I call it iBitch

So i created a new expression/category/tag for my virtual life… i call it iBitch. So from now on end, anything i find that rants, critiques or talks about Apple products, i will put under that category… no matter if positive or negative, because in the world of blogging, noone’s really right or wrong, its about whether anyone hears you to begin with : )

iphone redefining the urban experience?

One thing that I think has been grossly overlooked about the iphone is that on top of imposing lots of the usual Apple kingdom restrictions like DRM and a specific provider, it only offered a 2 mega pixel camera. Anything sound weird in that?

All of the top notch handset providers have been recently competing on how high res their cameras are. I’m assuming because they correctly assumed that their users were more often taking great pictures, sending each other the┬álist of cover bands at the concert they are at, etc.

We have come to embrace amateur photography and are offered great tools that we can operate easily and get great quality pictures from. So why this lame camera on the phone thats supposed to redefine the way the cell phone industry functions? Does this indeed show a user-centered design? Is it a coincidence that Steve, in his keynote talks over and over again about “those great digital cameras”… hellooooooo noone is interested in carrying one around anymore! This is why that particular convergence has been so successful in terms of usage.

Don’t get me wrong, i like the iphone, i think it looks cool, and never having owned an ipod and having one of the oldest phones around i can say this is an appealing product… but i think the question still poses itself, would i rather be able to take great pictures on the go or listen to Alanis Morissette ?

Trop c'est comme pas assez…


Originally uploaded by alexandra666.

Is a very “quebecer” expression that means that too much is like too little. This is a concept that truly and most definitely applies to communication in large corporations. Having spent the past month in what i will brand as one of the world’s “major communications company” it actually amazed me to witness people’s use of communication channels.

Firstly you’d be lucky if anyone answered their phones, most people would rather let it ring and at some point listen to all their voicemail messages, than deal with information straight away. Oh sure they would phone you back at some point, but its interesting to to see phone technologies being used as a sort of log more than anything.

Then there’s the question of meetings, because you’d be able to see people’s agendas, other people can book and therefore flood your time for you. A result of this is that people will book themselves “fake” meetings to make sure they actually have time to do actual work and not spend all their times in meetings. Meeting rooms were always booked which begged the questions why are people meeting in the first place? Might this be related to the open-space office model? Before, you had your own office space with a door, you could have a quick chat with someone about something that didn’t need more than a few minutes, or you could shut your door and blinds if you were having an affair with your secretary, i mean, working ; )

So what does this say about people and communications technology…i think the lesson here is that people will always find a way around technology, a way to get their way, control it and shape it to fit their attention span or ability to deal with information. I think there is therefore a real need for working structures that cater to that, instead of evading them, shouldn’t we enjoy and positively use the communication channels we are given?

In the meantime, i’ll just watch the office people around me having informal meetings at the Starbucks where i’m picking up wifi.

Feeling left out


Originally uploaded by mbiddulph.

Matt is in San francisco at Foo Camp (Friends of O’Reilly) an awesome sounding invite-only web geek conference (or unconference where participants make up the conference by signing up to give talks and people camp out or in this case sleep on office floors) and I can’t help but feeling somewhat left out. As an interaction and industrial designer, where the hell do I get my networking done? Where do I get to mingle with like-minded people in a formal/informal setting? Where do I get to hang out with my peers who understand what i do and get stimulated by great work being presented, cold drinks and inside-jokes?

CHI ? Pff, too many events, not homy enough and too technical and structured and bloody expensive at that. Doors of Perception? Well i’d need to get shots for malaryia… and very theme-based again. SIGGRAPH? Well I’d feel not geeky enough and i didn’t go to MIT : P

Then there’s the “festivals” of the industry where it really gets boring. There’s SIDIM for a nice display of bathroon appliances and plastic swatches, then the London Design Festival which is great but always feels like i have to take a week away from my life to see everything and it’s more of an urban activity anyway…. same for the Salone del Mobile in Milan, where you could find really interesting things or get stuck looking at chairs all day if you’re not savvy enough or new to the scene.

Ok so what would i like to see happen? Well… i’d love to see people in an old abandoned warehouse or something, gather up their cool projects, their work, their work in progress products, interactions, etc… and then hang out and talk about it. Designers, especially industrial, don’t get the opportunity to talk about their work very often, what influences them, what they like, what they don’t… we’re all whiny and critical but at the end of the day, its about the result, a lot gets diluted by production and client restrictions. Maybe it would be cool to have the “left-overs of projects”, ie. cool stuff that doesn’t get made but illustrate that person’s thinking. To have a kind of informal structure that’s not based around exchanging business cards between talks (if you happen to be able to approach the speaker and beat the swarms of suck ups away) would be beneficial… more like creating discussions and new opportunities for new thinking through critiquing, chatting, even working on projects right there and then. Kinda like a workshop but less directed and more people around. Multi-disciplinary is also key to an vibrant mix of people…

So is there anything out there that caters to these thoughts? I haven’t seen anything… maybe i should just put my money where my mouth is… maybe i’ll just keep making 10 hour long brunches with people and put up the menu list of who attended after… there’s nothing more un-conferency than a brunch after all : )

Odd mappings

I really enjoy seeing projects that make a clever use of the natural ways in which people are used to products or their natural affordances.

This is definitely not one of these projects: the iBrella embeds iPod controls in the handle of an umbrella, making a person think about their music in such an impractical way. It’s raining outside, the very last thing i want is to think about water on a cable plugged into an iPod that is exposed to water first of all. Secondly, wildly shaking your umbrella in the air, somehow seems much less appealing an interaction than switching a button on, when wanting a random song to play. “- Are you ok sir? you’re shaking wildly! anything wrong? – Oh no it’s just my iPod…” ugh

Simple is difficult, yes i know, we can’t all be expected to come up with lovely, clever products, but we sure as hell should try!

New project!

I really should stop and smell the roses once in a while, but i can never tear myself from work that easily. So this weekend, i created a new blog!!!

Go and check it out, its called Compete and i’ll be posting up anything and everything relating to design competitions from around the world. Any comments and feedback about it would be super welcome of course!

Anyone want help me out and become a contributor? Email me!