Grab bag: Rural America technology, Facebook-brand tracking, bacon salt and party kit packaging design

Open-tab cleaning.

1. The High-Tech of Rural America

Why do I like this?  Because it’s an example of how design and technology serve people’s needs (and yes, businessmen’s pockets).
Too often, my job revolves arounds trying to plan applications that seem so unrelated to what people need or are going through.
Hooray for rural America!

The DeLaval AMR Circular Cow Milker
The DeLaval AMR Circular Cow Milker

2.  The Wired Social Index

Let’s see how this works out.  Tracking the financial performance of the strongest brands on Facebook.
The Wired Social Index

3. The Donut Project

I’m partly biased towards the name.

But, nice source of interesting images and videos.

Boys & Girls' reception area
Boys & Girls’ reception area
Jason Bacher wallpaper

4.  Bacon Salt and a Sundae Kit.  Ideas from Buzzfeed’s 38 Ways to Give the Gift of Food.

Bacon Salt
Bacon Salt
Sundae Kit
Sundae Kit

This entry led me to…

5.  Manic Design’s Merrymaking Must-Haves Kit on Lovely Package

Smart, smart, smart.  And cleanly designed.

Merrymaking Must-haves Kit - Manic Design
Merrymaking Must-haves Kit – Manic Design
Advertisements

“Corporate Wear” for Women: Reflections on Mark Zuckerberg’s Hoodie

“Does wearing jeans and sneakers, as a woman, make you any less competent, equipped, mature or well-adjusted than women in corporate wear?”

– I thought to myself as I sat in a meeting.

[I was wearing jeans, suede Converse sneakers and, to be a bit presentable, a sand-colored long-sleeved shirt, exactly like this one worn by Marion, from France, whom I do not look like at all.]

This is Marion from France. I do not look like her. I just have that same shirt in white and beige.

The easy answer to my question is “no”, right?

But, look at the corporate environment where you work.

Please tell me if there are women in positions of power who wear sneakers and t-shirts.  I need to not feel like a freak.

A month or so ago, there was this hullaballoo about Mark Zuckerberg wearing a hoodie to his Wall Street investors pitch (I first read it in the New York Times Bits Blog; it’s also featured in CNN, Bloomberg, Forbes, etc.).

People bestowed it with all sorts of symbolism – about the cultural divide between Silicon Valley and Wall Street.

At least, though, Mark Zuckerberg probably gets away with wearing hoodies to work.

Steve Jobs gets away with his running shoes.

But I would love to see the day-to-day wardrobe of top women in business, even in Silicon Valley.

See, my definition of success, for a long time, has been “the privilege of getting to wear what I’m comfortable with to work, while still having people’s respect”.

I’ve always envied this man I was with in an elevator.  He’s an industry bigshot, and, on that day, he was wearing jeans, and a plain white shirt which was so worn it had holes along the side.  I told myself that someday, I want to be just like that – have enough achievement to and gall to credibly mock the system. As the New York Times article mentioned, similar to Zuckerberg’s and Job’s “anti-fashion statement”.

Image from The New York Times

I’m slowly realizing, though, as I stay longer in my job and interact with people higher up the corporate ladder, that there isn’t much room for t-shirts, jeans and sneakers when you’re a woman who wants to command a certain level of respect in meetings with executives.

That’s even when the other executives are wearing sneakers as well. (Since I work in a broadcasting and production outfit).

Coincidentally, this month’s Fast Company issue features the “league of extraordinary women”.  As usual, I like the structure of their web feature on the topic.

But, more than that, this made me want to see how these top women presented themselves.  To check whether there was hope for sneaker-wearing women to stay true to themselves when in managerial positions in corporations.

Here’s what looking at a few profiles turned up:

Lily Cole, Brand Ambassador for Body Shop
Gabi Zedlmayer, HP’s VP for Global Social Innovation
Cherie Blair, Founder – The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women
Tory Burch, Founder – Tory Burch Foundation

Granted, this was a magazine feature, so they are probably being primped and dolled up.

I know, I know, they’re just clothes, and I might be making a big deal.

Wearing “corporately-acceptable” clothes doesn’t diminish your values or convictions.  It’s just that neither should casual clothes diminish competence and respectability.

I understand that these women might wear a whole different set of clothes while at work, which is why these make me happy:

Jessica Jackley, Founder – Kiva
Susan Davis – President, BRAC USA
Grace Bonney – Founder, DesignSponge

And, fine, I should stop discriminating against women who wear popularly fashionable clothing, in the same way that I clamor for stopping the discrimination against casual clothes.

But, continuing with the fun, I decided to post the first Google Image associated with the corporate leaders in Fast Company’s 2011 Most Influential Women in Tech.

These women are AMAZING.  I am very glad I went through the list, and I suddenly feel very shallow about even thinking about something such as work clothes.

Prerna Gupta, code-writing former beauty queen with computer science and economics degrees from Stanford

Prerna Gupta – CEO, Khush

..who, I’m happy to see, also wears t-shirts and jeans to presentations!

from flickr user thakurprashantsingh
from flickr user thakurprashantsingh
Alisa Miller – CEO, Public Radio International

Nichole Goodyear, head of an award-winning, innovative social media agency built on a cost-per-engagement model.

Nichole Goodyear – CEO, Brickfish

Jessica Kahn manages engineering, operations and strategy for Disney’s mobile application development.

Jessica Kahn – VP of Engineering, Disney Mobile

Kellee Santiago, who leads her team in making accessible games for even previously untapped gaming markets.

Kellee Santiago – President, thatgamecompany

Heather Harde, who spearheaded building an in-house ad-sales team, developed conferences and events, and created a research arm to grow TechCrunch’s business.

Heather Harde, Managing Director, AOL’s tech properties, and Former CEO of TechCrunch

Cher Wang, one of the richest people in the world, and runs the company that came out with the first Android phone.

Cher Wang – CEO, HTC

And, these last two help show that objectification can happen no matter where you are in the corporate ladder…

I saved the two seemingly most “popularly seen as hot” ones for last.

I guess they can’t help that they’re gorgeous, smart and savvy.

Marissa Mayer, one of Google’s first female engineers, who graduated in symbolic systems with honours from Stanford, and has a masters degree in computer science from the same university.

Marissa Mayer – VP of Consumer Products, Google

and….

Rachel Sterne (who sometimes has an eery resemblance to Katherine McPhee), who was a U.N. political reporter, used to run a hyperlocal news service, that distributed live online reports from the people directly experiencing “the news” and now the chief digital officer for New York city.

Rachel Sterne – Former CEO, GroundReport

This is the second photo in her Google Search stream:

Sterne (NYC Chief Officer for Digital) and Max Haot – CEO, Livestream

Now, let’s look at the first five male leaders or figureheads in Fast Company’s 2012 Most Innovative Companies.

(Darn it, I should have been more specific and said, I would observe the first full body pictures in the Google Image stream.

Because, now it looks like a headshot-attractiveness thing.

Sorry, to all the individuals in pictures here, if this seems a bit invasive.  I realized collecting the images suddenly seemed creepily voyeuristic. I’m tempted to Google myself to “even the score”.)

All in all, the conclusion is – I realized it isn’t so bad.  If you stick your neck out and prove yourself, I’m guessing you can eventually get away with what you want to wear.  It isn’t about the packaging really (even the boys have to play by the corporate rules, sometimes), it just all depends on the strength of character and actual skills you have to pull of the success.  Cool.

How it feels: Accidentally deleting your inbox

My entire phone inbox got deleted tonight.

It was quite a jarring experience.

Especially because I didn’t do it on purpose.
I know that it’s worlds better than having your phone stolen, or even getting it lost.
But it felt so surreal.
Seeing your same phone – same body, same housing, screen and application.
But empty.
It was an empty black space with no threads of contacts and message excerpts whatsoever.

All memories you wanted to keep, and messages you wanted to save in case you ever needed written proof of anything, gone.  Digital memories – of things that were sweet, touched your heart, made you laugh or angered you – disappeared.

Again, just really jarring. It was so jarring i don’t think I believed it for the first minute after it happened.

I thought maybe the screen just had a glitch or the application stalled. I kept closing and reopening the app.

But nope, gone.

These moments are so interesting. See, it could be seen as “emotional”, except is also seems trivial (lost text messages probably won’t strike anyone as catastrophic), and it’s also so final that there’s no choice but to accept.

You just bury the regret in your brain.  Try to make sense of it. Make it seem philosophical — try to say that it might be some symbolism or lesson.

Of how my desire to hold onto and hoard everything kept me from easily finding what was valuable, in the din of everything I tried to save.

Or that it’s a foreshadowing of how my laziness about decluttering will ultimately bite me in the ass.
Anyway. Inbox gone. Weird sense of pain.

20120609-011231.jpg

5 apps I plan on getting someday: Cool stuff from CreativeApplications.net

all via Creative Applications Network

Won’t talk too much.  Will let the amazing-ness speak for themselves.

1. Spirits. by Spaces of Play

2.  We Sliders by We Choose Fun

Rainbow gradients and slide-y movements.  You had me at “absolutely lovely“.

3.  Coloroll by soulbit7

Smart-looking color-matching game.

4.  Chromixa by Simon Watson

More color-matching fun.  But this time using the color properties of light!

5.  U-Fields (or Unknown Fields) for the Architecture in Your Hand initiative.

A “mobile book”, created for consuming and reacting to the creator/s’ stream of ideas.

Usability and User Experience: 5 articles that help clarify my job + a fun chart!

I would like to thank my twitter feed, for bringing me links that would help me explain to the clients and managers I work with, the nuances of what they’re trying to achieve.

User experience is some sort of buzzword in the web design and product development circle.  Or at least in the company I work in.

Managers talk about it, and the designers “name-drop” it.

My boss calls me a usability professional.  Sadly, it’s not what I want to be or want to be called, nor am I equipped to be one.

1.  Clarify what you’re aiming for

This piece in UX Matters, entitled More than Usability: The Four Elements of User Experience Part I helps explain my predicament.

See, I want to be a User Experience professional.  I want to be a user researcher and, hopefully, an interaction designer.

That is much more than usability.  Usability only refers to the ease with which you are able to do something.  Whether a task can be accomplished or not; whether people make errors and how easily they navigate through a device or interface.

A user’s experience (hence the phrase “user experience“) can’t be oversimplified into just how easy it is to do something (otherwise it would just be called “user ease”).

It has to be enjoyable to use, or give some sort of value.  It’s an entire package of sensations and delivery beyond “efficiency”.

As the article points out, it’s usability + value + desirability + adoptability.

Multiple frameworks have already cropped up I know, this just seems to be the most concise and memorable one I’ve seen (so it’s easy to repeat).

Frank Guo’s User Experience Framework

2.  Acknowledge that it takes a lot of humility, emotional maturity and self-restraint (not just creativity and camaraderie) to make a multi-discipline group work together

Richard Anderson writes, in depth, about the multiple perspectives on “working in silos”.

This strikes a chord because a) there’s this one particular boss in our corporation who loves using the word “silos”, in meetings, to repeatedly refer to why it’s difficult to create successful strategy.

b) Because I’ve realized that product development teams are composed of people from different educational and professional backgrounds, all required to be creative and productive together.

The really really great thing about Anderson’s entry, is that he argues for both the good and bad sides of deferring to each other’s expertise and “leaving your _____ hat at the door”.  Because, that is how complex the UX design team situation is.

On one hand, you do want to respect that the designer knows design best, the developers know code best and the researchers know social sciences best. But, yes, once you’re all discussing “UX”, everybody really tries to stir the pot and get their hands in the stew.

I also like his conclusion, regarding the collaborative process centering on delivering a “good experience” to the consumer.

I wish it were that easy, though.  When put in practice in real life.  But at least, in terms of corporate evangelization, Anderson’s articles and talks (“Borrowing from the field of child development…“) would be very helpful in explaining how team division and conflicts should be dealt with.

Richard Anderson – UX Working team objectives

3.  Dirk from Involution Studios writes about his (seemingly scathing) reaction [“Losing faith in UX”] to a Whitney Hess article, which, to be fair, did seem to put UX designers on a high horse.  Or a much higher horse than she should have.

I sympathize with Mr….. Dirk.  Despite my not having worked in or with as many start-ups.  Mostly because of humility.

I am humbled by my new-ness in this field, and by the fact that, realistically, I am primarily a market researcher and a user researcher.

Meaning: As much as I badger and hammer my digital strategist teammates to refine their strategy (or actually make a sound one), since I’m the one who “knows the user”, I respect the difficulty of what they have on their plate.

Product Strategy, particularly in my team, is differentiated from…my role – user research.  And, as much as, sometimes, I’d like to think I could create better strategy, it isn’t my job to and I honestly wouldn’t enjoy just doing that day-in and day-out.

I’ve always been the one checking how people respond to products or content, or finding out user needs, but it’s a whole other level of responsibility to put a product out there and your ass on the line, juggling business decisions and all.  This is why I particularly dream of becoming an Interaction Designer, not a Product Manager or Brand Strategist.  I’d rather work with systems, framework and evidence, more than price points and competition.

To each his own, basically.  I just hope that people had as nuanced a view about work.

4.  This is really more for me.

I like how this UX matters article articulately differentiated the disciplines behind Agile and User Experience.

Again, being new in a web design team, these are phrases I kept hearing over and over and over during my first weeks of work.

It was almost funny, sometimes.  People would get into lengthy discussions or arguments on what kind of method to use, when, if you really thought about it, it’s not as if they were mutually exclusive.

This article, Agile User Experience Design, communicates how “Agile” is a web development process and “User experience” is a design tenet and methodology.  They can actually work together.  Please read the article if you want to know more; Ms. Janet Six is much more articulate.

5.  On a lighter note, there’s also “How to annoy a UX designer“.

It’s really practical and funny at the same time.  Thank you very much, Peter Hornby, for writing this.
Worst answer—You’re kidding, right? You’re employing me as a UX designer, and you want me to code? Sure, I’ll hack something together. Perhaps we should discuss my hourly rate?

And this really fun infographic! on chart types 🙂

Innovative Social Media Apps: Let’s make things simpler, tangible and more relevant, shall we?

Ideating in this day and age calls for a whole other set of creativity.

I want to bookmark some of the most relevant (to me) tweaks and ideas that people thought up to harness the stream of social media…stuff.

Responses to oversharing.  No one can deny that individuals with thriving online lives experience lots of clutter.
Every day, it’s entry after entry, stream upon stream of individuals, groups, organizations sending you virtual updates.

So what can we do about it?

1. To combat the overall bombardment, Flavors.me, featured in Fast Company, collects and streamlines your different social feeds into one “page”.  Fast Company writes that it’s similar to About.me, but I’m just generally happy that there are ideas like these that are trying to corral the onslaught.

2.  But then, we also have Shu.ush, which works only within Twitter, featured on Co. Design.  I love how it literally “tones down” the din from talkative tweeters.  Just really amusing.

We’ve also got innovation ideas that make the digital Instagram stream more tangible.

3.  Printstagram takes your Instagram pictures and turns them into stickers.  via PetaPixel

Similarly, you also have Instaprint by Breakfast NYC, which is an installation or a physical photo booth that prints Instagram photos too.  Featured by Creative Applications.

How about letting someone’s Instagram stream give you travel guidance?  Enter Wander.  Featured on PetaPixel.

I think this surprisingly makes sense, since iPhone or Apple product owners would probably frequent places of interest for global counterparts with similar purchasing power.

Damn, I talk in a really boring way now.  Mental laziness.

4.  Also, to make things easier to grasp for the Pinterest generation, Brazilian agency ionz creates infographics out of users’ personal informaton (likes, dislikes, favorites) to create your “digital persona” desktop wallpaper.  Fun idea. via Creative Applications

And lastly, for people who just want to keep their finds to themselves:

5.  Pinry.  via The Next Web

For the people who really just want to collect stuff, without sharing.

Isn’t that great – they even have apps for selfish, hoarding people! Like me!

Fangirl mode: the barbarian group

I came across the barbarian group through an article one of their co-founders wrote an article on the vulnerability of the social media giants on Beta Beat.

I’ll be watching out for their work.  They seem to be the first massive purely digital agency I’ve seen.  The others usually seem to be under multinational umbrella agencies who started in traditional media.

I also like the navigation set-up of their portfolio – which has a secondary navigation bar showcasing: new projects, case studies, featured projects, greatest hits, lab projects and a client list.

They just made it simple to find things, with clear paths.  Which is just right considering they’re in the business of interaction design.

They have an interesting blog – which both showcases their work, but also reports relevant industry-wide updates.  I found this nice article on managing “content creep” – the social media content strategy of version of feature creep.

Besides that, they have amusing personal (okay, that’s not the right word) projects like Is Pinterest the next ____? , which is their way of poking fun at all the Pinterest hullaballoo.  Although, aside from fun projects like that and a screensaver made of your friends’ Instagram feeds, they have innovation projects like a digital mirror.