So What Am I Called Then?


Image by DeepBluC

This is a question I’ve been pondering a lot lately when I’ve cleared to many people what I do for a living. Could a simple deduction practice help to determine this?

So am I a,

1. Creative Director?

This is something I even printed on my business card, because at that time it sounded this is what I do.

But in order to be a director, shouldn’t you be having people to direct, right? Well, first of all, I work through networks, and my job description varies a lot, so simple Creative Director [although it sounds good and very mighty] doesn’t do the trick.

2. Just a “Creative”

Well this is most definitely an ambiguous term in a time when everyone and everything is somewhat “creative” or “innovative”. So, no thanks.

3. Social Media Expert?

I find this term a bit hilarious, but I had to put it here in order to make a statement: If there’s someone telling he is a social media expert, don’t believe him. At least too easily.

There are people who understand a lot more about the current web than others, but there are also some of those who try to open up for you a Twitter account or a Facebook Fan Page without really making it clear what it all means.

I would be most cautious about how much we can currently understand what will become of this early mess that we call social media, social web or whatever.

4. Digital Native

I could also be called digital media native, but it’s not quite selling and most likely there aren’t too many people who even know what that means. And in the end it’s more a description than a profession anyway.

5. Digital Media Agent

I tried this for a week, but the word agent sounds like I’m a movie agent, or something from the James Bond saga. Yes, I’m investigating things and sometimes wear a suit, but that’s about it. No Walther PPK, just a Mac, sorry.

With this description I wanted to be considered someone who connects people with digital media.

Epilogue

I believe that new times need new descriptions. We didn’t say ” Metal horse” when the car was invented.

So what am I then? Like I’ve always said that I don’t want to categorize people or to be categorized too heavily [that can prevent self development and growth], but sometimes it’s just something that you have to do in order to make other people understand what you do for a living and where your professionalism could be helpful.

So currently I’m using the title Social and Digital Media Coach. This for two reasons,

1. That’s the closest thing that sums up everything I currently do.

During my time as an entrepreneur I’ve been working with social media in education and in business, from the training to concept creation and even graphic design [yes, I still occasionally open Photoshop too]. I’m also a project manager in an international ICT project which includes usability, eLearning and Mobile. In addition to this, I’ve also designed user interface / experience and graphic design for a mobile application.

As you can see, describing my work with one sentence can sometimes be a hard task.

2. Because I don’t want to be mixed with the label “professional” or “expert” too strongly. I believe the things in social media to be flexible and something that you need to consider with your client or whoever you are working with. You know, together, and not from your professional ivory tower.

And this is how I want the process to be, because that’s the only way to make people understand the new possibilities the web can actually offer. Possibilities that go far beyond than just simple status updating or Fan Paging.

EDIT (after much reasoning): I have to admit that I was wrong; there’s no one definite term I could currently use. There’s just situational terms and being a creative person I just cannot lock myself up with one.

So yes, unfortunately the term “Creative” that I’m mocking up there is a good term, and so is “Trainer”. So let’s keep with these for a while.

Cross-Cultural User Experience Design Seminar at Tampere

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Today I attended to Cross-cultural design seminar at Tampere University of Technology. The seminar content summary went pretty much like this:

  • What is cross-cultural design? (Liinu Helkiö & Tanja Walsh),
  • Understanding cultural differences in Human-computer interaction (Professor Gilbert Cockton),
  • What major challenges there can be found (Minna Kamppuri, who gave us an interesting presentation about how this applies to Tanzania) and
  • How to facilitate cultural sensitivity in user research (Jung Joo Lee).

It was nice to be able to visit this because in my line of work I rarely get to do, speak about, or even see, real research about design. Often it feels business and research are like two different nations not just talking to each others. And it shouldn’t be like this. I believe that collaborative work between these two could create some really interesting outcomes.

So why is it even important to understanding cross-cultural user experience one could ask? In the new global community, it is vital for businesses to understand different cultures –  not understanding it may even block you getting to the market.

One thing that is curious is that social media services often seem to flourish without little or even no localization of the concept itself. The question is why are they as popular as they are and how important it really is to design their HCI keeping the culture in mind? How big of a role does this really have?

People still learn, right? And people are individual persons; they get cultural influences from all over. Like me: I’m originally from Estonia, I’ve now lived in Finland over 20 years and had it’s influence on me. And I’ve always, since I remember, had strong interest towards Asian cultures and philosophies, especially Japanese. These have a strong influence on how I understand and feel HCI design in my mind.

And one other thing that came to my mind. If you always designing more local projects based on the so-called local culture, it could just reinforce the general stereotypical views. So one could also ask, to which level it is necessary to design keeping the culture in mind and what aspects of it should you take to consideration? Like social media services [which are a global success] show, people learn HCI.

Of course there are clear situations where it is necessary to localize. Those situations include things like language [e.g. Chinese characters] or having a country where people are driving in the left lane and thus you should put the steering wheel on the right side of the vehicle. These are natural things to take in consideration and localize. I was thinking more in the idea level and in things like Web services: How necessary is it to plan the idea itself with the culture?

Although there are local services, like Finland has their own ‘Facebook’ the IRC-gallery, still the Facebook and those alike are often more popular than the possible local ones. Of course the localization occurs in the language [if you wish to change it from English], but the real idea behind the service stays the same.

So could it be that nowadays when people are often having global friends, it is natural to gather to a cross-cultural platform where you can socialize and meet with all your friends? And that is even a larger uniting factor than culture?

The seminar gave me a couple of really nice ideas to which I most certainly return in my later posts – some of which include collaboration in work and business.

It was nice to have such a use[r]ful seminar which was even free of charge. If you are able to visit seminars in Tampere, I’d really advice you to check Suxes website from time to time for future events.

Here’s also another post about this seminar from an e-learning angle.

Some new coming ways of HCI

When Nintendo published Nintendo Wii and thus the Wiimote, everyone were really excited about its new unique motion detection: It’s fun and in most cases really brings a lot more to gaming. But still, sometimes it is a bit inaccurate and clearly just a small step towards a different way of controlling devices. Still, most likely as the time goes by, people will still remember Wiimote as the first this kind of HCI device made for consumer use.

Well, now there’s a lot more coming. Almost daily you can hear news about new ways of controlling devices or UI’s, and how the technologies are going to be more accurate and versatile than the current ones. When you think of it, did you really believe that the ‘mouse way of controlling’ was going to last forever? After all, in many cases it’s not that good or efficient way.

Motion detection techniques could bring more intuition for example to 3D modeling, and most likely we the gamers wouldn’t be complaining either. It would be interesting to see how these kinds of UI controlling systems could be applied to mobile phones. Touch screens are a step forward, but how about mobile motion detection in UI usage? Probably someday we’ll see.

Here’s a couple of interesting links about this subject. When you look at these videos, you can have a glimpse of the future – technically these are already real functioning concepts – and I have to say, all of a sudden, the Wiimote doesn’t feel that cool and unique anymore.

http://oblong.com/
http://sixense.com/

If you have something to say about the subject or more links to this area, please share them here if you will.