Revisiting the Palm Pilot’s uncanny alphabet

I can’t be the only person who feels slightly embarrassed when I swipe — or, in particular, pinch — the touchscreen of an iPad. The gestures look ridiculous to me when I see other people performing them. Plus, they make me feel I’ve been somehow trained to operate this expensive device, touching a machine in a way I’ve never done before because these are the terms the machine has set for me. Perhaps I should just be thankful that Apple doesn’t make us kiss its products before we can operate them. 

Revisiting the Palm Pilots uncanny alphabet: Observatory: Design Observer Mobile.

Wiki creator wants to rip it up and start again

But there is one thing about the wiki that he regrets. "I always felt bad that I owned all those pages," he says. The central idea of a wiki –whether it’s driving Wikipedia or C2 — is that anyone can add or edit a page, but those pages all live on servers that someone else owns and controls. Cunningham now believes that no one should have that sort of central control, so he has built something called the federated wiki.

… “Wikipedia forces you to give up your own perspective,” Ogden says. There are issues that no one will agree on, but with the federated wiki model, everyone can have their own version of controversial pages. “And they’re all linked together, so you can still explore them like a wiki.”

via Wiki creator wants to rip it up and start again (Wired UK).

Web search is broken again

In the week that Yahoo poached Marissa Mayer from Google (She who was widely credited with designing the original search page that obsoleted Google’s competitors), it’s interesting to consider how much has changed in search, and how Google has lost its grip:


Semantic/contextual/intelligent web searching will kill Google if Google doesn’t disrupt itself. Eventually. Google search is a terrible experience for normal people. They don’t know which links they can trust. Some service in the future is going to curate the top 100,000 or 1,000,000 queries into a list of great, precise results. Siri would be a great interface into that kind of system. “Siri, what camera should I buy?” would probably give better results than this. (How that curation or improvement in quality will happen is anyone’s guess.)

via Predictions.txt by Dustin Curtis.

Five years after the iPhone, carriers are the biggest threat to innovation

And carriers rarely want what’s best for their customers. "The carriers have always been wary of ‘excessive’ innovation in the mobile space because of the danger that it might make mobile service cheaper," says Columbia Law School professor and The Master Switch author Tim Wu. If companies like HTC and Samsung were able to compete directly at the consumer level, the carriers would turn into dumb pipes — and AT&T and Verizon would be forced to raise their service levels and lower their monthly fees to effectively compete against each other.

Via Five years after the iPhone, carriers are the biggest threat to innovation | The Verge.

Reflections on hackdays

I’ve been to a couple of hackdays/weekends recently (Fieldwork Hackday and Good for Nothing / Summer of Love), and have learned a fair bit about how they function. Having worked with large-scale online innovation communities, that play out over several months, I’m particularly interested in how these different approaches compare. What kind of outcomes can you expect from a highly compressed burst of activity, compared to an extended, mediated process? How could the two formats complement each other?

Here are my thoughts on the format, and how to make it work. Continue reading “Reflections on hackdays”

Creative work

My work is creative work, and yet it often feels like bureaucratic work. I’m sitting in front of a computer, typing. To someone peering through the window, watching me, I might look like an accountant (no offence to accountants). I believe a lot of people think the same way about their work, and they’d like it to be different. What can we do about it?

I’m poking at this problem, and I wanted to put down a few initial thoughts, some stuff that may help inform a solution. Continue reading “Creative work”