Today in “Process: Obstructed” for @Switched

In front of the filming of an app process with some fine folk from Engadget In front of the filming of an app process with some fine folk from Engadget and for "Process: Obstructed" for Switched

In front of the filming of an app process with some fine folk from Engadget and for "Process: Obstructed" for Switched

In front of the filming of an app process with some fine folk from Engadget In front of the filming of an app process with some fine folk from Engadget and for "Process: Obstructed" for Switched

A couple of days ago Chad Mumm, a producer for The Engadget Show emailed me asking if I would be interested in being part of the filming of “Process: Obstructed” for Switched. It sounded like a great opportunity to show my design thinking and test what I can do. I was given the challenge to build the perfect device-spanning weather app. I don’t want to give away too much before the film is posted but it was a really quick three hours of time boxing sprints that managed to show how I think.

I broke the process down into six categories:
1. Use cases
· Considering what people actually want to do with a weather app (thanks to the people that responded to my question on Twitter).

2. Analyzing what is already out there
· Deconstructing a couple apps and sites already out there and comparing what they do to the use cases from the first category.

3. Exploring ideas
· Creating new features that support the user experience.

4. Wireframes
· Building out the design in form.

5. Testing + prototyping
· Working details after placing the wireframes on devices.

6. Finish, test and iterate
· Look at the prototype on the device, test what works and fix what doesn’t.

Each of those steps was ten to fifteen minute sprints that I set up for myself. It wasn’t a lot of time but gave a good idea of how an app could develop. I think the film will be out in a couple of weeks. Once it’s up I’ll post some of my whiteboard images and final designs of the work. While I put a lot of pressure on myself I really enjoyed the time seeing what I could do. I highly recommend doing a crazy exercise like that once in a while to push creative constraints.

A Couple Angles About Education During This Economy of Online Scale

This is one of those posts that came together after reading and viewing three different angles concerning education. It made sense to lump them together to show the spectrum of where education might be headed. I remember watching the video from Salman Khan first. My thoughts after that were if a person was really motivated they could really teach themselves more than a person that is unmotivated that is going to University. There’s a lot of other free online resources that can be found on YouTube and even iTunes. It is a matter of someone having the time and inclination. The second post came from TechCrunch that sort of backs up the assertion that online videos will give the opportunity and access that was not once available. Again I think it is up to an individual to take the initiative to discover this information. I don’t think it is five years away but in some case already here. The third post from is depressing. I took a quote from the updated post that talks about how some schools are closing early and libraries are being shut down. Below I reversed the order showing the most negative post and built it up to what the potential might be for learning.

From What collapsing empire looks like. Utah is seriously considering eliminating the 12th grade, or making it optional.  And it was announced this week that “Camden [New Jersey] is preparing to permanently shut its library system by the end of the year, potentially leaving residents of the impoverished city among the few in the United States unable to borrow a library book free.”

From TechCrunch: Bill Gates: In Five Years The Best Education Will Come From The Web. “Five years from now on the web for free you’ll be able to find the best lectures in the world,” Gates said at the Techonomy conference in Lake Tahoe, CA today. “It will be better than any single university.

The above video of Salman Khan speaking at GEL (Good Experience Live) Conference. He talks about how he started creating different types of tutorials online and how it has grown. His YouTube channel can be found at

Inside vs Outside Info Gathering

Over the past couple of months I’ve tried documenting how my consumption of information has evolved with my iPad. I’m using a couple different readers like Reeder and Pulse News. I’ve also noticed that there’s sites that are filtering Twitter like TwitterTimes and the new app Flipboard that is using tweets as the starting point to gather headlines. Pulling from Twitter is both helpful and a hinderance at the same time. Those sites are great to catch up on what people you know are following. The issue of course is that they found that info from someone before you. By the time that info makes it to an app using Twitter it becomes less valuable. There isn’t a huge strategic advantage of knowing that stuff. That information becomes a commodity like a popular business or marketing book. Everyone claims not to read them, though does yet it is only to keep up with everyone else. I sort of feel that way about a lot of links if you’re reading them from people you already know. Knowledge is one thing, being able to apply it to something new or better is a different issue altogether. So maybe it isn’t that bad to be reading and sharing info that everyone else can read. But my challenge to myself is to keep finding sources no one else has come across yet. While it is a never ending race I wonder if the path is a treadmill or actual track. With a treadmill the distance is virtual while outside there’s more to see.

Jeff Bezos, Charlie Rose, Streaming Interviews, Stretching Media Types and Transcripts…

Originally I wanted to do a post about the interview Charlie Rose did with Jeff Bezos. I had planned to embed the video of the talk and make a couple points about the things that stood out. But to my confusion I when I went to the share button on the page all I could do was email a link to someone. What surprises me is that I used to be able to embed the entire interview and now I can’t. I did notice that there is a six minute clip on YouTube. However what I did find interesting is that there is a tab that displays the entire conversation in text—in theory I could simply copy + paste the entire conversation yet not show the video. Seems a bit strange to me to allow low fi tech but not video. To prove a point I was going to in fact place the entire conversation below but decided in the end that it would be more effective if I just placed the highlighted conversation that made me pause.

These are the themes that that I found stood out
1. Buying something electronically and having the ability to use it on any device by any manufacturer
2. Carrying multiple devices that can do the same thing
3. Looking at the competition and using software, not hardware as a strategic advantage
4. Not having to worry about energy (battery life), explaining who should be creating the experience & having more than one device
5. Focus & compromises

1. Buying something electronically and having the ability to use it on any device

CHARLIE ROSE: But there is an application for a Kindle on an iPad.

JEFF BEZOS: Absolutely, and also on Android, also on the iPhone, also on the Mac, also on the PC, also on your blackberry. So our approach is when you buy a Kindle book, we want you — it’s buy once, read everywhere.

So you buy that Kindle book, and we have a technology called whisper sync, so we’ll synchronize your place and you can read on your blackberry, read a little bit on your iPad. If you’re going to have a two-hour reading session, get the Kindle and get a device that is really optimized for long-form reading.

2. Carrying multiple devices that can do the same thing

CHARLIE ROSE: So you are counting on the fact that people want to have an extra device for reading, and therefore you are opting to make it smaller, easier —

JEFF BEZOS: Exactly.

CHARLIE ROSE: — and thinner.

JEFF BEZOS: You got it. And at $139 — and cheaper. At $139, people are going to have — I think we live in a multi-device world. You’re going to have a tablet computer like an iPad or one of its competitors. You’re going to have a smart phone, you’re going to have a laptop. The tablet computer isn’t going to replace the laptop because there are times when you want to write a long memo or a long email message or an article —

3. Looking at the competition and using software, not hardware to a strategic advantage

CHARLIE ROSE: And are you here to also say that it is not all that certain that iPad will dominate that tablet market, that their competition will be good in the same way that the Droid-X is beginning to make progress because of the Android operating system?

JEFF BEZOS: Absolutely. Before the end of this year there will be many tablet computers. And the Apple with the iPad is going to continue to do extremely well. And I hope they do.

We don’t see the — from where I sit, all the data that I have, the evidence is very clear that Kindle is a companion to tablet computers, laptops. It’s not an either/or division.

CHARLIE ROSE: What is the evidence?

JEFF BEZOS: We have this feature called whisper sync where you can read on one device. And one of the strong usage pattern that is we see is people will read on their Kindles, and they read on their smart phones, tablet computers, and so on.

So we’re seeing that people are moving between these devices, and it’s one of the reasons that we’re so focused on buy once, read everywhere.

4. Not having to worry about energy, explaining who should be creating the experience & having more than one device

CHARLIE ROSE: How many devices do we want to carry with us?

JEFF BEZOS: I think you’re going to have a lot of devices.

CHARLIE ROSE: Do you really?

JEFF BEZOS: I do, at least four or five. Some have yet to be invented.

CHARLIE ROSE: OK, but you’re not —

JEFF BEZOS: We’re not trying to create an experience. We want the author to create the experience.

If you’re going to read Nabokov or Hemingway or — what do you want us creating the experience for? That’s not our job. Our job is to provide the convenience so that you can get books in 60 seconds, so that you can carry your whole library with you, so that you don’t get hand strain, so the device doesn’t get hot in your hand, so that it doesn’t cause eyestrain, so that the battery life lasts a month so that you never get
battery anxiety —

CHARLIE ROSE: Battery life of this is what?

JEFF BEZOS: One month.

CHARLIE ROSE: One month.

5. Focus & compromises

JEFF BEZOS: So all those things are — that’s our job. Our job is to design a perfect device for reading.

People say why don’t you add a touch screen? The reason we don’t have a touch screen is when we were going down that decision path, we say, “OK, a touch screen,” and the current technology for touch screens is called capacitive touch. It’s a layer that goes on top of that display. It adds glare.

The first thing that you do when you add a touch display is you adda little extra layer of glass or plastic and a little bit of glare. So it’s very easy from an engineering point of view to add a touch screen, but
it’s not the right thing when you’re making no compromises. And that’s our point of view on this. We want to build a device that’s uncompromised for reading. And guess what. Our approach is working.

My reading experience this year

At the beginning of the year I had set out the goal of reading one book a week for fifty two weeks. I’m pretty far behind so far so unless I gain a ton of time I don’t think I’m going to reach that goal. The reality is that my time is stretched to the max. With that said, early on in the year I was on a roll with reading paper books. I recall telling someone that I probably wouldn’t read any book digitally for a couple reasons. The first was that I wanted to be able to photograph all 52 books once I completed my goal. I couldn’t do that with a digital file. The second reason was that I had never read an ebook, so why would I bother? Fast forward to August. I have an iPad that has the Kindle app on it. It is so easy to buy books that it is really hard to go to a store that may or may not have what I want to buy. I also started reading on my iPhone which was another thing that I never thought I would do. I think it is amazing my book can sync together on all my devices without me having to do anything. The only thing that is poor is the actually reading experience. The type is set incredibly bad. There is no excuse for publishers to set digital books better.

If I look at the Kindle reading experience and relate it to other media types like sound or video, or even websites, you have to wonder why everything doesn’t work non device specific. Mobile browsers allow for a bit of seamless integration but still are pretty out of date. Typically sites just stripe out all the graphics—not such a great mobile experience.

The 5 Things That Startups Can Learn From Lady Gaga #ideas

The 5 Things That Startups Can Learn From Lady Gaga

There’s a lot of buzz these days about startups. It’s a perfect opportunity to create a business around an idea that takes advantage of the economic climate we’re in. Plus who doesn’t like a story of a small group creating something the big guys couldn’t possibly pull off. What sometimes get’s lost in the jargon of the word startup is that it’s purely a tech thing. What if you’re an enterprising designer, maybe an entrepreneur? Surely some of the startup advice out there is relevant too—so with that idea here’s a couple ideas from a perhaps surprising concept—Lady Gaga.

In 5 things That Startups can Learn from Lady Gaga by Charlie O’Donnell in Business Insider breaks the core concepts as:

1. Be remarkable: I think too often people add “share on Twitter” buttons to their apps without first adding something that people would actually want to share. What is it about your service that will make people stop and notice?

2. Repeat the message as often as possible: Figuring out what your simple message is and repeating it across your site, your marketing copy, PR, and in business development meetings is a way to build brand awareness and clarity.

3. Be relentless: You might be the new new thing now, but what’s going to be your next hit? A big business development deal? A killer new feature? Rarely are startups ever made on their launch, and neither are lasting music careers. You can’t ever rest on your laurels in either game. Always be raising the bar.

4. Create something bigger than just the individual: The earlier the founders of a company act like they’ve created something bigger than themselves, the sooner they actually get there.

5. Respect success: See what’s working for other companies way more successful than you are and adopt well executed strategies used by others… If you can’t recognize greatness, and build off of it, then you’re going to be unlikely to be great on your own.

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