May 20, 2008

(Design) Thinking No. 2. It starts with empathy!

handwritten post it note: it starts with empathy!

It’s a nearly unavoidable part of everyday life for most of us: identifying with other human beings. Some of us are better than others at doing, and it comes easily (perhaps too easily) to a few of us. Empathic relation is the discipline that’s at the core of design thinking. I’ll be examining that through some rhetoric and some examples.

Given the focus on people, why not proceed with a few historical celebrities? As we’ll see caricature is a really powerful part of the empathic process.

May 19, 2008

(Design) Thinking No. 1.

These are the (heavily annotated) notes for a work that was adapted for a presentation at Dimensional Fund Advisors.

Philip Johnson's Glass House

(Design) Thinking No. 1.

Despite knowing nearly nothing about the canon idea of design thinking, I suspected and correctly that I had been preoccupied with it for some time already. This survey looks at design thinking as it applies to small-scale web apps.

This is the first of around 100 posts.

February 29, 2008

Total Sync

How well choreographed is Apple's "digital hub"?

In trying to get "first" to an online flight check-in, I was carefully watching the clock on my MacBook desktop as it approached 6:55 exactly. Meanwhile, I sent a text message or two on my iPhone. I noticed the iPhone's handsome time display was synched to the same minute.

Really wanting to hit "send" at the very top of the minute, I watched the red second hands of my many time-zoned Dashboard widgets. As that second hand—which is so finely animated as to include a small vibration following each movement—passed the top of the clock, the iPhone snapped to ":55."

I'm not sure what the benefit is, but the precision is remarkable. Now for comparison, note that the bedside alarm clock was (likely intentionally) nine minutes fast. Presumably the iPhone synchs the clock when it docks with my Mac, but it had suffered two time-zone changes since. Talk about one finishing another's sentence.

February 19, 2008

Most awesome

Presented with little time to comment:

"Steve Kitchen's Space Shuttle."

A great segment on a great episode. Steve talks lucidly about writing as analogous to game design.

February 13, 2008

Apple puts the subject last.

Apple's living room Conestoga, AppleTV, was refreshed this week, taking a step forward with HD movie rentals and buy-through-the-remote music and videos. It took a surprising step backward though, when it comes to handling media the user already owns. It's revamped menus move "My Music" from first to last on the list. Further, new toys like a covers view and search—sorely needed if your dipping into an even modest music library—have been reserved only for the act of buying from Apple.

The bottom line is Apple has produced a compelling jukebox with a focus on pay-to-play. However, Apple's ordering of the features belies their business priorities. I don't expect any further improvements to "My Music" as Apple has authored a very clear sentence on their idea of an ideal experience.

You can check out screenshots at Matt Haughey's PVR blog.

January 25, 2008

Powerful typologies work.

EveryBlock is a new, "extremely local" news and community site. They have a simple front page that powerfully demonstrates software as a sentence:

The easiest way to keep track of what’s happening on your block, in your neighborhood and all over your city — like restaurant inspections in Chinatown, crimes in the Loop or everything around 473 Kent Ave.

The phases like "restaurant inspections in Chinatown" are all links and represents sophisticated sorts across a vast database of events and news, collecting variables and filtering them through transformations. Put another way, combining nouns with prepositions (techincally more like adpositions).

These phases are a great way to demo the potential of the site.

First post.

This is the first sentence.