Notes from the BayCHI Mentor Panel

Hi! Tonight’s panel was fun and went about as well as I expected. I think it was useful for those who attended. Please post a comment if you were there! What’d you think?

Of course, I was as scatter-brained as ever. It became clear, as soon as I opened my mouth, that not having worked on design projects for last couple months was seriously screwing with my ability to focus on the questions as hand.

It was also a bit scary to hear how process-focused the other two panel members were (they were from TiVo and Oracle)…scary because I’m a guy who really likes having a process to follow and I’ve been completely lackadaisical about that lately. I’m now determined to get our group’s processes published and followed for every project.

Here is an updated version of the BayCHI Mentor Panel Poster I put together [pdf, ~330k]. It lists some good books and web sites for you to check out.

Stream music to your 3G phone!

While reading this post on Challis Hodge’s UXblog, this way-cool product idea popped into my head:

Stream music to your 3G phone!

Since there’s apparently bandwidth-a-plenty available on those over-invested in 3G networks, streaming music makes perfect sense, right?

Think of it, no longer would you be limited to the paltry 20 Gigabytes of tunes available to you via your iPod. And no, you wouldn’t listen to it on the handset speaker. The music would stream right to a little head-phone jack, to which you’d connect your favorite pair of headphones.

Extending the idea a bit: you’ve probably already got an always on internet connection with at least 128 kbps of upstream bandwidth. Maybe this could be a product you could buy for your home computer rather than a service provided by some RIAA ass-kissing corporation?

So, what do you think of my idea? Killer-app or not?

Merholz / Shedroff on User-Centered Design

In reference to the Digital Web Magazine article, “An interview with Peter Merholz and Nathan Shedroff on User-Centered Design:”

I know Peter doesn’t need any ego stroking, but shit, his answers to the questions in this interview are exceptional! The questions themselves are pretty run-of the-mill, but Peter’s done a really nice job of answering them in a way that’ll get “business people” all worked up about UCD. I’m going to delete Shedroff’s answers and spread it around my department.

Being the even-handed guy that I (usually) am, I have to admit that Nathan did make one comment that got me all excited. In response to a question about selling usability, he said:

“However, the problem usually lies in the fact that the effects of these changes almost always lie in other divisions of a company (such as marketing or customer service and, therefore, aren’t a real concern to the division purchasing the development work (since it doesn’t impact their bottom line).”

Bear with me as I make the jump from UCD to Experience Design:

This illustrates, quite well, one of the reasons why a user experience group must be its own organization, rather than a piece of some parent group. If, say, the ED group is part of a larger Development group, what incentive does that Development group have to pay for having its employees study and fix problems with the order-processing system or how feedback flows from the Support phone lines to the Marketing folks, for example?

Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about these organizational issues. Is anyone out there (besides Lou) thinking where the experience design organization belongs in a company? Maybe you’ve been thinking about this? Let’s talk!

Oh yeah – note to Meryl K. Evans: get a new editor. There were a boat-load of typos in that interview.

Rich Gold talk notes

I went to see Rich Gold speak at Stanford last Friday.

You may remember that a while ago I complained about Rich’s contention that a designer’s primary concern is whether or not the “thing” is cool.

I approached Rich about this after his talk. He said he knows that the characterization is problematic, but maintained that there are still a large group of designers (someone nearby mentioned the Philippe Starcks of the world) for whom this really is the concern.

Based on Gold’s own mention of Gropius’ now famous phrase “form follows function,” I suggested that the concern of “new designers” is whether or not the thing is useful. Rich said this “new design” really emerged when we figured out what interaction design was. I thought that was a pretty interesting observation – even if I sort of knew it already.

Rich also let me fondle his Xerox PARCTAB. Thanks Rich!

Click MORE to read my raw notes from his talk.

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