If Batman used a mouse …

September 6, 2012

Megalan Speed Mouse, by Adept (as seen on behance.net)

… it would look like this, I’m pretty sure. Assuming he was in costume at the time, of course. (And no, haven’t seen the new one yet… don’t spoil it.)


Are you nomophobic?

June 24, 2012

According to a recent Mobile Mindset study by Lookout, it’s likely you are.

Nomophobia (noun): Fear of being out of mobile phone contact.

Let it go, young jedi. Let it go…

Yes, we’ve become a nation of mobile addicts. A truth indicative of the times after an unfathomable recent surge in mobile adoption and usage – something I myself didn’t fully appreciate until my mother recently (and proudly) proclaimed she was ready for a smart phone. That, my friends, is a milestone.

But this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to many of us, as one of the most obvious indicators of the changing tides has been our increasing reliance and attachment to our portable devices. Our trusty side-kicks, our partners in the Smartphone Revolution, as they say. This same study found 3 out of 5 Americans don’t go more than an hour without checking their phones. A single hour… shame on us.

And with this attachment, comes fear. A new type of fear and anxiety, wholly man-made, wholly new to our species. One that didn’t exist before and one that we increasingly feel the weight of. Some go so far to claim that nomophobia is now the most common fear on the planet (thank you, England).

Through mobile, we have reached an unprecedented level of connectivity with the world around us. It’s people, it’s places, it’s things, and all of the information in it. Sometimes, for the better (navigating, emergencies, changing plans, getting time-sensitive answers, in-context discovery, general accessibility). Sometimes, for the worse (distractions, general over-dependence, information overload, constant contact). So should we celebrate our technological triumph of creating so much more than the portable ears (a term coin by Jaron Lanier) cell-phones were once designed to become? Or mourn our hyper-connected state, remaining terrified of what the future will bring and what we’ll sacrifice to get there. It’s a complicated question, one on the periphery of philosophy and ethics as much as technology, and the answer isn’t so clear.

But at least we can acknowledge where we are today. We can accept that mobile isn’t going away. We can embrace this new era and continue to design the brightest future we can fathom, making the most of this new high-powered medium and steering it forward on a path that’s pure and true.

And in the meantime, fight the nomophobia. Face the fear, and combat it head on. Start by giving yourself a phone-free weekend once or twice a year – a refreshing blast into the past. A reminder that you can live free from connection, that you are strong enough to resist mobiles powerful pull, that you can unplug – if only temporarily. Tell your friends and family to do the same. One by one we can fight this, but only together can we defeat it. Or so we can hope.

For much more on the mobile movement and the design-related implications of our increasingly-connected world, check out LukeW‘s latest short-but-insightful book, Mobile First. A fine read, chalk-full of tactical advice for UX practitioners and philosophical advice for product owners and managers, all while grounded in some staggering statistics speaking to the mobile boom.


A Leader on Teamwork, Credit, & Anonymity

March 13, 2012

It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t care who gets the credit.” – unknown

There’s a simple honesty inherent in that quote. It applies to 3rd graders as it applies to adults. It applies to business and the workplace as it does to sports and politics and education and seemingly everything else in life.

It’s a nugget of wisdom that has stood the test of time.

A line that many of us were taught at one point growing up, and one that many of us have forgotten along the way.

It feels wrong to give credit for what appears to be an almost universal truth — especially when giving credit goes against the spirit of the quote itself — but apparently that was said in these words by Harry S. Truman, 32nd president of the United States. But it reads better attributed to ‘unknown’, doesn’t it.


Ballin’ Design

January 22, 2012

I know, I know. It’s the heart of the NFL playoffs. The eve of a Championship Sunday featuring a phenomenal pair of matchups… teams steeped in history and tradition, draped in story-lines of renewal and redemption and brotherly rivalry. It’s the most glorious time of year. I get it.

But still. Hoops is back. And with it, this nugget of brilliance-in-the-technology-and-sports-arena. A simple concept that combines motion-capture and quick-printing technologies to form something truly meaningful for kids and the game they love: Basketball. Pretty cool.

(My 8th grade Reading & Studies Skills class taught me to cite my source. My source:  FastCo Design: 5 Lessons From The Best Interaction Design of 2011. Source cited.)


2-0-1-2 … LIFT-OFF!!!

January 11, 2012
Tired of not being able to fly into space for under a million bucks? Of course you are. Not to worry though. This year several companies are slated to start offering trips just beyond the space barrier for far cheaper than ever before… A form of “affordable” space tourism with tickets in the $100,00-200,000 range.

What will this new form of tourism do for fashion? Time (and space) will tell.

Trips won’t exactly get you to Mars — or Neptune, which would be so much cooler — but will include “up-and-down ‘suborbital’ jaunts more akin to a giant roller coaster ride, offering about five minutes of weightlessness”.

And this is only the beginning. Quoting the New York Times article, “By 2017, it’ll be just like scheduling a flight to L.A.,” one galactic travel agent predicted. “In California, it would be similar to buying a house.”  Unsettling California comparisons aside, this is a big deal, by any measure. Space vacations! A breakthrough that will stand apart from the more earthly trends in technology this year.

So a belated Happy New Year, friends. Barring the apocalypse, 2012 is bound to be a big one. Can’t you just feel it?


Inside the Amazon

December 21, 2011
What do smoked-salmon gift baskets, toy dump trunks, toilet paper, and cigars all have in common?  They all make great holiday gifts that you can buy online. That’s right.
the real amazon

Not this Amazon, the other one.

If you’re like most other adult humans, you’re shopping via the web this holiday season, part of a steady trend over the last decade. And chances are, you’ve spent some money with the big boys of eCommerce. The marketplace. The empire. The leaders of the online shopping channel. The Amazon.

From both a business and technology perspective, Amazon’s story is a compelling one. Once known for peddling books over an emerging medium, retail is now only part of what they do (though a big part). A recent interview with Jeff Bezos in Wired.com is a must-read, revealing the extent of the company’s reach, their role as one of technologies biggest players, and their vision of the future. Check it out – then go wrap up your holiday shopping in a new browser window.

We’ll wait.

For kicks, below is a short essay I wrote a while back on the company a when asked to describe a ‘company I admire’. Sort of an elementary-school exercise that was oddly refreshing. How I miss school sometimes…

Amazon is an admirable company. Not just because they are the class of online retail or because I occasionally find great deals on boots there. But because of where they came from, what they’ve done, and where they’re going. It started as a great American business story: an entrepreneur headed West in his car into the unknown, armed with a vision of selling books over an emerging channel known as the internet. It has since evolved into a true empire, growing steadily and remaining on the cusp of high-tech innovation. And all while having a direct and meaningful impact on so many customers’ lives, as well as the successes and fortunes of new businesses along the way.

Amazon’s business model has pushed the limits of capitalism and how we thought about an open marketplace could work. But as a company, it has become far more than a commerce hub of ‘anything you need.’ It has continually introduced new patterns of technology into our lives. It created a custom recommendation engine based on user data, delivering recommendations – sometimes quirky, often helpful, but never overwhelming – to returning customers that many others have since tried to emulate. It evolved into a discussion platform for products of all types, bringing a democratic element to shopping. In this sense it single-handedly brought “social” shopping into the digital age, pairing conversations and reviews from the masses with products themselves. This bottom-up approach to evaluating a marketplace, its participants, and its content, changed how merchants thought about key factors such as pricing and quality. And as a website, Amazon.com has evolved, adapted, and remained usable — an impressive feat for an interface with such a complex ecosystem supporting it. As they grew, they iterated quickly, making interface changes often, and ignoring many web and usability experts who criticized the site for being too busy, too big, too confusing, or simply not sustainable.

Most notably, Amazon had the foresight to expand on its successful business model and dive into hardware by designing and releasing the Kindle. Beyond being an innovative product — a novel design and medium that consumers gobbled up (e-ink, anyone?) — it was a move that challenged the way we consume literature and the written word, threatening to make books obsolete. And that Amazon itself had its roots in books speaks to the vision and fearlessness of their company and leadership. To challenge their own heritage with the Kindle and adapt to the changing times was both a bold and poetic move. They saw a consumer need and went after it, regardless of how their company was positioned at the time. That they continue to expand their businesses is a testament to their successes and a great example of the power of what bold innovation can do for business in today’s world. And it’s admirable. Very admirable. (Profitable too.)


7 Thousand Million Users!

November 27, 2011

Seven B-I-L-L-I-O-N.  For you “I’m-not-a-numbers-person” people, that’s seven with nine zeros behind it. The estimated number of humans alive as of October 31, 2011. And by the time you read this, there’s more. A bunch more.

A big number for designers and those we design for. A big number for our planet. Let’s call this a milestone.

…Aaand cue the video. (A nice piece of information design itself, care of the always-insightful NPR.)


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