Being early

For our first interview for The Distance, he arrived 20 minutes early to the Starbucks in suburban Chicago where we had arranged to meet. Due to a slight miscommunication, I ended up at a different Starbucks at the same intersection, so he actually waited for 40 minutes before we figured out what was happening.

Jim was gracious, though, and later explained that his penchant for extreme punctuality stemmed from his days as a professional trumpet player. As a freelance musician, he needed to be dependable — competition for gigs was intense, and band leaders didn’t want to deal with players who showed up late or weren’t prepared. Jim arrived at all his gigs early, with enough time to warm up and even grab a cup of coffee before the performance started.

Though I’m sure a friend or colleague could remind me otherwise, I share the same desire for punctuality as Jim, likely as well due to my experience as a musician in my youth. I always arrive early and never seldom arrive late. Which is to say the habit of people arriving late for meetings in Taiwan drives me crazy, because in some circles here the more important you are the later you arrive.

There so many basic skills that are all too often forgotten.

From: The Music Man


Thoughts on navigating the open sea of knowledge

We live in a world awash with information, but we seem to face a growing scarcity of wisdom. And what’s worse, we confuse the two. We believe that having access to more information produces more knowledge, which results in more wisdom. But, if anything, the opposite is true — more and more information without the proper context and interpretation only muddles our understanding of the world rather than enriching it.

Very well done, and I doubt we get expect any less from Maria Popova. I don’t quit agree with her definitions (few people reach the top of the DIKW Hierarchy) and would have rewritten the above to express that we are in a world awash with noise (data), far more noise than signal, information is scarce, and knowledge and wisdom very difficult to come by. We are constantly fed data, not information.

Data, Information, Knowledge, and then Wisdom.

Information is only the beginning of meaning.

“We live in an age of alsos, adapting to alternatives. because we have greater access to information, many of us have become more involved in researching, and making our own decisions, rather than relying on experts. The opportunity is that there is so much information, the catastrophe is that 99% of it isn’t meaningful or understandable. We need to rethink how we present information because the information appetites of people are much more refined. Success in our connected world requires that we isolate the specific information we need and get it to those we work with.” From Richard Saul Wurman’s, “Information Anxiety 2″

“We are being pummeled by a deluge of data and unless we create time and spaces in which to reflect, we will be left with only our reactions. I strongly believe in the power of weblogs to transform both writers and readers from “audience” to “public” and from “consumer” to “creator.” Weblogs are no panacea for the crippling effects of a media-saturated culture, but I believe they are one antidote.” rebecca blood, september 2000

Data is raw and often overabundant. Despite what many may say, it’s not the driving force of our age. It is, for the most part, only the building blocks on which relevance is built. Content / data en mass has limited value in its raw state.

In fact data is useless until it is transformed — in it’s raw state it has no meaning and is of little value which only contributes to the anxiety we feel in our lives.


My iPhone 6 prediction

fanny pack

If all the rumours are correct and Apple does indeed this evening (Taiwan time) introduce a 5+ inch screen iPhone, I predict we’ll see a resurgence of those ridiculous artificial leather wast bags as a man’s fashion accessory. Small waist carry-alls (otherwise known as: fanny pack, hip sack, bum bag) used to be popular in the 80’s, but with the exception of some attempts at reintroducing the accessory and stage its comeback into the fashion world in 2007, it has largely been relocated to poorly dressed tourists, sports enthusiast and/or outdoorsy types (I own one for running).

But how else would one carry such a large phone?


好的設計

令人困惑、混亂的設計,都是失敗。好的設計不但是人們欣賞產品的情感紐帶,亦且於無形中引導人們成功完成一些具體的任务。有意識地從人類的認知和情感層次上設計,會幫助我們更好地提供令人滿意和愉快的用戶體驗。


Colour and Contrast

IMG_8448.JPG

Despite the weathered type, there is no mistaking the location and meaning of the device in the photo above.

Warm colours take control, we use them for things you want to pop out and get noticed. Colours like red are especially good for this purpose. Some colours have universal meaning, but some do not. Higher contrast items stand out and catch your eye, the white background above is very effective. The same red box placed on a red brick background is less effective, a problem I often see.

This is very basic knowledge but it’s consistent application requires a discipline I don’t often encounter in my day to day environment.


Four principles for screen interfaces

Taken from Donald Normans Affordances and Design essay comes and excellent set of conventions to help guide the design of screen based products in a way that will help users understand what actions are possible, like most design conventions, each has both virtues and drawbacks:

1. Follow conventional usage, both in the choice of images and the allowable interactions.

Convention severely constrains creativity. Following convention may also violate intellectual property laws (hello Samsung et al). Sometimes we wish to introduce a new kind of action for which there are, as yet, no accepted conventions. On the whole, however, unless we follow the major conventions, we are doomed to fail.

2. Use words to describe the desired action.

This is, of course, why menus can be relatively easy to understand: the resulting action is described verbally. Words alone cannot solve the problem, for there still must be some way of knowing what action and where it is to be done. Words can also cause problems with international adoption. It is also the case that words are understood more quickly than graphics — even a well known, understood graphic. Words plus graphics are even more readily understood.

3. Use metaphor.

Metaphor is both useful and harmful. The problem with metaphor is that not all users may understand the point. Worse, they may take the metaphor too literally and try to do actions that were not intended. Still, this is one way of training users.

4. Follow a coherent conceptual model so that once part of the interface is learned, the same principles apply to other parts.

Coherent conceptual models are valuable and, in my opinion, necessary, but there still remains the bootstrapping problem; how does one learn the model in the first place?

Though written over twenty years ago the logic still is valid today, many of my chief complaints with iOS 7 could be solved by following the above. For complete detail refer to the original article.


Robert Brunner: What All Great Design Companies Know

We emulate the design acumen of companies like Apple and BMW, but what are the processes and mindsets that make them tick? In this 99U talk, designer Robert Brunner deconstructs his creative process revealing the stories behind products like Beats by Dre headphones and the Polaroid Cube.
First, he says, recognize that a brand belongs to your customers. “You don’t own your brand. A brand isn’t a logo or packaging,” he says. “It’s a gut feeling. And when two people have the same gut feeling, you have a brand.” Secondly, most people view design as a part of the production chain, you get requirements in and out comes a product. But design is the chain, and for the best products it permeates every step. “It should be a topic of conversation constantly,” he says. “Thats how you make great stuff.”