Examining Human Relationships
through UX Research, HCI, and AI/AL
What do we learn about human beings when we evaluate machines built to act like people?
And here's a clip the virtual improviser I designed (playing the synthesizer) and "Kevin," a woodwind player based in California:
These meetings were part of a larger ethnographic project and were a mix of qualitative usability testing, contextual interviewing, task analysis, and requirements elicitation. Since free improvisation is a resolutely obscure subculture, locating participants required focused ethnographic fieldwork in order to make contact with musicians.
Similarly, improvisers themselves find the opportunity to criticize a machine built to act like a person gives them a chance to more thoroughly conceptualize their own professional goals. For example, for “Laurie,” a trumpeter in Berlin, these “tests” of the system:
"really pushed me to think more precisely about
what I’m trying to do as an artist.”
In many cases, tests of an app, interface, or other design will reveal ways that that design should be improved: text should be rewritten, menus reorganized, buttons made larger, etc. In many others, improving the design isn’t really what will matter to the human being at the other end as much as improvements in the overall workflow or organizational design. If users of a banking app are frustrated, it may very well be that the app was the problem. Nevertheless, it’s also quite likely that the bank’s overall service design could be the issue.