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Aug. 12, 2022

E254 - THE LINE is a new city without roads, cars, and emissions

This week on the show, we talk about THE LINE, The City of the Future. We also answer some questions from the community about managers hiring unqualified researchers, where to discuss minutiae of daily work with more experienced colleagues in the industry, and we talk about the most interesting problem/solution we have worked on.


This week on the show, we talk about THE LINE, The City of the Future. We also answer some questions from the community about managers hiring unqualified researchers, where to discuss minutiae of daily work with more experienced colleagues in the industry, and we talk about the most interesting problem/solution we have worked on.

Check out the latest from our sister podcast - 1202 The Human Factors Podcast -on Human Factors in Iarnród Éireann - An interview with Nora Balfe:

 

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Transcript

 

Welcome to Human Factors Cast, your weekly podcast for human Factors psychology and design.

 

 

Hello, everybody. Welcome back to another episode of Human Factors. Cast this is episode 254. We're recording this live on August 11, 2022. I'm your host, Nick Rome, and I'm living dangerously because I'm not recording a local copy, but across the Internet from me is Mr. Barry Kirby. Barry, how are you? I'm fine. I'm also not recording a local copy either. Do I need to be scared? No. As long as we're coming in loud and clear, I think we're okay. We got a great show for you all tonight. We're going to be talking about the Line, the city of the future. We also got some questions from the community about managers hiring unqualified researchers, where to discuss minutiae of daily work with more experienced colleagues in the industry. And we'll discuss the most interesting problems or solutions we have ever worked on. Barry, I hope that doesn't take you by surprise and you're well prepared for that. But first, we got some programming notes. Barry, what is the latest from 1202? So over at Twelve Two, we've been discussing the rail industry with Norabolf, who is the HVI manager in the Human Factors in Irish Rail. That's been a really popular episode where we've been learning about the breadth of stuff that she's been getting involved with. But then on Monday, a new episode comes to light and it's actually about the perils and procedures of how to publish a book, or specifically how we share our knowledge in the Human Factors domain through Human Factors publishing with ex President of the CIA, Robert Bridges. So that goes live on Monday, and hopefully everybody will want to be pick up their typewriter or word processor or pencil and start sharing their knowledge in being able to publish their own books. I hope I'm inspired to write a book by that. But anyway, we know why you are all here. Let's get into the news.

 

 

Yes, this is the part of the show all about Human Factors news. Barry, this story is incredible. Can you let us know what our story this week is? So this week we are talking about HRH. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced his designs for the Line, the City of the Future in neon. So, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia recently announced the design of the Line civilizational revolution, which is easier for you to say. That puts humans first. It's supposed to be providing unprecedented urban living experience while preserving the surrounding nature. The proposed designs of the Line embody how urban communities can thrive in an environment free from roads, cars and emissions. The city will run on 100% renewable energy and prioritize people's health and well being of transportation and infrastructure. It puts nature ahead of development and will contribute to preserving 95% of neon's land. The announcement reveals the most important characteristic of the Line, and that is that the city is only 200 meters wide, but it will be 170 km long and extend 500 meters above sea level. The line will eventually accommodate 9 million residents and will be built on a footprint of 34 km², which is unheard of when compared to other cities of similar capacity. Residents will have access to all facilities on the line within a five minute walk. In addition to a highspeed rail with an end to end transit of 20 minutes, the line offers a new approach to urban design. The idea of layering city functions vertically while giving people the possibility of moving seamlessly in three dimensions up, down or across. To access them is a concept referred to as zero gravity urbanism. Different from just tall buildings, this concept lays public parks, pedestrian areas, schools, homes and places for work so one can move effortlessly to reach all daily needs within five minutes. It's an ideal climate all year round and that will ensure that residents can enjoy surrounding nature when traveling on foot. So Nick, would you live in a vertical city in the middle of the desert? Such future much? Wow, I don't know if I would live there but this is certainly awesome. I am a complete sucker for futurism and I really love this story so much. Future cities built around humans are just really cool. Where I get really sort of down in the dumps or bogged down, whatever you want to call it, is when I think about all the hurdles that we have to make in order to get there, there's a lot of sort of technical advances, a lot of sort of societal questions that we need to answer and I'm sure with enough time and resources will get there. But man, I'm really hopeful that that stuff like this will become a reality someday. Barry, what about you? What are your kind of initial thoughts on this thing? So this idea of this experimental city within an experimental region, which is what Neom is, it's something that's come together to be a catalyst for future thinking and really drive science and engineering forward. If you go on the website then they put up loads of videos about how they expect what looks like a barren, featureless desert at the moment. They see it as a catalyst for doing new things and actually they've even got their own Twitter accounts and things like that, which I realized after looking up at this and following them and stuff and understanding what's going on. But I also suspect, I think there's some interesting challenges in going vertical. So if you're going vertical as well as horizontal, what about connectivity with the rest of the world? Because it's saying that it's going to be like sort of a trade center and all that sort of stuff. If you've just got this one vertical structure and you've got then connections with other trading organizations, then how long can it just stay a single line before somebody puts something on the side to make freight loading and unloading easier and then you suddenly start spawning on the side. But I'm sure they're only just technological challenges that will overcome. For me, I think what I worry about more than anything else is that what the whole premise loss is over is money. This nirvana of awesomeness looks brilliant, but it also looks Lincoln expensive and doesn't mean that only the privileged few get to live there. Whilst the rest of how many futuristic science movies have we seen over the years or over the decades that have the diviner of people living occupant lives and then under the sewers or out in some barren featureless desert, everybody else like you and me go and live because we can't afford to live there. So I think from a technical perspective amazing. But I think we need to dig into some of the broader team of issues to really there with you. So look, we understand that this is a very future thinking project and it's pie in the sky. We understand that we're going to break it down as if we were trying to figure out some human factors issues with this. We've been hired as human factors engineers to figure out the lines, human factors problems. So let's talk about them. I think I want to jump in to kind of what was alluded at in the preshow and actually was brought up by call me Freckles on Twitch. And I want to bring this up kind of as the first thing and we're looking at kind of the organization, the society within the line. Do we call it this line or this the line? I'm not quite sure within the line. So the sense of communities within the line. There's a couple of things going on here, right? If they built this society, they built it with this three dimensional what do they call it, zero gravity navigation. And so they built it with this in mind. And ideally you'd have everything that you need within a certain radius of where you reside. And what that means is that you might have every X amount of feature meters within the line. You have sort of a school or a hospital or a grocery store or something like that. Is it repeating? Do they switch it up from community to community? And where does one end and the other begin? Because you can imagine that one school. If you're on this side, you might go to this one. If you're on this side, you might go to that one, but you might go to the same hospital as somebody else that's kind of close to you. And so there's a bunch of different ways in which these communities, I guess, sort of need to form over time. And will that be natural? Will it be fabricated by the design of the layout? And then really getting at community here there's sort of a larger issue. Will some parts of the line come with a premium for real estate, either by the water, by transportation hubs. Those types of things are real considerations that you have to consider. Right. I can imagine by placement in terms of height, are things that are higher above the sea level going to cost more because of the view? There's a lot of things that I'm thinking about from this perspective. How does it change sort of the social perceptions of people? When you tell somebody you live on the 500th floor, when you tell them that you live on the second floor, what do people think of you? Does that change how people view you? Does it change how you interact with this society? And I think it's ripe for the haves versus the have nots, right. Those with more money are higher up, they're closer to the water, and status will be immediately understood by where you reside. And that is kind of where I'm thinking at. And I do want to bring in this comment because it agrees with me on this, and I like comments that agree with me. It says it's an astounding conceptual feat and certainly is aesthetically pleasing. The carbon footprint and ethical consumption adjacent relations are highly promising. However, I am of the current opinion that this will quickly devolve into an international sorry, it cut off on me. An intentionally segregatedclass city similar to what we see here in the US. With districts, districts, districts, states, counties assessing poor funding, accessing poor funding, and humanities related resources. Think Snow Piercer. That to me is sort of the biggest consideration for this. Talk about human factors all you want, but that is a major, major thing that we have to solve before we even start to think about all that stuff. Barry, what are your thoughts on all that? Yeah, I think you could ask yourself, is this just innate in human behavior? Because no matter how equal you make everything so addressing the social fabric first, we will find something in this that makes one side slightly better than the other. So it could be if it's east, west facing, if it's a line, one side might be west facing, the other side east facing. So one is either cooler or warmer. Just because of the nature of the way the way the sun travels, does that mean that one side is going to be inherently better than the other because of the nature of what it does? One side might need more resources to cool it than the other and therefore be more expensive. There's going to be some differences amongst it and therefore the people who have more ability that might not just be money, that might be other resources as well, or however these things run out, then we do tend to shake ourselves out into some sort of social order, no matter how much we try not to do that. Fundamentally, no matter what sort of city or anything like that there is always inequality in jobs or perceived nature of jobs, because no matter how much technology you've got, you've got somebody's going to clean up, somebody's going to have to make sure that the water systems are maintained, that the air conditioning systems are maintained, but these wonderful transportation systems are maintained. And normally we give those we class them as less skilled jobs despite the fact I couldn't do most of them. And that tends to also shake out a class order within our society. That aside, something else he said, which I thought was quite interesting, was the nature of schools. If we are in this, why do we need central hoops for schools? We could distribute schooling completely so your schooling is done in the home. If we got the technology to do that and support, et cetera, et cetera. But then one of the things that we have is how to bring people together in meaningful ways that isn't completely socially engineered because you want people to find their own relationships and things like, oh, do we? That's an interesting question, but I think it's going to be because you cannot just build a city and force things to happen. We as creatures want to generate relationships. We want to generate our own behaviors because no matter how well we try and fit into stuff, something always breaks or changes on that that doesn't fit into the norm. And there's loads and loads of films out there that sort of parroted this or cover this off. I think that's going to be one of the hardest things to crack, take up the technology is how do people live with people for so long in such a regimented, or what I currently perceive as a fairly regimented building structure. Right. Two other things that I thought of while we're on this topic of society and culture and all that stuff is you brought up jobs and how some jobs that are often viewed as lesser skilled, they're going to need to have some sort of income that supports them to be able to live in this place to begin with. And so that gives me a little bit of hope that perhaps they're designing with that in mind and that those types of things might be accessible. The other thing that gives me a little bit of hope here and I think we're maybe a little shy on hope getting into this whole thing a little early. Right. One of the first lines in the press release is that a civilizational revolution. See, there we go. I'm trying it now, barry Too a civilizational revolution that puts humans first. That is the very first thing that they say. And so I think I would hope that they're already thinking about these types of issues. Is it going to be one of those things where you have a situation where maybe some people have access to better things? Maybe, but I'm hoping that everything will be relatively equitable. I don't know where do you want to go next, Barry? We should really jump into some human factors issues here. Yeah, let's go and hit some of the engineering side of things because I think the way that we build this is going to be truly fascinating. So the first thing I think and just taking off some of the notes activity is something I think is going to be key to this. So if you got this wonderful, literally the line in the sand, it looks really nice in its pictures, it's all nicely isolated and it's like said this almost nirvana principle. But how do you get if it's going to be a sense of a trade and things like that, how do we get on and off it? Because I didn't see anything like that. It mentions a train within it high speed train to get you from end to end in what I say it was 20 minutes. But where do you go off that? So is there going to be a train line going all the way to the nearest other bit of civilization? If you've got that there then you're going to have to have some sort of train hub to be able to manage that. And therefore at what point does the engineering of connectivity offend the engineering of the sleek line structure? You could argue that actually a train is relatively easy because it could be right at the end of the line and actually it's almost you could from an aesthetic principle, the train line is just a continuation of the line in the sand type thing because it's just but what about other forms of transportation? I mean we've got no cars within it but you can have cars. Do you need cars to get there? If you're going to have cars to get there for visitors, maybe not residents, but visitors, then you're going to have a train yard for free trains and then you get onto that other one that we don't like for the carbon impact airplanes. Where's the nearest airport when you're wanting to get goods in and out, particularly food goods and things like that. So I get in the idea that it said everything was walkable within it but I think how do we get over the fact that it won't be entirely selfcontained even if it produces all of its own water, its own food and things like that from within because some of the videos and things are saying it will grow things it needs. We still want to engage with the rest of the world. So be interested to see how we build them sort of things in a to be aesthetically pleasing just to fit in with that aspiration but also to make it work within the environment. Do you have any comments on how we connect it to the rest of the world? Yes, I have a ton. Especially working in supply chain logistics. Right. Things that I'm interested about. Do resources come in to one side of the line or the other? And then is there sort of a multi leg journey that those products need to take once they've gotten onto the line? And how does that work? Do you distribute it to one end and then it gets on maybe another dedicated high speed rail that's freight as well. And you have sort of a hyperloop situation where maybe the freight can go fast without worrying about damaging any goods. I don't know. But then that's another thing that you have to think about is does everything come in on ship? And then the high speed rail takes it to where it needs to go throughout and just kind of drops it off, drops a little more off, drops a little more off, and by the end you're kind of done. Or how are logistics done on this thing? That's a whole other separate piece of this that you're right there's, the connectivity with the world because there's going to be imports, there's going to be maybe exports. I'd think that if they were growing everything that they need on board, they might have some surplus that they'd want to share with the rest of the world. And so that's another consideration. Yes. You brought up the point of the airport. Is there one airport? This thing is long. Are there two airports? What does it look like for having these planes land on top of it? Are they on the sides? Because you brought up that question of, well, once you start building out, it'd be very easy to start building outwards. And then is it just a city at that point? Because you can keep expanding

 

 

that you couldn't there's no way you'd be able to land anything useful on top of it because it's only 200 meters wide. Right. There's no turnaround and take off. Well, even then landing, if you try and land a 747 on there, for example, they probably won't have enough room width wise oh, yeah. To be able to land and get off it. Well, that's what I'm saying, is you land and then it's a straight line, you just take off. Right. Again, it'd be a different way to do an airport. It's almost like you land and then you dock up to one terminal and then that's what I'm saying is you need sort of multiple airports on top, and then it's like there's a whole structural integrity of the line. Can it support 747 landing on it every day? I don't know. Are they at the end and then is that part of the line? I don't know. Right. There's all these other questions. It's interesting, though, that a lot of the I recognize the buttocking on your stuff here, but a lot of the stuff that we're really hitting here is not functional. It's all aesthetic because they've given us that aesthetic idea of the line in the sand, the silver shine line. We're trying to almost force everything down into that aesthetic. And given that we're kind of struggling already, we barely got into it, does that largely lead you to believe already that it's impossible? No, I don't think so. No. If you stick an airport at one end and a port at the other end, I think that would be sufficient enough. As long as there's enough throughput for those and you have some sort of interconnected freight system that then takes something from one end to the other because things travel differently. And so if you have both of those one at either end, and you take the high speed rail to the end to get on a passenger airplane, I don't think it's that big of a deal. I think we're now kind of one airport might serve this community because if you think about it, right, like, these international airports are located in urban hubs and so you have a lot of people that could potentially pass through there. I think it could support it. Honestly, if you put an airport at one end, a port at the other end, and honestly, we've seen some of the port and some of the concept art go, look at that. If you haven't already, you can see boats kind of parked up to it and they kind of go that's why it extends so far out into the ocean is because you have so many boats just like, lined up on the outside of it. One thing the art does show, I guess, is we've been told about people living there. But what about the tourism sector? Is it a tourist destination as much as anything else as well? Which is interesting. Yeah, I wrote in my notes this would be an incredible location to go study abroad at because it would be an entire if they have a university, there'd be an entirely different way to think about communities, an entirely different perspective on the world, really, because you're in this community that is largely vertical in the way that you navigate it. And if you're coming from another place where you navigate horizontally, or from the states where we largely depend on surface transportation to get us from a suburb to city center, that is a completely different way to think about things. I want to talk about the vertical city aspect of it too, because this is sort of another thing that I'm really interested in. This is a vertical city. How do you travel vertically? Is it elevators, escalators? All the above stairs, of course, but how do you make these things accessible? If it is elevators involved, is it going to be enough for the throughput of the people? And what about population growth? Is it going to be enough ten years down the line, 20 years down the line? Is this going to be enough? Or is infrastructure going to fail sometime in the future? Because you can't really add much more to it when you're considering sort of this artificial limitation of the 620ft, I don't know, it is in meters, but it's just shy of two football fields wide for those in the States. And so if you're looking at that right, there's not much room that you can sort of reconfigure some of this stuff for more of that movement infrastructure. And so that's another sort of concern there that I'm looking at. What else, Barry? I have more stuff that I want to get into with verticality in a minute. Yeah, I think this point is connected to verticality because that will heavily lean itself on technology because it's what it would say, 500 meters high. So five football fields high. All right. That's quite a lot. So just using stairs, stairs when you incorporate them into a building, take up a lot of space when you put them in, no matter how you put them in, and they've got to be available for everybody. So that's why I think lifts, whatever description, is going to be used quite a lot when they go wrong. This whole city is really leaning very heavily on technology. So technology in the water, technology in the air to reduce the carbon footprint on solar, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. But what about the redundancy? What about the fallback systems? Do we need them if this is the place where people are living? I mean, we're struggling at the moment. We're in the middle of the second heat wave here in the UK, and we don't have things like air conditioning, really in homes and things like that. And we're already struggling with low water reserves and all that sort of stuff because we don't really have the redundancy at the moment to deal with the temperatures and the conditions that we're dealing with. So if this stuff falls over and you're in the middle of a desert, you haven't got the air conditioning to keep you cool, you haven't got the water cooling and the water cleaning because the technology has gone down for whatever reason. How do you fit all of that redundancy? This is not necessarily a bad thing. I think really, it's just going to be focused on as much as the technology itself needs good development and development from a good user perspective, so does the fallback systems. The fallback systems need to be developed sympathetically and have as much effort put into them as what the main systems do. Yeah, I want to talk about verticality again, and you mentioned sort of how do you get around the redundancy of systems? From the promotional art, it looks like everybody has antigravity boots that they can just jump from one thing to another. It's rather fantastical. So that's clearly the solution there. But let's talk a little bit about what this means in terms of safety, because you might be safe from automobile accidents, but now there's sort of this incredible need for more handrails don't let the empire build this because there's not going to be any handrails and there's going to be a lot of accidental deaths. So look, I have in my notes cool facts. They're not cool facts, they're in fact deaths. But I do want to bring this up and there's some reasons why this might not be the greatest metric to bring in, but ultimately, let's make it safer for vertical navigation. This is from the CDC. In 2020, you had 420 deaths from falling and 40,000 deaths from motor vehicle accidents. In 2020, now you're getting rid of sort of that motor vehicle accidents, but you're also introducing all that verticality. And these are accidental falls. And in a lot of cases, one of the reasons why this is not such a great metric is because you have sort of the aging population that falls and can often end up in very serious medical issues because of those falls. It's not quite the same, but accidental falls are a huge reason why people get hurt. That's just looking at deaths from falls. And accidental falls is, like I said, one of those main reasons. People who operate on the telephone lines or broadband internet lines or whatever, the lines elevated above those people fall out of those buckets all the time. People who work in elevated spaces, on roofs, on construction sites. Falls are a real issue. And now you're having an entire public navigate through them. And is it really going to be much different from perhaps a situation where you have maybe one floor, kind of this atrium situation? The design solution that I'm thinking of is in order to prevent somebody from falling to their death in an atrium, you just tear it right? So on the interior you kind of have these tiered floors where one extends out a little bit further than the one above. And so it makes it less likely that you're going to fall all the way down. But then again, you only have so much room to do that. Do you have a base that extends upwards about halfway and you have sort of all the infrastructure pieces down below that thing and then you have sort of the last half exposed to the elements where you have that tiered system. I think that's what they're going for. That's the sense that I got. But falling risk, let's fix that problem. What else is that's? Interesting, isn't it? Because again, having looked at the art and the video and stuff like that, you sort of think it is going to be this open free thing all the way through. But sensibly probably can't be. You're going to have different bits because otherwise there's going to be a lot of space taken up with just nothingness, with just air, because you're in between floors and it's a central call. More realistically, the chances are it's going to be the same as some sort of high rise building that is 500ft. In the air. I can't think of one off the top of my head. And then just stretch it really long and put many of them next to each other in a line. I don't think it's going to be massively dissimilar from that. And you'll have some interesting bits where you've got some big open areas, but you will have some bits as well that are sort of really closed and dense because that's where all your water purification happens or that's where all the air conditioning is happening, or that's where all your solar panel generation is going into. So there's going to be massive variety of the density of the building all the way through. So I don't think it sort of lends you to think that you'll be able to send to one end and see all the way down to 170 line. I don't think that would be the case, but fundamentally off the other side for sure. If you go up to the top and then that would be one way. Well, that's true, yes. You need on the top rail all the way around it and one of them grab nets just in case you accidentally on purpose. Mr. Handrail. But see, now we're strapping things back onto the side barrier. It doesn't work with the facade. That's true. Anti gravity thrusters on the side. So anybody you do fall off gets automatically and gently put back onto the top. Again, you saw a look at some of the piece and the fact that it's got these nice and shiny sides. I think it's again, going back to the idea that it's going to be a statement piece, isn't it? It's going to be a catalyst for doing, hopefully good things. I mean, I recognize a lot of my comments so far have been very put down or very challenging, shall we say. But I think fundamentally having this sort of structure here will allow us as human practice practitioners to go in and try and address some of these problems because we haven't really got to do it anywhere else in the same sort of way and try and keep it aesthetic, which I think will be quite good fun. Yeah, let's talk about that aesthetic because I think it plays into some larger questions. There's sort of this whole piece of environmental design right there's, sort of if you imagine skyscraper that stretched for however many miles it is, 60 miles or something like that, it's going to be rather sterile unless you sort of include elements from outside and it seems like this is part of the plan, but you need to have enough of it. We were just discussing in the PO show how I don't get out and I need some sunlight in my life. Is that because I don't have windows that face the sun or anything like that? That makes it easier to do that. So you need to incorporate some nature into it. And I think they are. Right. It sounds like they're going to be able to grow things within this community. They're going to have greenery that they'll hopefully be able to sustain. I think that's important not only for, I don't know, mental well being, but it's also important for physical well being too, because as you're walking, they're directly related and so as you're walking around, you can smell the flora and really just be part of it, part of nature. And I think they're kind of focusing on it being part of nature as sort of the central premise. Because on the other side of that wall, so to speak, I'm thinking if you're inside and you're looking on the other side of the wall, probably where all the windows are, you have desert and it's a beautiful desert and you have the ocean right by the desert and it looks stunning and beautiful. And so I don't think we're going to have that issue of being away from nature. But it is something that you need to incorporate into your design. You have sort of an observation deck where maybe it extends out to the walls and you can kind of get that natural sunlight in. Does it breathe a little bit from a design perspective? I don't know. Where do you want to go next? There's a couple of extra points that we have on here. I feel like we've hit a lot of them. But what else I think we have there is that element for me around when they say. And I don't know whether we mentioned it in the actual thing. But they're sort of saying around. You shouldn't need to move more than sort of five minutes or five minutes away from any one point to be able to access everything you need. Right, that's great. But as what you just said, which is kind of trigger my thought, we were already in the middle of an obesity epidemic and then all we're doing is encouraging people not to move more than sort of 5 meters in any given direction. How do we encourage people to get outside? We're in a desert. You're going to have to have a certain amount of protection to be able to go out into the sun and that type of thing. So we need to think about how people not only live within the line within the city, but how do then we interact with the rest of Noam, because the whole region is going to be this experimental place where they try and bring in new technologies, but then all the pictures show just the Baron featureless desert with the line in the middle. So where is all the new technology going? Where's all that? How do you get it all there? How do you get it all there too? That's another logistical nightmare of the building materials. But you know what it really reminds me of in the way that they're talking about it, I think the people who've really thought about this have been wanting Black Panther. You've basically got this place where you look at it until you pass the barrier, you're in the jungle until you pass the barrier, and then suddenly you're in Wakanda and you're in a very high technological place,

 

 

which, again, I'm a massive fan of. I think if we can get through some of these challenges, we'll be brilliant. Yeah. I'll just mention one more thing here. One of the things stated in the article is in order to change business as usual, the city's design will be completely digitized, the construction industrialized to a large degree by significantly advancing construction technologies and manufacturing processes. And basically what that tells me is that maybe they're not necessarily thinking about this as something realistic that they're really going to build. But hypothetically speaking, if people like you and I were to get together and talk about all these issues before we even build it, is there some other solution that we can come up with before we've sort of started to build this thing and run into all these issues? Right. And I think that's part of this experiment is to really start thinking about where is the future in terms of how we live, how we interact with communities, how we incorporate technology into our everyday. And so that, to me, is kind of the biggest point that I want to draw home. This is leaving me with hope. This is a very cool, positive story. Yes, we doomed about a lot of the stuff in here, but I think it's a good exercise for us to start thinking about the future and where we might be able to impact these planned societies. Right. And you said you didn't even touch on Mars. But

 

 

you quite ready to say maybe this is all a bit radical. But actually most of the stuff that they're talking about here. We are going to have to deal with and have answers to. According to the people who want to do it. Actually in fairly short order. Because missions to Mars are going out there and they're going to have to deal with a lot of these issues. How do we live sustainably in a hostile environment, which effectively a desert is be that a hot desert or a cold desert, it's a hostile environment too. As humans, how do we live there? So this could lead into better research before we even get to Mars in order to be able to colonize and then beyond all the other way around. Actually, if we get to Mars first, that could help us deliver some of this. Yeah, agree. Well, thank you to our patrons this week for selecting our topic. And thank you to our friends over at Neom for our new story this week. If you want to follow along, we do post the links to all the original articles on our weekly roundups in our blog. You can also join us on our discord for more discussion on these stories and much more. We're going to take a quick break and we'll be back to see what's going on in the Human Factors community right after this. Human Factors Cast brings you the best in Human Factors news, interviews, conference coverage, and overall fun conversations into each and every episode we produce. But we can't do it without you. The human factors. Cast network is 100% listener supported. All the funds that go into running the show come from our listeners. Our patrons are our priority, and we want to ensure we're giving back to you for supporting us. Pledges start at just $1 per month and include rewards like access to our weekly Q and A's with the hosts personalized professional reviews and Human Factors Minute, a Patreon only weekly podcast where the host breakdown unique, obscure, and interesting Human Factors topics in just 1 minute. Patreon rewards are always evolving, so stop by Patreon.com Humanfactorscast to see what support level may be right for you. Thank you. And remember, it depends. Yes, huge. Thank you, as always to our patrons. We especially want to thank our honorary Human Factors cast staff patron Michelle Trip. During this time, we usually tell you a little bit about some other stuff we got going on. We have a website with a bunch of fun stuff over there. We got detailed show notes, including links to any of the guests that were on that week, embedded YouTube videos. So you can see our handsome faces, I guess. I don't know. That's very vain. You can see Barry's handsome face if you're regularly an audio listener, maybe check that out. We have News Roundups. Like I said earlier, we do news roundups. That is a resource that we provide for the Human Factors community. You can check those out right there. We post them in our discord every Tuesday. You can find those. That's how we source our stories for the show. Additional info on guests, ways to submit your own stories. If you found a piece of Human Factors news that you want to share with us, you can search through all of our episodes for any specific topic that you're interested in. Maybe city planning or AI or anything like that. Check it out. Conference recaps are on there, too. If it's been a minute since you've checked out our website, please go take a look at Humanfactorscast media. All right. I think I've talked enough. Let's get into this last part of the show we like to call

 

 

that's right. This is the part of the show where we search all over the Internet to bring new topics that the community is talking about. If you find any of these answers useful, give us a, like, wherever you're watching or listening to help other people find this stuff. It's really helpful. All right, we have three tonight. The first one up here is by Jasmine Tiger 720 on the UX research subreddit this is about manager hiring unqualified UX Researchers I work in a large Ish team, including UX designers. UX Researchers, a major tech company, joined almost four years ago as a new grad and have spent a significant portion of time mentoring students on how to break into UX. My manager has been hiring folks who are not qualified as researchers but work at our company in various roles and want to try UX research. Essentially, she's letting them temporarily transfer to our team and work on projects as if they were researchers. However, they don't have a relevant degree past experience, and their UX skills are limited. Their lack of knowledge and experience means the rest of the team has to pick up their slack and spend time teaching them a lot of basics. As a trained interviewer and after reviewing dozens of portfolios, I'm confident these people wouldn't pass the hiring bar if they were applying from outside the company. I also appreciate how difficult it is to get into UX, especially at a large tech company, and it annoys me that we are passing over qualified candidates for people my manager has bonded with. It also degrades the quality of our work our team produces and therefore the trust and relationships we have with our partners. I'm also irritated that I now have to spend extra time coaching someone who didn't take the initiative to learn or even take a boot camp or online class and champion their work with a smile on my face, wondering what other people's thoughts are. Am I being unfair? Has anyone seen this before? Barry, have you seen this before? I am that person.

 

 

This is a difficult one because obviously here we're seeing one side of the argument if take everything at face value that has been written, yes. It just doesn't feel right. If you've got people begging at the door to come and do a good job and everything else being equal, this isn't right. It's not there. However, my guess would be that they must have some other experiences, maybe within the wider company that is valuable to this team in some way. And this is me trying to be nice and kind. The fact they might be bringing in something else just because it's not directly analogous to UX in any way, there might be some other bits that they're bringing value in, I guess. And the reason why I said that's me in that respect is I don't have a traditional HF UX background. My background is engineering. My background is military. But I've still got the I guess as I got more experience, I've got the ability to know what I am good at and what I'm not good at, and therefore, I can go into a new team in an HF role doing what I do. More years experience than I care to admit, but I didn't always have that. I was lucky. I got a break early on where I started off as a software engineer and I got a break where I could go and do cockpit design. I could go and do what is now UX design and the research element before it was trendy and get them and build up that experience. If it is as just stated, I think clearly there's something wrong, but I'd like to think there's something more in the background. Nick, what do you think? Yeah, I have in my notes very strong language. I'm going to thread the needle between these two perspectives, right. Because from this perspective, somebody on the inside feeling like they have to do a lot of work to make up the slack for other people, that's not right. Even if these people have some experience from another domain or responsibilities, I think even bringing those into the space, you should probably have some basic knowledge of what's going on, even if it's a condition for you being hired in that spot, like, hey, we're going to give you this, but maybe take a course. And that's kind of the prerequisite training that you need to jump into that role. This is a big tech company and so there's nothing wrong with hiring your buddies. In fact, that is how I've got a lot of my jobs. And I'm sure that's how a lot of people listening have got their jobs, is people hiring their buddies, tell them about it and they're in. And that's fine connections. But there's also sort of a baseline that we need to establish in the sense that, yeah, if you're hiring people that are unqualified, maybe take one from that pile and one from the qualified pile. So that way there's not as much work that this one person has to do. My recommendation here is either look elsewhere or probably the more sensible approach is try to change the process internally or mention these things to your boss as concerns. I think that is probably the best way to go. Especially if they're hiring internally, then they're probably not going to get rid of you because you've been there for four years and really if you're the one that's pulling the weight, then they'll see how much they miss you if they take you out anyway. That's my thoughts. Any other last notes there? No, I think that's covered the spectrum, wasn't it? That's it. All right, let's get into this next one here. This is by the Quantum Lady on the UX research subreddit, where to discuss minutiae of daily work with more experienced colleagues in the industry. There's no UXers at my company. There's a lot of opportunity to solve problems at my organization, but there's no senior leadership with UX knowledge I can bounce ideas off of. I don't mean whether or not I should do a certain study or being able to ask small clarifying questions along the way, but being able to ask small, clarifying questions along the way to make sure I'm making the right choices or following industry standard processes like am I wording the survey questions well, am I missing any steps in this process? What if I tried XYZ those types of things? I'm currently building up my portfolio to apply to a new job so I want to make sure things are done right or best as I can, rather than scrambling to fix things. In retrospect, are there any communities for this? Any mentorship opportunities I can seek? Barry, what are your thoughts on this? If only we knew of some sort of, I don't know, this lab or something but I'm sure we'll get to that. It doesn't say that if you're in the whereabouts in the world you are, but I'm guessing us. But if you happen to be in the UK with this problem then being part of the Chat District factors, there is a communities board up there, digital Communities board that is great for this sort of thing. We got such a tight community and by tight I mean a friendly, helpful community that you're quite happy to put big problems or little problems or opinions in there and people will respond and things like that. But one of the things I do like is this is something I miss. So I have worked in large teams and I've worked in on my own as a consultant in other organizations and there is a certain amount of brilliance being part of a larger team and it's one of these things that if you're part of one, you don't realize just what a good thing you've got until you don't have it anymore. And so one of my last roles, I was part of a very large team, comparatively large team compared to what others we worked in. And even though I was possibly one of the more senior people in that team, I still like being able to just go into a meeting and say, right, you know what, I don't know, I want to do this, I want to do by card sort followed by a focus group, has anybody else got any better ideas? Because you can bounce ideas off and hopefully nobody is so precious about things that we can share ideas and things like that. And I find that easier to do in the human factors UX community than anywhere else. We tend to be less precious and that doesn't really come to home until you then go and work solo. So one of the projects I'm working on the moment I am the HF lead, I am it and people are coming to me for questions and so I'm coming back with my best answer. But you do sort of miss that ability to go, well, I think this do you think that's a good idea? Do you think that's right? And so that's where I go and look at some of the online forums and things like that, closed ones generally because you don't necessarily want to check that sort of stuff on Twitter or LinkedIn because some people don't realize that we can have that sort of open discussion. Where would you go to go and have ideas and test them out? Yeah, I'm going to do this in terms of ease. So, one, you could join our discord. We have plenty of human factors professionals in there. You can come and chat with us about some of these questions. I encourage anyone listening to join it and ask these types of questions because these are great, like these one offs. Hey. Thinking about doing XYZ. Anyone have any other opinions? I'm hoping to have that exact experience, Barry, that you described where somebody else goes, yeah, what about this in that community? So that's probably the easiest thing you could do. Second easiest thing you could do, maybe join a mentorship circle. There are plenty of other resources out there, so ADP List is one. I'm actually a mentor on that platform. Full disclosure, don't get paid for it. It's completely volunteer work, so it's not like I'm making anything from mentioning that. And so it's all volunteer. You have these people who are eager to share knowledge and you have people who want to learn knowledge and it's at all different levels. You could be entry level asking a senior level, or you could be senior level asking management. You could be management asking management, or management asking CEO. There's a bunch of different levels in there that you can sort of ask for advice on and so keep that in mind. The third. Probably the hardest thing I would say is go to conferences. That is. Where you can make those types of connections. Especially if you're sort of in a drought in your current position. There might be those sort of folks who can I guess you can make those connections and reach out to them as a mentor after the conference is over and build those connections over time that way. Hey, you're looking for work? You want to come work with me? That's sort of the other goal. There any other thoughts on that one, Barry, before we get into this last one? Yeah, I think the membership point just reinforced that one. There's loads of different membership communities, or even if you just know somebody senior who's maybe got a bit more experience and most people are quite willing to support in that respect or point you in the right direction of doing it. As Nicola said, the disclosure is there and I think most of us would be more than happy to support anybody new into the industry because it's in our own benefit as well for the wider community. So whilst it might feel like it's a bit selfless and things like that, actually you could argue it's a bit selfish because we want to make sure that our discipline grows and gets better and we can only do that with new blurred. Oh, yeah, all right, let's get into this last one. This is on the user experience. Subreddit by Ziminter we'll say that what is the most interesting, UX problem or solution you have worked on? The web is flooded with pretty dribble mock ups that solve imaginary problems. I've been keen to hear something I'd be keen to hear something you have actually worked on that you felt was exciting, challenging, engaging. What was the industry, the issue and how did you approach it? Was it a success or did it not work out in the end? Barry, what is the most exciting, interesting problem or solution that you've ever worked on? Combine that with the one I can actually talk about

 

 

if you listen before you'll know that generally I work in the defense domain. So that does put certain limits on what we talked about. However, one of the most challenging but rewarding ones was probably when I worked on about 15 years ago and we don't need another platform anymore. So worked on the Harrier jump jet. It was brilliant. So what they were doing was putting a new piece of kit onto it into an already aging platform which has got loads of kit in it, already a really crowded cockpit and you wanted this new bit of kit in there. There were some real interesting nuances with monochrome color and full color not being able to be on the same screen at the same time or you've already got what we call the hotel, the hands on throttle and stick because you don't pilot taking the hands off the throttle and the stick when because that gets all a bit dangerous. But you've already got if you've seen any games, you don't see that we have mock ups of these now for gaming where you got lots of what we call hats and buttons and switches and all that and these were already very crowded. But I had to get into a mode to be able to use this other bit of kit. This new bit of kit. And to try and do that. It not only got me working with pilots and crew and things like that. About what they could do. What their mental workload was like. Et cetera. Et cetera. But also I had to talk to the engineers in detail about just what switches and what combinations of switches. It's almost like doing control or delete to try and get into a certain function and pressing F ten at the same time. But with these things and making sure that going down to the level of well. When you talk about the signal of a switch being set is it on the leading edge of the trailing edge and having to get down to that minutiae of detail of making sure that you didn't accidentally left something else off that might. I don't know. Let a weapon off or something because that's a bad day in the office if you accidentally do that. I spent about four years of my life doing that and throughout the entire system. And I took it all the way through kind of concept. So I joined it in concept stage all the way through to testing and it was intense. There was some really late nights because it was also multi company as well. So there was loads of we were trying to do things in new ways and it was a success in the end. We had some really great trials, feedback and some of the more innovative ways we had of doing things was really cool. That involved lots of physical work, uses simulators as well as scribbling in books or trying to get logic problems and all that sort of stuff. So it was brilliant. I had a great team working for me at the time and I think that is one of the problems. I keep on going back to time again because I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was probably the biggest project I'd worked on today and it was found nick, what about you? You know, when I put this question in, it was the shortest question, but I knew it would have the longest answer for me. Also, the application is classified, but I'll talk around it. And so essentially the problem that I worked on, there were hundreds of documented tools used for various processes within a complex workflow involving multiple operators. And so the solution was to unify all these in one central interface. And again. I can't go into so many of the details. But really trying to solve a problem that massive of trying to combine so many tools into one interface was just a wonderful experience to try to work on because you had everybody at the table from every tool kind of representative of what they needed and how the sort of UX of it all played in together to make it seem unified. Even though behind the scenes it was kind of clunky and disjointed. But optimizing for workflows across tools was sort of the most interesting piece of that. All right, we're almost at times, so let's get into one more thing. Needs no introduction. Barry, what is your one more thing this week? So this week, I guess it's a bit of a boring one, actually, not too dissimilar to what we've just been talking about is I went into a new domain at the back end of last week into fintech, so the financial technology stuff, and run a workshop. I was part of a workshop where this client was one. I run discovery workshops where we try and break down what currently exists and generally do that with walkthroughs and et cetera, et cetera. So I ran that and had a really good session. But normally I go into these sessions and you've got either an idea of the software or the hardware or whatever it is they're using. But this, in terms of being fintech was really interesting. It was a whole. Domain that I hadn't really considered before. And he was talking about big stuff like buying and selling businesses and things like this. And you're like, wow, that was so interesting. I came out of that it was an all day workshop, but I was thoroughly exhausted because mentally exhausted, more so than I used. I'm normally quite tired when I finish these things anyway because I think if you're doing them properly, you do have to put a lot of effort into getting as much out of everybody, keep every motivating, things like that. But this was just another level, but thoroughly interesting at the same time. I had no idea about half the stuff out there. I just thought it was brilliant that we can take again human factors, tools, techniques and what we do and put ourselves in a completely new environment and still make people believe I know what I'm talking about.

 

 

Yeah. What about you? I hear you. This is going to be a cry for help. I have become a politics junkie more than probably I have been in the past. These last couple of weeks have just been insane in US. Politics. I've been keeping track of almost minute by minute legislation that's passing any updates on the passing of that legislation, any polls that are coming out, any primary results. Again, minute by minute looking at counties in states that I've never been to have no idea about, but understand their significance and what it means for one party versus another. I'm also following a lot of the political news minute by minute. What is going on with the raid? They call it a raid. It was a legal search and seizure of classified materials. I am following all these things very closely. Even after we're done with this podcast, I'm going to go look up what I've missed in the last 2 hours. Because man, we're in primary season, which means we're picking the best people for who we want to run against the other people. I'm a politics junkie, but this has been sort of on another level and I feel like it's a little unhealthy and I don't know how to stop. I don't know how to stop. But that just means we got to stop the show for today. That's it for today, everyone. If you like this episode and enjoy some of the discussion, maybe around city planning, I'll encourage you to go listen to episode 212 to talk about how does speed affect transportation planning. Comment wherever you're listening with what you think of this new story this week. For more in depth discussion, you can always join us on our discord community. Visit our official website. Sign up for our newsletter. Stay up to date with all the latest human factors news. If you like what you hear, you want to support the show, there's a couple of things you can do. One, you can do it right now. Leave us a five star review it really helps the show, helps other people find the show. Let them know that it's quality content, maybe, I don't know, questionable. Anyway, second point tell your friends about us. We really grow by word of mouth, probably more than reviews. So let your neighbor, let your Human Factor's mentor know about us. And three, if you have the financial means, you can always consider supporting us on Patreon. We do have some goodies in there for you. And give them back. So, as always, links to all of our socials and our website are in the description of this episode. Mr. Barry Kirby, thank you for being on the show today. Where can our listeners go and find you if they want to talk about living in the future? You can find me on social media at Basil School K. Or if you want to hear interviews one to one with various human practice personalities, find me on Twitter to the Humanpracticepodcast@twelvecast.com. As for me having your host, Nick Rome, you can find me on our discord. One more plug for that and across social media at nickrom. Thanks again for tuning in to Humanfactors Cast. Until next time, it's yeah.

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Barry Kirby

Managing Director

A human factors practitioner, based in Wales, UK. MD of K Sharp, Fellow of the CIEHF and a bit of a gadget geek.