Mar 10

Census 2010 and the Future of Race

I dutifully opened my census form tonight and began to fill it out.  It was straightforward until I got to my children.  What race are they?  Dad is white, mother’s family is from India/Pakistan.  I think of how many friends I know that have kids in the same boat.  How do you count them?  Me?  I ended up marking other and wrote in “mixed.”  That just seems weird.  How odd will race be to classify in 2020?  What about 2050?

Feb 10

Luge Infographic

Sometimes you don’t want it to tell is so clearly:  NYT coverage of luge crash.

Feb 10

iPhone Processing

This is very cool.  I wonder if it runs on the iTouch — if so, I’m on it.

Feb 10

The Future of Analog Games

Beyond musical instrumentation, this is what I hoped would be a development path for the Surface.  Check out the D&D prototype.  Lot’s of potential here.  They are just scratching the surface though (couldn’t resist).  For instance, I’m not sure a virtual die roll should be kept.  There are much more interesting interactive dynamics that could be developed if you want to add random controls.  Regardless — watch this space.  And the iPad could really help re-invent the family board game…

Feb 10

Damn Smashing Is Good

Over and over Smashing Magazine produces great stuff.

Feb 10

Interesting Data

While nothing groundbreaking in the technique, the subject matter, story, and myth-busting technique are great ways to get and keep people interested in the data:  okcupid’s The 4 Big Myths of Profile Pictures.

Feb 10

Good & Plenty + Banana Nut Bread


This was the study that found men susceptible to the scent of doughnuts mingled with licorice. For women, first place for most arousing was a tie between baby powder and the combination of Good & Plenty candy with cucumber. Coming in second was a combination of Good & Plenty and banana nut bread.

In terms of meals (getting beyond scent alone) — my ideas:  sushi or tapas.  Light, small plates, that you eat with your hands for the most part…

Jan 10

Look Ma, No Hands!

This is pretty cool.  I wonder how well it works.  My daughter might be of age to try this coming summer.

Jan 10

An Interface Approach to Innovation

When we release a product, we often want to talk about its power and versatility. Truth is, nobody else wants to hear about that. They want to know – in as simple a manner as possible – why something should matter to them.

I agree with this point of view.   However, my initial reaction was that the takeaway was you needed a simple (single-use) device to have it successfully adopted.  And, while I believe that wasn’t the aim of the article, I do want to talk a bit about that faulty assumption.

I think we’re not technologically constrained to a single-use device mantra for success.  And many other people agree with this (people who criticize the Kindle, the iPhone without a camera, etc).  However — the quote above applies — and is the downfall of the do-everything device.  Here’s the paradox.  I think we need do-everything devices, but they need to be task-oriented.

The key to this is to think of interfaces.  What is the purpose of an interface?  Let’s think about a reading interface.  The ideal reading interface has good enough resolution to display very dense tables/graphics, generates very little eye strain,  is large enough to provide enough words that  line breaks don’t become cumbersome, and allows for simple/fast/intuitive navigation (scrolling, page flipping, etc).  As an interface then, the Kindle suffices.

However, one missing piece is the form of the interface.  A paperback book as a reading interface is portable, light, small, durable, very long use, exchangeable/sharable, and usable without restriction (think airplanes and electronic restrictions).  Here the Kindle only provides portability and lightness.

Another missing piece is the content.  What information is exchanged/displayed in an interface?  Where the Kindle breaks down is the limiting format of the content.  While it’s very easy for me to get books, it’s harder to get other “printed” or text into the device.  Further, the content only lives on the device — I can’t sell or transfer the content — or utilize in a format outside of the Kindle.

So form and function live in the domain of the interface — while content and format live separately.  It reminds me of the whole HTML form/content debate.  Web 2.0 and beyond are all predicated on this separation.  Devices, especially mobile interfaces, are still up against this (mobile phone vs carrier, e-readers, streaming video content).  Without a content “standard” how can there be true innovation?  Interfaces, as versatile as they might be technologically, are constrained by the content formats they have access to.

Dec 09

People Don’t Remember. They Make It Up.

A funny concept that makes me think any kind of research that involves someone asking someone how they feel or think, or what they saw or did, is about as accurate as this version of Romeo and Juliet:

The show’s creators called unsuspecting people on the phone and asked them what they remembered about Shakespeare’s classic love story. The result is a hilarious mishmash of half-recalled quotes, mixed-up plot points and wild digressions — all performed in the traditional Shakespearean style.

From NPR’s Morning Edition.