Enter your Email

    Powered by FeedBlitz

  • Subscribe with Bloglines
  • Subscribe with other RSS readers
  • Add this blog to my Technorati Favorites!

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 License.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Rhodendron Blooming

gradweek_60530 019
Originally uploaded by shersteve.

The rhodendron grows patiently during the year and then seemingly all of a sudden it blooms to shares its color with us humans. It provides a nesting place for birds and necter for the bees. All this from a single plant.

When it blooms, it may catch your attention enough to stop and look.

Managers, are there employees in your group like the rhodendron?

Is there something you can stop and notice to help the employee bloom?

Monday, May 29, 2006

2nd time around

Car decoration 2
Originally uploaded by shersteve.

This little guy got mounted on the car for Allison's graduation in 2004. He has held up pretty well and has been enlisted for duty again to help celebrate Carolyn's big week which has multiple events leading to the ceremony on Friday followed by the "all night party".

I also have my 30th college class reunion coming up on Saturday. (Assumption College, Class of 1976)

So round about, this might be a light blogging week. :-)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Metrowest Symphony updates their website

The Metrowest Symphony has been working on their website. After an email exchange with the President and their webmaster recently, I dropped by today and found some changes.
Check it out!
This is a hidden gem for the Metrowest area. If you live in Franklin, Milford, Medway, Hopkinton, Westboro, Millis, Southboro, Marlboro or any of the other neighboring towns, you should look into attending a concert. This is great classical music at a very reasonable price.
Powered By Qumana

Monday, May 22, 2006

GEL 2006 - Rick Smolen

Rick Smolen was the last speaker of the day, the first speaker to repeat at consecutive GEL conferences, and went too quickly through a bunch of slides telling the story of a young girl in Korea whom he had found that had been orphaned by an American soldier; how she was eventually adopted by one of Rick's friends (I think). The story will be the subject of a forthcoming book and should be worth reading. The pictures alone will be worth it, never mind the heart rending and ultimately heart warming story.
Technorati Tags : , ,
Powered By Qumana

GEL2006 - Charlie Todd

Charlie Todd, the Urban Prankster, spoke briefly about his U2 mission which actually took place just after last year's GEL Conference.
U2 announced the dates of their “Vertigo” world tour. I contemplated trying to purchase tickets for the May 21 gig at Madison Square Garden. I was a big U2 fan growing up, and MSG is right across the street from my apartment. I ultimately decided it wasn’t worth the steep ticket price. The tickets to the event sold out literally in seconds. As I was thinking about the show, a few things occurred to me:

- U2 is playing right across the street from where I live.
- I have rooftop access at my four-story apartment building.
- U2 is famous for playing on rooftops.

It seemed obvious that “U2” would have to play an unannounced gig on my rooftop an hour before the doors opened at the Garden.
Check out the link for all the details. It is hilarious.
Powered By Qumana

GEL 2006 - Andrew Rasiej

Andrew Raisej ran for public office in NYC as a "Public Advocate" attempting to get WiFi installed in public spaces. He acknowledged as one of his failure points (he did not win) was that he was running for an office that people did not recognize (was there a public advocate?) nor was he advocating a cause people understood (what is WiFi anyway?). He added to his failure by refusing to accept donations over $100. So the very folks who could have helped him (with money) were the ones he excluded from funding him. Needless to say there may be a good discussion on who didn't get it. Nevertheless, he has learned from the experience. Which is a very important thing to do!
He founded the Personal Democracy Forum. The PDF Manifesto (replicated here) is

Democracy in America is changing.

A new force, rooted in new tools and practices built on and around the Internet, is rising alongside the old system of capital-intensive broadcast politics.

Today, for almost no money, anyone can be a reporter, a community organizer, an ad-maker, a publisher, a money-raiser, or a leader.

If what they have to say is compelling, it will spread.

The cost of finding like-minded souls, banding together, and speaking to the powerful has dropped to almost zero.

Networked voices are reviving the civic conversation.

More people, everyday, are discovering this new power. After years of being treated like passive subjects of marketing and manipulation, they want to be heard.

Members expect a say in the decision-making process of the organizations they join. Readers want to talk back to the news-makers. Citizens are insisting on more openness and transparency from government.

All the old institutions and players-big money, top-down parties, big-foot journalism, cloistered organizations-must adapt or face losing status and power.

Personal Democracy, where everyone is a full participant, is coming.

The Personal Democracy Forum is your place to meet the people who are making that change happen, discover the tools powering the new civic conversation, spot the early trends, and share in understanding and embracing this dynamic new force.

Powered By Qumana

GEL2006 - Jason Fried

Jason Fried, the founder of 37Signals spoke about doing less with less. To align with the customers, doing more doesn't work. Do less. He discussed five ways to do less:
  1. less money
  2. less people
  3. less time
  4. less distractions (dive into work)
  5. less software
Good insights. Good thoughts. Clearly his process is working.
Technorati Tags : , ,
Powered By Qumana

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Year in Review

Yes, it has been a year since I started this blog. 257 posts later, 365 days later, a year older, wiser, ready for a new day, a new year.
I had just about decided to change the focus here. This was attracting less traffic than my other writing. Then GEL2006 comes along, a chance to reflect, and coincidently, a boost in traffic (thanks, Mark!)
I will proceed with my new blog idea (announcement forthcoming) but instead of rolling this one aside, I will keep this one going. I think they can co-exist without too much trouble.
Once the announcement comes out, you'll be able to weigh in with a vote one way or the other.
Apologies for being so cryptic, all will explained soon.
In the meantime, I need to finish my GEL 2006 summary.
In the meantime, here are some key posts from the archives:
Technorati Tags : , ,
Powered By Qumana

Friday, May 19, 2006

GEL 2006 - Linda Stone

Linda Stone, formerly of Apple and more recently of Microsoft has been on the circuit recently talking about continuous partial attention.

What is continuous partial attention (CPA)?

Linda defines it as
CPA is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, CPA has evolved from our savannah-evolved ancestors' need to constantly scan the horizon for prey and predators, even while we were weaving baskets or grooming each other in the shade of an acacia tree. It is a behavior that is deeply wired into our brains, one of the most basic of human psychological repertoires. On the other hand, CPA drains our attentiveness away from the task at hand, and thereby degrading our performance and involvement...
It is not multi-tasking. Multi-tasking can be efficient. CPA is simply continuing to pay attention to everything as you are afraid you will miss something.

From time to time, I have found myself suffering from CPA. When I do break away and focus on one thing, I tend to get more productive. Duh! The CPA keeps diverting attention to this thing, to this thing, and what I started out to do does not get done.

Networks do what computers to well but not what people do well, that is have a real connection.

Nature has cycles. Humans do although we tend not to acknowledge them as much as we should.

She worked on a program with British Petroleum to help reduce email volume. "Think before you send" was the catch line. Could you accomplish what was in the email in another way? Many elected to make the phone call or walk the hall instead of sending the email.

We need to shift from connect/connect/connect to protect/filter/meaningful belonging. The shift from a focus on "ease of use" to "improve the quality of life". This has enough of a motherhood and apple pie spell to it, it should catch some attention. Does it have enough substance to give it legs? Time will tell.

For more info on CPA, you can certainly google to find something. I would also recommend Stowe Boyd, writing at /Message, who has written a couple of times on CPA including an interview with Linda.

Technorati Tags : , , ,

Thursday, May 18, 2006

GEL 2006 - Dan Dubno

Dan Dubno had a real interesting presentation last year at GEL 2005 where he used photos to take us inside a 3-D tour of the Vatican. This year (sorry Dan!), the presentation was the least successful of the day. Dan and a couple of his friends played show and tell with USB devices in their knapsacks. Some were cute, some were strange. I did not keep track as it was fast paced. I was pleased that it was fast paced because the one-upmanship got old quickly.
Bottom line, if you can think of a cool or strange device, there just might be a USB version of it already!
But if you say, 'What is USB?' then this was not time well spent.
Technorati Tags : , ,
Powered By Qumana

GEL 2006 - Geoffrey Canada

Geoffrey Canada made quite an impression on the GEL 2006 audience. His presentation received a standing ovation, the only one of the day as I recall.
Geoffrey is Director for the Harlem Children's Zone . His program is attempting to rescue the children of Harlem. He presented a variety of statistics to state the case (easily understood) that blacks (especially males) entering school are starting out behind and unless the school system does something special, they will stay behind during their time in the system. He wants to do two things; one to help catch them up, and two, provide some support for outside school so that the local environment does not draw the children back into that world.
As a former teacher, his approach is right on the mark. What you do in the schools is only as good is what is encouraged outside the schools. You can have a good student in the classroom, but when they return to a broken home environment, they will not remain good for long. The societal pressure is too strong. Geoffrey is attempting to address this by creating a safe zone building by building, block by block, around the school. They need to take back the neighborhood one step at a time.
They are making good progress. They are three years into their five year plan. The word is starting to get out. The fund raising is gaining some dollars. These efforts will enable the program to be successful.
Check out their web site for additional information on this program.
Technorati Tags : , ,
Powered By Qumana

GEL 2006 - Dennis Diflorio

Dennis Diflorio represents Commerce Bank , which for those based in the NY Metropolitan area, perhaps provided a real alternative to their current bank. For those outside the market reach of Commerce, it was a good tease. Yes, they are doing some wonderful things. Hopefully, the competition will embrace these changes. (Although in one of the sessions, I do recall hearing that the competition picks up the mistakes and replicates those; the competition does not pick up the good stuff.)
Dennis "gets it". Creating customers is easy. Maintaining and sustaining the relationship he recognizes is the hard part. It really is all about service. Good service will keep them coming back. Bad service will enable them to leave at the first opportunity. He acknowledges that the funny thing about culture is that a business can not acquire it. It needs to build it from scratch. He believes that you need to provide focus and a sense of meaning to each of the bank personnel in order to succeed. He also believes that you need to bring your sense of humor to work.
Clearly, Dennis "gets it". It was good to hear that a good experience can be found in something as old and stodgy as the bank. Let's hope it spreads.
Technorati Tags : , ,
Powered By Qumana

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

GEL 2006 - More than half way

GEL 2006 was held almost two weeks ago and I am still not finished writing up each of the sessions. Yes, there are multiple factors to this effort (work, family, spare time) but bottom line there were 20 speakers during the one day session. Each of them condensed the importance of their life's work into the 5, 10 or 15 minutes that they were allotted. They were effective in their presentations. They created some buzz that day. They may have even had multiple conversations during the next break or during the closing cocktail party. Most of the conversations where likely short, some of them may be continuing via email or phone, etc. I want to do them some justice in capturing what they did in their presentation. They had time to prepare. I will be using some time to recap.
And the question rises: where was the good experience?
For the presenter : the audience and the instant feedback from the presentation.
For the audience : certainly part of it was in the live presentation. Part of it was in the 'after conversation'. Part of it will be for whatever thoughts or actions come from reflecting on the presentation, etc.
Maybe a different question should be asked: What should be the good experience? What should be coming out of these sessions?
Is it enough to view the presentation?
Is it necessary to do some thinking about how they did what they did?
Should we ask how what they did could be used elsewhere?
If we do not, will we find the hidden potential?
Sorry, no answers yet.
Just questions now.
And more food for thought as I pause about midway through the recaps.
Technorati Tags : , ,
Powered By Qumana

GEL 2006 - Ji Lee

Ji Lee is the creator of The Bubble Project . He told the story of how it came to be. Frustration with corporate marketing lead him to leave and go out on his own. He made the bubbles. Posted them. Returned to take pictures of what was written in them. Now the web site has a template to down load the bubble. He has a blog with a bubble a day using a picture from the news, visitors can add a new caption or provide the inside scope on what the person is really saying.
What does the bubble really do ?
It changes the corporate monologue into a public dialog. The mono part being the corporate campaign in its words on its terms to promote something. The bubbles allow for the mono message to become a dialog. Someone fills in the blanks. Someone else comes along and observes the message (recognizes probably what the original was meant to be) and then with the bubble and new twist has an opportunity to experience the message in a new way. And talk about it. The viral aspect of this is interesting.
He cautions that defacing the advertisements in public is against the law. So if you do it, don't get caught.
Technorati Tags : , ,
Powered By Qumana

GEL 2006 - Erin McKean

Erin is a lexicographer and quite a witty one at that. She works as the Editor-in-chief, The New Oxford American Dictionary; editor, Verbatim magazine .
She said that English is a democracy. Every use of a word is a vote for that word. Word usage needs to be tracked in the "running" context. A lot of the early tracking was simply the word in the sentence or paragraph clipped directly from the newspaper or magazine or book and attached to an index card. In many cases, the source was not identified. The corpus is their database. A whole lot of data. A whole lot of words in their context.
She gave some examples of words and their usage by the numbers and how some of it does not make sense.
She writes on a blog, Dress A Day , which has nothing to do with her work on the dictionary.
Technorati Tags : , ,
Powered By Qumana

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

GEL 2006 - Cathy Salit

Cathy has lead the improv workshop on the Thursday afternoon sessions for this and prior GEL conferences and this was her first time speaking to the full conference. It was well worth while.
She started off by getting everyone to stand up and start moving very slowly. The series of exercises was very interesting. Slow motion is interesting to try and do. The point being that change is closer than we think. We move so quickly about life, we don't stop to realize how little it does take to make a change.
Her second point is that we have access to this ability to change ourselves all the time. All we need to do is to stop and focus on slowing down.
Her improv exercises tap into a need in humans that is crying out for the opportunity to play. I buy into this very easily. I like to play and look forward to doing so whenever I get a chance. A number of folks that I come across however have no interest in play, that is beneath them. They are missing out on a good time.
For additional information on Cathy and her company: Performance of a Lifetime, check out their web site. I found The Coach as Theatre Director (PDF) an especially good read. It plays out their philosophy of improv in the form of a skit at one of the business workshops they run.
Technorati Tags : , ,
Powered By Qumana

GEL 2006 - Marc Salem

Marc Salem illustrated the potential to read and interpret non-verbal forms of communication. The presentation will be difficult to describe but I'll try anyway. A neighbor of mine in the auditorium was quite skeptical after the performance. He did not "buy" the success Mark demonstrated without use of a plant or other conspiratorial device. I was able to observe some details that may have escaped him and thereby my understanding was more grounded on the real possibilities of non-verbal communications. I would also highly recommend taking in one of Marc's performances to see for yourself.
Marc solicited 5 volunteers from the audience. They came up, were given a white piece of cardboard and a marker. They stood in a line facing the audience, Marc stood in front of them talking to us (keeping his back to the 5 most of the time). They drew a picture in only 30 seconds without making very visible movements to indicate to the audience whether they were drawing a circle (with a big swirling motion), etc. The cards were collected by one of the 5, shuffled and handed to Marc face down. He proceeded to ask them one at a time who picture it was that they were holding and they were only supposed to say "no", even if it was their picture. He proceed to correctly identify the first four artists based upon the way their body answered the question although their voice said "no" in each case. For the fifth, since it was by process of elimination known who was the artist, Marc went further and with a series of questions to which the artist could not answer verbally, to deduce the nature of the picture (something like four two-legged animals and an object with wheels). The picture indeed was of four people behind an automobile.
What was the point of this?
Communication certainly happens on many levels. Surprisingly, only 7 to 11% of all communication is verbal, the rest being non-verbal and its aspects. When you are on a phone call the tone of the speakers voice and the content of the conversation becomes very critical to the success of the discussion. You can have more leeway with the same conversation face-to-face, as more body language comes into play.
Successfully reading this body language is Marc's point. The body will unconsciously provide signals that to one who is tuned to observe them can use them to add meaning to the conversation. Some of these signals are cultural but many of them are wired into every person. How else would we learn to talk? We learn by observing our parents and those around us when we are infants.
For those in the internet world, until we do get connected with picture phones or web cameras, what we write in our blogs or in our emails or text messages is what is interpreted to be what we are meaning to convey. Which can be both good and bad. So be careful what you convey!
Marc's web page has additional info on what he does, how he does it, and video clips of some of his performances.
Technorati Tags : , ,
Powered By Qumana

Sunday, May 14, 2006

GEL 2006 - Katy Borner

Katy Borner gave a tour of the Places & Spaces exhibit at the NY Public Library as part of the first day of activities at GEL 2006. Her talk on the second day covered the same topic, how to visually present data. She had several examples to show via the big screen on what scientific data looks like when mapped in a variety of ways. The best analogy for what she is doing bloggers may be familiar with: creating a tag map. A map of the frequency of tag words as published in the blogosphere.

The science example she showed (sample for purchase here) depicted
A map of the top 50 "hot" words in the most highly cited PNAS articles from 1982-2001. Words appearing more often have larger circles, while the circle color and ring color identify when the word first appeared and when its popularity peaked, respectively. This visualization demonstrates the utilization of Kleinberg's burst detection algorithm, co-word occurrence analysis, and graph layout techniques to generate maps that support the identification of major research topics and trends.

Click on the image to view it in the larger size and you'll be able to view the topic bubbles and how the connections are made between topics.

This methodology is capable of making sense of tremendous amounts of data.
Reading the details is still going to take time.

Technorati Tags : , , ,

GEL 2006 - Leni Schwendinger

Leni Schwendinger (PDF) is an artist with lighting. She set up lighting for the GEL 2006 Conference at the Equitable Theather. Very simple and very effective. Her talk focused on the work she did for the Kingston Bridge in the city of Glasgow. The city was renovating the bridge and she worked with the engineering company to create a wonderful light project.

Her study of the bridge revealed how heavily it was used by traffic going into and out of the city. She also studied the water flow for the River Clyde that flowed beneath. The river did ebb and flow, at one point going completely glass like as the tide shifted directions. There was also "a sky space", the gap between the two sections of the bridge each carrying their inbound and outbound traffic.

What she did was to set up sensors to monitor the traffic flow, another set of sensors to monitor the river flow. Putting the two flows together there were 144 combinations for the pattern of vehicle traffic and water flow. She color coded the combinations and then create an update process every minute. So the sensors would do their thing, and each minute the lights would go to a single color (I recall it being blue, but I'm not positive) then switch to depict which of the 144 sets would show the status of the traffic and river flow.

At night, approaching the bridge, you can tell at a glance what is happening. Pretty cool.

I'd like to see it up close. One round trip ticket to Glasgow, please!

More info on Leni's light projects can be found here.

This was a good example of the theme for the day, seeking hidden potential. A bridge over the river is many times taken for granted by both the passengers on the road and any boat traffic below. By adding the sequenced light to the bridge depicting what was going on Leni created something from nothing, i.e. the hidden potential.

Technorati Tags : , , ,

Saturday, May 13, 2006

GEL 2006 - Danny Brown

Danny Brown walked onto the stage at the Equitable Theater on his hands. Yes, a handstand walk and then remained upside down for a few minutes of conversation with Mark Hurst. Danny does have a good sense of balance. He is also a pretty good digital artist. 
Check out the video clip here or via Google Video here
and here.
Pretty cool!
Danny's website
Danny will be heading into Denali with a group to do some more gravity defying in that wonderful natural place. Stay tuned to see what comes out of that trip!
This gives one good reason to pause for thought: How does he do that?
Could you image something like that?
Could you see the potential?
Why not try?
Technorati Tags : , balance, ,
Powered By Qumana

GEL 2006 - Seth Godin

Making connections is important. Connecting the dots to tie concepts together, or silos is one thing. Connecting people together is another thing. One of the activities during the afternoon session I participated in at GEL 2006 was to do just that. As the introductions were made around the room, each person stood, stated their name and something about themselves; where they worked, what they worked on and how it was connected to a good experience. The remainder of the room, patiently waiting their turn was to pay attention and write down a name or two where that person had something in common with what you were interested in. Later during a break, you had someone (and something) to make a connection. A simple exercise but effective. I wrote down 2 or 3 names and then stopped before adding another 1 or 2 after the round was completed. I managed to get to 2 of the folks during the breaks.
What has all this to do with Seth Godin?
He hired Mark Hurst, the GEL 2006 creator, once upon a time and got him started on good experiences. They have stayed in touch over the years and during one lunch get together, Seth told Mark something like: "Hey, you know what would be a good idea for a web site? Ask folks to send in pictures, examples of things that are broken."
Yes, that is how the This is Broken site came to be.
Seth reviewed seven kinds of broken that he has seen:
  1. "not my job"
  2. Selfish jerk
  3. the world changed
  4. "I didn't know"
  5. contradiction
  6. broken on purpose
  7. "I am not a fish"
each of these kinds of broken were highlighted by examples from This is Broken.
A quick, delightful, and funny summary of the insanity of some of the things we find around us.
Why do they remain this way?
Good question.
It is up to us to make the change.
Technorati Tags : , , ,
Powered By Qumana

Friday, May 12, 2006

GEL2006 - Jane McGonigal

Jane McGonigal is a avant game designer. Jane writes about avant game as follows:

Avant game is my work-in-progress, a political perspective with a beta manifesto, a set of research methodologies and design principles in flux, a dissertation in the making, an art historical moment unraveling towards the past and the future at the same time.

In other words, avant game is the term I've coined to describe my research in digital game studies as well as my creative practice in the area of play.  It identifies both the body of contemporary play works that I study and the philosophy of game design I am forging.

Now that is an occupation that sounds interesting. You don't just play games, you get to make the games. Her games are not board games. She uses public spaces; parks, cross walks, and cemeteries. She told the story of the development effort to create a game based upon a video game called GUNS which was set in the Old West. She wanted to do something to bring people into cemeteries. The average person visits the cemetery once, for the funeral and then not again. Crime is rising due to the underutilization of the cemeteries. No one is around so it is easy for the hooligans to go in and knock over some tombstones. Cemetery space is becoming an endangered species for some cities. Disinterning the buried and moving them to another location is sometimes economical considering what the useful value of the land is.

She was concerned about bringing people into the cemetery for the game. She wanted to be resptecful of the environment. Her research found that cemeteries were places of recreation. In the early 1900's, men would take their dates out to the cemetery for a picnic. Today, a cemetery in the Washington, DC area sells a dog walking license that is quite popular. The increase in dog walkers has dropped the crime rate. So how could she extend the video game to the cemetery to create a good game and be respectful of the environment. She came up with the theme: "You killed them, now go play your respects."
Her formal process for creating the game was to look into the historical uses of the space (of the cemetery, in this case). To look at what is universal about the space? (tombstones in a variety of sizes and styles). What is the personal alternate experience associated with the space? (She recalled an Easter egg hunt as something she did when she was growing up.) What are the obstacles to creating a game in this space? (Respect for the environment, especially if the game was going to be played when a funeral was taking place...)
She set up the Last Call Poker Game. She had the gamers bring a flower to the cemetery. This tied to the original use of the space and helped to identify the gamers as they arrived. They also could print out the game instructions. The card and flower combination would be visible and help the gamers meet and greet each other as they arrived. She had scattered poker chips amongst the graves. This enabled the gamers to explore the area with a reward, picking up the chip (a la the "Easter egg hunt"). The chip rewarded the gamers for finding it as well as gave the gamers permission to explore.
She then created a segment called Tombstone Hold'em. Patterned after the current poker craze of Texas Hold'em but using the tombstones to provide the hand for the players. There was a whole scheme designed to utilize the tombstone and the markings to determine the card it was.
Tombstone Hold'em Poker (THP) is a variant of Texas Hold'Em Poker developed in conjuncture with the 42 Entertainment's ARG Last Call Poker. In THP, tombstones become playing cards as there are only four basic shapes that are used to top them.
-Tombstones with rounded tops are hearts.
-Tombstones with pointy tops are spades.
-Tombstones with flat tops are diamonds.
-Tombstones topped with statuary are clubs.

The value of each 'card' is determined by the last digit of the date of death on the tombstone. Digits 2-9 are what they are. 1's are aces and 0's are tens. If two or more people are listed on a tombstone, you ignore the date of death.
-Two people listed is a jack.
-Three people listed is a queen.
-Four, or more, people listed is a king.

So a pointy-topped tombstone with the name of one person on it who died in 1941 is an ace of spades. Finally, if you find a tombstone of someone who died on your birthday, and you've got the ID to prove it, you can use it once as a Joker during the game.
Quite ingenious! She had a couple of other aspects of the game that she did not get into the details for in her time allocated.
Aftre following a bunch of links from her blogs, I know a little more about I Love Bees and will have to keep the radar tuned for a game to play.
Technorati Tags : , , ,
Powered By Qumana

Blogidarity - The Timmy Foundation

"We were not all born to be doctors or nurses, but we were all born to be healers," says Dr. Chuck.
Blogidarity is introducing The Timmy Foundation as the next organization for which we want to raise interest and to raise some funds.
Click on over to Blogidarity to read the introductory posting for the Timmy Foundation.
In each our own way, we can and should contribute to the effort that the Timmy Foundation is making.
I will do my part.
I ask you to consider what you can do to help.
Technorati Tags : , ,
Powered By Qumana

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Help users? Get game!

There is a specific sequence for most web based transactions. The step by step process is sometimes outlined in the user manual or FAQ. Most writing like this still makes some assumptions about the user; where he/she is starting from, what they know or are familiar with, etc. Sometimes, the instructions "take for granted" circumstances that for the newbie can be quite out of reach but for the relatively experienced person are "second nature".

How do we (technologists) get around this to ensure a good experience for our user community?

There are user forums, "dummies guide to" series, and frequently, the helpful mentor to provide some extra hand-holding for the newbie as they get started. Nothing wrong with this, they all work. But for the newbie that can't find or is truly a newbie, the forum is not really an option. The book may be too expensive or not readily available. The mentor/friend not easily identified. Who walks around with a sign saying they are a friend and personal helper for XYZ Service?

Another option would be to spend more time in the development stage to design into the application the look and feel that would make how to use the tool intuitive. For example, take a designer or two from the online game community and bring them into the business application development environment. How many games have you seen that required instruction books? Yes, some games have forums for cheat codes, but that doesn't count. As general rule, the game experience is more intuitive than most applications, hence these applications could help their users by being more game like.

For the users!
Get game!

Technorati Tags : , , , ,

Powered By Qumana

GEL 2006 Summary

The Good Experience Live (GEL 2006) Conference was held in New York City on May 4-5. My recap of each of the speaker's presentations is summarized here:

Douglas Rushkoff

Craig Newmark

Jane McGonigal

Seth Godin

Danny Brown

Katy Borner

Leni Schwendinger

Marc Salem

Cathy Salit

Erin McKean

Ji Lee

More than half way!

Dennis Diflorio

Geoffrey Canada

Dan Dubno

Linda Stone

Jason Fried

Andrew Rasiej

Charlie Todd

Rick Smolen

Technorati Tags : , , ,

Powered By Qumana

Monday, May 08, 2006

GEL 2006 - Craig Newmark

Craig Newmark, of craigslist fame, had some good advice for those attending the GEL 2006 Conference. The two key points of advice were:
Do a lot of listening.
Stay out of the way.
He admitted, "I have absolutely no vision".
He believes that "people are overwhelming good and trustworthy".
He acknowledged that craigslist helps people to tap into "hidden potential".
He quoted Oscar Wilde: "If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh; otherwise they'll kill you."
Craig is a simple guy (and that is not a negative by any means) who is devoted to taking care of details and doing well. He headed off to do some customer service after his talk. He claimed that he'll do customer service until the day he dies.
There is nothing wrong with that approach. He has earned his success. 
Technorati Tags : , , , ,
Powered By Qumana

GEL 2006 - Douglas Rushkoff

This is the first of a series of recaps of each of the presenters during the GEL 2006 Conference. The recap is from my notes taken contemporaneously during the day. Now that I am sitting down to write from these notes after the fact, my collected thoughts may be able to make more connections and or make more sense of what was absorbed during the conference.
The theme for GEL 2006 was announced by Mark Hurst as "hidden potential".
Douglas Rushkoff who had the honor of opening the full day of presentations on Friday, May 5th got right into it. Potential: the electrical term for the difference between positive and negative charges. The potential is hidden because of a disconnect. When he was called into work with a company the line used to be "we want to pick your brain". Now the line is "we want you to help us be less Sataachi and more craigslist".
The Renaissance introduced the beginnings of the disconnect by (1) recognizing the individual and (2) centralizing currencies. Competition is built into the structure of life where it was not before.
Brands differentiated products, now brands themselves are commoditized, so the product itself is coming back to the forefront. The product (or service) needs to be good.
Competition is being replaced by collaboration.
Companies that do not distinguish amongst their stockholders, their employees, and their customers; recognizing that each one should be allowed to do what they are passionate about will be successful.
If Ben & Jerry's truly wanted to do good in this economy, they would not make ice cream for an overweight and diabetic nation.
Technorati Tags : , , ,
Powered By Qumana

Saturday, May 06, 2006

NYC Sunset

NYC Sunset
Originally uploaded by shersteve.

Coming up out of Penn Station and through the boroughs of NY heading north to Providence, happened to catch this decent sunset shot.

What neighborhood are we looking over?

What is the name of the bridge in the distance?

Maybe some of the New York readers can identity these for me?

Penn Station Board

Penn Station Board
Originally uploaded by shersteve.

Skipping ahead to the return trip for the moment, this is the track and train assignment board at Penn Station.

People watching in this area is wonderful. You can tell if they have traveled by train before or not by how they approach and read the board.

The picture is deceiving as well as it is clear. There had been a train stuck in the station and the announcements were repeated about how there were minor delays as a result of this. My train (#178) went to a 10 minute delay just after this picture was taken.

We ended up leaving NYC about 20 minutes late and only after New Haven did we start making up the time to arrive in Providence on schedule.

New Haven RR Yard

New Haven RR Yard
Originally uploaded by shersteve.

Pulling out of the yard, moving slowly with a new crew on board.

A new voice to make all the station stop announcements.

The rails, the overheads to power the electric Acela train and the shadows conspire for the picture this time.

No, I did not take the Acela. It ran on ahead of us. I took the Regional. Some day I will try the Acela.

Connecticut Cove

Connecticut Cove
Originally uploaded by shersteve.

Doesn't this look inviting?

A little warmer and you'd want to jump off the train and run down to the water side to play in the sand.


Who needs them on the beach?

Connecticut Coastline

Connecticut Coastline
Originally uploaded by shersteve.

Tidal flats along the coast with small islands offshore. The train is rolling along between Westerly, RI and New London, CT.

RI Turf Farm

RI Turf Farm
Originally uploaded by shersteve.

Took the Amtrak Regional train from Providence, RI down to NYC, NY to attend GEL 2006.

Look over my shoulder at this turf farm in North Kingston, RI. Yes, turf. They grow it here so the landscapers can roll out those strips of new lawn that you may have seen produce an almost "instant" lawn on new developments. Almost "instant" as it comes in green and already brings with it a couple of inches of grass root growth.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

GEL 2006

I came into NY City for the Good Experience Live (GEL 2006) Conference via train from New England today to catch the afternoon session with Phil Terry, CEO of Creative Good. Well worth it. More on this later as I collect my notes and thoughts together more formally.
I'm gelling again tomorrow!
Technorati Tags : , ,
Powered By Qumana

Monday, May 01, 2006

Setting the stage

Technorati Tags : , ,
Powered By Qumana

Thank you, Qumana!

I made my first posting to 100Bloggers since it moved from Blogger to WordPress. My initial impression as a longtime (18 months) Blogger user; I don't like WordPress.

It may be simple but I composed in Qumana, and tried to cut/paste to post in WordPress. The formatting of the paragraphs was off. I tried added a space between with a carriage return, I tried by using HTML code... No such luck...

Actually ended up making some blank posts instead of updating and correcting my original post.

Gave up and tried a different tack. Tried to set up Qumana to post directly to 100Bloggers. It was quick and easy.

Tried to make the same posting. It went successfully. Checked it out and the formatting was the way I wanted it to be. Went into WordPress to delete the first and any other blank entries I made in the trials.

Thank you, Qumana!

Technorati Tags : , , , ,