Sunday, October 13, 2013

Medium is pretty good

I've been over at Medium lately -- I like the smoothness but the findability still needs to grow.

Recent posts

BarCamp Nashville 2013: Ch-ch-ch changes #becauseawesome

BarCamp Nashville 2013 is going to be awesome in the ways that the previous one have been -- the speakers (you know you want to), the new friends, the old friends, the crew, the sponsors, and the lunch.

But #BCN13 has changes that will be like watching ripples change their size but never leave the stream.

It will be a trip back to the future: less curated, more self-organized.

It will be like sailing through the changing ocean tide: more crowd-sourced, less random.

People can be afraid of changes, but everything's going to be all right.

You can't hold back change: change is gonna' come.

Here's the straight dope about this year's incarnation of the once and future geek extravaganza:
First held in Nashville in 2007, BarCamp Nashville is a free, technology-focused “unconference” that is equal parts networking, knowledge-building and fun. BarCamp has become the premier technology and digital event in the city, bringing together the best minds and representations of the top companies in the mobile and web development, entrepreneurial and software industries, among others. 
Attendees are encouraged to get involved through volunteering, presenting an insightful session or inspiring and leading community learning through active discussion and networking. 
In 2013, BarCamp Nashville will take a new approach to determining the event’s schedule by allowing attendees to participate in two voting periods the day of the event. This replaces the random session draw that has been used in previous years.
Be here. Aloha.


Friday, August 23, 2013

Friday, June 21, 2013

Search results: Pink cadillac tail light

Just a few words bring back so many perfect images.

Search for "pink cadillac tail light" and there it is.

Related: Turn signals are the facial expressions of automobiles.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Smaller, lighter, faster

This is today's example  of yesterday's tomorrows, and how the imagination of the past was locked into its own present.

The thing people couldn't imagine about the future then as we know it now in the year 2013 is the smallness, lightness and speed of things, because their world was glass and rubber and metal. 

Shorter, plastics. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Today in antique metaphors: CC in your email

Today in antique metaphors: Cc in your email, and explaining carbon copy to a digital native. 

Related: Store receipts. The white copy is theirs, the yellow one is yours.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Building to scale

What is experience design and UX?
When you see a wayfinding sign after you're already on the highway, and it's more of a congratulatory artifact than a piece of help content, someone at the highway department got the experience design and the UX wrong. (New Jersey Turnpike, I'm looking at you.) 
When something just works, the people who manage the experience design and the UX worked with the people who build it to make it that way.
Who is responsible for UX?
The short answer: Everyone who touches something that someone else will use. 
The shorter answer: It depends.
The longish answer: Various people at different points in a digital project, depending on the scope, the budget and the time and space required vs. allotted for the relevant discovery, techniques and tools.
What does specialized UX on large scale digital projects look like?
UX leads and teams add depth, breadth, structure, planning and testing once things get bigger than what a smart visual designer, copywriter and developer can handle on small projects. 
The bigger the market, the more UX is more established as a specialized discipline in startups, agencies and web shops.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Back where I came from

Before the internet, a small-town friend who was the best chess player for 100 miles came to NYC every so often, got pwned by the hustlers in Washington Square Park, and went back home humbled.

Per A.J. Liebling, prairie geniuses are raced in cheap company when young.

But then came the internet, eradicating time and space beyond even the capabilities of railroads and telegrams: now that we're living in the future, we can interact with anyone, anywhere, asynchronously or in real time, who shares our interests in chess, collecting Soviet New Year cards -- anything, no matter how otaku or obscure.

Soviet New Year's card
Soviet New Year card

Back Where I  Came From, A.J. Liebling
Back Where I Come From

Thursday, May 2, 2013

No print archives for #Curiosity

It's lovely to see the photos Curiosity sends back from Mars all over the internet, but there's no large format weekly print magazine archiving them like there was for the Apollo program.

Monday, April 22, 2013

UX Pitch: What is it?

To pitch UX, you have to define it.

Here's the short version:

UX/IA: How it works, what it does, for who, and why
  • What are the business goals?
  • What do users need?
  • How do I work this?
User research + Personas + Narratives = Requirements

Requirements + Interactions + Look and feel = UI
Facilitation: Asking the questions whose answers are the roadmap.
Evaluation: Testing concepts and prototypes with the target audience. 
Ideation and Creation: User flows, sketches and wireframes to document the customer journey with iterative steps that define, test and improve solutions against requirements so that it's more likely to be built right.

Example of how *not* to do UX:

Friday, April 5, 2013

Spring always takes you by surprise

Dear internet: Here's today's reason why I <3 u.

Years ago, I heard a song in a cafe. Every year, when the world slowly -- then suddenly -- starts turning green again, the title phrase comes back into my head, and gets stuck there for a few days.

"Spring always takes you by surprise." Such a lovely line; such a pretty melody around it.

Every year, I google the title phrase; every year I can't find what I'm looking for.

But today, when I saw the iris buds that weren't there last time I looked, and the earworm returned, right on time, I googled the phrase and boom -- the MP3 on Amazon came up as the first result.

So I bought the song, after years of thinking I'd never hear it except in my head again.

Thank you, internet.


Friday, March 8, 2013


ME, FAKEGRIMLOCK: THE BOOK OF AWESOME, just presold $24k of books, posters, advice and secret levels in 24 hours (yeah, I'm in).

@Fakegrimlock, if you don't know the brand, is an internet play made of pure awesome.

The back story: Some dude -- a smart dev guy looking to prove a few things -- takes on the persona of a giant robot dinosaur from the old Transformers cartoons, inhabits the character across social media, and drops mad startup wisdom in all-caps, dinospeak on every platform he can grab with his tiny foreclaws. ("LAWYERS CAN BACK THE HELL OFF RIGHT NOW.")

The magic trick of the brand and the instant Kickstarter presale (his second project): @Fakegrimlock built his list of fans, friends and backers one Tweet, guest post, blog comment, interview in full dino regalia, No Eat Friday award and drawing at a time.
Of course, the internet playbook @Fakegrimlock uses isn't enough by itself.

What keeps me coming back is that he uses his mighty robot dino powers for good. That, and #becauseawesome.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Coming up on 20 years: Internet dog party

Seems like only yesterday:

"On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog" appeared in print as the caption of a New Yorker cartoon on July 5, 1993. 
The cartoon features two dogs: the one sitting on a chair in front of a computer speaks the caption to the one sitting on the floor. 
As of 2011, the panel was the most reproduced cartoon from the magazine.


Be brave, #Curiosity #Robot #Spaceship on #Mars.

I am seriously over attached to this #Curiosity #robot #spaceship on #Mars.

Curiosity is hunkering down as a huge solar flare races toward Mars. Hang in there little guy! 

A Rover In Full:  NASA/JPL-Caltech


This comic is a reference to the NASA Mars Rover "Curiosity" landing on Mars on August 5, 2012 at 10:31pm PDT (August 6, 2012 at 5:31am GMT). NASA live-streamed the landing, but demand for the feed caused server issues. Thus, the time spent trying to download the landing images could be used as an excuse for things such as being late for work, falling asleep during the day, or just about anything demanding one's attention.

The Cold War: Back in the 20th Century

Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD), throw weights, ICBMs, MIRVs, peace treaties, SALT talks: acronyms and mindsets from long ago and far away. It was crazy then, and impossible to explain to people now (along with phonographs, landlines and cassette tapes).

I had forgotten most of it, until this song bobbed to the surface of a feed: 99 Red Balloons.

"While at a June 1982 concert by the Rolling Stones in West Berlin, Nena's guitarist Carlo Karges noticed that balloons were being released. As he watched them move toward the horizon, he noticed them shifting and changing shapes, where they looked like strange spacecraft (referred to in the German lyrics as a "UFO"). He thought about what might happen if they floated over the Berlin Wall to the Soviet sector." --
I am queuing up Dr. Strangelove for tonite as a teachable moment for my daughter, born in this century, as an explanation of why people who say we need endless wars are almost always wrong.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Infinite regress of etymology

In the infinite regress of etymology, wherein Jules LĂ©otard "popularized the one-piece gymwear that now bears his name and was the inspiration for the 1867 song "The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze" sung by George Leybourne" ... where did his name come from?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Call Me, Maybe: Inventing the #UX of Phones

Inventing the telephone, and defining its user experience:

A dial: Dots or no dots?

Keys: Square or round?

How many numbers?

From the obit for John Karlin a researcher at Bell Labs, who studied ways to make the telephone easier to use:

By the postwar period, telephone exchanges that spelled pronounceable words were starting to be exhausted. All-digit dialing would create a cache of new phone numbers, but whether users could memorize the seven digits it entailed was an open question.
Mr. Karlin’s experimental research, reported in the popular press, showed that they could. As a result, PEnnsylvania and BUtterfield — the stuff of song and story — began to slip away. By the 1960s, those exchanges, along with DRexel, FLeetwood, SWinburne and scores of others just as evocative, had all but disappeared.
This did not please traditionalists, and thanks to the papers they knew the culprit’s name.
“One day I was at a cocktail party and I saw some people over in the corner,” Mr. Karlin recalled in a 2003 lecture. “They were obviously looking at me and talking about me. Finally a lady from this group came over and said, ‘Are you the John Karlin who is responsible for all-number dialing?’ ”
Mr. Karlin drew himself up with quiet pride.
“Yes, I am,” he replied.
“How does it feel,” his inquisitor asked, “to be the most hated man in America?”

Friday, January 25, 2013

Take a giant step forward, take two baby steps back

Telling me, "You may continue to use your computer during the update," then demanding that i quit iTunes: not exactly a friendly conversation.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Talk about the weather?

Dear Car -- 

I like you, I really like you -- more than any other car I've known. You're filled with surprises, and awesome and fun.

But when I turn on the engine and you show me a snowflake icon on the indicator panel, it doesn't make me think you want to talk about the weather: it looks like you're alerting me that the engine is cold and broken, and crying for help.

Please, let's be clear about the differences between a friendly conversation and a screaming emergency, okay?

Thank you.

-- Your human.

Related: Like the Weather