The skinny here is that I’d like to work on correcting the uneven access to Internet jobs (great jobs, btw) by providing education to the disadvantaged. By disadvantaged I mean — here in New York City — mainly blacks and Hispanics, but generally those with lower income. I’m not sure how organizations who provide such services identify customers in this segment. I’ve already got some plans in the works for an educational service, and a small but important component of it is figuring out how to make the education available more widely.
Lou dropped off a loaf of this amazing no-knead bread that’s all the rage among home cooks these days (recipe). It was and continues to be delicious, and as I munched through the crunchy exterior into the large crumb I pondered Lou’s search for a no-knead information architecture. My brain loves reducing complex processes to heuristics to make life simpler, so I’ve been looking for the equivalent for my job: no-knead product design. After chatting with some Overlappers tonight, here’s my first pass:
Ken Bain came to Pratt last night to discuss his amazing research on teaching. Twenty years ago he and his colleagues worked to identify the best college teachers in America. They then examined how those teachers did research, planned courses, and taught classes. It’s all summed up in his excellent book, What the Best College Teachers Do.
They found that all of these teachers thought of their work as paradigm-building, breaking down old models inside students’ minds and building up new ones. The importance of this is illustrated by a story in the book about physics students who, after they had taken the introductory course, still held an Aristotelian and not a Newtonian understanding of the world, much to the teachers’ dismay.
Bain described three conditions for paradigm-building:
Noise Between Stations is an official FC Read. A big welcome to first timers. Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what kind of design-innovation-internet topics interest you.
Have you ever upgraded software and then wish you hadn’t?
That’s the feeling I get sometimes when using the new generation of rich user interface websites. Many are great, though some seem to be going over-the-top in a play for attention. We made some great strides with Web 1.5, simplifying the UI and increasing text size and amount of white space. And these apps sometimes still perform better than their Web 2.0 contenders. I tried Yahoo’s beta mail for a while then switched back to the less finicky classic version. Renkoo seems to have so much potential as an Evite-killer, but the slick interface made it harder and more error-prone to create an invite, so I’m sticking with Goovite.
Until our design skills catch up with our technology, will we need to return to GOMS analysis?
Another reason I like jetBlue: they care enough to apologize deeply for their mistakes. Here’s how the email began…
We are sorry and embarrassed. But most of all, we are deeply sorry.
Last week was the worst operational week in JetBlue’s seven year history. Following the severe winter ice storm in the Northeast, we subjected our customers to unacceptable delays, flight cancellations, lost baggage, and other major inconveniences…
What’s perhaps most revealing is the slideshow of their training program, a reminder of the discipline in their culture.
For a limited time only you can download the full text of Finding the Right Job for Your Product by Clayton M. Christensen et al. The article itself isn’t revolutionary — they essentially mirror the transition that marketing research has undergone in moving from demographic to affinity customer segmentation. Christensen and his colleagues describe that transition in terms of product development. It starts to get a little muddled as they come up with their own interpretation/strawman of user-centered design and then critique it, but the intentions seem noble.
With Toyota about to unseat Ford and GM as the top car seller in America, maybe the Toyota Way will finally be taken seriously among American managers, including those working for Toyota…
…analysts say Toyota’s recent and embarrassing surge in vehicle recalls was partly a failure by Toyota to spread its obsession for craftsmanship among its growing ranks of overseas factory workers and managers…
“For Americans and anyone, it can be a shock to the system to be actually expected to make problems visible,” said Ms. Newton, a 38-year-old Indiana native who joined Toyota after college 15 years ago and now works at the North American headquarters in Erlanger, Ky. “Other corporate environments tend to hide problems from bosses.”
Jeneanne Rae spanks innovation efforts that are little more than idea-management systems…
Collecting random ideas may be an interesting exercise, but unless distinct energy is directed against solving a vexing corporate problem or exploiting a complex opportunity, you can count on low-level noise that won’t get senior management very excited. Lack of enthusiasm on the senior management front ensures sponsorship but little support, as well as attention deficits, long cycle times, and high frustration levels all around. Maintenance is high while reward levels can be very low.
Amen, sister. We can extend this criticism to consulting firms that hype idea generation as the foundation of innovation rather than those vexing corporate challenges.
I’m developing a new course, Introduction to Internet Business Strategy, that I’m pretty excited about. Ironically, though everyone in the Internet industry discusses strategy, it’s difficult to find any standard references on the topic. This presents a great opportunity for me to plunge in and synthesize the basics as well as to examine what role design has played so far.
One company I’m reverse engineering is Netflix. The store-less video subscription service claims to be “the world’s largest online movie rental service, providing more than 6.3 million subscribers access to more than 70,000 DVD titles.” They have an impressive physical presence too: “Netflix operates 42 shipping centers located throughout the United States… On average, Netflix ships 1.575 million DVDs each day.” And though they compete against giant Blockbuster as well as smaller chains and neighborhood shops as well as video-on-demand services, earnings have doubled each year the past three years.
So how do they do it?
Just discovered this, and it looks like a good resource:
CenterNetworks was relaunched in September 2006 to focus on the “new” Internet. This includes social networking, Web 2.0, and social lending. One of my main goals with CenterNetworks is to help you create better web apps. Not so much on the coding side but on the business side. To help you, we provide content in the following areas:
* Site Reviews
* Conference Coverage