Monday, December 1, 2008

Changing the ecosystem

More on the topic of integrating web 2.0/social media/cloud construct into legacy usages (here the author refers to enterprise apps while I think of 20+year old desktop design apps):

All of this emergent stuff like open source, remote services, cloud computing, and etc. that happened on the web, hasn't happened just for the web. It was mostly catalyzed there, but it's impacting the enterprise too by changing those enterprise IT boundary conditions and the eco-system that the enterprise lives in. - Jim Stogdill

Love that statement: “changing the ecosystem that the enterprise lives in”. I can’t help but believe that’s what we’re seeing – people, by changing how they apply technology to their personal lives change how they will expect to use professional software. The community changes the ecosystem, which is how it should be. The software shouldn’t dictate the community – in fact it can’t.

Complete article here:

Collaboration vs privacy

I've been interested leveraging social media in desktop design applications for a while now. Designers of all kinds spend more and more time collaborating with teams located in different offices and different time zones but it’s more than that. As can be seen with the introduction of Agile, more and more people know that work gets done better and faster when collaboration is built into the process.

One thing I that concerns me about using social media in corporate-funded design processes was privacy: would a company be willing to put proprietary data on the cloud to increase efficiency?

It looks like people – at least some students at MIT – are willing to trade privacy for an increase in collaboration. Is it fair to assume that companies will eventually move that direction as well?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Women in the tech industry

The findings in this study shouldn't surprise me -- after all I work in technology and have done so for over 10 years -- but it still did. It surprised me because I realized that I'm not alone.

Here's the complete report:

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My new favorite thing

The first time I used it I was skeptical.  Since I only signed up because I wanted to checkout their AIR app I really couldn’t do much with it – no I knew was using it – so I went onto other things.  This was March, 2008.

I went back last month.  Why was that?  I can’t remember why.  Somehow I found some people I knew there – not friends from high school (unlike the Facebook experience) but some highly respected colleagues from a previous company.  I enjoyed their tweets.  They were intimate but also public.  I felt as though I was getting updates of a more personal kind but not just about leaving work and picking up animals from the vet or eating lunch.  Work related subjects came up, along with links pointing me to new information.  And even better I was able to find other people and, without having to read a huge profile (like LinkedIn, like Facebook) I could decide if that person was observing things I found interesting.

The first few weeks I found myself circling certain networks – HCM software professionals, Obama supporters, designers, Itsy sellers.  I began to notice trends in things people were posting.  What could be better than news events (in a very news-worthy period) interlaced with suggestions for music, statements about the commute and links to Flixr albums? 

I don't have to change hats to use Twitter.  My multi-layer interests can all be supported, at once, in one place. 

Love it. 

Eventually I'll want to do something with Twitter, integrate it into something, use the data for something, but for now I’m just enjoying it.  Haven’t had that experience with a piece of software since Genius came out. Ha!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Not all habits are bad ones...

Yesterday I suggested some ideas on getting out of the inevitable designer rut.

 Somewhat on topic, here is a great discussion on the habits of effective designers:

 (No surprise to see perfectionism listed in there.  I've shied away from social media for a long time because of that one...  No control for the control freak!) 

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Getting back to innovative

In the 10 years I’ve been a designer I’ve spent a lot of time trying to keep my design quality and interest levels high. I’ve also had the opportunity to work with some excellent designers – designers working on start-up products in new technologies and designers pushing established products to the next level. One thing I've noticed is that no matter how excellent a designer is everyone has some times when the interest lags. Everyone has some times when the quality just doesn’t seem as high. When that happens how can a designer get excited, creative, and innovative again?

Here a few ideas I’ve seen work:

  • Create some designs for something you know little (or nothing) about
    This is a different take on “get out of your comfort zone”. Work exclusively on PCs? Try designing for the Mac. Work mainly on web-based applications? Try a desktop application. Create designs for a narrow demographic? Change those designs to target another audience. Getting away from your expert areas might set you up for a failure (at least the first time around) but it will give a new perspective and open some new creative pathways. Who knows – this may be your big eureka moment.

  • Work in a different department for a while
    Have no business sense? Maybe it’s time to face that fear. Ask for a 6 month stint in the sales department or a chance to work with the business development team. It may seem like a crazy idea to you and your manager (let alone the sales team) but getting out of your normal routine and trying to meet a different set of objectives improves your product vantage point. Leadership in design, as in other areas of the organization, has far more impact when the leader has hands-on knowledge outside of the design department.

  • Present a bad design
    Can’t work on a new project? Can’t try a new job role? Try opening creating new pathways and facing some fears by presenting a bad design. Design something you know isn’t up to par. Identify an appropriate audience and present it, thinking of yourself as a teacher testing a design class. As your audience starts pointing out what’s wrong congratulate them. Encourage them. Your teammates might think you’ve gone a little crazy but you’ve gotten yourself out of an innovation-killing mindset: defensiveness. The next time you present a design (hopefully a better one) if you can keep that same mentality you’ll start seeing some innovative collaboration begin.

This is list is pretty short -- send me what works for you.