Another good NEOUPA talk…

This months speaker was Chris Braunsdorf and his topic was Meet your users: Learning from the iPad, iPhone, and Facebook & thinking about the future of user interfaces. Starting with the story of people searching for ”Facebook login’ in Google and being confused when the top result was not Facebook, but an article on Read Write Web.

Opening the conversation to the room, a lot of discussion was about the responsibility of the UX/UI professional to help fix these issues. Bolstered by points such as the increase in age of users to Facebook and the web in general, Chris mentioned a quote from an article by Gillian Andrews about web literacy and our expectation that everyone knows what a URL is.  Google’s video showing that people are not really aware of what a browser is pushed the conversation forward.

Moving to the iPad and iPhone, Chris then steered the conversation towards the simplicity of devices and asked, will that solve some of the problem?  I think the initial problem (about logging in to Facebook) will remain until the iPad does away with Safari completely and becomes the browser itself.  Though it wasn’t brought up I was reminded about ‘The Social Agent‘ by Chris Messina and the direction that is taking.

All-in-all I thought it was good discussion (barring some early technical difficulties) and I’m looking forward to the next meeting.

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#HappyInCLE, but for how long?

Cleveland skylineThe denizens of Cleveland seem to have rallied around a particular hashtag recently. #HappyInCLE.  And there seems to be a fair amount of stuff to be happy about.

Cleveland held its first TEDxCLE which was a great success I’m told. Local boy done good-Michael Symon, is looking to expand his brand and in response to a recent negative Forbes Magazine article, one local businessman decide to create and sell t-shirts, benefiting the local food bank, while a celebrity is looking how to save Cleveland (and other cities) with a documentary series.

So far 2010 seems to have a lot more small businesses, groups, and events coming together for their hometown.  This kind of groundswell doesn’t come along that often, or last that long, so I’m hoping this continues to grow online and within the city itself letting a lot more people find reasons to be #HappyInCLE.

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I expect my natural disaster in HD…

On Saturday @jules23 & I were sitting down after digging out the drive when she said about a lot people on Twitter talking about the expected tsunami hitting Hawaii.  This was a result from the recent quake in Chile. We turned on CNN and what did we get? Some guys video (which looked sent from a mobile phone), from a balcony being Skyped through a web site that was not affiliated with CNN. Cut that with voice over from a local Hawaiian TV station and some random shots of a guy surfing.

Paparazzi can get HD video of Jennifer Aniston picking her nose from 300 yards away but world-wide news agencies can’t do better than Skype? C’mon.

After cycling through this same stuff for about 10 minutes we switched to MSNBC.

They were no better. They had similar file footage spliced into a 3 minute reel of camera crews on a cliff watching a helicopter, that was telling some surfers to get out of the water.  The anchor had to keep telling us that this was file footage from a least two hours ago.

Both channels kept saying the Hilo Bay would be first hit but no one seemed to have a camera there.  We were told New Zealand experienced some tsunami effects, but again no video or coverage from their local channels. Same for the Pacific coast beaches on the mainland. Nothing from the helicopters, other islands, people at the scene.

Checking in an hour later we still saw the same, now 4 hour old, file footage! And here’s a news flash. If its 3 hours after it was supposed to happen its not breaking news!  Overall I find this embarrassing for news channels in the 21st Century.

The trend now seems to be:

  1. Grab 40 seconds of amateur/file footage
  2. Loop continuously
  3. Repeat the two facts you have both as on-screen graphics and voice-over
  4. Ignore all other news and scheduled programming
  5. Bring in an “expert” or “eye-witness” and get them to repeat the same two facts
  6. Go to #1 and repeat

I wasn’t expecting a Poseidon Adventure type wave to roll in, but I did expect some research, commentary, and on-camera interviews. Is that too much to ask?

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The iPad…It's not about the hardware

Ask anyone and they’ll tell you I’m no MAC fan boy.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my iPod (I won it as a door prize) and even contemplated getting an iPhone once ’cause I think they’re cool.  But the announcement of the iPad left me nonplussed.

As Chris wrote I cannot deny that it’s pretty. It’s very pretty. Shiny, too. but there was enough missing (no built-in camera for starters!) that I’m sure we’ll see the next version by Xmas, especially with the JooJoo launching soon.  More than that though, I think there’s more to Apple going down this path than just producing a big iTouch.

It’s got to be all about content.  With the iPad you can run virtually all the apps currently available through the App Store as well as any on your iPhone/iTouch, a lot of which are glorified ways of consuming content from 3rd parties.  They have a new book store for downloading books.  And of course you have the iTunes Store with all that music, TV shows, and movies.  Soon you’ll be able to subscribe to magazines and newspapers (which featured heavily in the video) through the store too. And as with the iPhone its all locked down.

There was also talk of it being the best web surfing experience from Rob Schiller. I assume that’s the best without Flash, seeing as that is missing from the iPad.  And why include it?  Apple has conditioned all of its iPhone & iTouch users to do without for the past few years and Safari is the first browser to support the new HTML5 audio & video tags, so why bother with it now.

Don’t get me wrong. If Messrs Jobs & co. sent me a free one to try I’m sure I’d love it. But for $500 it’s got to do a lot more than be a easy way to consume content from the iTunes Store.

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