June 16.04
I went to see Don Norman speak about his latest book, Emotional Design, last night. It was a pretty good talk–I was surprised at how different his examples were from a similar speech he gave last year. I enjoy the emphasis on emotional design in general, but I saw two minor potential problems that may arise from emotional design.

May 19.04
After much fiddling and revising, I am finally done with the PDA use study. I did a case study of my PDA use over a six-month time period. The article summarizes the data and I analyze the reasons why PDAs are used and what can be done to improve them. In other news, summer means a lot of reading and a lot of dissertation writing.

Apr. 29.04
The semester is coming to an end and I have collected what I anticipate to be all (or most) of my dissertation data. I will finally be able to finalize some of the articles that I have been working on and post them here. Until then, I changed my article on the Maytag Skybox, partially due to the fact that the previous version of the article was hastily-written and partially because I have been influenced by reading the book Emotional Design. Also, I am almost ready to post an article on PDA use that includes a case study.

I am committing to updating this website more often, even though this site has competition from a million other things in my life, including a time-intensive dissertation. The latest Alertbox ( has an informal review of an interesting social study “Why mobile phones are annoying.” Although the study does not answer all of the questions that it raises, it is useful nonetheless. Nielsen ranted about the difference between face-to-face and mobile phone conversations in terms of noticability, intrusiveness, and annoyance. However he ignored the story of the data he posted (some of which appeared to be reported incorrectly, but that is another story), and strongly interpreted it:
“What is certain is that the research documents the fact that mobile phones are annoying […]”
However, people rated mobile phone conversations as less annoying and less intrusive than neutral in terms of both having had an “annoying” volume of conversation and as being “intrusive.” The mean rating was barely above this neutral mark in terms of being “noticeable.” In other words, people hardly thought the mobile phone conversations were annoying at all–just less non-annoying than face-to-face conversations. Regardless of the interpretation issue, the original study brings up good queries: Are mobile conversations annoying for casual eavedroppers (because half of the conversation is inaudible)? How can social protocol and mobile phone design be changed to provide a better “bystander” experience?