ad Silicon Tails: September 2004

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

What the Bubble Got Right

Paul Graham has written an article about what the Internet bubble got right. Interesting read, now that we have been so busy the past years focusing on what it got wrong. Among other things he notes that the Internet bubble was a California phenomenon: Graham, who now lives on the east coast, says: "What makes the Bay Area superior is the attitude of the people. I notice that when I come home to Boston. The first thing I see when I walk out of the airline terminal is the fat, grumpy guy in charge of the taxi line. I brace myself for rudeness: remember, you're back on the East Coast now." Hmm, close to how I feel when I go back to Denmark, I'm afraid.

Friday, September 24, 2004

"Happiness is a warm gun....."

According to this article in Yahoo Finance, psychologists claim that "happiness is U-shaped, meaning people are happiest when they are very young and very old and least happy around age 40". I'm depressed by the mere fact of this..........

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Making Personas More Powerful

My colleague at Yahoo, George Olsen, wrote a piece on personas recently on boxesandarrows. Yahoo's Semel emerges as Disney contender 09/18/2004 Yahoo's Semel emerges as Disney contender
John Batelle's predicts it wont happen, however: "Leave the dinosaurs to fight over theme parks, lame network sitcoms, and bad films. Companies like Yahoo are in the pole position for the next big wave in media."

Discussion about survey research

The Survey Says...
I'm not sure if it's right to claim that there is an inverse relationship between stated intent and actual action, but it's definitely worth pointing out the danger of trusting what people say when it comes to future behavior. It is so easy to do surveys today that the words of warning in this article is worth pointing to. Of course, designing surveys is no easier than before, but many people seem to think that the biggest problem of survey research was distribution and now that that problem has been solved with the Internet, we can and should do surveys ad libitum.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Yahoo! News - GOP Mailing Warns Liberals Will Ban Bibles

Yahoo! News - GOP Mailing Warns Liberals Will Ban Bibles
Scary stuff: Campaign mail with a return address of the Republican National Committee warns West Virginia voters that the Bible will be prohibited and men will marry men if liberals win in November. I continue to be amazed by republican rhetoric. This country needs unity more than anything else but it is becoming more and more divided, thanks to republican rhetoric and policies. Quote from Yahoo News: "'There is a line drawn in America today,' one ad says. 'On one side are the radicals trying to uproot our traditional values and our culture. They're fighting to hijack the institution of marriage, plotting to legalize partial birth abortion, and working to take God out of the pledge of allegiance and force the worst of Hollywood on the rest of America.' " Again, scary stuff........

Friday, September 17, 2004

John Rhodes' article: Profits First, Users Second

John Rhodes: Profits First, Users Second
John Rhodes has written a commentary about user-centered design and how it ideally fits into business processes and objectives. While the commentary is interesting and "right on" in my mind, it is also a little scary that fairly obvious insights are even questioned by designers and researchers in industry. Of course we are not in the business of putting users first as John Rhodes phrases it, and of course good design and usability is an investment that needs to drive a profitable return. User-centered design - and we as practitioners of user-centered design - is a means to an end (although some professionals in the CHI community prefer to think of themselves as a God's sent gift to humanity). The question is not whether we need to show the value of our work; the question is how we do work that show business value (unless we want UCD to remain merely an academic exercise). I have discussed this is many talks I have given over the last 3-4 years and in panels I have been part of, for example at BayCHI. The scary thing about John Rhodes commentary is not his commentary. It is the fact that it still generates controversy.
And btw: this discussion has nothing to do with a discusion of the social responsibility of corporations. The point is not that profits rule per se, and that we should accept all means to that end.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Wolfstone concert

Rob, Tinna and I went to a Wolfstone concert up in Redwood city the other day. Wow, they were good. It reminded me how much I like (and miss) that kind of energetic Irish music (coupled with beautiful ballads about long lost love). I heard them about 10 years ago in Denmark, still remember that. The real weird thing was that only 15 people or so showed up for the gig in Redwood city, real intimate, great for us, but probably not great for the band (in the long run at least). I wish them all the best, they are great musicians who dare stay true to the music they believe in.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Worried about homeland Security?: Sure, let's flood the streets with machine guns, that'll be safe.

I always fail to understand the arguments of the NRA. I don't believe for one minute that NRA lobbyists really believe their own arguments - it's got to be a matter of having sold your soul, probably rather expensively, but still having sold it. We are so concerned about the security of the homeland - what about the fact that in many major cities in the US you'd test your luck by going out after dark. And having machine guns readily available does not help it - no matter what the NRA's own biased studies try to convince us of! The fact that members of congress are such wimps is just sad, but hey - that's politics for you.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Bumper stickers on 101

Recently seen on highway 101: A BMW 745 with the number plate: "Profits1" and a bumper sticker saying something like: "Make a democrat unhappy: work, succeed, get rich." Do I need to mention that the second bumper sticker was a Bush/Cheney sticker? Should I laugh or cry?

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Bad landing!

Yahoo! News - Genesis Space Capsule Crashes in Utah

As a pilot I know that landing is the most critical stage of flying. In this case, it is almost tragi-comical: imagine sending an aircraft (or in this case a space capsule) half way to the sun to collect a billion billion atoms from the solar wind, turn around, fly back to earth and then crash into the Utah desert at 193 mph.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Heat wave

It's been scorching hot the last few days. And even though we may not have a pool, we make do with less :-). Here is Emma cooling off in our new pool. In spite of obvious size issues she had a lot of fun...........and managed to stay cool! Posted by Hello

Friday, September 03, 2004

Congrats Michael and Kimberly

Michael and Kimberly just had a baby boy - Michael sent me this picture. He is smiling, that's a good sign - as Michael said: "Yeah, he's passing gas" (I love that euphemism). Posted by Hello

Can this be explained?

Yahoo! News - Russians Storm School; 150 May Be Dead
I almost can't read this - it's been nerve-wrecking to follow the developments at that school in southern Russia. Kids were carried from the school who hadn't had water in three days - 3 days! that's just plain cruel, no less. I just cannot comprehend that. I understand the motives and I understand what they are trying to achieve (at least I think I do), but I have a hard time understanding how anyone can move to actions so extreme toward innocent children to achieve their goals. There is absolutely no way to justify this. Have all human traits and morals been drained from these people.............?

Thursday, September 02, 2004

An old discussion still going strong

An old discussion still going strong: How many test persons do you need - Understanding Users

My good friend in Denmark, Thomas Snitker, recently posted a blog about how many users are needed in a usability test. Will this discussion never end........? In my mind a huge part of this discussion is completely misguided in that it applies quantitative validation criteria to what is essentially qualitative research. Usability testing (the typical lab version at least) is an exploratory methodology, and not one in which you need a specific number of people to learn something (at least typically - of course there are behavioral studies in which numbers matter, but it's not common in industry versions of usability testing). My colleague, Mike Katz, has actually written an interesting paper about why N=1 is often more than enough, unfortunately it's not published yet, but soon, I hope. Here's to small numbers and deep insights!

Tinna and Emma

........and one of my favorites of Tinna and Emma by the water. Posted by Hello

Hello World

Ok, so it's time for me to join the blogging world - a few years late as always. But better late than never it is said. I'll start by introducing Tinna and Emma, and in those cases pictures speak more than a thousand words. Posted by Hello