Archive — April 2020

UK infosec experts flag concern over NHSX contact tracing appLaurie ClarkeNS Tech

Mobile app displaying a text message from the government

This is the sort of reason why I don’t trust the state with my data as much as I trust many private companies. Apple and Google have worked together (itself a minor miracle) to develop a method of contact tracing that does not collect personal data and does not invade people’s privacy.

NHSX has rejected that model in favour of one that will enable them to deanonymise people, and store that information in a centralised database. This is the surveillance state. It risks reducing goodwill towards the NHS and other public institutions.

A statement for medical privacy campaign group Medconfidential reads: “Given NHSX has chosen to build an unnecessary massive pool of sensitive data, it must ensure that the data is well protected. With combined effort, GCHQ and NHS Digital will likely be good at defending the big pool of sensitive data. But there is no need to have that data. The best way to make sure data doesn’t leak, is to have chosen the method that never collected it.”

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Principles and prioritiesJeremy KeithAdactio

What makes a good principle? How do you avoid principles that are mere motherhood and apple pie? According to Jeremy Keith, it’s all about establishing priorities.

He goes on to outline the danger of prioritising the experience of developers or designers above the user experience. He makes an interesting observation about a perceived difference in the way developers, er, develop and the way designers do.

Developer efficiency is prized above all else. Like I said, that would be absolutely fine if we’re talking about technologies that only developers are exposed to, but as soon as we’re talking about shipping those technologies over the network to end users, it’s negligent to continue to prioritise the developer experience…

I’ve been talking about developers here, but this is something that applies just as much to designers. But I feel like designers go through that priority shift fairly early in their career. At the outset, they’re eager to make their mark and prove themselves. As they grow and realise that it’s not about them, they understand that the most appropriate solution for the user is what matters, even if that’s a “boring” tried-and-tested pattern that isn’t going to wow any fellow designers.

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SunCaribou

Swim cover

A few weeks ago, in the early stages of lockdown, Caribou’s album Swim played on shuffle. “This is a recent album,” I thought, “but it reminds me of happier times.

It turns out this album is in fact ten years old today. Time flies, I guess.

It was a time before covid-19. A time before DRS was introduced to Formula 1. A time when (briefly) people agreed with Nick Clegg.

Then I watched the video to Sun, one of the singles from the album. Extraordinarily, it seems made for today’s social distancing.

It features a group of mostly unhappy-looking people stuck in a dark room, dancing at a ceiling lamp as if it’s replacing the sun, and all studiously avoiding touching each other.

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Meeting the challenges of conducting user research remotelyWebsite and Communications Blog

A laptop displaying a user interface

The coronavirus outbreak has posed massive challenges for everyone in society. For practitioners of human-centred approaches to design, where face-to-face interaction is often so important to enhancing our understanding, our current requirement to maintain social distancing creates obvious barriers.

However, this doesn’t mean our work to ensure we’re meeting people’s needs has to stop. In fact, there are some perhaps surprising advantages to working remotely as a user experience practitioner.

Over on my team’s blog, I have outlined some of what I’ve learned about remote user research over the past month or so.

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Note — 2020-04-16

A drama about coughing ought to be super-triggering during this era. But I really enjoyed Quiz. It took my mind off everything.

An amazing story told in a hilarious way and with a geeky attention to detail. It’s crazy to think this all happened 19 years ago.

A great balancing act from Michael Sheen as Chris Tarrant — somehow taking the piss, while simultaneously being note-perfect.

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Autechre live in Glasgow, 15 April 2005

Autechre have recently released long-anticipated official recordings from their 2016 and 2018 tours, which I am currently (slowly) working my way through.

But on this day 15 years ago in Glasgow, Autechre performed perhaps their mightiest live set ever. I love this almost as much as any of their albums.

A lot of IDM-heads celebrate Avril 14th for the Aphex Twin tune, but that was yesterday. I enjoyed Kelly Moran’s cover.

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How will humans, by nature social animals, fare when isolated?The Economist

Illustration of a glum-looking woman sitting at a desk in a dark room

I have worried about the social and mental health effects of the lockdown measures being implemented. But even I hadn’t anticipated quite how much conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder appear to be common following quarantines.

According to a rapid review of the psychological effects of quarantines, published on March 14th in the Lancet, a British medical journal, some studies suggest that the impact of quarantines can be so severe as to result in a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder…

One study from 2009 looked at hospital employees in Beijing who in 2003 were exposed to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which, like covid-19, is caused by a coronavirus. The authors found that, three years later, having been quarantined was a predictor of post-traumatic-stress symptoms. Another study… found that the mean post-traumatic-stress scores were four times higher in children who had been isolated.

Elsewhere, the article highlights as a problem the fact that 67% of 18–34-year-olds are finding it hard to remain upbeat. But I’m more concerned about those who are managing to be upbeat among all this madness.

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