My RSS file is almost three times more popular than my blog page, which gets about 4300 requests a day, mostly from myself. In third place is my undergrad thesis on music censorship written over 12 years ago and which I originally posted just to have some content on my website. It’s included as a chapter in a book to be published this summer. Sometimes I think I haven’t written that well since, and sometimes I think my ideas haven’t been as sophomoric since. Assorted other goodies, like an essay on displaying photos on the web, get about 10 requests a day, which says something to me about the success (in terms of readership) of publishing on the web.
I live not far from the intersection of 23rd St and 8th Ave, a fairly busy intersection in New York. When a long-neglected Hagen Daas store on the corner was closed down and a giant, wrap-around store was implied by the construction I was curious what would replace it. On the other corners are a Gap, a new bakery, and a large, popular BBQ restaurant. It turns out the new corner will hold a vitamin shop. Is that all? Just another vitamin shop? ‘I hope that fail within months to be replaced by something better‘ was the thought I had.
Are supplements really so popular? Looking around I realized they were sold in a lot of places. Then I read Miracle in a Bottle in the new New Yorker, and the whole, giant world of nutraceuticals was exposed to me. It turns out this stuff is incredibly popular and highly unregulated, our laws not being what they once were: ‘One recent Harris poll found that most people believe that if a supplement is on the market it must have been approved by some government agency (not true); that manufacturers are prohibited from making claims for their products unless they have provided data to back those claims up (no such laws exist); and that companies are required to include warnings about potential risks and side effects (they arenšt).‘
I saved my pennies while sitting in one of these* so I could give myself a gift of back relief, a Life Chair. It costs as much as the Aeron and is at least as comfortable, if not more so. Rather than mounting a dark, mechanistic rig, the Life is visually lighter and seems to yield more comfort for being so. Knoll’s extensive line of fabrics can make customization a daunting task, not made easier by their lack of a thorough website. Luckily there’s a showroom nearby, as you pretty much have to go through a Knoll dealer to order it, with a process like ordering office furniture. In my case it was worth; I’ve got one happy bum.
* Note that the Internet includes a metalfoldingchairs.com
The Role of Business Analyst – a Need but no Room for HCI? is a great look at a HCI-trained person taking a position as a BA and reporting from the inside. This illustrates one big reason HCI-related roles, like information architecture, have a hard time penetrating business: business thinks they already have a customer-centric process when they have BAs, and BAs aren’t trained in user research. It might continue to be true until the Tom Peters of the world say otherwise. Personally, I’m working with some BAs who are open-minded and like to hear what I have to say, but changing a culture takes a while.
Link courtesy PJB.
Looking for something else, I came across my blog entry for Wednesday, November 24, 1999 pointing to this interview with Spalding Gray…
One of the things that I do every day when I finish working here or writing or reading, is go out and walk around Washington Square fountain. I’m the only one to do this. I go around and around and around. I don’t count the times that I go around but I walk until I feel I’ve had a good walk, rather than going in a straight line which is what I used to do. I’d beeline up for Barnes and Noble on 5th Avenue and 18th Street because it would be a point of reference to go to and thumb through the books, because I like to be going somewhere. But I started to like the circle, because my eye, and I really have only one good eye now, my right eye, becomes like a camera, panning — and every time around, you have the same configuration of people doing a little something different and so on around, so it becomes like my film for the day. My take on the day, Washington Square Park.
Dieter Rams: ‘I have distilled the essentials of my design philosophy into ten points.‘
- Good design is innovative.
- Good design makes a product useful.
- Good design is aesthetic.
- Good design makes a product understandable.
- Good design is honest.
- Good design is unobtrusive.
- Good design is long-lasting.
- Good design is thorough down to the last detail.
- Good design is environmentally friendly.
- Good design is as little design as possible.
I spotted this two page spread in Forbes magazine. It’s IBM using a persona (“Lois”) to get companies to think about ‘customer centricity.’ It’s text heavy and superficial, but if it increases customer centricity than I’m all for it.
Similarly, Brett Lider points to Microsoft’s MSN personas. They’d be denounced by Cooperites based on the sheer number of them (one persona for every age group?). More sins abound: ‘Age 14-17, Amanda is at the pivotal point in her life where she is beginning to define her brand affinities.’
She’s age 14-17? Very realistic. She’s developing her brand affinities? Is that what her and her friends do after school? By putting a face on demographics they end up with a face on demographics, not a realistic depiction of a person that we can use our imagination to design for. But this is just a marketing tool, MSN trying to help advertisers advertise. Will it degrade the idea of personas for design? I hope not. Hopefully it’ll turn marketing on to the grooviness of customer centricity.
Lot’s of link goodness over at http://www.informationdesign.org/.
The Content Management for Information Architects seminar promises to be the best one day line up of CMS knowledge anywhere. Where else can you see Boiko, Rockley, Byrne, and Busch all on one stage, all laying it down with IA as their focus? CMS is the future, girls and boys, I really don’t believe we’ll be manually editing presentation code and content forever, let’s get together and conquer this bad boy.
Nathan Shedroff’s New Methods for Designing Effective Experiences looks relatively new (October 2003?) and is a current overview of methods that is strongly resonating with me. In particular, he nails some shortcomings of traditional personas. IAs take note, he’s using the term taxonomy in the widest sense, not only in the LIS sense.
I went to a meeting for an hour, came back, refreshed my email, and saw:
- Hotwire – Visual UI Designer Opening
- Customer Experience Project Associate
- Sr. User Interaction Designer position at Adobe Systems
- Experience Planners at Semaphore Partners
- Staples Job Opening: Usability Research Analyst
Tog is back in the critic’s chair, this time with genuine praise for Mac OS X. OS X is up to speed at last. It appears as crisp, with a few exceptions, as OS 9.2.2. That from the man who helped invent the check box, not too shabby. Which is good as I wasn’t looking forward to learning yet another way to use the desktop (i.e. Exposé). Link courtesy PJB.
Matthew Clapp started ProjectCMS, a blog.