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Monthly Archives: January 2001

Bill Gates says some smart things at Davos

This report
from the Illuminati Holiday Camp has some nice little nuggets in it.
Sounds like there are a lot of brave faces there in wake of their
hubrisfest last year. As well as assorted hand-wringing and
digital-divide stuff there’s some suprisingly realistic appraisals of
what the move to a networked economy means for
hugebigtransnationalmegacorps. F’rinstance:

“Mr Gates told the forum that the flexibility of the PC
made possible the Napster phenomenon of “peer to peer” communication.
Enthusing about the “explosion” of young people using PCs, Gates
pointed out that the necessary software for Napster came from a
previously unknown developer, and could be adopted so quickly because
of the widespread availability and flexibility of the standard PC.”

But what really made me smile was

As well as falling stock prices, participants voiced their fears at the advance of the internet’s “second wave,”
shaped by file-sharing applications such as Napster, allowing users to
swap music and thereby avoid copyright payments – a model that could be
extended to films and books in digital form. The trepidation was summed
up by Nobuyuki Idei, the chief executive of Sony: “The internet is a
kind of power shift,” he said. “Now the consumer has more power than
the company.”

Internet’s second wave? Maybe from the
perception of corporations, but it’s maybe become more clear why we had
such a big hype bubble? The inflation was maybe a product of the
traditional expectations of business colliding against a infrastructure
they or the media did not understand at a fundamental level.

The
thinking shown by the CEO of Sony just echoes what socio-economists and
‘NetEvangelists’ were saying 5 or 6 years ago surely.

A
journalist from ‘The Net’ magazine asked a panel I was on a couple of
weeks ago, whether we were as confident about the propects the internet
presented as we were two years ago. I replied – no, I’m as confident as
I was 5 years ago. First as tragedy, then as farce and all that, eh?

Information architecture, brand and content sites.
Gave this presentation
to undergraduate information systems management students at University
College London today. I actually wrote it for the journalism students
at Cardiff University, where i’m presenting it next week – so it’s
pretty wide ranging and general, but it goes over the development
process of BBC News in detail, plus some other stuff as an intro to
user-centred design principles. Oh… btw, it’s 6.3 meg… sorry! ;-)

The art & science of radical and dangerous understatement

Good to see emergence/adaptive IA featured in the mainstream media more and more. This New York Times article, found via PeterMe is a great primer. It kind of underestimates the design and architectural efforts required in creating such a system however!!!

“The Vines is an example of an emerging class of what are called self-organizing Web sites. Such sites are demonstrating that with a dab or two of well-written code and a bit of careful planning, a site can take a random collection of links or posts and turn them into a sophisticated, adaptive system.”

Web Sites Begin to Self Organize

Professional ‘voice of reason’ Jeff Veen on the broadband myth

“You
know what’s really striking, though? I heard a VP at Yahoo talking
recently about the speed of their site. He said that even corporate
users with massive connections within the enterprise complain about
slow sites. They’ve got all the bandwidth they could need, and are
accessing one of the leanest sites on the Web, and they want it even
faster. They want Web sites to respond as fast as the apps do on their
new gigahertz computers. Know what that means? Broadband won’t solve
any of our interface performance problems on the Web. Your company
doesn’t need a broadband strategy. You need to solve these problems
with design.”

Jeffrey Veen: WebReference Featured Interview

Two quotes from Douglas Adams
on how people use technology. The second one is pretty thought provoking. Both are from the December 2000 UK edition of Business 2.0, but the article was not reproduced online. :-(

“The internet is changing the way people think” says Adams. “We are
used to living in a top-down world – top-down government, top-down
media etc – which is a natural result of their being so very many of
us. But as any evolutionary biologist or systems manager will tell you,
the richest information always lies at the bottom of the tree. By
implementing collaboration on the Web through community, you have the
core information from the outset and everyone has a share.”

“We’re moving towards a ‘Creole’ of technological concepts. The
idea comes from language theory, specifically Steven Pinker’s work
where adults come together in an area with lots of different languages
and end up coming up with a broken, lumpy language that is put together
as a pidgin language. When the next generation comes along, however, it
becomes more sophisticated and develops into a real language, then
called a Creole. You only have to watch kids today using technology to
realise the similarities, and that we adults are very much the
pidgins.”

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