Surveillance in the Post Boston World

Granary Burying Ground — Boston, Massachusetts

What happened in Boston was a tragedy and it’s amazing how fast law enforcement was able to track down the perpetrators using public and private photos. Just because they were able to track these two via surveillance footage doesn’t mean we all need to be watched more. This simple conclusion jumping is near sighted and of flawed logic.

Surveillance only treats the symptom (more accurately the aftermath of the symptom) and not the cause (lack of community, lack of respect for life, hopelessness, chemical imbalances, etc.). Adding more cameras won’t stop tragedies like Boston it just makes finding the assailants simpler afterwards. We need to look at the tough questions, the ones that potentially stop these tragedies from happening in the first place. Ironically, the populous knee jerk solutions often only add to the root problems. Additional surveillance won’t stop Boston from reoccurring but it will bring us one step closer to Orwellian dystopias becoming a reality.

 

For a counter argument read: We Need More Cameras, and We Need Them Now posted at The Slate. Though if you read closely all the wins were after the crimes occurred, even the preventative nature is based on the fear of getting caught afterwards.

Is Bigger Always Better?

Really liking my new HTC One S…It’s fast, great screen and most importantly the camera works impressively well in low light.

Though I have to say these new, larger screens are great to look at but makes it hard to operate with a single hand. Even the HTC One S’s 4.3″ screen is hard to reach the far corners without moving your hand in ways that compromises your grip. Ironically, Android 4+ has moved primary controls into action bars on opposite ends of the screen.

After using the One S all weekend I had to see if this issue was all in my head and thankfully it wasn’t. My older (and much complained about) LG G2X (4″ screen) fits nicely in the palm of my hand and I can reach the entire screen without compromising my grip. To show what I mean I’ve created this map of what I can reach with my left thumb while holding the phone comfortably in my left hand and not compromising my grip.

Is anyone else experiencing this? Have you switched to using two hands to use your phone? Will Apple stick with the smaller form factor and use reach as their reason?

Will Facebook’s new Pages be able to turn online marketing into a conversation?

Today Facebook announced Timeline for Pages and held an all day conference for marketers to learn the ins and outs of the new features. Facebook also took the opportunity to re-explain how social is core to social media marketing. They spoke of creating stories and not ads as the key to the new Facebook. They showed examples of how social media should be by showcasing brands like Red Bull, Ben and Jerry’s, and Macy’s (I’m guessing they still get perks for Miracle on 34th Street). They talked to industry leaders who all echoed the social media mantra. Still, it’s going to take some time for it all to sink in.

To this end Facebook presented a number of features in order that should empower those that want to embrace to the social of social media marketing. The Timeline is a huge step in showcasing a brands interactions online. It’s literally their social history. Sure, they can remove posts, but how much are you going to trust a brand that’s been online for years and has nothing to show for it. The Timeline will also feature posts from a user’s friend that mention the brand. This may include negative rants, but this is still to be seen. Lastly, the Timeline is a break from the marketing pages of yesterday (literally) which often featured “like-gated” content so the marketing team could brag about the number of Likes they had.

Other features to support the humanization of pages include the ability for a page (read: brand) to have direct correspondence with individual users, limitations of the types of images that can be used in the hero image (no “like us”, “50% off”, or other promotional type images), and highlighting the user’s friend’s brand related activities (mentioned earlier). They also added the ability for brand posts to be apart of the both the desktop and mobile news feeds (paid service, like Twitter’s promoted Tweets), though this one seems to support the old ad model more than socialization.

So the question is, will Facebook’s new tools along with the reminder that social media is a bi-directional conversation help change those clinging to the broadcast mentality? Will these new tools help champion the social among the social marketers or will they be bastardized to support the old regime?

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Watch the presentations here: http://www.facebook.com/business/fmc

The Internet (alone) will not discover you

The other day +Trey Ratcliff posted an article here on Google+ that suggested that if one does great work they will be discovered. I think this is an over simplification at best. It’s a myth that has been told over and over through out time. The suggestion that all one needs to do is great work to be discovered gives many the hope to carry on but for many it also suggests that the lack of discovery suggests one is not doing great work. I know TREY meant well as he’s great with promoting other photographers work, he even talked about some of the other steps in the process.

It’s his actions that touch on the other side of the discovery equation…promotion. Wether it’s self promotion (including networking) or some one else singing your praise, with out promotion your great work may never be seen.

In Trey’s video, he talks about how a painter (+Daniel Ibanez) reached out to him in a Hang Out and shared with him some photos of his paintings. Trey liked the work and shared it with his network, members of his network liked and then re-shared the work. Clearly people connected with the paintings (quality) but it was the promotion (artist to Trey, Trey to his network, his network to their networks, etc) that helped the Internet discover NAME.

Another great example of how both parts of the equation are needed. Recently there was a storage locker full of photos that was purchased during a lot sale. The buyer (John Maloof) digitized a few and then posted them online. The photos were great, and story went viral. They took off because they were great photos, but with out his discovery and promotion one of the largest collections of street photography would have been lost. Luckily for us this isn’t the case and we can now enjoy +Vivian Maier’s work both online and in galleries.

Even with the Internet there are thousands of photographers/writers/actors who are doing great work that will never be discovered/appreciated/noticed. This is true for every media, every art form and even in your 9-5. This doesn’t mean not to keep doing what you’re doing, but do it because you love it, not for the fame.

I think Trey would agree, the best advice is do what you love, do it as best you can, share what you’ve done and don’t be discouraged when the zeitgeist of serendipity passes you by. When you are discovered don’t forget all the hard work, promotion and people who helped you along the way.

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Trey Ratcliff’s original post:
The Internet will Discover You

Vivian Maier’s work
http://www.vivianmaier.com

Toyota’s Intellegent Typography Experiment

This is a few years old but still pretty cool. Back in 2009 Toyota teamed up with Please Let Me Design to create this IQ Font (above) as a way to promote their new micro-car.

The idea is simple enough but the execution is really nicely done. The designers (Pierre and Damien) worked with Stef van Campenhoudt (driver) and Zachary Lieberman (software developer, using OpenFrameworks) to track the car’s path as a way to draw each letter. The resulting font is clean, quirky with lots of character and classic details. Even the “making of” (below) is fun to watch.

Pepsi Can Turned Social Nightmare

 

Came across this post late last night on Facebook. It’s from an US Military personnel in Iraq featuring a Pepsi can with a cityscape. The image was shared over 30k times by the time I saw it and none of the comments are positive for Pepsi. It goes to show the power of interpretation combined with the power of social media.

Do you find the image on the can offensive?

Xbox App = Pure Brilliance

The Xbox community is pretty rabid and many use the service for way more than just gaming. As such Microsoft just released an app for iOS devices to give access to your account from anywhere. Not only does it increase the value of having a XBox account they slyly put WindowsPhone 7 on your iPhone.

The app itself is build using the Metro framework but it also includes the default nav bar from their OS. So visually other than the status bar at the top of the screen you’re in WP7 land. What a way to introduce the masses to WP7 without them having to give up their iPhones in the process.

Outside the visuals, the app is pretty impressive. From the animated avatar that reacts to your actions (shake phone, poke, etc.), to full access to your account including messaging and setting of beacons. Beacons on their own are a brilliant move, but together Microsoft has a killer marketing tool disguised as an app that you’ll want to use.

Check it out for your self.

Ticketmaster lawsuit: Sticking it to the man…or does it

I doubt there too many people who are pro-Ticketmaster regarding this case (or in general) and that’s totally understandable their service is horrible, their fees excessive and their monopoly on shows/venues leaves us few options. Though after reviewing the class action lawsuit it seems that the winners in this case are the lawyers and Ticketmaster.

The lawyers are guaranteed to collect $16.5 million and those effected will get a credit towards their next purchase at Ticketmaster. Then there’s fine print, one can only combine 2 credits at a time (for a total of $3) and they expire in 48 months. So the more you were effected, the more you need to support Ticketmaster to collect any restitution. Makes you wonder how many other “class action” suits are nothing more than thin veils for lawyers to extort big businesses.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t approve of Ticketmaster ripping off their customers, but will this lawsuit really stop that? I think not, but competition will.

 

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Class Action Lawsuit Against Ticketmaster – Better Business Bureau

My, Yours or Neither…That is the Question

About a week ago I reached out to the Twitters and my friends in UX to see if they knew of any research to validate the use of “my” or “your” before a title to suggest personalization. Friends, the Twitters and Google all turned up the same article by Yahoo! developers. Though it’s a great article for deciding “my vs yours”, there’s not too much on whether to use them in the first place.

In theory, adding a possessive prefix (“my” or “your”) before a title explains to a new user that the section is personalized. In practice, I’ve seen those same users confused by the possessive label as they haven’t knowingly personalized anything or to whom the pronoun was suggesting. Then there is the repeat user, once they interacted with the section do they still need the possessive prefix to understand the section is personalized? This begs the question if the prefix actually helps users (both new and repeat).

For example, in my current project, a mobile app, there are a few sections where the user can get access to their personal content (favorites, bookmarks, communications, etc). Early in the project I was asked to add a “my” before each of these section’s titles to showcase the personalization (such as “my bookmarks”). I complied, with the caveat that I didn’t think the pronouns are necessary and may remove them in later versions. As the project has progressed this issue has resurfaced more than a few times.

I have my opinions on the matter based on my experiences and observations, and though my UX/design friends echo these observations it’s not substantive enough to suggest a best practice or as non-biased recommendation. Some of the observed issues included:

  • confusion of ownership for content with the possessive prefix (ironic but true)
  • assumptions that items with the prefix were the only place to find personalization
  • UI littered with “my/yours” prefixes
  • awkward and confusing phrasing when talking about sections with a possessive prefix (such as “go to my bookmarks to find things you’ve bookmarked”)
  • implied branding of sections using the prefix (often as a way to deal with the awkward phrasing)

Again, in my experience the problem has never been as simple as adding a possessive prefix and poof, problem solved. In the case of my project, it lives on a user’s phone, meaning the favorites, bookmarks, etc. are only ever going to belong to the user. So the possessive seems unnecessary at best and confusing, placating, or misleading at worst. How have you dealt with this issue? Do you see “my” and “your” as a benefit or a curse?

 

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Links: Yahoo! Developer Network – “Your vs. My”

Steve Jobs – The Pot & The Kettle

No one can deny Steve Jobs did great things for Apple. Not only was he a founder, but he brought them focus and drive to create some of the most beloved/mimicked products to come out in the last few years (read: decade). Still, Jobs wasn’t living in a vacuum and as much as Apple innovated things they also took the best features from what was already out in the market.

So when I read about Jobs vent about his deep anger with Google (or his personal vendetta against Adobe) it makes Jobs look more of a petty, spoiled boy throwing a tantrum rather then the visionary we all respect him for. And it’s true in many ways Jobs was a spoiled brat with a giant frail ego, but his personality short comings are less memorable then his contributions and I hope in memory it’ll stay that way.

Jobs tears into Google in upcoming biography