Designing Interactions

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Neil Stevenson

After studying psychology and social anthropology at Oxford University, Neil gratified his passion for dance music and club culture by writing about DJs. Soon he became editor of the dance music magazine Mixmag. From there, he moved into more mainstream titles, helping to launch the weekly celebrity magazine Heat, and became editor in chief of the style magazine The Face. He became frustrated by the controls on publication of some of the most interesting stories, so he founded an underground email newsletter and Web site called Popbitch to distribute stories about celebrities that were contributed by amateur volunteers. In 2005 he joined IDEO and now leads the Kid+Play domain, a group focused on two distinct but overlapping content areas: children and play. His play projects include creating games for the Wii and the iPhone and developing ideas about how lessons learned from designing play can be applied to adult creativity and used to help companies become more innovative.

Neil Stevenson launched a personal experiment in engaging with other people online. He started an anonymous weekly newsletter and Web site to publish scuttlebutt about the lives of celebrities, a venture that has stayed alive based on user-generated content. In the next interview he tells this story and also analyzes the consumption of various media. He contrasts "sitting back" to enjoy traditional media with "leaning forward" to engage with interactive content online. He describes some design rules for magazines and chronicles the emergence of reality television.