New UX terms

  • Calm Technology is a new term in UX.

Calm technology or Calm design is a type of information technology where the interaction between the technology and its user is designed to occur in the user’s periphery rather than constantly at the center of attention. Information from the technology smoothly shifts to the user’s attenthion when needed but otherwise stays calmly in the user’s periphery.  (Wikipedia)

  • Circular Design

Circular design comes from circular economy. It helps innovators create more elegant, effective, creative solutions for the circular economy. “Solutions that are invaluable for people, give businesses a competitive advantage, and are regenerative for our world.” It helps one “explore new ways to create sustainable, resilient, long-lasting value in the circular economy – giving [one] the creative confidence to redesign the world around [one].”

privacy and the facebook breach

It all began with Google’s motto: “Do no evil.” But I always asked my students whether they could trust Google to do no evil with their data, and if they do trust it, do they trust anyone who takes over Google to do the same? Trust and privacy are ours to maintain and we should not give them up so easily for convenience. Naturally, the Facebook breaches of privacy and Mark Zuckerberg’s assertion that ‘privacy is dead’ reveal his beliefs and even motives.

Disturbing to say the least. A few months ago I wrote about the Facebook using us as lab rats report, only to find it getting worse now. We are more than lab rats: we are exposed beyond our imagination.

This  is all done in the name of ‘marketing’ and marketing strategies – which is why, as I said repeatedly before, the very concept of marketing nowadays concerns me a great deal. It has been transformed into some AI monster that pursues us relentlessly, and as AI continues to expand and become more sophisticated, it worries me even more. See this for example from the Guardian about an insurance company and what they would have gleaned from FB data:

“Facebook users who write in short, concise sentences, use lists, and arrange to meet friends at a set time and place, rather than just “tonight”, would be identified as conscientious. In contrast, those who frequently use exclamation marks and phrases such as “always” or “never” rather than “maybe” could be overconfident.”

The most disturbing of all is this: Facebook sent a doctor on a secret mission to ask hospitals to share patient data. Even our medical records are not safe? Apparently nothing is safe nor sacred any more.

Defending the humanities in a brave new world

Before anything else, literature has always been my passion. Not code, not technology, and certainly not math. Nothing therefore concerns me more than when I see students trying to learn the dry, hard skills with little or no knowledge of, or for that matter interest in, great literary works. I have noticed in my almost 20 years of teaching, that when I make simple literary references, such as ‘Oh this sounds Orwellian’ or ‘yes, it’s a brave new world’ – I am met with quizzical or blank faces. The joke is on me. Read More …

list free university courses

I have been writing about MOOCs here on this blog for a long time and have listed many open source courses. This week, however, 200 universities launched 600 free online courses in all fields including Computer Science, Mathematics, Programming, Data Science, Humanities, Social Sciences, Education & Teaching, Health & Medicine, Business, Personal Development, Engineering, Art & Design, and finally Science.

Here’s the full list that Dhawal Shah combined on Quartz. The courses are all on Class Central, the majority of which are on Coursera.

dictionary of terms

This month’s dictionary of terms is about new technologies:

DeepLoco: Dynamic Locomotion Skills. A computer AI program teaching itself how to walk.


Neural networks: a technique for building a computer program that learns from data.

Shadow IT is a term often used to describe information-technology systems and solutions built and used inside organizations without explicit organizational approval. It is also used, along with the term “Stealth IT”, to describe solutions specified and deployed by departments other than the IT department. [wikipedia]

Software as a service (SaaS; pronounced /sæs/) is a software licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted. It is sometimes referred to as “on-demand software”. SaaS is typically accessed by users using a thin client via a web browser. [wikipedia]

Ultramobiles are a category of midsize lightweight computing devices, which includes tablets, thin and lightweight PCs and convertibles. These devices typically have a display size between 7 inches and 13.9 inches, and with weight typically under 3.5 pounds (1.6 kg). [Gartner]