynamics. Right, so you gamify user interfaces people love, and leaderboard scoreboards, incentives, levels, easter eggs, like all the lessons from game design that people have applied to user interfaces is that if you can gamify the interaction people will get involved and do it. The other is to not think of it as an individual, but think about it as a network of people, and think about incentives that are not just individual but or social and that inspire people to work together as opposed to alone.
You know that basically if you increase engagement and connection that's going to those are kind of all this is about what are fundamental human needs and drives. Right, and feeling connected to others is one of the big ones, just why social networking is so powerful, and then the gamification is really, there's you know deep cognitive and the motive machinery around our reactions to this.
And so much of SSI, is emotionless right it's really it just doesn't have any juice. And it's not positioned in a way that is. And then, I think you do have to entertain to the point where you want people's emotions to be elicited, and they want to have a stake in what happens. Right? And I think there's a lot of fear of looking at it that way but I think it's essential to gain adoption.
BC: That's cool thank you thank you so much, Marc. The informal survey that I mentioned when I introduced the session was to 90 some students in a class that I’m teaching this Fall semester. And I was very surprised and shocked that so few of them even owned a domain name. And one way that I could gamify it would be to give them 10 points towards their final grade to demonstrate that they own a domain name.
Joyce Searls: I feel like this goes way back. Actually the age of television taught all of us to just sit there with our hands folded and be entertained. And frankly, public education doesn't do a very good job of showing people how they have their own agency and how they can do things. So I think we have this problem that you put your finger on, and that we find ourselves in is long seated, you know like, probably, 50, or more years of being taught to stand in line and fold your hands and, you know, go along, And so the populace in general doesn't have, they never got that, that juice of, you know, making that thing that that did whatever I mean, even, even in, in kindergarten now it's like they give you the, the picture with the lines in it and you color it in; you don't even like make your own picture to start with; it's like so sad.
So, I just want to start by acknowledging that were you, it can't be shocking that people want it done for them, we have made infants out of people. And so when we asked them to like take agency and make something cool and do something for themselves, the best you can come up with is like, oh, we're going to go play this game, you know, so anyway, that's just my way of saying why we're here, but it doesn't give you a solution.
BC: Oh, those are great comments Joyce. When we started watching TV indeed we sat with our hands folded, we've since learned to get a snack and be eating while we're watching TV.
JS: Even worse.
Trev Harmon: I do want to push back on some of this just a little bit, and want us to explore it a little bit more, so a couple questions, so one, Bruce (not just you but anyone), what is the behavior you would like to see because you can have owning a domain name -- now I own a whole bunch of them. But I don't necessarily see that as an analog of whether or not people want to be engaged. And I also think that those of us that are sitting around, they come to this unconference, they come because this is something that we care passionately about. But we can't necessarily assume, nor should we assume that that means everyone else is going to be caring about it and we're basically asking ourselves, “Well, why doesn't everyone else care about this as much as I do?”, where I would forget there's plenty of things that those people care about that were like yeah I don't care at all. Yeah. I love sports and sports is great and all but I don't really care to follow it because I don't have a passion in that thing.
And I wouldn't want them coming to me and saying, “You aren't feeling passionate about this the same way I am,” and I understand that that's a little bit of apples and oranges comparison between some of the outcomes that we get from whether or not we are passionate about certain things or trying to fix certain underlying systemic issues.
But really bringing that back to the question of what is the engagement, what are the things that you would like to see in terms of actions of people taking that would help us get to where we would want to be. What is the behavior that we would like to see people doing because once we know that, then we can focus more on helping have that type of behavior for that. So, anyway, that's the question for you Bruce, and the question for everyone else.
BC: Yeah, thank you very much Trev. That's a good question and one that I probably should have asked myself in preparation for the session to be a little bit more detailed. And so I'm a little bit at a loss, and I think you've put your finger on it on my own feelings, in a way, “I'm passionate about this, why aren't other people passionate about it?”
Just as other people ask me about the football game last night and what did I think about it and I'm going like, “I don't know, because boys playing with a ball, I'm not interested in that.” So if someone has a more detailed answer to this question about what behaviors we would hope people would be doing. Please speak up.
MD: So, I mean your question relates to some discussions we had earlier in the day and prior sessions is that you have to kind of ask the question first is what is it when you say make SSI systems and inspire people to act rather than be acted upon. Well, act in what way and for what reasons? Right, so, and I'll just give a couple quick examples, like, I think there's one camp of folks here and I probably put myself on that where I see SSI, not just as a technological innovation, but as a path towards alternative political and economic relations among people based on self sovereignty. And so if you see SSI, as a path towards changing the nature of society and economy towards greater self sovereignty for individuals and non government, and non corporate groups, then you have a whole different set of things that you want people to do.
And if you think about ends and means too, what do you want them to do now versus what's the end state you're trying to achieve. If you think that society is just a great way for companies to optimize supply and demand and increase profits. Then, which is a legitimate way of seeing it as well. Then you have a whole different question so I think there's a question before yours, which is what's the model of SSI in terms of ends and means like where you are trying to get to and why. And then you can figure out what it is you want people to do. And I think in the community, there's a variety of answers to those questions. So in others I don't think there's one answer to your question, I think it depends on, you know, what is SSI as far as you're concerned in terms of what's it for, what are trying to achieve, what are the ends. And once you know the ends, then you can think of the means. So I hope that's helpful for clarifying the discussion, because I was thinking.
Do you mind answering it for yourself, I'd be curious to, like, what do you think SSI is for, what are the goals you have for it. What are the ends you're trying to achieve?
BC: Thank you, Marc. Yes. What one of the ends that I've been working towards, for all of the years I've been coming to IIW, four and a half or so, has been to be able to be recognized when I reach a website. So that, my account is known to the website without having to deal with user IDs and passwords. And for that to happen, the companies that host websites have to change. And for that to happen we as consumers have to be made aware that there are other alternatives and begin demanding them. I don't know. Does that answer the question that you're asking me?
MD: Yeah, and I think in an interesting way so that's in a camp about efficiency of economic transactions, but not necessarily self sovereignty, as a kind of political domain. I think that's an important distinction, right?, so people think SSI is about, hey, I want single sign-on to websites that don't involve passwords. Basically, and where my profile information is available to the vendor I'm interacting with, so that I can reduce friction in transactions, so reducing transaction costs, which could be achieved in ways that don't necessarily increase the overall self sovereignty of individuals in our political system.
Right. Those are orthogonal goals, and really important points. So, I would say for your goal for SSI, in terms of getting people to act, I would use incentives, like discounts, right?, you know gamification, discounts, loyalty programs that kind of typical ways, because you're looking at economic incentives and reducing frictions and transaction costs. And so then the mechanisms that come to play in those types of interaction designs are about, you know, incentification, gamification, and reducing the friction.
And one could argue that Facebook and Google and Amazon and Apple are all trying to solve your problem. In other words, a monopolistic so another hazard is that a monopolistic Single Sign On solves your problem, but you don't need SSI to achieve the end you just stated, you would need a winner in the war of single sign on. And one monopoly and you'd solve your problem. So that's why I think it's important to tease these out, right?
BC: Yeah. Very important. Yeah.
MD: And that SSI, from a political point of view, that would be a terrible outcome.
BC: Yes, it would. I was rather horrified by that, that one of the silos becomes so big and so efficient that it edges out all of the others, and we have almost zero sovereignty.
MD: Right, but as stated your goal would be achieved by that means.
James Ebert: Just to build off of that, one of the things that I would mention here is that you can also achieve that by incentivizing the business side when you think about doing a better kind of login mechanism with SSI and agents that we have, that can actually reduce the risk and liability of the business and improve the connection between you and that business. And that's value from that angle and if done correctly, that's a protocol or a transport like a mechanism, not a platform that is enabling that as well.
So you're not you're not creating another Facebook, you're creating a mechanism that people can interact with businesses. And you may need to get some businesses to kick that off, but there's that other angle as well; it doesn't necessarily have to come from the consumer, at least initially.
BC: Yeah that's a great point James. I like that; businesses do take on a liability when they store our information because then they're required to to treat it correctly. So that could be an incentive; thank you for that.
JO: Yeah, I like that idea. In terms of businesses sort of delivering the same to their customers, guess what we can do for you. Now that there's this architecture in place. I think your first question is you know, “How do you incent people to care about this sort of thing? and I gave kind of a hand wavy answer by giving them hope and letting them know it's possible.
And I guess, you know, how do you do the hand waving in the other direction? How do you build a hunger in the beneficiary community which are your, your folks who are going to have their data protected, what's the what's the 30 second movie trailer of the ideal world that they exist in, and how do you how do you impart the possibility, beautifully to somebody so they say I want that? Is it too fraught now like I remember lovingly not yelling at people but saying, you guys are talking about technology and you say how you're always chasing security. And yet this is like putting people on a roller coaster and you just said you really don't know what bolts hold it together so how do you get people excited, you know, to go hey get on this we think we've got the right bolts, man?
So yeah, I'm wondering what that story might be for SSI that would really encourage people to jump on and go for a hell of a ride you know and I know that's a squishy comment but yeah, leave it at that.
BC: I like the analogy very much, essentially, we think we've got the engineering problem solved, get on our roller coaster. That is wonderful.
JE: Something that I would add in to use your own thought from the last session, Jeff, if you can tell a story that's really powerful. When you think like here's an example is if you have to talk to your phone company, you have to talk to AT&T, and you have to sort out your billing or such. You have to verify who you are, you have to, like, every time you talk to them, and also do you have assurance that they are who they say they are? Like I feel like there's a really good story of simplifying what that relationship, looks like with your phone company, with your credit card company, with all these relationships we have, there's a lot of power of making people's lives easier and better and I feel like that is a story that end users are would be interested in.
BC: Cool. Yeah, Thank you, James.
MD: Yeah, so this is a response to Jeff's comment. I think there are two pairs of stories going back to my point about like what your end goal is. So if you're trying to appeal to people who don't care about the politics of self sovereignty, and they just want cool stuff cheaper, better quicker, you know, I think the story there is, is somewhere, you know, Bruce, what you're saying at the beginning is that if you have all of your data connected together and under your control and you have delegates that can do it, the answer is, you can get the stuff you want more, you know when you want it for cheaper, like it's a faster, better, cheaper argument around consumption.
And I've made this argument to folks in the industry and they believe it too right it's like, well, if I had my purchase records and my location logs and my search queries and my browser history and transcripts of every phone call and every email and I can analyze all of that, I can build a better predictor of what I want to buy tomorrow than Amazon can, right? So there's a consumer argument of saying, you know, faster, better, cheaper to get you the stuff that you want that you want to consume. So that's the SSI, as an age of consumption within the economic frame.
There's a whole different argument if you're talking about people who believe in self sovereignty because they want to change the dominant social and political order. They would say that you want to adopt SSI because this is the way that you don't get surveilled. And this is the way that you turn our economy and society away from corporate domination and control. And so this is you know people that's what people are using Signal for today, right, you know people that are organizing protests are so you go after protest groups, people on the left, trade unions, credit unions, people that want to create alternate forms of social and economic and political organization. So the answer to the question, the story you tell depends radically different on which community, for which ends you're talking to.
There is no one story; that depends, who it's for, what ends, and so I've just given examples of two very different stories, both of which could be SSI stories.
I hope that helps.
BC: Yeah. Yeah, it really does Marc, thank you. And, and so Jeff we've got two very different movie trailers to put together.
JO: Yeah great points. Absolutely, it's very contextual, especially to the locale.
BC: Yeah. Trev, and then I have a question for Trenton, and one for Mike.
TH: Okay, so just building on this discussion on storytelling I'm here to tell a story so I can talk about storytelling.
So, when I was doing some work with the university and one of the courses we put together was human computer interfaces, and also a course I helped teach; now as part of that we made the IT students design an interface for a, a communications device, which they all thought every single group thought they were absolutely brilliant app; made them go out and do actual user testing, you know, post it note testing, specifically saying you may not talk to anyone for this testing that is anything like you. So no one that's in computer science, no one who's in kind of this whole thing, must be a quote unquote normal person.
And pretty much all of them every single time came back deflated because all of a sudden they found out that their great interface that they completely understood and and loved was not usable by anyone other than them.
And I think that the SSI community, with our storytelling, we have a bit of that problem: almost every story that we tell, and Marc gave some really good examples and some really good stories to tell, but I think almost all the stories that we tell are infused with the things that we know, understand and care about. And again are trying to put that on to other people, and then we're surprised when it doesn't resonate the way that we think it should or would like it to.
So, anyway, just some thoughts.
BC: Thank you, Trev. That's excellent. I also have experience many decades ago with teaching a course on computing for humanities students and it is very interesting how differently people view the world.
Trent, would you just tell us a little bit about your experience, observing your wife, using applications.
Trent Larson: So, you know, as you were talking and asking this question, you know I love computers as well but I, it's hard for me to find my community. And the way I do it is with conferences like this. And I think the same thing applies in a lot of our lives where there's no way for me to get my wife excited, or my neighbors who like to play games that they're not going to be excited in these things. And, so I I just have to, I've come to the point where I'm comfortable just saying, Okay, I will just keep reaching out until I find the people that are interested, so that's my first comment is like, I'm never going to get her excited. I'll just keep finding people who are.
And then, my, my second is, I love the words that have come out about usability. Beautiful comes to mind, you know, of my designer at work says you know games are just for entertainment and they have the best user interfaces; here at work we’re dealing with serious things that happen you know we need to get done and and make the world a better place but we have terrible user interfaces.
So, yeah, we just got to get better if we want to get those other users, and then we've got to understand how they see the savings, what's beautiful to them, even maybe the little Asana unicorns that fly off the screen and maybe those keeps us engaged for just a little bit longer than we need and those are kind of interfaces that we've got to… if we want a broader audience. That's what we have to use.
BC: Thank you so much, Trent, for elaborating, and Mike, will you tell us a little bit about the savings that could be realized by call centers?
Mike Parkhill: Actually, I have no idea; I don't work call centers, but I can just imagine. When I think about every time I talk to the telephone provider or TV provider or whatever and I spend five minutes proving who I am, while they have their purposes, I call them. That's at least five minutes of my day that’s wasted and if they are doing 100 calls a day that's 500 minutes, easily lost right there and time is money and not to mention the frustration factor of repeating everything so I think there's a whole value prop there from my non-expert perspective of call centers, that could be saved by a better way of doing that.
MD: Talk to Vic Cooper about that.
BC: Yeah, I was going to mention Vic Cooper as well. Yes, he worries about this professionally. His job is to get call centers to use this kind of technology and others.
MP: Yeah, Vic just sent me his name on chat, and is looking at that; totally does seem like the right fit.
Brian: I just wanted to share with you something that echoes some of the themes that I've seen a lot of talks and discussion that are anchored very much on privacy, security. And while I personally or strongly behind all of that Mike, in agreement. Flows like account recovery, when somebody gets a lost broken device stolen. How do you adapt?
Those are moments of crisis where users really really care, and they're deeply invested and to me are opportunities to drive adoption.
And you'll get some uptake from privacy, security, but at the end of the day, when it becomes easier to recover from crisis. It's going to help people.
And just a general statement, I haven't seen a lot of emphasis on those kind of negative transactions.
It's more, let's build the base infrastructure, but when we start discussing adoption and rollout, it really to me becomes, how are you going to smooth out the known rough edges and do the systems in place, address those directly?
BC: Yes, thank you, Brian that's, that's a great point. And that's kind of inspiring people in a different way.
JO: Yeah, my day job is supporting computers; I looked after about 200 plus users and machines and all different scopes of people-ness, from medical through military to single retired women living on their own.
What you just brought up, the urgency factor, is wildly astute. How the human animal deals with stress and to what degree that particular human animal is invested in that relationship with that device. The tear out is pretty astounding, and I don't know if you've lived through that.
You seem to talk about it as though it's familiar to you. [Brian and Jeff realize they both work on technical and end-user support] Oh wow, we might be the only two! I don't know; I meant to have a session asking that question because, nice to meet you, Brian.
I self-certified my thing in this thing I called emotional rescue. And it's no joke that you know, data trauma based on loss and data loss and reputational loss, it's very real, so I appreciate that you brought that up, it got my attention promptly.
BC: Great. Well, I'm glad, glad that this session has introduced the two of you. I will just as an interlude tell another personal story. Many, many years ago, after having been frustrated many times trying to find someone interested in computers. As soon as personal computers became available, and people started purchasing them, they didn't know what to do with them. And so now suddenly not only were people interested in hearing what I had to say, but they would actually pay me to come and say it to them.
And I remember one group in particular was a group of farmers from far away from the city. And I traveled to their town, a town of about two or 300 people. One night every week for four weeks. And I talked to them about word processors and they were pretty content with that. And I talked to them about spreadsheets, and most of them got that. And then when, when the lesson on databases came along, it was just deer in the headlights.
And then as I was talking through the vocabulary. I happen to use the word “attributes,” database “records,” still deer in the headlights, and then I mentioned that database records had “fields.” And all of a sudden, every head popped up, and the eyebrows raised, and people said, “Fields. We know all about fields; we're standing in fields every day all day long.” And it was really hard to break it to them that I wasn't talking about the same kinds of fields.
So yeah, to Marc's point: nerds are excited about means; non nerds are excited about ends and the end they desired was to be able to use this computer they had just spent a couple of thousand dollars on to do something useful in their farming activities. And I wish I could have helped them more than I did. [Mike in chat: Most computer science students' eyes glaze over when databases come up too]
Thank you, Mike. That's funny.
MD: Yeah, I just wanted to say that I consider my, I'm a nerd as well so I don't want to have that be a blaming of anyone. This for good reason, especially in SSI as an emerging technology. We're deeply concerned with means, right?, we're really focused on how do we get it to work.
But we rarely asked about what's it for, what are the ends of the technology. And, you know, consumers, for the most part, and you know who aren't involved in the building of the technology, all they care about is what does it do for them.
Right? They don't care about means they care about ends. And that's, it's a whole different community and discipline, you know from UX designers and qualitative researchers and product developers that are focused on that question.
And I'd say by and large in the SSI community it's mostly, not completely, but it's mostly engineering folks, looking at means not product and and front end folks thinking about consumers are really just care about what are the ends.
And as I pointed out before, different groups of people care about different ends.
And that's that finding that alignment is really crucial.
BC: Great. Thank you, Marc. So we need to expand our horizons and imagine what some of the ends might be. And then think of stories and figure out how to make film trailers to demonstrate those ends to people. And then at some point we can break the news to them. Oh by the way, you're going to have to execute a bit of publicly available code, which will produce a public and private key pair etc etc.
MD: And you can Trojan-horse things too right yes, it's really important, this came up in a session with [Dave] Huseby earlier today. He's Trojan-horsing, his whole approach, and others. His ends are different than the people he's selling to, and he's undermining their interests. Ultimately, I mean, I don't mean to accuse it but in other words, there are rhetorical strategies involved in selling where you may have a different end than the people that you're selling to or you may have an end that you think you want them to adopt that they don't see yet, but you’re Trojan-horsing based on meeting an end that they have now in order to get them to a different place; so there's a whole you know set of questions about what you believe and what you're trying to get people to believe.
And it's. And I think that's a discussion that hasn't happened enough in the community, some of it did happen today, but I really do see this divide between the kind of political economic view of self sovereignty as an ideological frame for SSI and SSI as a business optimization tool, which is a very different, you know framework.
BC: Now that's, that's great. And if you don't mind, Trev, I'm just going to ask Joyce, if you're still here -- [I am] -- your rectangle is present. Would you prepare, after Trev, a brief statement of how, how you get people to get excited about the byways.
TH: Okay. Yeah, I just like to build a little bit more off what Marc was saying, as well. I think one of the tensions that we have -- and this is in the UX designers and the, the selling all of those things -- is that SSI, as we are, as we currently do it is about, you know, individual user control for whatever types of ends you want, that tends to be one of the foundational things that we all build off of. At the same time, that individual control means that the individuals have a lot more responsibility.
And a lot of our approaches add a large amount of new cognitive weight to what it is that we're asking and expecting users to do. So we're basically saying, okay, like Marc was saying, you're going to have to have these keys; now maybe we can hide the fact that they have those keys that are being generated, but then we're saying okay, you're now responsible for knowing who it is that you're going to connect to. And you're responsible for verifying that and you're responsible for knowing what they should and shouldn't be asking you for; you're responsible for knowing what things are dangerous to share, not just in general, but with this particular person or entity that you’re interacting with in general, and by the way this is living on your device and if you lose your device this all goes away, so you need to know how to back this up and put it somewhere, and also be able to restore that later when things go; so we’re asking for the, for holders in particular to have a huge amount of new cognitive load.
And there's the tension of if they don't have that load then they are able to do what a lot of us would like them to be able to do which is to be self sovereign in their actions.
And again this goes back to that storytelling thing of those of us that feel this is really important go yeah I'm willing to take on that additional cognitive load in order to do this thing that I think is important but it's a hurdle that we still need to get over and so hopefully this point I've talked long enough for Joyce to have her statement prepared, tell us how they're looking out for this with byways.
BC: Thank you so much Trev. With great power comes great responsibility. You're right.
JS: So I'm, I'm uniquely advantaged in this in that I am not a nerd. So I really come totally from the other side. Um, but I've been exposed to enough nerds, to understand a little bit about them.
And the story I always tell about this kind of thing this kind of question is early on in the 90s, I remember going to something that was, you know, a conference on the information superhighway; it was actually about like late night TV commercials, but they called that the information highway because in 1993 that's what you know what people thought the information highway was, but there were, like, 700 men in a ballroom at the Beverly Hilton, talking about you know basically late night TV commercials and one woman, besides me, and she got up and started talking about how cool it would be if there was something that could be for women that was on this thing called the information highway, because the only people that were on it were guys who were really into their whatever and she had a whole idea about what became wedding.com later right.
So, what, so I always tell that as sort of like the baseline story is that the main reason why Facebook actually happened in my opinion, is because women found it useful, because early on, there was nothing in the technology that interested women at all: Zero. What they need is help with, you know, connecting things in their lives, their, their friends and family to talk to, talk to the kids’ schools, all of the things that facilitated women's communications in their lives.
And once they saw -- they didn't care what it was -- now we will put ourselves in this world, not because it's like a cool machine that does cool stuff. But because it helps me accomplish something that it was harder to do before. And so, I think if we get this through our, our technology brains that it's like just live where the ladies live, or just live where the users live, to put it in nerd terms, cuz it, that's when you're solving problems that people want to be solved, then you get, then you get people to come around, it's, they're not into the just the coolness of the way the thing works, like, like many of us here at IIW are.
So back to the byway, that's what we're trying to do with the byways we're trying to solve a problem that communities have like right now there's a ton of communities out there and I don't care if they're like the collectors in the Midwest, who want to put, you know, dealers in antique plates from the 1930s or classic car parts; there are communities that exist out there doing all of this stuff, but they don't have a tool, they don't have the infrastructure, they don't have any of these great CRM systems or B2B systems or, or call centers or anything, they have nothing.
So the idea with the byway is to give infrastructure to naturally occurring communities of interest to be able to communicate with each other with an infrastructure that has as much -- what do you call it -- robustness to it as the big tech platform so I don't have to have it be the big tech platform. I can do it on my own.
A DYI kind of approach, but because we need the infrastructure, I want to share that infrastructure with other communities to get done what my community wants to get done.
That's, and it's working a bit; like right now, we're going to have a meeting at the Innovation Center in in Bloomington, Indiana, we're, you know, we went to try to do this, they invited us it's called the Mill it's their, it's their innovation center -- we're going to do an event called you know “beyond e-commerce” you know how to do it for your community. So, they're very excited about it.
So I think it's working and when you go where people live and what they care about.
BC: That's, that's super Joyce. Thank you very much. Then, in my mind, I'm summarizing what you said as begin with the end in mind, which to Marc's point doesn't come naturally to nerds who are more interested in the means. And, understand where the ladies are. I think those are two very important takeaways for me. I hope you don't mind me summarizing it so.
JS: No, I think it's great. I'm going to use that!
BC: Will, are you still with us? Your rectangle is. What thoughts do you have?
Will Abramson: You talking to me. Yes. I just been dipping in and out. So I can see can you repeat the question for me?
BC: I was just wondering what your thoughts were about what we've been saying but if what we've been saying is somewhat incoherent that's makes it a difficult question.
WA: And I think it's my fault. I've been not really engaged.
That's, that's that's quite all right i mean i think the question is like what can we do to move us to action, or like how can technology help us move to action.
And, you know, I think what you said at the start about the survey with only one person actually hosting their own stuff right like I mean I'm a techie and I don't do that either I mean I would like to do it more but I think it's, it's hard work, I think it's my perspective, it's hard work and it's like you gotta go learn and it seems to change all the time with things that you need to know. And, yeah, so. Maybe on Joyce's thing I maybe it's like not how can I be moved to action maybe it’s how can communities support that infrastructure or like that technology, you know, you know take on some of that burden because it is a burden to manage this stuff.
BC: Yeah, so thank you very much. Well you've added a third point for me to summarize Joyce’s contribution, which is pay attention to communities. Thank you very much.
MD: There's another piece of gold in the story that you told, Bruce, that I think it's important to pull out. And when you talk to the farmers about databases and they perked up when you talked about fields; that in user interface design that's what's called a metaphor, and metaphors and UX designer are really key.
The reason we have a desktop on our computers is because it's, you know, borrowing from the previous desktop metaphor, and really good user interface design practice thinks not only about the communities, not only about the ends, not only about their motivations, but what are the metaphors that makes sense to the community you're trying to design for.
And of course one of the best ways to do that is what's called participatory design which is a whole process of bringing in the community and having them being involved in the design of the technology, but I think metaphors are really crucial.
And that's why your story is so great because, you know, your user community perked up on you. I mean it was a catachresis which is a mixed metaphor. You know that they misunderstood but in a weird way you could, like, imagine if you were taught database design by saying, we have fields and crops, right, what your fields and values, right, you know you could teach computer science in a farming metaphor.
You hit upon the metaphor by accident. So the word collision, because the semantic spaces overlap, but you could’ve taught the course by saying okay farmers, let me tell you about databases by talking about farming and crops and fields and plowing under things and letting things lay fallow and you know you could use the whole metaphor of farming to talk about databases.
And so I think that your story is great because it surfaces exactly this key point in the design of any technology is understanding the relevant metaphors that you want to use for the community you're trying to design for or with. [in chat: A hugely important and useful book: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metaphors_We_Live_By ]
BC: Thank you, Marc. The wonder of hindsight. If I had thought of that at the time I might have had an anomalous small village community of farmers who are also database experts. That's a missed opportunity.
MD: How cool would that be.
Brian: I'm just gonna put out another blue sky thing, if we're really talking action and adoption.
To me, that also implies, how are you going to operationalize this? Joyce had a lot of great stuff to say about a community, but in communities you naturally build up leadership: experts that know a system and a technology or a method.
As this translates into something real: How do you operationalize it, especially in a decentralized system, who is a trusted authority?
Who does the user turn to when failures do occur?
Do they turn to...
BC: Sorry. I would say likely, they turn to Brian and Jeff. Carry on. Sorry for the interruption.
Brian: Oh, no, it's a, it's a great interruption, because you have the means to do it, but then the intersection of the means and the people performing the action. And when they need help, that I think would be a very interesting place to push, because to go back to something like account recovery or a lost device, how do you manage that? And when we're talking about business adoption, that'll be one of their questions. In a very real sense, where do I route my customers, what do I do and who do I contact and who is culpable when these systems fail. So, I think it'd be wonderful to hear more on those subjects.
BC: In my experience, telling people about SSI, almost inevitably the person I'm talking to, If they listen to me long enough, will say, “What happens if I lose my phone?” So Brian, you're absolutely right, because they pick up on that immediately, even without being technical, they find the weak point in the story.
JO: Yeah, I've been playing with the idea of KY- PC, know your PC.
I think if you can encourage people to understand the relationship that they have and demystify what's going on they begin to move more closely into the space of functional understanding and functional relationship, so one of the analogies that I've been using for a fair number of years, and I always try and align things with nature and in particular our nature, if I may. So what I'll do to a person is I'll say you want to see your computers, you want to see its body.
Now I know what I'm talking about. So I do a Control Alt Delete and I pull up Task Manager Okay, I go over to the Performance tab and on the left column you see the CPU you see memory you see disk you see Wi Fi and you see maybe a GPU.
So I started the top and I say, a CPU is your brain is equivalent to your brain, we can see here how hard the computer is working, the RAM is its muscle we're seeing how hard it’s having to work to hold up what it's thinking about; the discs are the busy hands and you see it's at 100% so right now going and clicking on things would be like tapping on somebody who you've asked to do work for you, like you and they're like, hold on a minute hold on and if you keep tapping ,you're queuing things up you drive him crazy, and the Wi Fi is a communications what we're hearing and talking about, and the graphics processing unit, if your computer has it, relieves the brain of being able to understand what it's seeing faster.
So when people get into a hung machine or they think their machine is hung up and they call me, they've learned to pop this and look at the brain; if I'm downloading from the internet I say if we do a download you're going to see that the hands are going to get busy after it listens from the web because it's hearing what it needs and it’s putting it into the thing.
So the analogies can be really wonderful and very well-aligned with what people understand about themselves and I think they cherish direct line sensibility. It just demystified the whole damn machine. Suddenly it's like a dog.
And they understand why it's not responding or they can self diagnose it and it's low science in a way .
BC: That is great, Jeff, the people for whom you are the IT guy are blessed to have you in their lives. That's wonderful. Thank you. We're nearly out of time. Any closing comments from anyone?
MP: I think this is a great conversation and I think a lot of the comments hit home on my experience as a software developer and architect and I've worked with UX developers who don't care about UX and some who care very much.
And I've worked at companies that won the competitive battle like hearing about us, and you know yeah you can have a tool as 1000 times more powerful, but if I need a degree, to understand how to use the damn thing. I'm not going to use it. Whereas if I can give it to a kindergarten kid and he figures it out. Then, fantastic.
So I think we got to kind of go at it from that angle that we really are looking at people who they don't take the time to turn off your privacy settings on Facebook so you can see everything they post on Facebook. They don't care, but the other side of me comes back and says, Sure, but if I compare how many people do have privacy settings turned on now compared to 10 years ago. We've come a long way. so there is hope we can get there.
But we have to make sure we make a user experience where for probably three quarters the population, they can get the security they need, the privacy they need, the redundancy they need, without having to take on that cognitive load, and if we figure that out that's sort of the magic bullet and that is where we need to think about metaphors and think about how we make us look and realize that QR codes are actually scary to a large part of the population and not a convenience.
So, how do we get past that and how do we make that, so it's not a problem at all I really want to say to summarize my, what I'm taking away.
BC: Thank you so much. Bye, great summary. Thank you.
MD: So yet again for us your stories have pearls of wisdom and nuggets. So I just want to point out that your story about what you said when you talk to people about SSI or not technical and invariably they say what happens if I lose my phone.
And so there's tremendous information in that and I want to just point it out this way. What we haven't really done is not take our UX people here, it would have happened is a core usability analysis of SSI, in other words, what are the failure points
In other words, what are the failure points of failure? Where's their high cognitive load? Where's their high risk? You know we've been thinking because normally people here think of the systems as the machines, not the machines plus the people.
But if it's a socio-technical system which involves human beings and people working together, the analysis of where the points of failure, where the points of excessive load.
That's the kind of analysis that really has to be done in order for these systems to work, and I don't think that's happened. So I think your story is a great example where you need to do a socio-technical analysis of failure points, of excessive load, and the community hasn't really, as far as I know, done that yet. And so your story is a great indication of important work to be done.
BC: Thank you so much, Marc for that. Another funny thing about that “what happens if I lose my phone” story is that every time I escalate that question to someone in the SSI community, they direct me to Daniel Hardman's paper about “what happens if I lose my phone.” But again, we're concentrating on the means there, and not the end.
JO: Yeah handling the emotional impact of that is a whole thing that I wonder if Daniel Hardman's thing touches on. Bruce, this is my last session -- I suppose all of us our last session this time -- and I hope I'm not out and you're sharing too far but you mentioned you're kind of kicking off your shoes and sitting on the deck a little more soon. I just want to express my appreciation for the companionship and the thought, just a thought. The bright beams of thinking that you shared with me up close and personal and with us at large, it's just been really great to hang with you and I sure hope that you're going to keep visiting us from the deck at least.
BC: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much, Jeff, I feel much the same way. And so, yes this is me practicing for retirement:
JS: Great. Practicing.
BC: Now I think I can handle this. And if I can't, as Vic mentioned, just a block away in the direction I'm looking, there is the public library that I can easily walk to, and sign into their business center.
I'll be okay and my wife and I are already talking about driving out to Mountain View in April, so hopefully we'll see you again.
JS: Cool. Thank you so much, Bruce, it was a good session.
TH: Thank you, Bruce.
MD: Thank you, Bruce, this is really great, really important and a great conversation. Excellent.
BC: Thank you everyone. I appreciate everything I've learned from you. And I'm looking forward to transcribing the recording, so that I can cement it in my mind, and it will ultimately be published on the web, for the world to see if they can find it.
MD: And make sure we get to it for the people on the call in the meeting that would be great.
BC: It will be in the conference proceedings.