May 9, 2008

Semantic web

Filed under: innovation, user experience, web — thedelman @ 10:59 am


The other day a friend asked for my opinion after forwarding a link to one of his posts about “the semantic future”.

After reading the link my initial reaction was shock, anxiety, unease (you get the picture) accompanied by the assumption that Uea’s (User Experience Architect) may be out of a job in the near future (10 years) because of the impending semantic conquest of the web.

Then my common sense kicks in: “what the hell is this Semantic web anyway”. And so begins my journey…. so far I’ve watched some videos    


Question: What is the impact of semantic web for the Uea?





October 5, 2007

Thank you Slam

Filed under: ideas, innovation, team culture, team dynamics — Tags: , — bersi @ 12:18 pm

Have you ever been to a poetry slam? It’s great. People stand up and receite poems of their choice in form of a competition but what it’s really about is not ‘just about poems’. The poets make their stuff come real, they live it. They rap, sing, skat, laugh, dance. It’s personal and passionate. The whole audience was blown away. I had goosebumps. Learned loads without intending to.

I’m asking myself what can we as industry learn from slam?

The closest I’ve seen to poetry slam in our industry is the idea of barcamp. A big room with people and every person stands up at some point and talks about something they are passionate about. Never been to one but hearsay has it it’s pretty powerful, fun and insightful. Choatic and random way of knowledge sharing I suppose but one that sticks as it is personal and passionate. Like to try it out.

There is also this internal idea around of having an ideas farm as concept to foster innovation. The concept is: Create innovative ideas for the company, pitch for them in 6 minute long pecha kucha style and let the audience decide which ones to persue (or not). Here we have the competition we’ve seen in slam. The ideas farm follows the purpose of integrating innovation into our worklife and make it happen. Is is passionate and personal? Not necessarily as we have the issues of ownership of ideas and the problem of who’s taking the idea further and in which frame. How can you be personal and passionate if ownership isn’t clear and success equals the gain of an unknown amount of additinional work to fit into a busy schedule? Does personal and passionate not belong to innovation?

September 27, 2007

Blyk has landed, mobile operators take heed

Filed under: innovation, mobile — Tags: , , , , , — Warren Hutchinson @ 8:29 am

Launched on Monday this week, Blyk is a new mobile MNVO (mobile network virtual operator) to hit the UK where everything is ‘free’. Users of the service will get 217 free texts and 42 free minutes when the insert the Blyk SIM into their handset.

It’s paid for by advertising where users of the service will receive up to 6 MMS advertising messeages per day. You have to be 16-24 years old to play and the segmentation model and value exchange between Blyk and user is such that the free service is given in exchange fo personal information. So, potentially a very tightly targetted advertising indeed.

Blyk CEO sas:

“We have spent the last year developing a unique, robust advertising content engine, and whilst the technology we are using is incredibly advanced, the main premise of Blyk is driven by three basic principles–ease of use, interaction, and relevance of communication.”

And the killer?

It’s invite only.

Watch the kids go mad for something you can’t see.

Apparently they are distributing invite codes at Freshers fairs at the moment.

It asumes that the individual has a mobile already so that they can insert their Blyk SIM. When their ‘free’ time runs out they can either ‘top-up’ or throw in their regular PAYG SIM from ‘monolithic operator X’ into their handset.

Users of the service need to provide quite detailed information to make the advertising engine worth it’s salt. Apparently the segmentation already narrowed to 16-24 year olds can be further focused into product specific categories i.e. 17 year old boys who love Halo 3.

At the time of writing the Blyk site is down (demand? 😉 ) so I can’t comment on the proposed service design, but I’d be let down if there wasn’t something to manage, share use and distribute content online. Then again, maybe it’s all about keeping it imple.

I know from my own experience working with large Telcos (BT, Orange, Vodafone) that their segmentation is vague to say the least but Blyk has the potential to go super-focused and generate some super-revenue.

What a fantastic idea. I want one. I’m too old.

Disruption alert.

Disruption for the telcos and for advertising.

Links: Blyk

UPDATE: Blyk has come under fire for failing to deliver MMS users to the Orange, T-Mobile and Vidafone networks because the connections are ‘still under construction’. Very embarrassing indeed given that it delivers its 6 ads a day using MMS.

Watch this one roll.

September 2, 2007

Mobile apps in standby mode

Filed under: 80/20, ideas, innovation, mobile, user experience, widget — danielharris @ 9:22 pm

What kinds of stuff would you like to see your phone do in standby? Flickr slideshow? Twitter form? New Ericsson phone out that will run Java apps in standby…

ideas please…

August 31, 2007

Can 1 page end the agony of functional specifications?

Filed under: innovation, productivity, uncategorized — bersi @ 11:24 am

Been thinking about EA deliverables lately and therefore trying to understand functional specs as part of that. I’ve never done one myself but it sounds like a field of pain that can stretch over long periods. Then I came across the idea of Jason Frieds 37 signal approach of creating a one pager for a functional spec. He says “Functional specifications? Don’t do it….We write a one page story about what the app should do. If it takes more than a page to explain it, then it’s too complex. If it’s simple and it takes more than a page to write it then we’re not writing clearly enough. This process should take no longer than a few days.” Can the solution be that ‘simple’? I doubt it as 37 signals is not the average company. But I’d like to try this out…

August 23, 2007

Google Sky lets us explore the heavens

Filed under: Google, innovation, software — Warren Hutchinson @ 8:32 am

Google’s mission? To organise the world’s information. Maybe it’s now trying the Univere’s as Google Earth fans can now look upwards towards the heavens with the release of Google Sky. Part of the new 4.2 update Sky allows the user to explore the heavens and constellations across more than 1 million images.

Download the latest Google Earth here.

The 4.2 download has some other cool features but I haven’t played with these yet so let’s just talk space.

Anyone want to look at some 100 million stars and 200 million galaxies? Browse Orion?Images, not surprisingly, come from NASA and the Hubble Space Telescope. How awesome is that?

As a kid growing up, one of my favorite television programs was Tomorrows World on BBC 1. Imagine Maggie Philbin telling us how we can pan, drag and zoom through the heavens as we like..!

I wonder if today’s kids will get excited by this?

Apparently there are some other services around already that allow you to explore space in a similar way; Celestia, Stellarium and of course World Wind from NASA.

Accessing the ‘Sky’ mode requires pressing a button (look hard now). It’s a shame you just ouldn’t look-up, but the layers sound fairly interesting and you can even take tours of famous spacey-type locations such as the Andromeda Galaxy.

Apparently the sky that you see is appropriate to the day and time that you access it from but of course you’re location would matter too so I’m not sure how this works yet.

June 2, 2007

Street Level Features on Google Maps & Panaramio Purchase

Filed under: community, Google, innovation, photo, user generated content, web — Warren Hutchinson @ 9:16 am

Quick one this morning as I’m just about to leave the house to buy my sister a birthday present (too much information).

Two things, firstly Google is planning to buy Panaramio the geo-tagging photo service that you often see in Google Earth. It’s curious to me that they’re planning to buy Panaramio rather than build geo-tagging functionality into Picasa.

Very strange.

Also, check out the Street Level features now available in major US cities on Google Maps.

You can now zoom down to street level and drag/pan/zoom your way along the street and see building fronts all the way. Zoom in and you can even read signs.

This is cool and it’s interesting to think where this might go when you consider the Panaramio purchase. These pictures in Street Level are obviously bespoke, geo-tagged shots commissioned by Google. But Panaramio opens the doors to user generated content filling the gaps.

I can’t see Google paying for the shots in my home town, so maybe UGC via Panaramio will will that gap.

the gap between online mapping services and 3D virtual globes continues to fuzz.

[xposted: Tailwind]

April 30, 2007

Touch sensitive UI for OSX leopard???

Filed under: ideas, innovation, UI — gavinedwardsuk @ 10:01 am

Latest news on the rumor mill is that Apple are working on ‘top-secret’ *cough* iphone style touch screen features across their desktop range. see original article here:.

It raises some interesting questions about what the future of physical inmteraction could be in a desk based environment. Like the article says, i can’t imagine any of us sitting here using a touch screen all day, its just not practical right now, however if Johnathon Ive and his team are working hand in hand with the User Experience Evangelists at Apple (and i was happy when i got architect in my job title) then i’m sure we could start to see some ‘soft’ integration of touch features.

So now all they need to ensure is that i dont my grubby paws all over my monitor straight after a greasy burger king…

April 27, 2007

Creating an Ideas Culture – Pt 1

Filed under: 80/20, design management, ideas, innovation, team culture, team dynamics — Warren Hutchinson @ 5:03 pm

Our company is currently going through a bit of a change after some fairly heavyweight mergers. Firstly Oyster with Framfab and then Framfab with LBicon. The group is now an 1800 person, multinational full service design agency. It’s essentially a rollup of Oyster, Framfab, LBicon, Lost Boys, Wheel, MetaDesign, Scient, iXL and some bits of Razorfish.

We now have offices in the UK, US, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Italy and China (!). Pretty huge I’d say.

But with this growth there are the inevitable challenges such as knowledge sharing, creative agility, familiarity and moreover team culture and individual identity. Certainly in the London office where I work.

I wrote about the begining of this challenge, here and here.

The team culture has no doubt been impacted which breeds some questions around personal identity and the sense of place an individual has within the whole. On the whole everything is positive, there are just some interesting challenges afoot. there are also some very interesting opportunities afoot in cross-polinating the disciplines from one country to the next as there is so much to learn.

I’ve already been part of a knowledge exchange with out Dutch counterparts at Lost Boys in Amsterdam. Cool bunch they are too.

Anyway, in order to deal with this the London outfit has arranged into ‘ecosystems’ and these groups seek to deliver small group thinking, sharing and agility within a large, well supported network. The are teams of about 60 people grouped around clients with a natural affinity.

Growth brings process as process is required to control the new chaos. Process can all too often equate to bureaucracy and bureaucracy is an innovation killer in my book. So we’re working on ways to reintroduce chaos (a bit anyway), to reinvigorate a mistake-embracing culture where it’s okay to try new things and get it wrong.

This is design. It’s about invention and experimentation.

All this starts with people and my key observation about agency culture after a few years first hand experience is that very talented people join to work on ‘cool’ brands. Those same talented people are used on projects from week to week, month to month so that all the ‘learning’ takes place on-he-job. Yes there are training course and development packages etc.. but that’s all too often structured around a skill-deficit and is rarely about just trying things out.

I don’t like that and I think that it’s wrong. Who has ever been on a course where they say “Just play. make and break stuff, be curious”?

My colleagues at LBi who lead our ecosystem also agree so we are currently introducing an 80/20 culture to our team.

80% on billed client work. 20% making mistakes working on things that excite them.

It’s not new but the reasons for pursuing it are obvious. It is all about creating an innovation culture where people are challenged and encouraged to work on subjects that intrinsically motivate them. To create a sense of ‘play’ in our workplace.

Any professional service company worth its salt has this approach but I haven’t heard of anything similar in a digital design agency. Yes in product design, but not in digital and certainly at none of our competitors.

I’ve always said that our discipline has a lot to learn from other design disciplines, being the new kid on the block and I stick to that.

So. 80/20. How do we make it happen?

Well there are 2 challenges to deal with from the off:

  1. In a culture of 100% billable, creating breathing space for the ’20’ to happen
  2. Finding out what topics individuals should work on and what the prospective projects might be

Firstly we can consider blocking out sometime each week where we switch mode from billed work to private work. I like the idea of this all happening at the same time each week as I think it will create a nice buzz in the team to have everyone on ‘pet projects’ at the same time.

To get started we’re thinking of setting ‘Design Challenges’ to run for a time-boxed period just to introduce the 80/20 way of life. 80% on projects, 20% on other stuff.

We can let this run for a while, enjoy the distraction and nurture our capacity planning to accommodate the new activity.

While we are re-engineering ‘how’ we do things we can be thinking about those ‘pet projects’, what they are, what interests us all as individuals. Some people can team up and start making, trying and developing ‘stuff’. The Design Challenges will help us establish the time slot and be a conduit for developing some personal ideas.

I’m always up for feeling our way towards this by trying things out rather than talking talking talking too much.

We’ll let you know how it goes.

We’ve discussed it and it’s all systems go on our new innovative, mistake embracing, creative, fun, developmental culture.


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