Border Check (BC) is a browser extension that maps how your data moves across the internet’s infrastructure while you surf the web. It will show you through which countries and networks you surf to illustrate the physical and political realities of the internet’s infrastructure using free software tools. Click here to see the video.
It’s as if the human-computer interaction community haven’t really addressed (yet) cloud computing, especially in the context of personal cloud services. An exception is this workshop called “Designing interaction for the cloud” organized by a team from Liverpool John Moores University. Their goal was to bring together researchers and practitioners from various fields and “examine the impact of cloud computing on the design of the user experience at the individual and organizational level”.
The workshop introductory paper highlights various research issues related to the following challenges:
- Design for a fragmented user experience
- Interoperability – goals and reality
- Personal clouds and multi-sensory environments
- The cloud in non-commercial application domains, e.g. medicine, education
- Privacy and trust as UX issues
- UI standards and processes in Cloud design
We are currently conducting a series of 10 semi-structured, open-ended interviews (based on the following interview guide. They last approximately an hour and are conducted in face-to-face or via Skype depending on the location of the participants.
In order to conduct our field study, we defined the following interview guide. It will basically address the 3 main themes below and we expect the discussion to last approximately an hour.
1. Usage of Cloud Computing
- Who are you? How do you use Cloud Computing applications (in your personal and professional activities)?
- What kinds of platforms? What reasons lead you to this choice? Did you test them before? Frequency of use? What benefits and drawbacks?
- Is this usage of the Cloud is standard among your peers/community of practice? How?
- Can you think of other practices? Peculiar approaches/ways to use Cloud Computing services?
- What are your biggest frustrations (or surprises)? In what context? Can you tell us the last time you had a major problem (or surprise)?
- Do you use Cloud Computing services with your friends/colleagues? Does it change the way you use it?
Note: the post “Soilless”, an ethnographic research presents the objectives for this workshop.
A first step in our field research approach consisted in investigating various on-line forums in which people comment/complain/discuss cloud computing services (Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.). These boards are fascinating places to observe users’ practices, and the range of topics discussed is quite broad. We quickly discovered that it could enable us to build two typologies about the main usage of cloud computing services, and the motivation of users.
We basically built a corpus of messages that we categorized and represented visually with the following diagrams. They shed some light on cloud computing main use cases, namely the practices the cloud help people undertake. We intend to use them in the upcoming workshops as a stimulus/framing/inspiration for designers.
The first workshop in the project corresponds to a preliminary field research phase devoted to understanding people’s relationship with the Cloud. Given our ambition to revisit and explore alternative personal cloud systems, we find it important to investigate actual usage, problems, limits, experiences and situations related to the pervasive use of cloud computing.
Based on a series of user interviews and observations, we will address various issues related to this theme. Our aim is to have a sample of participants which practices have a certain diversity: nomadic workers, third-space users, musicians, VJs, journalists, etc. These interviews will be complemented by an analysis of on-line forums and groups focused on the discussion of cloud-related issues (Dropbox forums, blogs and social media messages discussing the limits and problems of these platforms, etc.).
The prototypes of the “Google Navy” have been discovered on both coasts. But are they floating data centers? Or some kind of marketing facility for Google Glass? This perspective pushes further the question of the legal borders of the physical nature of data. This refers to our research in a sociological way, and makes me think of Sealand’s Datacenter HeavenCo in international waters (even if the scale of the infrastructure is in no way simmilar).