[Dave Birch] I’ll admit that my summer reading is probably a few standard deviations from the mean, in that I’m currently half way through Tim Park’s accessible story of the Medicis and will then move on to “Money Tales”. Not for me the guilty pleasure of thumbing Jackie Collins while sipping pina coladas by the pool. If it’s not about money or identity, then I’m not interested: if you don’t find the evolution of early European bills of exchange into near-money substitutes (to avoid church rulings against usury) thrilling, then I don’t know what a thriller is!

So, bearing my deranged perspective in mind, here are three recommendations for you. They are papers from CHI 2008, held on April 5 – April 10 2008 in Florence, Italy (ACM 978-1-60558-012-8/08/04). Each makes excellent beach reading for Digital Money Denizens and, in my case anyway, will generate half-a-dozen ideas per pages as you read through. You can download them individually from the ACM and they are well worth the $10 each in my opinion.

The first is “Lehdonvirta, V., et al. UbiPay: Conducting Everyday Payments With Minimum User Involvement”. As services embedded into public spaces become increasingly transparent, one peripheral aspect of use continues to demand explicit user attention: payment. UbiPay is a system that carries out small everyday payments in a way that minimises user involvement by choosing an interaction method based on context information. The aim is to make paying like breathing: something we are only peripherally aware of unless we exert our resources beyond the usual. This has powerful implications for business and design.

The second is “Wang, Y. and S. Mainwaring. Human-Currency Interaction: Learning from Virtual Currency Use in China”. What happens when the domains of HCI design and money intersect? This paper presents analyses from an ethnographic study of virtual currency use in China to discuss implications for game design, and HCI design more broadly. We found that how virtual currency is perceived, obtained, and spent can critically shape gamers’ behavior and experience. Virtual and real currencies can interact in complex ways that promote, extend, and/or interfere with the value and character of game worlds. Bringing money into HCI design heightens existing issues of realness, trust, and fairness, and thus presents new copportunities for user experience innovation. contexts, not just to “the market”, but also to contested structures of personal and public meaning, like social class and political economy. Moreover, the role of money in online experience and culture is becoming more important with the growth of paradigms such as collaborative community sites and virtual worlds. For example, with banking services being mashed up with social networking (e.g., prosper.com), or virtual worlds being marketed as real economies (e.g., Second Life), what it means to incorporate money into HCI.

The third is “Mainwaring, S., W. March, and B. Maurer. From meiwaku to tokushita! Lessons for digital money design from Japan”. Based on ethnographically-inspired research in Japan, we report on people’s experiences using digital money payment systems that use Sony’s FeliCa near-field communication smartcard technology. As an example of ubiquitous computing in the here and now, the adoption of digital money is found to be messy and contingent, shot through with cultural and social factors that do not hinder this adoption but rather constitute its specific character. Adoption is strongly tied to Japanese conceptions of the aesthetic and moral virtue of smooth flow and avoidance of commotion, as well as the excitement at winning something for nothing. Implications for design of mobile payment systems stress the need to produce open-ended platforms that can serve as the vehicle for multiple meanings and experiences without foreclosing such possibilities in the name of efficiency. enable incorporation of both kinds of cards into mobile devices, allowing one to pay with a wave or touch of ones’ e-wallet. Japan is often held up as a digital money success story, a place where the cashless future is arriving first. Next to Hong Kong, Japan has seen the widest adoption of stored- value digital payment for everyday transactions. Many factors, including regulatory, technical, and infrastructural, may underlie this success. For this paper, we present findings from a short ethnographically-inspired study to focus attention on the interaction- and culture-based factors promoting, and inhibiting, digital money’s relative success.

You can always hide them inside your copy of “Hello” magazine if you’re a bit embarrassed.

These opinions are my own (I think) and presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public [posted with ecto]

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