Article: “UX testing that works” in GCN

Today I was referenced in “UX testing that works“, a story about the success of the CUTGroup, a user testing methodology I invented in February 2013. Here’s a snip:

The CUTGroup meets both to look for errors in the performance of an app and  to check “classic human interface design in term of the presentation of information and workflows,” said Daniel X. O’Neil, a founder of Smart Chicago and author of a bookabout the CUTGroup project.

The CUTGroup program has become part of a trend in digital systems toward user-centered design and development, according to O’Neil, now director of product development and business strategy at Ad Hoc, LLC, a software development firm with a focus on government apps.

“The move toward user-centered design, user-centered systems and the increase in the number of user researchers in government contracts is profound,” said O’Neil, adding that the “CUTGroup has provided concrete ways for designers to listen to real people for whom they are creating.”

The trend also fits the focus of the General Services Administration’s 18F and U.S Web Design Standards initiatives, which gives developers plug-and-play design and code that GSA claims set “a new bar for simplicity and consistency across government services.”

To support demand for the data and testing necessary to support a user-oriented approach to programming, developers are turning to methods like the CUTGroup.  The group aims to find people whose characteristics make them target users for a particular project. For example, testers can be sorted by the devices they use to access the internet, their familiarity with 311 services, whether they’re veterans, of whether they’re about to lose health insurance benefits.

“That kind of specificity is actually very difficult to get, and the CUTGroup allows for a really good method for recruiting regular people so they can be contacted and segmented on a moment’s notice,” O’Neil said.

ux-testing-that-works-gcn

CUTGroup Named one of 15 “bold urban policies with a proven record of success”

Today the Center for an Urban Future published a report, Innovation and the City, that lists the Civic User Testing Group, a community-based UX test ing methodology I invented in February 2013, as  one of 15 “bold urban policies with a proven record of success”. Here’s a snip:

What most civic tech projects have lacked, how- ever, is an active role for city residents. Dan O’Neil is one of the founders of the civic tech movement. As founder and executive director of Smart Chicago Collaborative, an innovation incubator sponsored through a public-private partnership, he has played an instru- mental role in Chicago’s tech endeavors. But at a certain point, O’Neil became disillusioned with the lack of public engagement in the ingenious parade of apps and special-purpose websites that have garnered so much attention and praise. He observed a lack of interest in meeting the needs of ordinary people, or even finding out what they considered their own needs to be.

Smart Chicago addressed the participation gap by shifting their focus from software development to software testing. Applications can be written by a small group of coders in a windowless room, but that’s only the beginning. In the private sector, companies convene user-experience (UX) groups to try out appli- cations or websites and report their experiences. UX groups are less common in the public sector, and O’Neil had the idea of creating one that would also empower and connect its participants.

Here’s the CUTGroup section of the report:

 

Article: The Hidden Workers of Civic Tech

Today I published this article in Civicist: The Real Heart of Civic Tech Isn’t Code. Here’s a snip:

In our Civic User Testing Group (CUTGroup), which is run by Sonja Marziano, we publish all of our methods for recruiting testers and developers, and we’ve compiled it into a book as well.

They’re hiding in your city—find them.

Civic tech that doesn’t include people like Akya, Angel, and Farhad leads to a distorted vision of the field. A vision that leads with technical solutions rather than human capacity. A vision that glorifies the power of the developer rather than the collective strengths of a city.

So as the 1,200 Summit attendees get on planes, go back to their jobs, and log in to Github, I urge you to find the Akya, Angel, and Farhad in your communities. Build them into your lives and your work. The field of civic tech won’t thrive without them.

Remarks at the White House Open Data Innovation Summit

Today I gave keynote remarks, “Open Data: Roots, Impact, and Promise” at The White House Open Data Innovation Summit. Here’s the morning agenda:

agenda-dxo

Here’s the slides:

Here’s some images:
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dxo-sunlight
Here’s video:

Daniel O’Neil of Ad Hoc LLC, an organization that has enabled a number of federal government agencies to scale new technologies faster, said the federal government and the public at large are at a unique point in history wherein the full potential of open data is just being realized.

“We are on the front lines of how to use open data to make real change,” said O’Neil, stressing that efforts must be made to continue moving forward “no matter what comes next.”

Photography: Spot News Pics of Taxi Crash at O’Hare

Today I took a number of photos of a taxi that had crashed into a vestibule at Terminal 3 of O’Hare Airport. The images have been picked up by a number of news outlets, including Huffington Post: Taxi Slams Into Terminal 3 Entrance At Chicago O’Hare International Airport. Snip:

A taxi jumped a curb and smashed into the glass at an entrance to Chicago O’Hare International Airport on Monday evening as Memorial Day travelers returned home.

Images shared on social media by Daniel X. O’Neil show a Prius with markings of the Dispatch Taxi Affiliation in the entrance vestibule at the lower level of Terminal 3.

DANIEL X. O’NEIL

Here’s a complete set of the photos.

Google Photos Taxi Crash

Including this one, which has the driver (male, left) gazing at his error:

Taxi Driver O'Hare Crash

Here’s the pics being used in various news outlets.

News story: Dan O’Neil leaving Smart Chicago for digital government services firm

Today the Blue Sky Originals section of the Chicago Tribune published an interview about my departure from Smart Chicago and my move to Ad Hoc: Dan O’Neil leaving Smart Chicago for digital government services firm

Snips:

“When you talk about impact — which we all want to have — they’re making impact for millions of people right now, in this moment, on the Internet,” O’Neil said.

*

The firm is based in Washington, D.C., but O’Neil said he’ll work remotely and remain based in Chicago. He plans to stay involved in Chicago’s civic technology community.

“I will continue to have a voice as a resident of this city in the way things are run and how they go,” O’Neil said. “You can’t build good products for hundreds of millions of people in this country without caring about their digital skills and their access to your tools.”

Writing: Toward Sustainable Community Tech Organizing

Today I published an article in Civicist that lays out the enormous investments made at Smart Chicago in civic tech and questions whether those were the right models. It lays the foundation for a more serious discussion of community technology organizing models we’ve pioneered at Smart Chicago. Here’s a snip:

Smart Chicago’s focus is on the unmet technology organizing needs in neighborhoods all over the city.

Sustainability of civic tech organizing is basically resolved in Chicago. What remains is a city of 2.7 people million with precious few invitations to range beyond their own block, very few jobs in tech for people with low to medium digital skills, and very few ways to listen and hear the needs of the people.

That’s what we need to build.

 

Radio: Barber Shop Show 261: Task Force Tracker Project

Today I appeared with some colleagues on Vocalo’s The Barbershop Show. Here’s their description of our segment:

The Police Accountability Task Force made a number of recommendations for reform in their report. We heard about an annotated digital version of the report that’s tracking progress made on the recommendations. For that discussion, we heard from:

  • Independent journalist Ade Emmanuel, who wrote an article for Chicago Magazine about a series of Chicago Police contract provisions. The provisions were heavily criticized in the Police Accountability Task Force’s recent report.
    www.chicagomag.com/city-life/April…-by-Task-Force/
  • Dan O’Neil of SmartChicago
  • Darryl Holliday, editorial director of City Bureau

Here’s the show in full on Soundcloud:

And here’s some excerpts of my remarks: