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Monthly Archives: May 2004

Om Malik and Rajesh Jain have been thinking about a Massputer, a $300 device that

“should be able to do basic tasks like writing documents, Internet surfing, email and perhaps some business-related tasks like data entry.”

I am guessing that this is different to the much-touted “Simputer” of a couple of years ago, in that it is not designed to be mobile, ruggedised or adapted in any way other than to be affordable.

Om writes:

“The $300 sticker is vital- it keeps the devices affordable, and at the same time allows the corporation selling this massputer makes a decent profit. Gizmos such as color televisions, washing machines, refrigerators and air conditioners were snapped up in large numbers once they were priced right around $300. The proliferation of mobile phones in the emerging world is proof that at the right and affordable price people everywhere will adopt the right technology. There was a time when a mobile phone cost $400 and a mere 10 million people had the service. Now more than 400 million phones will be sold this year and 1.4 billion people, many in not very rich countries, will make mobile calls. That is because the price of the phone at $100 is now affordable in these emerging countries. More users means the price-per-minute has come down as well. In short, everyone benefits.

The social implications of Massputer cannot be underscored. Popularity of cell phones and text messaging promoted social revolutions, and peaceful protests in hitherto turbulent societies in Asia. Philippines comes to mind. I believe the availability of a Massputer connected to the Internet will help develop more educated, more informed and more open societies. If rest of the world has to embrace the principles of free markets, they need the tools. Massputer is a perfect example.”

Unlike the Massputer, The Simputer and other projects to create affordable, accessable ICTs have followed the dedicated, simplified ‘information appliance’ design route, assuming that the societies that need access to ICT need robust and simplified products to begin with.

Sugata Mitra’s work at the NIIT showed that even in rural areas with little exposure to technology and lower level of literacy – people, especially children learned to use computers (albeit with ruggedized input devices) in short order with no training.

Ultimately, people who want access to information and computing power want access to the same as everyone else, not a ‘special’ user-experience which keeps them on the wrong side of a new type of digital divide. Om and Rajesh make a great business argument for the Massputer also – let’s hope someone takes them up on it.

I have moved over to Typepad, as my MT installation was getting broken, complicated and onerous to fix.

It means I have lost the design temporarily that Tom coded for me, but I’ll try and edge back towards that as time and Typepad’s training-wheels allow.

Comments should work again now, although I’m a little wary of the lack of comment-spam control that Typepad has, and the reports of deeply unpleasant amounts of deeply unpleasant comment-spam that friends have gotten, so we’ll see how we go.

The RSS feed for this site is now http://blackbeltjones.typepad.com/work/index.rdf

Sorry for the inconvenience and thank you for reading.

Robert Scoble of Microsoft uses persona-driven design in illustrating the potential of RSS.

Has there been any serious user-research and investigation of RSS from a user-experience or information science point-of-view?

Not just the UX of the aggregators or readers, but how people might use RSS in their daily information foraging behaviour, and as part of a greater mix of media that we’re all swimming in these days.

Or has anyone looked further outside that to ‘pain-points’ in people’s everyday lives where an rss-type delivery of information or services might bring benefit?

In a feature puffing this week’s e3 and bemoaning lack of plot or gameplay in current videogame offerings, USAToday gets this bizarre quote:

”Consumers expect to have another experience based on a (game) franchise. The same is true, on a psychological basis, in the music business,” [Sony Computer Entertainment America president Kaz] Hirai says. ”You don’t call Born in the USA ‘Bruce Springsteen 7.’ But if you want to go back and experience the world of Bruce Springsteen again, you buy his new album. It is catering to consumer wants and needs to re-experience that artist, that franchise or that motion picture.” The key, he says, is that developers must also continue to ”keep pushing the envelope with new franchises so they will be next year’s sequels.”

Perhaps it’s just me, that seems like a mind-bendingly odd (and faintly depressing) way to look at the work of an musician; and it doesn’t do that much for gaming either.

Bruce Springsteen is not a world.

I think.

Came back from Australia to find the commenting on this site faulty. They’re being lost somewhere, somehow. I don’t have the time or the facillity to sort it out, so for now if you have something to add, mail me. The world will probably scrape by with one less place to debate search-box positioning, cities, bad kerning and comic book physics.

At Heathrow there are inumerate banners, animations and promotions proclaiming the availability of “the wireless web”. The T-mobile extortions have even come down in price (to 5 quid an hour – still hurts… Narita is 5 quid-ish for 24 hours) to entice the 802.11 enabled further.

However, there’s still the old problem of electricity. Terminal Three seems to be full of false electrical dawns. Plugs by comfy chairs that don’t deliver any juice when you hook up to them. After trying about 4 of these and not getting anywhere, I homed in on a pack of tanned middle-aged men with a complicated array of “fannypacks” and rucksacks. “Aha – silicon valley middle management types!” I thought.

Lo and behold they had discovered the electrical watering hole. FYI – it’s by the central pillar if you draw a line between Dixons and Hugo Boss.

Crisis over, I’m now getting a little bit of extra charge on my iBook for the inflight emergency episodes of Alias if the movies suck.

So, the question is – why don’t T-mobile and BTOpenzone spend a little bit of their marketing budget on signage or seating by electrical outlets?

Perhaps even underwrite a little interior design or minor capital works to get a couple of extra outlets in there. It would probably encourage a lot more usage of their services, and cost very little. Having some kind of physical locus would encourage things like interchange between experts, novices and the curious – further word-of-mouth marketing and free technical support.

It would help travelling wifi users with little time on their hands to explore for electricity, make incremental sales, and create warm-and-fuzzies about the brands involved.

Why not?