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web 2.0

To which you could add ‘tardy': a shameful two months after the event the slides and notes from the talk are now up online here. Sorry to everyone who asked for them – and thanks for your patience!

It was a presentation by Tom Coates and myself on an area that fascinates us both – the coming age of practical ubicomp/spimes/everyware.

Although hopefully grounded in some of the design ideas explored in our respective current projects, it was a whistlestop tour around the ideas and conversations of many.

The title slide shows Timo Arnall‘s everyware symbols and obviously, Adam Greenfield‘s and Bruce Sterling‘s books loom large, as well as the work of Dan Hill, Matthew Chalmers, Anne Galloway, Schulze and Webb, Christian Nold and many others who I’ve been fortunate to meet, mail or read around this subject.

There’s certainly some scenius going on. As if to underline this, Nicholas Nova’s posted his slides from what sounds like a fascinating talk today: “Digital Yet Invisible: Making Ambient Informatics More Explicit to People”.

Looking forward to a summer of more digital/physical brainfood…

The Apes, originally uploaded by ED209uk.

I’m finally getting around to put some of the talks I gave last month in San Francisco online – the first of which being a talk I gave at Adaptive Path’s MX conference entitled: Battle For The Planet Of The Apes. Unfortuntely, slideshare seems to have eaten a few images, but I’ll try and correct that in coming days.
Brandon and Henning of AP had asked me to give a perspective on social networks and some of the design decision’s we’d taken on Dopplr – it ended up a bit more of a tongue-in-cheek critique of some of the prevailing idioms in the current YASNS boom and an appeal to step back to a broader view of social software…
Thanks to AP for the invite, and for the attendees of MX for their attention!

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Lower lights?!?, originally uploaded by blackbeltjones.

Lots of hullabaloo about Hulu today, but the thing that intrigued me about the design – apart from the wonderful lack of feature-creep and the cleanliness that seems to bring it – was a single button, marked “Lower lights”.

I’m imagining it’s not an X10 controller interface, but rather does something marvellous in order to further focus your attention on the video – removing extraneous buttons or UI features, dimming the ‘computer’ to amp up the ‘telly’.

In other words, a wonderful, evocative rebranding of something very simple, standard and known: “full-screen mode”.

Well, what do you think it does?

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After reading Jane’s post about using time people spend fiddling with Facebook for solving problems with other (gaming) networks, I wondered whether there were other things you could do with all those idle hands.

What about Folding@home or Mechanical Turk tasks, as shown rather sketchily above.

Back in May, referring to Sony’s announcment that the folding@home client would be installed on the PS3, Alice wrote about “Games that do good”

“Are there games or game mechanics that could be used to fund-raise or awareness-raise?”

My quick mock up is not all that enticing or interesting, though touches like sparklines, league-tables and scoring could rapidly turn such things into more of a playful and engaging activity, turning all those idle hands to good causes.

Know of anything like this going on?

I’ve been using last.fm for a long time, and I’m a fan.

However, there’s one thing I find annoying, which is sometimes it seems to ‘fixate’ on a particular track by a particular artist and heavily-rotate it until it drives me crazy.

While I probably like the artist, and originally liked the track before I got sick of it – I have one option – to ban it.

Instead, I’d like to propose a ‘Snooze’ button for last.fm radio streams, that allows me to ‘rest’ the track or artist for an appropriate amount of time. (Illustration below with sincere apologies to the excellent last.fm design team)

Perhaps the amount of time the track ‘rests’ for based on my usage stats – but that could be presumptuous and annoying.

Better then to use a pattern that’s pretty well understood – a quick pop-up showing a few different ‘snooze’ options exactly like you get in PIM and calendaring software.

It wouldn’t negatively impact my rating of that artist necessarily, just give me a chance to come to the track with fresh appreciative ears a little (or a lot) later.

While I’m on the subject… And I’ve got photoshop open… Perhaps there’s room for an extra feature in upcoming.org too…

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Continuous-Partial-Apology, originally uploaded by blackbeltjones.

I switched off everyone outside London at the beginning of the month, in what I now know to be the mistaken belief that the value I was deriving from Twitter was geographically-bounded.

I thought what was near me was signal, as often you could act on it. Y’know: “I’m in town and wondering if anyone wants coffee”

It turns out that nearly no-one I know is in town or wants coffee. It turns out – as so often through the twelve or so years of having a digitally-mediated social life – the noise is the signal.

In fact, the cross-time-zone river of mundanity is much missed in the new gig, where it feels a little wierd to be surrounded by mainly brits after such a long time in a multinational group of designers.

As much as I was convinced otherwise – and against previous experience of lists, forums and other digital communities – it’s as much the psychographic as the geographic, for me at least, with Twitter.

I guess the difference of these presence networks is that they can have the geographic so powerfully nestled at their core. It’s both/and not either/or.

So, I will go grovelling back to those I so swiftly removed a month ago and see if they will take me back…

Here begins the continuous partial apology…

From the Seedcamp about pages:

“There will be a diverse mentor network of serial entrepreneurs, corporates, venture capitalists, recruiters, marketing specialists, lawyers and accountants that will help the selected teams put together the foundations of a viable business.”

How about designers?

Technology plays alone are starting to lose their distinctiveness in many of the more-crowded areas of the marketplace.

Great service and interaction design are on the rise as strategic differentiators for products as diverse as the iPhone and Facebook.

Bruce Nussbaum in BusinessWeek:

“Innovation is no longer just about new technology per se. It is about new models of organization. Design is no longer just about form anymore but is a method of thinking that can let you to see around corners. And the high tech breakthroughs that do count today are not about speed and performance but about collaboration, conversation and co-creation. That’s what Web 2.0 is all about.”

The article that’s taken from is entitled: “CEOs Must Be Designers, Not Just Hire Them”.

Not sure I agree about CEOs breaking out OmniGraffle, but what about entrepreneurs?

I wonder how many Seedcamp teams will have a interaction designer on board, as part of the core – or even a designer as the lead entrepreneur?

Are they going to bake great design in from the get-go, or put lipstick on their baby gorillas?

I think it will be the former.

If there’s one Brit caricature of the entrepreneur, it’s the inventor – the engineer/designer/impressario: Baylis, Dyson, Roope!

Nussbaum’s article, in bulk is a speech he gave at the RCA, which traditionally has grown quite a few of those designer/engineer/inventor/entrepreneurs in the world of atoms.

Prof Tom Barker‘s crew springs to mind, as do some of the graduates of the Design Interactions course.

The line between hackers and interaction designers is blurring as they start small businesses that are starting to make waves in the big business press.

As I mentioned, my experience of HackDay Europe was that

“It really does seem that the hacker crowd in London/Europe at least is crossing over more and more with the interaction design crowd, and a new school of developers is coming through who are starting to become excellent interaction designers – who really know their medium and have empathy with users.”

So I have high-hopes.

I’m also glad to say that the Seedcamp team are going to have user-researchers, usability experts and interaction designers in their mentor network, including me for some reason…

Looking forward to it.

I’ve started playing with Radar.net from Tiny Pictures.

Nothing much to report yet, but there is one little design detail that I’ll be stashing away for my own stuff (as long as Mr. Poisson et al don’t mind) which is not only going for a URL that is t9/predictive-text friendly, but also issuing identity elements (an auto-generated unique posting address to MMS pictures to, in this case) that are t9-compliant.

This makes it far, far easier and more pleasurable to set-up the service and integrate it with your mobile, which with these sorts of things is 75% of the battle won. Makes the thing feel very polished and considered from the start, which gives me the confidence to trust radar.net with a little bit more of my digital life perhaps.

My feeling is that despite all the hoo-haa about uglydesign/undesign’s success in Web2.0, it just won’t carry in the Mobile Web 2.0 world.

Mike Sugarbaker makes comparisons between Last.fm and Pandora, finding pros and cons in each, and ends up asking why we can’t gene-splice the two together:

“We shouldn’t have to choose between bottom-up and top-down, between cathedral and bazaar – that’s the other thing, that Pandora’s categories were made by experts and presumably applied by professionals, whereas last.fm basically is just the product of what people do anyway, via the site and its associated Audioscrobbler tool.

People say that the top-down, made-by-those-who-know-what’s-good-for-you approach is now outmoded, but in this case it seems to have what folksonomy will never get us: the element of surprise.”

Well, the gene-splice has happened it seems: with PandoraFM (http://pandorafm.real-ity.com/)

I missed this when it made LifeHacker late last month, but this seems like an excellent idea (although there’s still no link through to Bleep. Hummph) – injecting the element of robotic, clinical input into the organic social network. Going to try it for a little while…

What other social networks could benefit by the addition of non-humans?

From Peterme’s closing plenary at the IASummit:

“…I think that web 2.0 puts the “architecture” in information architecture. Think of an architect. They design the space. People flow through it, meet in it, contribute to it.! With that model, the bulk of information architecture currently on the web isn’t really architecture — it’s some form of hyperdimensional document organizing. We’re not creating a space that people move through, and engage with. We’re classifying material to be retrieved. But with web 2.0, we are providing an architecture — a space, a platform through which and upon which people move, contribute, and change…

…If information is a substrate running through an increasing amount of our “real-world” lives, and we believe that these web 2.0 principles are important for the future of information architecture, how do we merge the two?”

And

“as digital networked media pervades more and more of our lives, the idea of a discreet region called “cyberspace” starts to feel like an anachronism. Who here has a mobile phone on them? One that can send photos by email, for example? Well, you’re all carrying “cyberspace” in your pocket. And once that happens, distinguishing that from the “real world” becomes impossible.”

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