Category Technology

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

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.

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.

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

Efficency vs. Happenstance

I don’t often read the news paper, you know the one actually made out of paper? I generally read my news online through feeds or links from the people I follow on Twitter and Google+. Though these are great ways to keep up with things I’m interested in, they often lack the random find or articles off my self-beaten path. I found the change of topics inspirational and puts my usual thoughts into a new context. Ironically, or just happenstance, the night before I was reading an article (online) regarding online discovery methods (search, recommendations and hierarchical) and how they limit the discovery process.

There’s got to be another way to filter through the noise while allowing the chance for random discovery. The efficiency of the current models slowly limit our chances of happenstance by only showing us things of known interest. They never would have provided me with the diversity of information I received by flipping through the Sunday paper. On the other hand, I don’t always have the luxury of time that I did today. Things like this only fuel my quest to find that something in-between.

A few buddies and I have been looking into ways to filter the noise even when it’s within our own bookmarks. I know we’re not the only ones that bookmarked something with the plan of going back sometime and then slowly forget what we’ve bookmarked or how we tagged it. Sooner or later the bookmark collection becomes a graveyard of links and a new system gets adopted. So we’re looking for a way to efficiently find what you’re looking for while providing the juxtaposition of other potential items of interest so the Sunday paper experience can continue in this digital age.

What do you use for discovery? Bookmarking, tags, existing services?

Could Netflix be looking for a suitor?

Read a great article by Larry Dignan suggesting Netflix’s recent divide and concur approach may be fueled by a different vision then what’s been suggested by Reed and their multiple announcements.

“Netflix CEO Reed Hastings may have a trick up his sleeve as he separates the streaming and DVD-by-mail businesses: a sale to Amazon.” – Larry Dignan

So…could Netflix be splitting their business so they’d be more attractive to acquisition?

If so it’s a brilliant move, the space is full of competitors and as the competition is growing so are the size of wallets ready to compete with Netflix offerings. There’s talk of a bidding war for Hulu with Google being the heavy hitter there. Currently, despite Netflix’s reputation they are a small fish among their competitors (Google, Amazon, cable companies, and content owners)…so maybe a merger is their best way to survive the coming consolidation.

 

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Netflix split to set up Amazon streaming merger?

Response to “Why Facebook is the New Yahoo”

Mike Elgan wrote a nice controversial article called Why Facebook is the New Yahoo where he states:

“Sure, Facebook looks massively successful. With a mind-boggling 750 million users, the social site can do no wrong, right?

Wrong.

Look closer, and it looks like Facebook can do nothing right. The company has tried and failed to launch or integrate new services that might thrill users. But users aren’t thrilled. And now its strategy appears to be: Just copy Google+.

Don’t look now, but Facebook is quickly becoming the new Yahoo.”

Well written and catchy but if we all took a time machine back to when Google was announcing that they were killing Google Wave or when they launched Buzz the comments from the tech press focused on how Google lost it’s edge, or was confused as to where it wanted to go or simply Google doesn’t understand social.

Now that Google+ is public (beta) and making waves it seems that Google either learned from their mistakes, gained a sense of vision, everyone forgot all the shit talking that took place last year, or some combination of the three. So now it’s Facebook’s turn to feel the wrath of the tech fueled fads that are nearly as cliquish as what we see in high schools across the country. Let’s face it the popular kid can’t remain popular forever and right now Facebook is feeling the heat regardless of Google+.

With that in mind Mike Elgan makes some solid points regarding Facebook’s recent history. Their fumbled attempts to catch on to the latest trends. Their popularity shift from the wanted élite to being everything to everybody. Their struggle with the weight of their own existence. All of it dead on. Including the remarks regarding Yahoo’s struggle to find its place in the new world order. Still I wouldn’t count Facebook out of the race just yet. Google and Apple are two good examples of companies that were down but clearly not out.

RE: Why Facebook is the New Yahoo

490,00 PlayBook owners can’t be wrong

Mashable reported that RIM Has Sold Just 490,000 PlayBooks in the device’s first quarter compared to 9.25 million iPads sold over the same period. It’s a shame because as a UX designer I love the PlayBook, still a lack apps is a user experience that will trump the user interface every time. Which is why I have an iPad not a PlayBook myself. This is the same problem Microsoft is having with WP7. Both platforms made great strides in out doing Apple but not enough to lure people from the real draw of iOS…the apps. Ironically despite all the press about Apple’s great designs it’s the millions of apps not built by Apple that people really want.

All this reminds me of the QWERTY keyboard. When it came out it was well designed (to not jam up your typewriter), it became the de facto standard and when designs that improved typing speed were released they gained no traction despite the better design. QWERTY already won the numbers game. It had the critical mass required to steam roll over better designs and with each success competing with it became that much harder.

For that reason alone I hope these sales numbers doesn’t have RIM running for the hill to drop the PlayBook like HP did a few weeks ago. If they do, at least Android or iOS 6 can incorporate some of the better features into their platforms as imitation is the greatest form of flattery and an industry standard.

 

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RIM Has Sold Just 490,000 PlayBooks