Monday, September 28, 2015

Religion 2.0

There have been a lot of changes in religion lately.  The growth of secular humanistic religions strikes me as a big one. It is not an oxymoron; there are some very spiritual movements that promote a system of morality while remaining mute on the issue of a supreme being.  Whether you choose to refer to it as religion or not, there is certainly a parallel.

But that is not my topic today.  I am more interested in the application of fundamental user experience design to enhance the practice of religion. 

Let me explain.

How about a pop-up store?  You have probably heard about other pop-up stores: retailers, restaurants, salons, and so on.  Why not one focused on religion.  A company called The Kitchen, with a little help from design firm IDEO, created a Jewish themed pop-up with religious products and kosher food for sale.  And a food truck attachment for real time meal service.  And a rabbi on hand to give advice and answer questions.  Convenient, simple, and flexible. Perfect for the millennial generation.

How about religious games that leverage mobile technology and target the digital natives that are straying from organized religion? Are you familiar with geocached scavenger hunts?  A host hides items in the real world and sends out clues by text message.  Whoever finds them all wins.  Another model is that if you find an item you become “it” and have to hide something else and become the host for the next round.  When you add the religious theme on top, you create a fun experience that engages the user in some form of religious practice.

What about a take on the card games that are becoming popular (such as Cards Against Humanity or Metagame)?  Another idea from The Kitchen has two decks. One deck is made of ritual cards that lead a group through a religious ritual. The second are action cards that add some fun and dynamism to the ritual.  Participants play the cards and mix things up a bit.  Perhaps less devout, but a more engaging user experience in the practice of the ritual – and the religion.

In just a few years, we have created millions of apps, available on IOS, Android, and Windows.  Why not focus just a little of this talent on religion (or spirituality if you prefer)?  If we bypass the bureaucratic layer of organized religion that creates most of the downsides (religious wars, conflicts, Inquisitions, scandals, etc), we can create versions that support the good components of religious practice (community, spirituality, philanthropy) without the bad.

Friday, September 25, 2015

This Week in EID - Episode 73

Wow, this week went by fast (if you get the pun, let me know).

All four of the articles this week hit my favorite themes. See if you can match each article with its theme.  You can click on the article to read it and get more information to make your matches.

     Theme                                                                      Article

Self-delusion                                                                 Speech Recognition v Voice Recognition
People don’t think like computers                                Secret Cliques and Social Identity
Creative insight                                                             Multiple Choice Endowment Effect
Pet peeves                                                                     Production Friction Algorithms

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Suppressing the Truth

I know there are at least a few attorneys here, so perhaps you can help me understand this.

I understand why truthful evidence is sometimes suppressed in court proceedings.   

  • Anything that is obtained through a violation of the Fourth Amendment should be suppressed to discourage future violations.   
  • The absence of the witness for cross examination could make the evidence unfair.   
  • Something that is more prejudicial than it is relevant could be counterproductive. 

But this example I don’t get.  When I serve as an expert witness on a trial, the attorney who hires me submits an expert designation to the court that lists the issues I will be testifying about, the scientific principles involved, and the evidence that I am using to apply the science.  This is an important step because it allows the other side to prepare to rebut my testimony, either through cross examination or with an expert of their own.

In a case I am working on currently, the expert designation listed several issues.  For one in particular, it noted the scientific principles and the evidence I considered as usual.  Then last week, I had my deposition in the case.  During the examination, the opposing attorney asked me about that issue. He interrogated me about the scientific principle.  He asked several follow up questions that probed the science and tried to poke some holes into it.  Exactly what I expected him to do.  Then he went on to the next one.

At the end, the attorney who brought me into the case had a very brief reexamination. He asked me if my investigation regarding the issue I described above considered the evidence that was listed on my expert designation.  It was already listed there, but I had not listed that evidence verbally during my deposition. It was not part of the question that I was asked.  And he wanted to make sure it was in the record so that it couldn’t be excluded at trial.

The other attorney objected that he was leading me.  In general, leading is inappropriate because the lawyer should not be giving so much as a hint as to what he would like the answer to a question to be.  But in this case, that seems out of place.  The only reason for the objection was clearly to try to suppress an opinion that I had clearly developed on my own and had already entered into the record in my designation.  The issue and the science had been discussed in my deposition, just not the evidence I used as input.

What possible reason is there to suppress the opinion? This is crock.

Am I totally off base here? I know that the attorney’s job is to be an advocate so using this tactic makes sense. But does the objection have any chance of holding up? That is the problem I see. It would be a travesty.  And the case just settled, so I will never find out how the judge would have ruled.