Why the Apple tablet will fail

Rumors about the possibly impending launch of a tablet computer/thing from Apple have been raging since the release of the iPhone. But all this buildup will hurt the product. Apple is always secretive about new launches and improvements of their products. This strategy, coupled with benchmark-creating levels of quality, makes Apple appear to deliver almost perfect quality beyond anything their competitors can achieve. (This is why most nay-sayers focus on technological specs and the like when comparing Apple's products to others. ) But this same stamp of quality also creates enormous pressure on new product launches. And the iSlate/iTablet /Apple Tablet will quite probably be highest pressure launch yet.

Already analysts are talking about the iSlate/iTablet as a Kindle killer, presuming millions of units sold in the first 6 months and a market created or recreated solely by this machine.

While I don't doubt that Apple will release a Tablet, and that it's quality will be outstanding, I do doubt that it can live up to all this hype.

A color e-ink tablet with touch display and the perfect UI using all the products from Apple's App store and launched with an SDK to make developers sit up and howl could just barely live up to the hype.

And Apple can hardly deliver this, since color e-ink touch is just a tad expensive these days.

An Apple Tablet concept renderDon't get me wrong, he Apple iSlate will be awesome. It has to live up to the highest quality standards in tech today just for Apple to launch it, my faith in Steve Jobs and Jonathan Ive is solid as rock. But the hype might be killing a perfect product. What if they release the iSlate and it doesn't live up to half the expectations? Will sales half just because of the anticlimax?

Well, this being Apple, probably not. But still, it would be a shame if an innovative product unlike anything but the invention of the iPhone and the Personal Computer would be accepted as anything but great innovation.

Interactive art, game?

Every Day the same Dream is a short flash game that I think you should play. It's story of a faceless man who tries to break out of his routine of getting up, dressing, saying good bye to his emotionally detached wife and driving to a miserable job. It's not exactly cheerful. It might even provoke dark thoughts. It's conveys a sense of how valuable life is in a strange way. This game is provoking. It doesn't provoke your ideals. It provokes how you live.

A fantastic interactive experiment that I can really recommend:

Every Day the Same Dream

State of the Game Industry in Sweden

Sweden has had a strong game development industry even since before the launch of the classic shooterBattlefield 1942. In the last year though, the economic downturn has cause some large studios to file for bankruptcy or sale. But the worst economic down turns usually make the most fertile grounds for new industry. Something the Swedes are proving true. Baraboom is a small group of friends trying to make it on the iPhone. Not an original concept but not a bad one either. They've chosen to be inspired my Remedy's classic car shooter Death Rally and with a unique style and control scheme their first title Auto Crisis looks awesome. Check it out when it launches in the app store around christmas. [vimeo=http://vimeo.com/7942457]

Ludosity is another small independent studio launching their first own IP very soon. This small startup is comprised of students straight out of school into an incubator. Most impressive and looking at their really unique title Bob came in pieces you can really tell where the innovation in the industry is going on. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uiH-_d7InE]

So don't hesitate to innovate and stop worrying about the economy. If small companies such as these two can create high quality products like this on small funds and high spirit, we'll pull through. ;)

Also please note that while none of these companies have dedicated resources or large budgets to create their web presence, they both have more professional sites than most larger companies...

User Experience Design terms - Resistance

All fields of technology and design needs terms to define complex meaning regarding their subject. This is my attempt to create a few such terms for user experience design. Please help out through the comments or DM me on twitter! Resistance refers to the resistance of experiencing the design. This can encompass the macro experience of, for example, music:

  • Find a song you like (resistance)
  • Purchase the song (resistance)
  • Listen to the song

But resistance can also mean the micro experience of the music:

  • BPM might not match the listeners mood (resistance)
  • Singers voice might hit strange notes (ever listened to death metal or opera and hated it despite a catchy tune? resistance)

So resistance can build both from the users cognitive or psychological experience of the product as well as the practical obstacles the user has in order to experience the intended design.

Since all negative values are experienced as twice as important compared to a positive value, resistance is important to reduce.

Reducing resistance as much as possible is in fact the process of making something accessible but the term is a lot more exact. Defining what we're really intending to do.

Reduce resistance of user experience, make the user experience flow in using your experience!

Law of Design - redefined for today

The most basic law of design, for the 20th century at least, has been form follows function. The idea that objects should be created based on the action they are used for. With the digital world today, the law is a bit broken. But I claim that the law still works, with just a slight tweak. I just saw Objectified, the fantastic documentary about industrial design. One of the designers calims that the original law of design form follows function doesn't apply anymore because design today has become more and more digital, more abstract. With objects like the iPhone, with all its functions, form cannot represent what it does. It is too complex.

But the law is still sound. If we abstract the purpose of the law a bit, it means that any product should really become its function, a pair of scissors is really nothing but the function for cutting. For two reasons this is a good thing: An object that objectifies its function is effective. An object that objectifies its function is simple to understand for the user. Scissors are rarely used inefficiently or misunderstood but it's users.

When we go digital, we remove the analogue function of the object. It can no longer have a shape based on that function because the function does not exist in the real world. Now, a certain element of the object will always be part of the real world, the interaction with the object.

And this is where the law comes into play again. If we think about the function of and object, not as a physical movement or action, but as an interface for a human being to perform a function, the interaction itself becomes the function of the object.

Some may argue that the abstract function of the object, e.g. gaming or texting on an iPhone, is the main function of an object. But that function also has an abstract layer of interface, the GUI, for that action. This is form and function for an abstract object or function.

So deconstructed, the law of design transformed for today world would read: Form follows interaction.

Why intelligence doesn't matter

We all need some way to calculate just how good a person is. No matter what that person is doing for us. This is a basic, intuitive process, for humans. Today most people seem to judge themselves and others based on intelligence. This illusive concept that means something like powers of the mind. But because we can be so different as individuals we've started to divide this concept of intelligence into slimmer and slimmer shards, or different kinds of intelligence. There's social intelligence, emotional intelligence, mathematical intelligence and so on and so on...

This seems really strange to me. When intelligence becomes categorized by what we're using it for... isn't that competence? Sure it is.

So what we really need to be looking at is what kinds of competence a person has. But then, some of you might ask "what about what the individuals really know. Like facts and processes and such". Well this is a fair and good question. But maybe just a few years old...

With Google and the always online society, why would we ever need to remember individual facts perfectly? We can just collect them when needed. One of my favorite authors calls this extelligence. Facts, information and knowledge stored in other people.

What we really need, in all situations, is not intelligence. It's the right kind of competence and extelligence.

The big brother state of Sweden (swe)

Från och med den första december 2009 är Sverige en övervakad nation – det är då som FRA får tillgång till en stor del av vår Internet- och mobiltrafik. Detta kommer att få ett antal konsekvenser. De mest påtagliga är att flera grundläggande rättigheter i praktiken kommer att sättas ur spel. En självklarhet som brevhemligheten kommer efter den första december 2009 inte att existera på Internet. Även andra grundlagsskyddade rättigheter som källskyddet är starkt hotat. Många organisationer har skarpt protesterat mot FRA-lagen, däribland Journalistförbundet och Advokatsamfundet. En majoritet av det svenska folket är emot FRAs avlyssning.

Flera juridiska experter uttrycker dessutom stor tveksamhet till om FRA-lagen är förenlig med Europakonventionen, dvs. den europeiska konventionen angående skydd för de mänskliga rättigheterna. Sverige har förbundit sig att följa den konventionen och rimligtvis bör lagen alltså prövas i Europeiska domstolen för de mänskliga rättigheterna. Telia ansvarar idag för en majoritet av den trafik som FRA kommer att vilja avlyssna. Därför uppmanar vi Telia: ta FRA-lagen till domstol.

The Aggregated web

What is the next step for web? Where will we be in 3 to 5 years time? What will the new web look like? Let me share a theory with you. The semantic web is often talked about as the next big shift online. Information marked in smarter ways so things will be infinitely easier to search for. Will the next step for web be the semantic web? Probably not since there is no real technical platform for this. Nothing that has been widely accepted by developers at least. And in web that is really what matters.

No instead we're already seeing the next step in web but only through the corner of our eye.

The next step in web will be the Aggregated web. Yes, that simple. While we are seeing more and more sites that aggregate feeds about the site or news about the common topic on the site these are really only precursors for the aggregated web. As mobile devices improve and more and more services offer APIs we'll see a shift from surfing the web to using services and information in real-time in the real world. A huge leap in integration between the real world and the web. In fact, we're already seeing this trend with the iPhone and stream of Android phones on the market.

Information is simple to find through search today. As more and more services offer open APIs to support different interfaces and devices we'll see a trend for information to become less tied to design also. Eventually most services and information on the web will be data streams with replaceable layers of interfaces.

So finding information about a topic on your cellphone, tv or laptop will be equally simple and fast. But the visual display of that information will probably differ, both in complexity and according to the users taste.

This will eventually spawn the trend for interesting interfaces aggregating the information you're looking for, real-time or otherwise, wherever you are. This is why I think the next step for web is the Aggregated web. Services are already popping up in a wide variety of styles and devices, just look at Twitter. When enough interesting services, and enough interesting information, has migrated to this sort of technology the interfaces on the web today will just not matter.

To finish with a situated example; your pen might feed information regarding grammar as you write while your fridge might aggregate special offers from stores near you. Sound like a poor 1950's vision of the future? Wait, I just got an offer from my local store via Twitter on my iPhone. All these devices really need is upgrade to Android and these examples can be used today.

Welcome to the aggregated web, you heard it here first. ;)

Video service explosion

One of the reasons Hollywood is putting up such a fight against piracy is that Bittorrent has become the main delivery of video content in the world (excepting Youtube which Hollywood does not consider a threat, yet.). But recently things have started happening. iTunes launched it's video store a couple of years ago and while it is only available in the US so far it is delivering a lot of content. Hulu, Voddler and Netflicks are also showing the market another way to make a profit. The list goes on and on as new companies try to change the way the market works.

While I find this to be a great development I'm a bit sad that companies need to out compete the old system just to deliver content in a way that pirates have been doing for over ten years. But I guess change is, as ever, ver hard for Hollywood.

Until one of these services can offer a large amount of content for sensible amounts of money in Europe however, I think I'll stick to my newest find HDMT. A great international streaming service for new movies and TV shows, all in HD.

UX needs a common language

After a short debate with @miakolmodin about the difficulties of building a portfolio when what you do is design interaction we stumbled upon an interesting flaw in the design process. User Experience has no language. Now this might sound a bit redundant but all development needs language to convey principles and models that are often used. Why, for example, are we still trying to convince people that simplicity in interfaces is a good thing? We should have a word for this model of design that literally means "grade of simplicity in the interaction, with overtones of how good it is". Just to speed up the process.

So I figured I'd give it a go shortly. Thanks Mia for a great idea!

Business Card Design - minimalist color fetish

Another business card design, this one with a slightly less hidden fetish for the mint/new spring green that I really like. For some reason this color represents the color of sunshine and happiness for me. Has something to do with new leaves on birch trees in spring but that's as far back as I care to identify the emotional response.

 

busCard2

 

 

The card had, besides the clear fetish for green, a slogan about design that I regularly use as a mantra and a short pitch about why I can help improve your product. Not the most convincing one I've written but still alright. The typography of the pitch is a bit dodgy as the wording wouldn't let me balance the characters by reshaping the sentences. Might return to this one.

Business Card Design - minimalist typography

I realized last weekend that I'm missing a proper business card. Time to design one. And since I'm at home, sick but not dying, I took the time to do a couple of sketches.

 

busCard1

 

 

This card is based on the very popular typographic design posters you'll find floating around the web. Complete with a more minimalist front with the logo from my current WP theme design (not launched, still sketching and tweaking)

Creating a minimalist WP theme

These are just sketches for my WP theme. Just getting ideas out to test them visually. Experimenting with design is really an awesome process and I wish we had the tools to do the same with interaction without involving a group of developers and spending a lot of money. JesperBylund.com design

 

Experimented a lot with gradients and feedback as if the objects had a real world existence.

Worked pretty well but not at all to the degree I was looking for. Getting users to experience fake tactile experience through Gestalt Closure is really hard without sound.

 

 

JesperBylund.com design

 

Here I tried relying more on the grid to make the site look structured and clean. But I bailed out in the last minute and added a few details outside the grid that didn't work at all.

 

 

 

JesperBylund.com design

 

Here I was just trying to present a lifestream that could work as a living resume of my entire life. Before long I realized that what I really was designing was an XML feed. Not at all what I had set out to do.

 

 

 

JesperBylund.com design

 

Testing out the idea of a virtual business card. But it started feeling cheap really early. The point of a business card is to be able to hand it around. A website doesn't have the same appeal for the function. If I wanted you to find out exactly who I am I'd probably hand you my resume, not my site.

 

 

JesperBylund.com design

 

This was one of the most interesting models I tried. Another fake spatial space website but with equal amounts of information about me and information that I wanted visitors to see. Worked pretty well but ended up a bit cramped. Not far from my current direction though.

Real time search - the problem

Both Google and Microsoft's new search service Bing has partnered with Twitter to provide real-time search results for queries. This is great news for finding valuable information but it also creates new problems to overcome; filtering out the irrelevant data. Search today is based on relevance through counting the number of links to and from a site. This relevance also weights the linked sites. This is the basic idea behind Google's PageRank system. But its fundamentally flawed, namely the older the site the more information and weight it can get. Google has of course tried to minimize this affect but it's still visible when searching for certain topics.  Google "next apple event" for an example. The search result is completely useless.

Twitter however has the opposite problem. Without a system like PageRank to value the posts a lot of relevance comes from time. The latest posts are the most relevant. But this also means that topics that aren't current might not yield any relevant information available. So the time problem is reversed from Google's PageRank time problem.

So how will we solve this? Well, I don't have a definitive answer of course. But I've more and more come to believe in crowd sourcing as a means to get accurate data. Perhaps relevance can be calculated not from the content itself but from how we interact with it. If users can be filtered out from bots (usage patterns for bots are really hard to mask over time since the cloud could potentially remember ever mouse move they make) relevance could be weighted from number of users who actually read or view the content.

No doubt Google has teams working on this. And no doubt they will eventually buy some small startup doing it a lot smarter than they are. It's an interesting problem nevertheless.

Tools are not your trade

We all showcase skills we have by listing the tools we're proficient using. Usually on our CV or talking with friends and business contacts we say things like "I use X to do Y" or similar. I just realized that this is somewhat strange, for any task a tool might be more or less important. In some extreme cases the tool is the task and knowing how to use it is essential for the job. But for knowledge workers, when is Photoshop really a critical skill? Graphic design is the real skill, with the addition of experience using software designed specifically for the task. Would a switch to painter really make all that skill obsolete?

This is most striking for programmers. If you know how to code a web app using an object based language, which language tends to be irrelevant. Sure, knowing the language a company uses beforehand is an advantage. But certainly not crucial, anyone new to a workplace has to learn the specifics of that job anyway.

Strange news about Happiness

What is happiness to you? To me I've always defined it as reaching my goals, whatever they may be. Turns out I'm wrong. Dead wrong apparently.  As Dan Gilbert explains in the video below happiness is comprised of a lot of synthetic happiness. And as Luis C.K. displays in the next video our many many choices leave us stranded in a place of chasing happiness that is really all around us. What we need to do is really enforce more restrictions on our own lives.

For games and products, this translates into restricting what they can do. Think about how strange that is, restricting what players / users can do will actually make the product more fun and usable. Not because it is, but because the choices will make that happiness more available.

[ted id=97]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8r1CZTLk-Gk]

The Prestige Problem

Prestige is usually a problem in organizations and development alike. People with too much prestige become complacent some of the time and obstacles for the organization, most often this happens not on purpose but because of the real prestige the individual has earned over years of work.

Because of this problem many companies and developers strive for prestigeless workspaces. They ask for prestigeless applicants and so forth. But this attitude lacks a basic understanding of prestige.

Prestige is a cultural gauge which we use to measure ourselves with. If you as an individual do good things and make good things happen you usually acquire prestige from your surrounding social circle (whether privately or professionally). But if you perform poorly or bring about negative effects you usually lose prestige.

While this system is far from perfect (a single mistake might wipe you out) and for form fair (seeming to deliver gives as much prestige as actually delivering, presuming you can keep the facade up) it is still a social system all organizations should be aware of. No one can be completely free from prestige. And they should not either.

Prestige is usually the most direct form of reward individuals can see as a result of their work.

But we also need to be really wary of prestige, it can lead to horrible evils in any organization. Perhaps it might help if we start thinking about prestige as something less durable. What do you think?

Agile development another new oldie

It struck me about a week ago. Agile project development, which is a somewhat new fad in software development, is not really that new. Now most of you are probably shaking your heads thinking Of course it isn't, we've been using it for ten or more years. That might be true but I'm talking seriously old here.

Compare agile development, where features are implemented in short both to enable developers to work instead of plan and at the same time not commit the entire project down one road if something changes during development. With Kaizen, where each working (or even living) person takes time to be just one step better, just one step more efficient, each day.

Now I know, the parallel is a bit stretched, But it's not really that far fetched is it? We're all simply trying to improve our projects just one step (feature?) at a time.Perhaps we can learn even more from Kaizen and shorten our sprints even further.