AAM Expands Yoga Exhibit

The Asian Art Museum’s First Thursday program on April 3 will take its current headlining exhibit into the auditory realm. I enjoyed visiting Yoga: The Art of Transformation when it opened earlier this year, and it’s exciting to hear (literally) that matra, kirtan and classical Indian music will be accompanying the exploration this week.


The program is also set to include a new installation by designer Chiraag Bhakta, who works locally as Pardon My Hindi. I first saw his hashtag #WhitePeopleDoingYoga on a museum goer’s tote bag and, curious, tried to find one in the gift shop (no dice). Pardon My Hindi explains:

This piece is a reflection of my personal relationship, as an Indian American, with yoga and its migration to today’s Western context. The project stems off a collection which started when I moved to San Francisco in 2007. I began to collect western grassroots-level meditation and yoga ephemera, book, records, and other educational material, from the 1960s through to the 1980s. During that era, particularly in the Bay Area, yoga started making a big impact on Western culture. I became interested in how yogic practice was being mined and commercialized; how the South Asian face of the discipline was being removed in the branding and portrayal of the practice and culture.

The museum calls the soon-to-be unveiled work (the 132st in the exhibit) “a collection of hundreds of commercial objects produced from the 1960s to the present, serving as a critique of the commercialization and Westernization of yoga.” If you have a chance to see it, please share your thoughts. I expect it to be though-provoking, controversial, and engaging.


Youth Radio Excitement

yrYouth RadioDuring the recent Sochi Olympic Games, Morning Edition listeners had the chance to hear a youth reporter interview a curling coach whose enthusiasm for the sport was infectious. I had thought of curling as an ironic passion for hipsters, but the ecstatic audio that the reporter captured was a pleasure to hear. It was dramatically different from the rest of the newscast. And it reminded me why youth-told and teen-produced stories are so vital: because they capture perspectives that are too often unheard in traditional media.

This spring I’ll be joining the board of directors at Youth Radio, the Oakland-based educational organization that has trained that reporter and many others. In addition to serving content as the National Public Radio youth desk, it provides important employment opportunities for young people. It partners with the MIT Media Lab and hosts a hands-on app creation lab. And it doesn’t just get ideas from adults: I’m especially excited that YR has a youth advisory board helping shape its future directions. Needless to say, I can’t wait to be involved.

Reflecting on Research Wins


As our Mozilla team prepares for SXSWEdu and the Digital Media & Learning conference next week, we’ve been deep in usability testing for BadgeKit. This software toolstack is intended to improve the issuing, visual design, and assessment of digital open badges. We’re focusing user testing on two core audiences:

  • Cities: Last year, the Chicago Summer of Learning was a city-wide experiment in recognizing learning that takes place during out-of-school months. It has ignited excitement across the country and from cities from New York to Dallas. Product lead Sunny Lee has more to say about the expansion of badge-able summer learning programs, and we’ll be hearing from cities more about their needs through live user testing in Boston next week.
  • Mozilla teams: This year we’re planning to support three types of “Mozilla-wide” badges: 1) organization-issued badges; 2) team/product badges (to directly recognize contributors across different Mozilla offerings, including Engagement and Webmaker); and 3) individual/community badges created by non-staff members to celebrate their collective efforts. I’m working with our badge system design lead Carla Casilli in thinking about templates and tools–including BadgeKit–for the #1 and #2 effots. This spring we may be doing a Mozilla roadshow of sorts, talking to product teams about what they’ve learned in trying to recognize their contributors and how badges might further that work. more

Can’t Miss Research Reads


User Research Must ReadsAs my collaborator and mentor Steph Habif and I kick off the three night course “Know Your Humans: Designing Effective User Research” at the d.school this week, I wanted to share a list of favorite resources for researchers. Some of these helped usher me into the field and some are new (but quickly becoming beloved). My V1 of this list includes:


Articles & Blogs

Let me know what you would add in the comments or via @emgollie.

Research as “Periscope”: Mule’s Erika Hall for UX Book Club SF

Screen Shot 2014-01-31 at 11.22.45 PMResearch is a tool–a periscope offering you a better view of your surroundings. It can be very powerful if applied thoughtfully. Rather than piling on the costs, research can save you and the rest of your team a ton of time and effort.

In featuring this in the early pages of her book, Erika Hall had me nodding, highlighting, and bookmarking early into reading “Just Enough Research.” Hall, a Mule Design co-founder who shares design research musings as @mulegirl, joined a group of UX Book Club-goers at Mozilla’s SF offices this week. One of the topics that came up first was presentation: how we as researchers describe ourselves (“customer advocate” and “user developer” were amongst the suggestions) and our methods (including “fast insights testing”) to potential skeptics. more

Know Your Humans: A User Research Pop-Up Class

Setting yourself up to design a delightful product or experience means starting with strong user research (you’ve heard me talk about this before). Health behavior designer Dr. Steph Habif and I will be teaching a class at the Stanford design institute (“d.school”) for three nights in February, and we’d love to have you involved. Come learn how to do research that effectively informs user experience in this fun, interactive pop-up class.

We’ll get you comfortable crafting questions, putting on observational and analytical hats, and asking how and why. You will practice how to see and understand users’ small daily choices–the ones that other people might miss–to be able to design with those users. Students who take this class will be able to identify highly motivated users, practice keen observation skills, and have more insight about how to meaningfully impact the people they are designing for.

We’re excited to open the course to students of all ages, including a guest participant from the Hasso-Plattner-Institute, a leader in design thinking in Germany. You can apply to take part here.

Introducing Badges User Profiles

During the tail end of this year I’ve been working with the Open Badges team at Mozilla to prepare for BadgeKit, a software toolstack for badge issuing, assessment, and more. In undertaking product planning, we took a good amount of time to ask who might interact with these offerings and how. What you’ll see is a set of characteristics that extend beyond BadgeKit and, I think, speak to the diverse growth of the badges community and its players. (You can download a copy here.)

These profiles are based on conversations with community members (new and experienced alike) in spring and summer 2013; one-on-one interviews with educators, technologists, and observers of the space; and notes from participants of weekly research and badge system design calls. The latter have provided feedback on these profiles, and thanks to them badges skepticism is importantly included.Untitled-1 more

On Soliciting + Sharing Feedback

This past weekend contributors and staff working on the Mozilla project came together in Brussels, Toronto and Santa Clara to share where we’re headed. One of the best parts of this Summit for me has been getting to know the Mozilla User Experience team. (Those would be our cohorts on the Mozilla Corporation side of the house, which is a sister organization to the Foundation where I work. Go figure that it took traveling to Belgium to meet smart folks who sit one floor away in SF!)

Tony Santos hosted a session about soliciting and giving actionable feedback to designers. Together a small group of engineers, UX staff, and a communications director talked about our teams’ approaches to peer-based critique and the difference between that and feedback solicited from external stakeholders. We agreed that we can all be more open about our processes and clear in what we’re seeking (including reactions from community members even on quick timeframes).Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 5.16.04 PM more

TechCrunch >> NewlyWish Looks to Disrupt $19 Billion Annual Wedding Registry Industry

In a world of customizable coffees and individualized experiences, the wedding industry is just recently starting to break from its historical lack of options. Pre-nuptials, many couples still face lists of venue-required caterers and fight their way past other undesirable prescriptions for their big days. Enter NewlyWish, a New York-based e-commerce platform that seeks to provide creative registry options beyond big-box retailers.

With its first product for couples, the newly minted winner of the Women 2.0 PITCH NYC Startup Competition provides a custom multi-merchant online marketplace. Users can choose from and register for goods at brick-and-mortar stores, which have historically been excluded from the $19 billion annual domestic wedding registry market.

Read this post in its entirety on TC.

Make a Joyful Noise: Go Go Games Launches for Kids

I can’t think of a new game I’ve been more excited to see brought to the world than the Go Go Games suite (though SuperBetter is also one I’m ecstatic about). The iPad app for children with autism spectrum disorders is the creative brainchild of interaction designer Heidi Williamson, user interaction expert Joy Wong Daniels, and software engineer Alexis Hiniker. The game, which is now available for 99 cents on iTunes, includes colorful train, car, and spaceship matching games that are deceivingly focus-demanding (by design). Kudos are in order for this team, which tested with dozens of children and educators before shipping its inaugural product with imaginative music by Adam Seltzer.