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The Google Car Will Be the Biggest Mashup Ever

Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

If Google can create a car that chauffeurs you around safely, then I think it’s safe to assume that they will tap into Google Maps—along with their traffic stats—to optimize your drive.

BUT IT GETS BETTER!

What if Google could then get all local, state and federal governments to create and provide access to traffic light systems?

Isn’t it conceivable that Google could totally optimize the world’s driving, reducing congestion, saving gas, time, wear and tear on cars???

They’re applying the Google Optimizer philosophy to driving.

I’m in!

Actually, I walk to work, but would welcome a world with fewer cars, creating less gas, fewer accidents, and people in cars less.

 

Marketers Paint the Future

Epiphany:

Marketers are in the business of painting the future in such a way that using their company’s products look like common sense.

Now, if you’re peddling crapola for a company you don’t believe in then this is sheer torture—but if you’re fortunate enough to be inspired by the benefits your company’s services or products provide, then it’s creative, inspiring and lots of fun.

And if you’re Apple, then I guess you make products that change the future!

 

Someone Splice Skype’s DNA With Visual Thesaurus For The Ultimate IM UX

Someone Splice Skype’s DNA With Visual Thesaurus For The Ultimate IM UX

So IM was a great tool.

It no longer is.

Why? Primarily because we’ve all adapted to the concept of asynchronous communication, and we’re ready–we expect!– for a better, easier, more intuitive, more effective tool. What do I mean?

The problem:  The Skype UX lays out communication in linear fashion–even though human conversation isn’t! Here’s a little illustration to remind you:

Tell me you haven’t had this IM experience: your typing fast on the initial thread and then someone veers off–so you follow. Then someone comes back to the initial thread before you’ve even finished typing a response to their tangent. Then you press ‘Enter’ on the tangent thread and the IM UX shows the response next to a non-corresponding line. Now your work has exponentially increased. Add another thread and you’re focused entirely on the screen above–double checking previous IMs to ensure your on target. At this point the UI is not making it easier–it’s making it harder. Fail.

The solution

Now, imagine this: a branching IM a la Visual Thesaurus.

What if each comment or line had an imaginary box around it–and that box could be dragged around and anchored anywhere on a screen; and from each node could grow a conversation?

I would pay for that that!

 

 

Groupon’s Mojo: Simplicity

I don’t generally use coupons, but I think Groupon is brilliant in its simplicity.  When you arrive at the site, there’s really only one question.

Here’s a great quote from Andrew Mason, founder of Groupon (from ChicagoMag.com):

The premise is “dead-simple value that you can comprehend by looking at one page in three seconds,” says Mason.

In the age of TMI (too much information), this concept will make or break a business.

 

Is Google Making Product Documentation Obsolete?

Ok, I’m still amazed at the value Google provides, AND how it makes lots of companies (their documentation) look silly.

Case in point: I was trying to figure out how to prevent Adobe from automatically opening pdfs after I create them. I started (of course) by going to Acrobat (Pro in this case) and looking around its menus.

You know, Preferences?  Nothing.

Then I tried Google. I searched: “how to prevent Adobe acrobat from opening newly created pdfs”

The first result had my answer. It was Tek Tips. Never heard of it before–basically a poorly designed forum for tech Q & A.

But low and behold there was my answer. In less than a minute.

Note: Adobe wasn’t even on page one.

To be fair, I went back and used Adobe’s help files. I entered my search and hit enter. Nothing happened. Nothing. Fail.

Natural Language Search–Give It A Try

I’m not exactly sure why, but I’ve been testing Google: I’m using natural search language. I think the results are as good–if not better.

Instead of googling ‘outlook restore pst file’ I’ll use ‘how do i restore a pst file in outlook’.

Is anybody else doing this?

It’s so much easier from a user’s perspective–um, my perspective.

Here’s why I might be doing this?

  • Google is all about good UX (user experience)–so I’d expect them to be thinking about…
  • Crafting a human language question probably gets users (searchers) closer to their intended target–versus a user trying to distill their thoughts into ‘keywords’. Think of it this way: Simply tell Google what you want.
  • I’ve seen savvy bloggers creating titles like this.
  • Perhaps it’s Vlingo! An awesome voice to text iPhone app.
  • I’ve been experimenting with writing content right into email subject lines.

Really, it’s about getting to the point. And fast.

Kitchen Knives Need to Be Sharp–Otherwise, What’s the Point?

If everything is a metaphor then look no further than your kitchen for some good ones.

I was slicing some veggies the other night and noticed my slice was off. My cuts weren’t smooth. Pieces ended up being different sizes–I had no mojo. So I took a break and tuned my knife up with a few pulls through the sharpener. Nice. Now my job was easier. My work was higher quality. My job satisfaction got a bump too. I turned from amateur to a chef with mad skillz.

So here’s the metaphor: your kitchen is your life.

Do you keep your tools sharp so your work is rad–and not a struggle? In other words, to get to the ‘Pièce de résistance’ and not the ‘piece of s$%t’ you’ve got to get past the basics–and stay past the basics.

Folks, if you want to create works of beauty keep your tools in tip top shape–otherwise, you’ll end up cutting your finger tip off.

Michael Jordan never went out on the court without tying his shoes really well (I’d bet pro athletes are obsessive over that stuff)…

I’m Kicking An Old Habit: Microsoft Word

Here’s some naked lunch I woke up to this morning: Microsoft Word is dead.

I’m just done with it. Cold Turkey.

Here’s why: it’s a tool for printing stuff.

I’ve been using Word since I was in, like,  middle school–and it was always in preparation for printing.

It sounds like an epiphany–but it’s really been a long train coming.

I think the first thing that happened was that I checked out Google Docs–which doesn’t have a lot of fancy formatting tools. But it made me think: what formatting tools do I really need?

The next thing that happened is that I switched my Word ‘View’ from ‘Print layout’ to ‘Web layout’–which allowed my content to fill  my entire screen. Really, why would you want to reproduce the constraints of paper on a screen? This was the ‘ahah’ moment.

Here’s the nugget of truth I’ve been working on:  we need tools to enhance our thinking–not to structure the output of our thoughts; otherwise, the tail starts wagging the dog. The focus should be on synergy, interrelatedness and sharing. The goal is enhancing thoughts (like shoes enhance walking!).

I want a tool that lets me cut, paste, share, email, tweet, blog, label, hide/unhide, connect, disconnect, save–whatever.

The last thing I need to worry about is getting my indent perfectly at 1 1/4 inches (who hasn’t lost a day in their life trying to get Word to obey!).

Let’s agree to move away from tools that constrain (not even a tool then, right?) to tools that liberate and accelerate.

Right now I’m using Evernote–not perfect, but totally digging the shackle free experience. No tabs. Just content.

Gmail vs. Outlook: Are They Even The Same Species?

So I’m forced to use Outlook during the day–but in my free time I use Gmail.

I proclaim: they are not even the same species.

Fundamentally, it’s about flexibility and rigidity. It’s about the way humans use things and the way Microsoft robots think humans use things.

Case in point: folders.

Microsoft: since when does an email only pertain to one subject (and have to reside in one folder)?

Gmail’s labels are intuitive, and they map pretty well to real life (and the way the brain works too): our mental organizational structures are not like Windows Explorer–they’re more like a web of relationships. It’s pretty clear that the more our tools resemble our mental infrastructure the more efficient we’ll be (or I should say: the easier things will be to do). Tools should make things easier for us to do–they shouldn’t be things that create mental work).

And don’t get me started on searching my inbox in Outlook (I use Google desktop search!).

The Subject Is The Message, Says Me and Jack Dorsey

My friend lambasted me for sending him an email where I only used the subject line. There was no message in the body.

I actually recall thinking: this is unconventional, but more efficient. I’m gonna try it though!

Said friend compared me to his mom! Somehow, taking this utilitarian approach is old school or unsophisticated.

I’ve been doing it at work too. Why not! It’s certainly the most read part of your message, right?

Well, me and Jack Dorsey are on the same page. From the Huff Post: Twitter Co-Founder Jack Dorsey On The Power Of Tweets:

“Dorsey also told Rose that he uses text messaging “a lot more” than email. Email, Dorsey explained, “[is] not great for communication because it’s not focused on the most important thing. The subject is the message, and that’s the message. The subject is in the message in the IM. It’s bringing the content to you right away.”