Thursday, August 07, 2008

Meaningful User Experience

MEANINGFUL USER EXPERIENCE: Bringing mindfulness principles into the design of next generation technologies for emerging markets.

By Craig Warren Smith, Senior Advisor, Human Interactive Technology Laboratory, University of Washington

Since the end of the bust, “user experience,” sometimes known as UX, became the driving factor in technology design and the basis for what is called Web 2.0. The trend became so powerful that communities of tens of millions of users appeared suddenly.

Now the user revolution is being extended to Asia’s emerging markets. As it does so, the speaker predicts a paradigm shift in the user revolution, which he dubs MUX, or meaningful user experience. He will present a theoretic framework, measurement concepts, and criteria that designers can use to incorporate meaningfulness into technology designs.

According to Prof. Smith, in the MUX framework, technology designers must:

  • satisfy the ethical concerns of telecommunications regulators

  • draw insight from neuroscience and other cognitive sciences to counter the addictive impacts of technology on users.

  • generate applications that are pragmatic and appropriate for low-income users whose primary interest is not social networking but economic security

  • draw from the spiritual and mindfulness traditions imbedded in Asian cultures,

  • restrict the “carbon footprint” of technologies, so that they are environmentally appropriate.

The speaker will give examples of meaningful technologies that may emerge in next-generation technologies for health care, education, home design, search engines and in religion.

Following the presentation, Thai theorists, computer scientists, and technology designers will respond, offering commentary on the MUX notion and offering further examples of developments that fit into criteria for MUX.

represents the most sudden and dramatic formation of engaged communities, some numbering tens of millions of users in just a few months. As the user revolution intensifies and shifts its locus away from USA to Asia, the trend

As competition intensifies for to win loyalty among users, the concept of Meaningful User Experience (MUX) has emerged.

Now the focus of Web 2.0 is moving to Asia’s emerging markets where designers must satisfy the ethical concerns of governments, parents and other stakeholders.

Craig Warren Smith, PhD, is Senior Advisor to the University of Washington’s Human Interactive Technology Laboratory, the founder of the concept of “spiritual computing” and a Senior Fellow at Chulalongkorn University’s Center for Ethics in Science and Technology.

will explain how Meaningful User Experience (MUX) could be the next stage of the user revolution in technology as competition for users intensifies and as designers seek to incorporate the ethical concerns of government regulators in emerging markets.

From: Craig Warren Smith

January 14, 2008

Regarding: Proposal for a Center for Meaningful Technologies

This memo suggests a partnership between Chulalongkorn University, King Monkut University and the web site,, to establish a Bangkok based Center of Meaningful Technologies (CMT) to commence on January 1, 2009. Its purpose would be the design, prototyping, and deployment of technologies that transmit “meaningful user experience” (MUX) to citizens in emerging markets. I propose an MOU signing Feb 7 between these partners , stating their intension to open discussions regarding the feasibility, and the organizational and financial model for the Center.

CMT’s Purpose

The Center would serve as a magnet for technology laboratories around the world in the field of Human Computer Interface (HCI), in which the purpose is to generate beneficial human impacts via technology. Responding to the humanistic critique of technology of philosopher since Heidegger, HCI researchers have grown in numbers and influence. But their research agendas are biased towards the circumstances of advanced markets. They lack an entity such as CMT that would adapt HCI perspectives to the social, educational and ethical needs of emerging markets.

CMT would also bring Web 2.01 perspectives into emerging markets and foster ethical ICT regulatory reforms, possibly via a partnership with the International Telecommunications Union.

In addition to interacting with academic labs (Stanford, MIT, Carnegie Mellon, et al), CMT would also collaborate with corporate laboratories, corporate educational marketing divisions, and CSR-programs that focus on generating beneficial social and educational impacts in emerging markets.

Though developed in Thailand, CMT would look beyond the Thai market to Indonesia (where a complementary initiative is in place, also linked to and other Asian markets. Currently, there is no internationally recognized technology design and policy center for emerging markets that specifically addresses humanistic and ethical impacts of technology.

Combining Separate Strengths

The project would combine the broad interdisciplinary perspectives of Chulalongkorn University (organized by its Center for Ethics in Science and Technology) together with the technologically mediated learning perspectives of King Monkut University of Technology (organized by its Innovative Learning Institute and the constructionist Darunsikkhalai School for Innovative Learning.) The partnership would engage as its communications vehicle focused on the formulations and deployment of new technologies that address social needs of emerging markets, as well as encouraging innovations that adapt ICT ecosystems to the bottom. is being converted into a Web 2.0 interactive web site with a Thai portal.

Evolving from the Chulalongkorn Colloquia

This initiative’s framework would emerge from the colloquium series organized by the Center for Ethics in Science and Technology at Chulalongkorn, called “Happiness, Technology and Public Policy.” Further events in this series focus on education, multimedia and rural development. The series is eliciting a series of recommendations that may be implemented by the Center. These recommendations incorporate public and private sectors and may lead to the formulation of public/private partnerships, supported by ICT regulatory reforms that may be propagated in emerging markets with the help of the International Technology Union. For example, the initial seminar elicited a series of recommendation for technologies that incorporate mindfulness into health care practices. They also yielded a broader recommendations by DPM Paiboon for technologies that support citizen participation and mindfulness practices in Thailand.

What is MUX?

Increasingly, digital technologies have gained the capacity to transmit “experiences,” not just information – and this trend is destined to accelerate dramatically in light of developments now in the world’s technology leading laboratories. As microchip technology evolves, these experiences will be increasingly immersive. They will shape behavior of users – addicting them and/or empowering them. It is a concern for public policy makers as well as ethicists and technology researchers themselves that new technologies minimize harm and optimize benefits to users. Yet currently, technology designers and public policy makers lack methods, measures and economic models for the successful design and deployment of beneficial technologies.

Possible Program activities of CMT

The following programmatic activities could be initiated in CMT:

  1. Development of a methodology for integrating MUX into the design of new software, eg for One Laptop Per Child.

  2. Development of an innovative design prototyping process that integrates mindfulness experiences into the design process.

  3. Development of meaningful technologies in four user domains: health care, education, multimedia and rural development.

  4. Development of operational definitions and measures for meaningfulness.

  5. Developing the philosophical, spiritual, scientific, anthropological, and educational theoretic foundations for meaningful technologies.

  6. Developing a scenario for the development of “ecosystems” of technology applications for Thailand.

  7. A project for scaling up child-centered education in Thailand with the help of technologies.

  8. Development of public/private partnerships and new strategic alliances fostering meaningful technologies.

  9. Development of public policy and regulatory innovations fostering meaningful technologies.