JC Herz on ‘The Sims’

JC Herz on ‘The Sims’ and information architecture

The author of ‘Joystick Nation’ writing in The Standard, with things to
say about the context and the determinist, isolationary viewpoints in
which some information architecture and online business are designed;
and how looking at game systems like The Sims show a way forward for
experience designers.

“For the business community, The Sims’ lessons are
twofold. The first is that interaction design trumps graphics. The Sims
is less photorealistic than any computer game on the market, or any
broadband site on the Web – it’s not even fully 3D. Yet it succeeds
tremendously because it allows players with different agendas to
interact as consumers, producers, mavens and community leaders and to
reap rewards for all of these activities. The richness and complexity
of an online experience, like the richness and complexity of a city, is
created by the people who live there as they engage with the place and
each other.

The second lesson is that online businesses don’t just
exist, like buildings, in space. They exist, like cities, in human
context over time. The best ones are designed to grow more
interconnected, not just bigger, as the population evolves. They’re
always messy. They’re never finished. They harbor an almost palpable
sense of around-the-clock activity and a sense of place that owes as
much to collective experience as to snazzy signage. When you open your
window, there’s a there there.”

The Standard.com: Learning From The Sims

FT: More on 3G reality

FT: More on 3G reality and interesting piece on consumer behaviour…

These from the excellent ‘Creative Business’ supplement that comes with the FT every tuesday – i had to email their helpdesk
to find this stuff which is nothing to do with their interface design,
but everything to do with their interaction/content strategy of deliberately reducing the mapping you can make between the print edition and website… arrrgh.

Firstly, a looming 3G handset crisis further
widens the gap between the realities of wireless and the expectation –
a gap which wasn;t managed well last time (WAP…)

“Third generation mobile phones do exist. Oh yes, they
do. I met somebody yesterday who had heard of a colleague who had
actually handled one. This sort of throw-away line is becoming a sick
joke for most of Europe’s mobile phone operators. In Britain and
Germany alone, they have paid more than Pounds 50bn between them for
licences to offer mobile internet, full motion video and other glitzy
services – they hope from next year. That’s fine. But where are the
handsets? Realistically the chances of working phones being ready in
quantity next year are small. Many observers think it will be 2004,
2005 or even later before commercially attractive handsets are
generally available. ”

CREATIVE BUSINESS: Third generation mobile phones : Financial Times, Mar 13, 2001

and…

Some research shows that there may not be such a thing as an unquestioning early adopter of technology in the consumer market place… good news for user-centred interaction design…?

“Even early adopters are becoming suspicious of new
technologies and new formats,” says director of strategic solutions Sue
Unerman. “If you are selling technology, make the benefit clear.”

CREATIVE BUSINESS: New media : Financial Times, Mar 13, 2001

I-mode is successful because it’s

I-mode is successful because it’s simple

The race to justify spend on 3G
licenses in Europe is leading the owners into an arms race of features,
content rights and technology spend… but they won’t get any return on
their investment unless they listen to what users want… like I-Mode
did…

“Since its launch in February 1999, the product has been
aimed not at sophisticates but at ordinary people who want “normal,
normal, Internet applications,” he stressed. Though casual observers of
i-mode activity in Japan might conclude that most people who use it are
teenagers, he said, in reality the majority of Japanese users are
adults. After a semi-slow beginning, when i-mode took six months to
land its first one million subscribers, his company now counts just
over 19 million subscribers, Natsuno said.”

Stepping back from the features and functionality mindset
to one of sensitive and contextual strategic design of 3G services is
going to happen – it’s whether the big players spending right now will
do it before or after they realise what consumers want…

The Minimalist Invasion of i-mode : HBSWK Pub. Date:26-Feb-01

Consumer electronics gumbo Economist article

Consumer electronics gumbo
Economist article arguing the subtle convergence based around protocols and people’s lives that has spawned divergence in the consumer electronics industry.

Reminded me of a conversation last year with Phil Oye
on a New York subway about whether our gadgets would converge to a
digital penknife or diverge to single-use devices… The protocols and
purpose arguement was something I wish we’d discussed then…!

Gadget wars
Mar 8th 2001 | NEW YORK
From The Economist print edition