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Archive for the ‘Design’ Category

Innovation Games
Saturday, December 30th, 2006

The words “listen to the customers” get sprinkled on product builders like magic pixie dust. After a while, it’s hard not to smirk when somebody even leans toward the line. Certainly there is no lack of trying by sensible product builders, however the mantra and intention belie the fact that engaging customers and users is a subtle process and that there remains a shortage of simple clear techniques that work well in real business settings with their inherent constraints and realities.

Along has come the new book, Innovation Games, by the ever-energetic Luke Hohmann with a new and powerful approach. I first met Luke when he was VP of Engineering at Aurigin, one of Inxight’s early customers. Luke was the rare customer who gave me no choice but to listen. And our products (and I personally) benefited greatly from the experience. And thus, though not a complete surprise, it is deeply satifying to see that Luke has crafted a suite of ideas and techniques that draws out in others the same spring of enthusiasium and creativity that he naturally channels himself. (more…)

Vox for the private, personal, and playful
Sunday, November 5th, 2006

Over the years of toyful blogging, I’ve resisted splitting the flow of this blog into separate blogs for the “personal”, other, and off-topic. Certainly, there has never been much more than a trickle to split, but it was also a sense that a percentage personal was an intrinsic and a goodness in this genre of conversational writing. However, it’s clear you shouldn’t let the air to fuel ratio get out of whack.   (more…)

Knots Intertwingled
Sunday, July 18th, 2004

Sam Ruby’s entry Knot Theory really gets at the essence of what he finds interesting. And I’m right there in my own taste and interests. I’ve always admired his “intertwingly” address, though I believe it comes from Ted Nelson’s quote:

“Intertwingularity is not generally acknowledged, people keep pretending they can make things deeply hierarchical, categorizable and sequential when they can’t. Everything is deeply intertwingled.”

Though I agree with Ted Nelson so far as it goes as a theory of reality, I start to disagree with it as a design stance. The resolution is not to make things only hierarchical, categorized, or sequential, but rather to decide when and where to arrange them in these ways. Therein is the art of placement and composing of systems.

Esther’s Weakness or Strength
Friday, May 14th, 2004

It’s easy to fall into characterizing certain design aspects, like visual features or fixed structures, as if they cater to human weakness. Even if you’re Esther Dyson, and you know better. Esther says I am weak; give me a little struGture please!. There’s nothing wrong with visualness, nothing wrong with rigid structures. In themselves.

These features leverage capabilities we had before we were born. They are resources for memory, for supporting long running activities, for allowing us to move without thinking about moving. And people are resourceful. (Gotta love Esther’s “delete and browse in trash” move.)

Do you think anybody really means it when she apologizes for her messy office? Here’s a picture of Esther in her office that I’ve used for near ten years [thanks to Stu Card from his early Web foraging.] Certainly she’s not thinking she’s weak.


She looks perfectly happy in there, she can find recent documents and ten year old documents. She can find authoritative sources, she can find her phone (maybe). My, my, she’s even found a place to rest her bare feet. And Work gets done. Release 1.0 went our every month (almost). Now that’s an office. Usually people would see the picture and think I was going to talk about the problem. Information Overload. And I do, but then I get to a line like why can’t Microsoft Office be more like Esther Dyson’s office?