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
BIG THOUGHTS MATTERS
“Digital Renaissance: Convergence? I Diverge.”
<http://www.techreview.com/magazine/jun01/jenkins.asp> 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 <http://telematic.walkerart.org> 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
>From functional specs, we move on to a nice concise overview to the joys of
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
familiar ground, it’s nice to hear it from a programmer who gets it.
<http://www.coolhomepages.com/> is what it says it is. Interesting place to
hunt for experimental stuff.
<http://www.threeoh.com/> Digital Design Journal — not much there yet, but
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 <http://www.hbsp.harvard.edu/hbr/> 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
<http://www.targeting.com/fullsterne.html>, but Ralph Brandi beat me to it.
So I’ll just say, check it out.
Harry Beckwith’s “Selling the Invisible”
<http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0446520942/> 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.
APROPOS OF NOTHING
Own a piece of dot-com history… I wasn’t sure if I should laugh when I
looked at this:
<http://www.scripophily.net/dotcoms.html> although they probably should
work out a joint marketing deal with the Museum of E-Failure
<http://www.disobey.com/ghostsites/>, 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
Ever wonder what it’s really like living in Los Angeles? Steve Martin’s
isn’t a comedy, it’s a training film… at least for some of us…
SHAMELESS SELF-PROMO MATTERS
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….