Backpack PLUS Will Empower Community Health Workers
DesignWell

Backpack PLUS Will Empower Community Health Workers

A comprehensive toolkit to empower and activate Community Health Workers.

The Third Wave of Computing
Corpus Callosum

The Third Wave of Computing

Hear more from Theo Forbath at MobileCon 2013.

As Myanmar Opens Up, Will Mobile Money Emerge?
frogs on the road

As Myanmar Opens Up, Will Mobile Money Emerge?

Myanmar is easing sanctions and its economy is opening up.

What You Will Find On a Design Researcher's Bookshelf
Interpretations

What You Will Find On a Design Researcher's Bookshelf

Your guide to design research education.

Campaigning 2.0: The Limits of Democracy

First John Edwards' Second Life campaign HQ was smeared with e-excrement. Then there was the whole Hillary 1984 thing on YouTube. It's been a rough few weeks for those in that very, very long jog to the White House. What's glaringly apparent in all this is just how far we've come since the last election when Dean was heralded as the first candidate of the Internet just for using Meetup. Barack Obama has his own social network. Edwards has his own Twitter page (and a huge cleaning bill to pay in Linden dollars). Every candidate is trying to harness the power (TM), but the web is a tiger you mostly cling to loosely by the tail. These people, trained to operate within a system of government designed to guard against the volatility of public opinion, need to ask whether they are ready to weather the web's unique, unfiltered, and often very brutal version of democracy. And we should ask whether we really want the person who comes out on top.

Of course, the reality is that the web is not unique as an unruly democracy. Democracy is unruly by definition. Going back all the way to the Federalist Papers, James Madison described it thus:

... there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths. (The Federalist Papers, #10)

Which is why we are theoretically a nation ruled by laws (a constitutional republic), instead of a nation ruled by the people directly (a democracy). While there are laws that pertain to campaigns, the worst aspects of democracy are in full effect: mob rule, demagoguery, Fox News. The volume on these has been turned up significantly since the advent of the web. I'm not referring to the actual election mind you, but the war for weekly opinion polls that dominates the campaign season. The campaign is a little democracy that is designed to self-destruct and remake itself anew with each election. It has no care for self-preservation. The ability of even more people to participate online makes for even greater instability, not to mention the sheer unregulated meanness.

On one hand, it's easy to by cynical about the kind of person who could win at this game. The candidate with the loudest voice and the biggest warchest traditionally has come out on top. And this has been reasonable preparation for the kind of partisan screaming match that the government has largely become. These qualities, unfortunately, have very little to do with the kind of qualities I'm hoping for in a leader.

Fortunately, media was easier to manipulate before we were all making it. It's possible that the demands of Campaigning 2.0 are actually good preparation for life as a public servant. Ideally, only the most transparent candidate will survive. I have little doubt that the run for the 2008 White House will be the among the most volatile and nasty on record. I wouldn't want to be in any of the candidates' shoes as they are flayed bare by YouTube and the blogosphere. But whoever limps in in 2008 will be someone we know very well, and hopefully have every reason to trust.

ctia: 93 percent satisfied with mobile service

-- from fiercewireless - March 27, 2007 --
CTIA President and CEO Steve Largent released the latest figures from CTIA's polls, which provide some metrics as an introduction to each CTIA show. Of the 1,000 polled wireless users, 93 percent of subscribers said they were satisfied with wireless services, which is up from 80 percent last year.

> more of the story...

Theft is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

After reading Sean’s post about design theft I thought I would chime in with my own experience with this. On gotoAndLearn() I have made tutorials on a large number of Flash topics and I always include a working FLA file for people so they can check out the finished product. Well it has come to my attention that certain websites have been selling not only these files, but also the tutorials themselves.

One such example is the 3-part 3D carousel tutorial where I explain how to construct the, now played out, UI construct. I recently became aware that a site was selling the tutorials and the FLA file as part CD-ROM of Flash resources. Thanks to the Insomniac Syndicate for bringing this to the surface. What is lame is that they don’t even take the time to put in their own graphics. Check out it out here.

Personally I find it amusing as I’m not making any money on them in the first place. But if I was going to set out to make money by selling other people’s work, I would at the very least change the graphics.

Thieves have become very lazy,
Lee

Vigilante Justice

One of the elements that draws me to develop for the web is astoundingly close-knit and open community of designers and developers. A natural side-effect of such a community is the rise of an A-list, or rockstar group of designers who get an inordinate amount of attention and adulation. Personally, I don't object to this behavior because those who have taken or been pushed into the spotlight are nearly all excellent ambassador's for the craft. They have no issue sharing methodology or inspiration and are constantly giving back to the community at large.

It is for this reason that when needed, the mostly silent community can come together and have a potentially great impact. Recently, Dan Cederholm of simplebits has been the victim of some pretty egregious design theft. He didn't blog about it but simply posted an image of the stolen work in his flickr stream. It has been fascinating to watch the community's response to Dan's situation. At first, nearly everyone who commented agreed it was ripped off and simply sent him condolences. However, at some point the offending proprietor of the site selling the work jumped in with ludicrous accusations and decided to stand his ground against Dan.

And the resulting cacophony was like he individually slapped everyone in the face.

The noise transitioned from sympathetic into proactive, and now the community is coming together and doing whatever it can to raise awareness about the shady business practices of the offending company and supporting Dan in anyway they can think of. Dan never once asked for any of this. It is true that he is a "web-celeb" and is probably receiving some of the attention due to that, but I have seen other designers work get stolen and gain support from our community as well. Typically, the theft deals in CSS and HTML and the offending parties are quick to remove the stolen work as soon as they start to receive the negative mention.

I am certain that design theft occurs in nearly every discipline, but is the community around that discipline as eager to defend one of their own? Can anyone point me to any examples of this?

Where do you look for the future?

William Gibson’s well worn quote, “The future is here, it’s just unevenly distributed,” is a potent thinking tool. He compels us to look around and find things today that already represent the possibilities the future holds. Whether it’s looking to South Korea and Japan for mobile communication technologies and practices, or into India to understand the effects of micro-credit on prosperity, we understand that some places in the world are more advanced than others. Some of today’s local innovations will be the forces of the future globally.

Looking for the future in today’s world, though, doesn’t necessarily mean looking for something “new”. Innovation and signals of the future may happen around the edges, but it’s often repurposing or reuse of the things we already have that are the most compelling signals of things to come. In the world of mobile communications, for example, the massive flows of migrant workers through China are forcing people to think about how to keep family bonds tight. In Africa, poverty has created businesses that center around the communal use of mobile phones, which in turn requires the creation of new tools and practices for communication (Jan Chipchase documents some of this wonderfully).

Discovering the future is often just a matter of engaging with life on the edges. The companies that are imagining and creating the future must experience and engage with the unfamiliar to expand our horizons for thought. Those same companies can also discover the hidden nuggets of the future deposited in the everyday. It could be just a matter of re-engaging with our familiar environments in unfamiliar ways, or stepping across the world to spend time with people from different cultures. The unevenly distributed future is buried in the practices of the everyday, waiting to be uncovered.

Desktop PC innovation in China

There's been a lot of buzz about Dell's recent announcement of their EC280 desktop PC for the China market. A bold move for a market characterized by cybermarts selling everything from branded PCs to low-cost, custom-built generics and everything in between, and by a PC's brand over time being nothing more than the label on the box, given the tendency to upgrade the innards over time rather than replace the full system.

BusinessWeek offers the most insight into how this computer was designed. Coming out of Dell's Shanghai R&D center, the EC280 went through a design research process that uncovered the need for the EC280 to be smaller than the average PC (due to the smaller size of the average Chinese home); the need to have a lower power consumption, thereby requiring only one fan, thereby reducing the noise level (for the same home size reason); and the presence of just one expansion slot (rather than the standard 8, which are rarely used by most users) to improve reliability.

Compare this approach to the business model innovation of Lenovo and Microsoft to address the same challenge last year: a "pay as you go" approach that offers consumers a very cheap ($150) PC partially financed by loans which are repaid over time through purchase of prepaid cards, eventually leading to full ownership. I wonder how that program is doing 9 months later?

TED Conference 2007

The TED conference for this year has happened and they have begun posting some of the discussions.  I highly recommend checking them out.

My favorite is Sir Ken Robinson from the 2006 TED Conference.  Sir Ken Robinson is author of Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative, and a leading expert on innovation and human resources. (Recorded February, 2006 in Monterey, CA.)

retail trends

Experience retailing, a trend that began to be noticed by TrendWatching back in 2004, is still being demonstrated by stores that followed it. As TrendWatching stated, "We’ve all heard about it but what exactly does ‘experience’ or ‘inspirational’ retailing mean? Do consumers want a song and dance every time they come into your store? Not necessary, but consumers do want to enjoy an ‘experience’ when they shop."

Safeway was one who helped start this trend and put it into motion in 2003 and has done rather well with this strategy, as Kevin O’Mahoney wrote about this year in The Hub. "Safeway’s long-term growth strategy is paying off. Sales growth at the remodeled stores along with product innovations are expected to boost sales by more than three percent in 2007, well ahead of its competitors."

Read TrendWatching's retail report.

Read about Safeway in the January/February 2007 issue of The Hub from Reveries.

Inconsistency as a Design Strategy

Consistency is typically the holy grail of design strategies: Create a "design language" that can cover a wide range of products and markets, which communicates a consistent brand message and which creates efficiencies by not having to invent the wheel for each new product. At frog we have done many design language projects over the years, including one of the very first, for Apple back in the early 80's. However, while consistency is a terrific way to create a design language, it is not the only one -- inconsistency can be used as well.