Guest Gleaner George Olsen

Welcome George! Today’s is the fourth in a series of guest-composed Gleanings. Christina returns in mid-June. — Noel […]

Welcome George! Today’s is the fourth in a series of guest-composed Gleanings. Christina returns in mid-June. — Noel


Dude, welcome from Los Angeles where, yes as a matter of fact, it _is_

always 72 degrees and sunny — and home to the ultimate designed user

experience: Disneyland. So get in the convertible, put the top down and

we’ll cruise down Imperial Highway (big nasty redhead at our side), taking

in a tour of some user experience-related sights. Just remember, the

natives can be playful at the tourists’ expense, so if the directions you

just got don’t seem to be making sense, just keep heading southwest and

eventually you’ll run into the beach — which is probably more fun than

than where ever you were headed anyway.

And if you’re ever actually in town, stop by to the IA/UI cocktail hour



“Digital Renaissance: Convergence? I Diverge.”

<> Henry Jenkins,

director of the Program in Comparative Media Studies at MIT, argues that

the confusion over digitial “convergence” is because there are actually

five trends at work.

Since the issue of certification seems to be raising its ugly head in the

IA field (just as it has in graphic design and software engineering) Tom

DeMarco (of the software-engineering-project-management-gurus Atlantic

Systems Guild) raises an interesting idea: the real issue is about who gets



Art Center over in Pasadena is currently hosting an exhibit exploring

artists’ use of the global telecommunications network. An online exhibit is

at <> The physical show will be stopping

elsewhere in the U.S.

UX (user experience) MATTERS

As IAs move more and more into requirements development, wouldn’t it be

nice if there was a comprehensive list of issues to make sure are covered?

There is. James and Suzanne Robertson of (more Atlantic Systems Guild-ians)

have come up with a comprehensive list that includes not only the usual

technical stuff but also thinks about things like corporate politics and

legal liabilities — the Volare Requirements Specification Template The main

weakness is that the Robertsons come from the enterprise software

development world, so they don’t deal with content issues. When you first

look at Volare it may be a little overwhelming because the Robertsons have

included lots of commentary about how to use it, but it can be stripped

down into a useful checklist. And definitely check out their “requirements


which is a nice way of collecting essential requirements info on a 3×5 card.

And while we’re thinking about requirements, ran across two useful

resources for a related step: putting together functional specs

<$212> and


>From functional specs, we move on to a nice concise overview to the joys of


<> Not

a lot of depth, although there are links to related articles, but it’s a

nicely done summary that’s useful for the inevitable PowerPoint


Ever needed a quick translation of IA/UI/UX jargon

<> While it’s

familiar ground, it’s nice to hear it from a programmer who gets it.


<> is what it says it is. Interesting place to

hunt for experimental stuff.

<> Digital Design Journal — not much there yet, but

looks promising…


OK, I hear you saying not another Jakob article…. Well yes, but I

included it because it’s written for the larger business community and it’s

useful to see how the user experience = usability argument is being seen

from the outside.

“User Advocate Or Enemy Of Creativity?: Jakob Nielsen defines the

boundaries of art and functionality in designing site”



The Havard Business Review <> used to be dull academic papers. But no more. Apparently they overhauled it a year or

two ago and now it’s a valuable collection of thoughtful and well-written

white papers. And interestingly, in the two issues I’ve seen so far, has

had articles touching on user experience. In the May issues (still may be

on newsstands), one article walks through how “customer scenarios” can

guide web and business strategies (sound familiar?). The April issue had a

fascinating article by a building architect who’s been studying how

business can integrate their online and brick-and-mortar efforts. But aside

from user experience specific articles (even if they’re not labeled as

such), HBR offers a good way to keep up on current trends in business

thinking (helpful if you’ve got to sell UX to managers or clients), as well

as a good way to learn more about management skills and general business

skills. No it’s not cheap, but it’s definitely worthwhile.

Thinking of Tom DeMarco (see above), I’m in the middle of reading his

excellent “Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork and the Myth of Total

Efficiency,” The book asks a key question about our time: Why are we all so

damned busy? And it suggests that all this infernal busy-ness is not

entirely healthy, either for the organizations we work for or for their

beleaguered workers. It’s especially relevant now that “internet time” has

been proven _not_ to be a good way to develop things. You can download a

preview [pdf file]



Was going to mention Jim Sterne’s excellent newsletter

<>, but Ralph Brandi beat me to it.

So I’ll just say, check it out.

Harry Beckwith’s “Selling the Invisible”

<> is essential reading for anyone who’s got to market

_services_ rather than products — such as IAs, UIs and UXs. While Beckwith

doesn’t touch on it himself, reading his book made me realize that

interactive products (web sites, software, whatever) are really more like

services than products. That’s to say, when it comes to user satisfaction,

_how_ something gets done is often as important (and sometimes more

important) than what gets done. It’s the difference between the DMV and



The ever-snarky The Register holds the first annual Email Disclaimer Awards

2001. Judged in six categories: Longest Disclaimer, Most Incomprehensible

Disclaimer, Most PC Disclaimer, Best Bi-lingual Disclaimer, Best Spoof

Disclaimer, Special Award for Best WWW Disclaimer. I’m just glad they

didn’t publish the acceptance speeches.



Own a piece of dot-com history… I wasn’t sure if I should laugh when I

looked at this:

<> although they probably should

work out a joint marketing deal with the Museum of E-Failure

<>, who’s stated goal “is not to laugh at

the fallen, but to preserve their last image, before all traces of these

sites’ existence are deleted from history’s view.” Yeah right….

You’ve probably seen “The Gettysburg PowerPoint Presentation,” now hear the

inside story…


“He-Mails, She-Mails: Where Sender Meets Gender”


Ever wonder what it’s really like living in Los Angeles? Steve Martin’s

“L.A. Story”

isn’t a comedy, it’s a training film… at least for some of us…


Finally, just wanted to mention that I’m in the middle launching my own

site devote to thinking about user experience design:

thumbnails, which will feature yet

another UX blog, book reviews, links to resources and the occasional white

paper. I’m currently debugging the blog, which should up within a few days

at most, and the book reviews will follow shortly.

Ciao babe, have your people call my people and we’ll do lunch….