“Wolitzer describes them this way: “The generation that had information, but no context. Butter, but no bread. Craving, but no longing.”—The Twitter Trap - NYTimes.com. Watch yourself, prepare yourself for the moment you start to assume that younger generations mustn’t be as passionate as your own. Guard against it.
“We could not have known and have only just learned–perhaps mostly from children from two to five–that a new kind of relationship between people in groups is brought into being by SX-70 when the members of a group are photographing and being photographed and sharing the photographs: it turns out that buried within all of us–God knows beneath how many pregenital and Freudian and Calvinistic strata–there is latent interest in each other; there is tenderness, curiosity, excitement, affection, companionability and humor; it turns out that in this cold world where man grows distant from man, and even lovers can reach each other only briefly, that we have a yen for and a primordial competence for a quiet good-humored delight in each other: we have a prehistoric tribal competence for a non-physical, non-emotional, non-sexual satisfaction in being partners in the lonely exploration of a once empty planet.”—The SX-70 Experience letter from Edwin Land
That means Gotham went from a print-based library that included 7,520 individual characters (known as glyphs) to a web version that counted 47,778. That’s almost seven times as large as the original, and each one has to be carefully designed to operate at any size and a range of weight.
At the same time, the quality assurance process — testing each glyph in different circumstances to make sure it works properly — went from 74 individual tests for print through to 210 steps for the web. In total, the team at Hoefler & Frere-Jones had to commit to more than 90 million individual operations in order to make their foundry web-compatible.
I’ll likely get some flack for this linking to this, but the article touches on a gut feeling that’s directly related to why I don’t wear a helmet that often: I’m pretty skeptical about how useful they really are. Sample quote: “Ordinary cycling is not demonstrably more dangerous than walking or driving, yet no country promotes helmets for either of these modes. … Six times as many pedestrians as cyclists are killed by motor traffic, yet travel surveys show annual mileage walked is only five times that cycled.”
“I keep noticing the many parallels between UX design and film editing. As an editor, I was always looking for the right cut to optimize the flow. If a cut could be made from one shot to the next, and the viewer didn’t have to change their fixation from that cut, it was a happy thing. To create tension, you do the opposite. You also place stuff in the middle of the shot to make it feel more isolated and alone. As such, it makes total sense in the West to have the “comfort” or expected action to be nestled in the right corner of the uncomfortable, pay-attention-to-me, center-of-screen dialog box, eagerly awaiting your action to move the narrative along.”—Craig Syverson, responding to Design Basics: Flow Is Why “OK” Buttons Are Always On The Right and Why OK buttons In DIalog Boxes Work Best on the Right
Intuitive behavior is not an objective standard. It’s a slow-moving target. If something becomes the default way of doing something, then it has become the intuitive way of doing it. You don’t need to test for that; you use design patterns. They are the product of the norm.
Some of the most successful products weren’t intuitive to begin with. They became intuitive after the product gained sufficient popularity. So, even if a product fails the intuitive test, it does not impact whether or not it becomes a success.
The principle holds that in a hierarchy, members are promoted so long as they work competently. Eventually they are promoted to a position at which they are no longer competent (their “level of incompetence”), and there they remain, being unable to earn further promotions.
The employee’s incompetence is not necessarily a result of the higher-ranking position being more difficult — simply, that job may be crucially different from the job in which the employee previously excelled, and thus requires different work skills, which the employee may not possess.
Peter’s Corollary states that “in time, every post tends to be occupied by an employee who is incompetent to carry out their duties” and adds that “work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence”.
“It was fairly common in medieval times to put east at the top. Which has a logic to it: when traveling across open terrain, the one consistent thing you had to orient yourself by when you broke camp in the morning was the sunrise. In fact, that’s the source of the term “orient yourself”: it literally means to face east.”—Carl Muckenhoupt in a comment on See Different, a MetaFilter thread about alternative maps.
'Now it just so happens that the Industrial Design department HATES how a strain relief looks on a power adapter. They would much prefer to have a nice clean transition between the cable and the plug. Aesthetically, this does look nicer, but from an engineering point of view, it's pretty much committing reliability suicide. Because there is no strain relief, the cables fail at a very high rate because they get bent at very harsh angles. I'm sure that the Engineering division gave every reason in the world why a strain relief should be on an adapter cable, and Customer Service said how bad the customer experience would be if tons of adapters failed, but if industrial design doesn't like a strain relief, guess what, it gets removed.'
Daniel Bogan runs The Setup, a series of interviews about what hardware and software people use to get their jobs done. I answered his questions for the Flickr code blog a while back. Here’s my answer to the question ‘What is your dream setup?’
What would be your dream setup?
We’re at a really fascinating point in hardware development right now, which makes it difficult to answer this question. My knee-jerk answer is that I want the Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer combined with an iPad combined with the Cintiq combined with, you know, a Cray supercomputer or something else equally powerful.
The problem is, really, handwriting recognition; if you’ve ever tried to use the iPad with an external keyboard, you’ll know exactly what I mean. Switching from typing to writing or drawing and back is a pain. Regular notebooks allow you to draw and write without changing your hand position, which doesn’t seem like a luxury until you try actually working on a tablet and then find you need to input text.
Steve Jobs may think that styli are inelegant, but the fact is, using a pen to write or draw on paper is both comfortable and easy; it’s just not as fast as typing. Most people are content with inputting data via a keyboard, and this makes sense for a lot of jobs: marketing, business development, finance, and programming, for example. But for the designers, there’s a big gap between starting the creative process and executing the product design *because* it’s much easier to sketch out your ideas on paper, with a pen, than a computer. And this is unfortunate; in the future, we should have computers that allow us to keep contexts for different stages of product development. The iPad and ThinkPads are steps in the right direction, but they’re still awfully clumsy, which is why, in part, people criticize the iPad as a product for mere consumption.
I want a Moleskine that is a blindingly superfast computer. That’s my dream setup.
“Marie-Line Germain (Germain, 2006) developed a psychometric measure of perception of employee expertise called the Generalized Expertise Measure (GEM). She defined a behavioral dimension in “experts”, in addition to the dimensions suggested by Swanson and Holton (2001). Her 16-item scale contains objective expertise items and subjective expertise items. Objective items were named Evidence-Based items. Subjective items (the remaining 11 items from the measure below) were named Self-Enhancement items because of their behavioral component:
This person has knowledge specific to a field of work.
This person shows they have the education necessary to be an expert in the field.
This person has the qualifications required to be an expert in the field.
This person has been trained in their area of expertise.
This person is ambitious about their work in the company.
This person can assess whether a work-related situation is important or not.
This person is capable of improving themselves.
This person is charismatic.
This person can deduce things from work-related situations easily.
This person is intuitive in the job.
This person is able to judge what things are important in their job.
This person has the drive to become what they are capable of becoming in their field.
This person is self-assured.
This person has self-confidence.
This person is outgoing. ”—From the Wikipedia article about experts
“If you think you know the core competencies needed for a team, list them on a bunch of Post-it notes, and have each person on the team write the name of the “go-to” person on the team who has the most depth in that area. If you do not have strong consistency in the responses, Houston, you probably have a problem.”—Bill Buxton, Innovation Calls For I-Shaped People - BusinessWeek
In a sense, you could say that the brilliance of a good designer is not defined by her ability to represent the world as she sees it, but by her trained ability to represent it as others expect to see it.
…For a design process to produce an extraordinary product, two conditions must be met: stakeholders and participants must unequivocally accept that they aren’t designers, and trust the real designers’ abilities.
“A mentor doesn’t just advise, but listens. You have problems you’re struggling to overcome. Insights of your own you’re trying to articulate. A mentor will hear you and reframe those problems and insights so that they’re comprehensible. A good mentor, like a good coach, won’t force their philosophy on you but will have the confidence and experience to realize you can win with your own talents and intelligence—you only need to be pointed in the right direction.”—Mule Design Studio’s Blog: On Design, Soccer, and Mentorship
“Trithemius believed it was necessary to continue to copy manuscripts by hand, even in the age of the printing press, because of historical precedent, because of the spiritual action of transcription, because of the fragility of printed books (“The printed book is made of paper and, like paper, will quickly disappear. But the scribe working with parchment ensures lasting remembrance for himself and for his text”). In this way, the monks of the Middle Ages came to intimately know and experience the texts that they copied. The act of transcription became an act of meditation and prayer, not a simple replication of letters.”—The House of Wisdom | booktwo.org
“Our expanding presence in the project lifecycle does not make us project managers, though. Budgets, scheduling, and client management is a job unto itself. We’re simply the stewards of ideas, which can get compromised and mangled in a game of telephone as they are passed between team members. User experience is not only about seeing the big picture of how our applications and websites are used, but also about how they are made.”—The Expanding Role of User Experience Design | UX Magazine
“The idea that some shadowy group or other is running things for their own benefit, not that of the ordinary working man, is the constant solace of the unsuccessful.”—A new book explains why national disasters are likely to call forth particularly wild conspiracy theories. The alternative explanations, of incompetence or inherent vulnerability, are simply too painful to bear.
“Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty.”—Daniel Burnham (via ontko)
“If you are making an application, think of how the users will interact with it and give them the controls to make it as quick and easy as possible. You may think that the internal sales reporting app you are making is boring as crap, but the people who will be using it think of it as a tool to get their job done. Give them the controls they need so that they can run through that app like they were playing a game like Civilization. At the very least, make sure the tab order of the controls is correct. If you can add keyboard shortcuts and controls, then even better. Remember, you will use it as little as possible but the users you are creating it for will use it to death.”—UX Tips for Non UX Designers, via UX Magazine And career tip: thinking of all designs like this makes potentially uninteresting products REALLY interesting.