Sunday, December 14, 2008

Fortune: Steve Jobs speaks out

If this isn't a primer on what makes Apple great, I don't know what is.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Late: GEL 2008 Notes


My GEL 2008 photos

Theme: How to create good experiences by making connections that are new, unexpected


Clay Shirky

Clay Shirky

Internet enables connection of consumer experience and collective action
- speed, low cost, international

angry and organized

Social organizing layer

Newspapers "from information source to site of coordination"

"Thinking is for doing" - William James

HSBC and student accounts UK
- When HSBC changed account policy to students' disadvantage, disgruntled students took protest to Facebook
- student posted online easy way to change accounts

Southwest, JetBlue stranded jet incidents
- led to passenger bill of rights

Creating value by having customers talk to one another

! "If you have a problem for a long time, maybe it's not a problem, but a fact." - Shimon Peres

Bobby Martin, Visual Design MFA


! design and community

- described his work with Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem NYC
- designed new identity and marketing campaign for ABC
- Abyssinian Baptist Church was one of the forces of the Harlem Renaissance

"Design is power"

Got a grant for marketing campaign from SAPPI Ideas That Matter
- Powerful positive images, slogans to replace liquor advertising on billboards

Phoebe Damrosch

Phoebe Damrosch

Author, former waitstaff at Per Se

customer and server

Shame around service
- class dynamic
- ritual of royalty

Worked at Per Se (Thomas Keller)
- learned about food, wine, service
- how to connect with guests
- when to break rules, e.g., don't put silverware between couple holding hands

Subjective ideas of good service
- had to be "shape-shifter" to match customer personalities and expectations of waitstaff interaction (more involved vs invisible)

Subtheme: TWIST

Bridget Duffy


- Chief Experience Officer, Cleveland Clinic
- original: Chief Empathy Officer

- Humanize the way we deliver medical technology

- Added the voice of patient through the Patient Council

A heart surgery patient (a major Lexus dealer) said what you need is "GPS"
- What he meant was human navigator/guide through care process
- He had nobody he could ask about whether his driver's licence (his ability to drive) would be taken away

Emotion, environment
- 20% technology; 80% spirit, environment, sacred healing process
- "They put their soul in my hand."

George Vaillant

George Vaillant

- Harvard professor, neuroscientist
- wrote a book on how evolution points to a God, to counter Dawkins' book on how science disproves God

- "Positive emotions are terribly important."

- genetic, cultural, developmental

Slow to get started, wasn't able to cover much ground before his time ran out



Kelly Dobson

Kelly Dobson


- machines and humans

New ways to interact with machines
- when we make a thing, we imbue it with parts of ourselves (consciously or not)

!- empathy with machines
- control blender by imitating the sounds made by a blender
- the more active your growl, the more the blender blends

- visceral communication
- breathing object
- neurotic (random behaviors)
- purring animals in next generation

Natascha Schüll

Experiential Landscape of a gambling addict

- Anthropologist, MIT
- social forms of gambling lead to asocial behaviors?
- studying gaming experience

It's all about the slot machine
- showed different casino layouts for tourist (disoriented) vs local/"mature" gamblers (orderly)

Eli Lilly study
- she did work with the co. during a drug trial for a drug to counteract gambling addiction

The Zone
!- psychology: it's not about winning but staying in the flow of the activity
!- Winning interrupts the zone
- Lose track of time, space, money, self/body, senses, people
- trance-like state
!- credit play replacing coins to keep gambler in the flow
!- Adaptive game machines

ct note: "Don't make me think" becomes "Don't make me stop."

Industry metrics
- "Continuous gaming productivity"
- "Time on device"
- Goal: "Player extinction" = get all of customer's money before they leave

!Very customer-focused
- Industry really taps into what users want
- what they see, hear, feel
- closed-circuit = no exits

Engineering vacuum vs player experience

!How to flip pain point into good experience
- Harrahs has Luck Ambassadors who troll the floors looking for players who are losing and likely to quit, then present them with a free dinner coupon

Engineering experience

Natascha asked
- Given the negative financial and social consequences, might the industry move from a profit-maximization (player extinction, short-term) to profit optimization (long-term)?

Subtheme: MAKE

Alex Lee

Alex Lee

- President, OXO

Universal design
- inclusive design
!- helping people without letting them know they're being helped

! "OXO spirit" (for evaluating products)
- easy to use, understand
- honest (design) language
- thought-provoking
- satisfying customer over time

! Identifying the problem is 70% of the solution

Watch, observe
- identify latent need
- usually, users can't articulate need
! - watch for clear inefficiency that nobody articulates

- keen observations of problems + confidence you can solve

Terry Border


- Bent art, photos of bent objects, visual jokes
- connecting interesting ideas

Sam Brown

Sam Brown


Mary Cleaver
- Cleaver Co. (caterer for Gel)
- support sustainable agri and cuisine

Bill Gurstelle
- contributing Editor, Make magazine
- Make TV
- book: Edgeworking

! "What we make for others is profitable. What we make for ourselves is sublime."

Rhett & Link

Rhett & Link

"We make Internet videos"

Nayla Al-Khaja

Nayla Al-Khaja

- 1st female producer and director in UAE
- Dubai is tax-free

Doug Quinn
- records nature sounds, especially those that are disappearing

Marissa Mayer

Marissa Mayer

- VP Products, Google

- recap of what she's done at Goog

What she's excited about now
- geo search
- health, cloud computing
- universal search

Erin McKean
- not w/ OED anymore

Garrett Oliver

Garrett Oliver

- brewmaster, Brooklyn Brewery
- one of founders of Slow Food movement in US
- makes "real ale"

Food facsimiles

Microbrewery is not a new fad
- "it's a return to normality"

Mentally, being producer is like being a brewmaster
- need technical knowledge and passion

! His passion is "showing people something brand new to like"

Bob Mankoff

Humor and degrees of playful incongruity

- Cartoon Editor, New Yorker


Joke elements
- social response
- incongruity

! Bisociation
- associating two things that don't normally match

! Playframe
- safety frame in which we have excitement
- example: tiger in cage (safe, exciting); tiger out of cage (not funny)

Chip Conley

Chip Conley

- CEO, Joie de Vivre Hospitality


Career path
- Real estate development (adversarial) vs Hotel (conciliatory)

! Niche hotels are like magazines
- close relationship with core subscribers
- hotel as mirror of customer
! - offer "identity refreshment"
! - aspirational

- focused on best practices of human behavior

Official GEL recap and photos

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Off to Gel 2008!


Heading to the NYC tomorrow to attend Good Experience Live 2008. Check this space for notes, pics and videos.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

How to run a Skunk Works (and other wisdom from sci fi novels)

I just got done reading Bruce Sterling's post-9/11 cyber espionage thriller, The Zenith Angle.

In one key scene, while struggling with a decision to join a cyber espionage skunk works for the US government, the protagonist seeks advice from his grandfather, a former top jet designer who had worked at the infamous Lockheed Skunk Works.

Grandpa says (pgs 65-67, this is good, emphases mine):

... [H]ow to run a Skunk Works. These are the simple things. They're the principles. ... [L]isten ... It's more important to listen to your own people than it is to tell 'em what to do. Decide ... Make your management decisions whenever they're needed. You can figure out later whether they were right or wrong. ... [B]elieve ... Don't ever try to build a project that you can't believe in. Because otherwise, when they cut your funding - and they will cut it - you won't be able to tell 'em with a straight face why they should go straight to hell.

... You've got to be quick, you've got to be quiet, and you've got to be on time. ... these are the rules. ... [Q]uick ... means small. Small teams, the best people, very restricted. Ten or twenty percent of the people that normal outfits would use. No long reports, ever. Never read a long report, and if a guy writes you one, fire him. No long meetings. You want to keep 'em all working close together, no distractions, focused on the project all the time. Everybody stays hands-on with the tools, everybody stays close to the aircraft. Stick with the machine, never back off. That's how you get results quick. ... [Q]uiet ... means no talking. You don't brag about what you're doing. ... You just do it, and you never demand any credit. If nobody ever knows who you are, then nobody knows what you did. ... [O]n time ... You got to do it when there are stars in their eyes about it! Before they get all bureaucratic, and start counting every nickel and dime! Timing is the hardest part ... you gotta know when good enough will do. You gotta know when to quit. ... Because of the Grease Machine ... A Skunk Works is finished, once the Grease Machine takes over. Once the money beats the engineering, that's the end of it, son. Once the money beats the engineering, it's all just chrome and tail fins ...
Instructive, no?

One more thing. Another money quote, attributed in the novel to Robert A. Heinlein:

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, design a building, write a sonnet, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, solve equations, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."

Funny thing is I had seen the same quote on right before I got to that section in the book.

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Mariah Carey shows nerd love with "Touch My Body" video

Nerds worldwide rejoice as Mariah's latest release rocks the iMac, WiFi, YouTube (YoooouTube...), slot car racing, frisbee, laser tag, and a unicorn, oh my!

My first post of 2008. Happy 2008. May the nerdery continue.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Urban Dictionary search for your iPhone

Slapped together an Urban Dictionary search bookmarklet today. I know there was one floating around on the interwebs but it didn't work on my iPhone.

This one does.

You can use it as a bookmark on your browser (just drag the link into your browser bar, then click it when you need it). If you drag it into Safari, you can sync it up to your iPhone.

Now, you get crunk with your funky junk and badunkadunk.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Hello, Apple colleagues.

Hi, Apple peeps.

You've probably come here because of my profile in today's newletter.

Just wanted to welcome you to my intermittently-updated blog and thank Steve S for writing the profile.

Take a look around and you can make fun of me at work next week.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 25, 2007


While reviewing a design today, I was reminded of the concept of wabi-sabi.

I'd read about it a few years ago at Signal vs Noise:
The simplicity of wabi-sabi is best described as the state of grace arrived at by a sober, modest, heartfelt intelligence…Usually this implies a limited palette of materials. It also means keeping conspicuous features to a minimum. But it doesn’t mean removing the invisible connective tissue that somehow binds the elements into a meaningful whole. It also doesn’t mean in any way diminishing something’s “interestingness”, the quality that compels us to look at that something over, and over, and over again.

A quick check at Wikipedia brought this lovely quote by Richard R. Powell:
It (wabi-sabi) nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.

(And yes, it makes me think of wasabi.)