Thought / The picture of New

Lately I have found myself thinking much about innovation. It is a very difficult word to define these days, and it has to do with the marketing value it has.

Today I was looking at a fantastic picture from Reuters about a dreadful fall of Dani Pedrosa, a spanish rider for Honda, in the Japanese Grand Prix.

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It made me think it was beautiful, even when showing an action we might label painful and reprehensive to enjoy. Its beauty came from beyond the situation itself. It came form the uniqueness of it, of the moment captured in the film.

Its beauty lays in its innovative way of showing a situation we already know how to interpret. It is an innovative picture, showing a new way of seeing what might have quotidien to recognise, a fall from a motorcycle, an event that can take secons to happen, and to which eyes are usually unaccustomed to perceive in detail.

Innovation in itself, as a word, means a new way of doing something, more or less. Photography has always depend on innovation, as it rests within showing us new ways of seeing the world that surround us, always surprising our accustomed eyes with uncommon images of what’s colloquial, known to our perception.

As far as I recall, innovation has not been a particualr search for photographers. It might be me but photographers don’t define their work as innovative in general. Breathtaking, incredible and impressive are adjectives that adapt and describe better waht great photographers do. And I start thinking innovation is not a spoken issue just because it is the most common of issues for a picture professional. It is so much part of what they do, it is a common place. It is what good photographers do.

Perhaps we designers should let it become a fundamental part of what we do in order for it to become what it might really be: a fundamental part of our everyday work.

Thought / A little research on wikis

I’ve been running a little research on how wikis can affect/improve communication processes for companies, enhance collaboration and consolidate files and information versions.

Here are some of the most interesting articles I have found (i’ll be updating it as I continue my check)

Case Studies:

Examples:

  • Nokia and Vodafone Share Ideas – ShareIdeas.org is an online community and a wiki for sharing ideas on how to use mobile communications for social and environmental benefits.
  • Microformats – Microformats are a way of adding simple markup to human-readable data items such as events, contact details or locations, on web pages, so that the information in them can be extracted by software and indexed, searched for, saved, cross-referenced or combined.
  • Lussumo Documentation – This wiki contains documentation for Lussumo software like Vanilla and the Filebrowser.
  • Freebase – Freebase is an open shared database of the world’s knowledge

Articles:

Trivia:

Thought / About design.yahoo.com

A couple of weeks ago I was pointed to design.yahoo.com. I went and check it, expectations high and excitement built up…

I personally expected more from a subdomain as design.yahoo.com, being it at the same (virtual) place as Flickr and Delicious (in the Yahoo family). We’re talking about one of the major players in the online world of today. Their vision of R&D might show the world what they’re striving for. And right now it does not amount to more than a couple of projects with future, a bunch of rehashed ideas, and a lonesome blog.

I think Design Yahoo has to hurry up and fill the subdomain with work, and not let it die of lack of content and a forgotten blog, as I also reckon the launch has happened a little too soon: the blog is already 6 weeks old and it has only one entry saying “Hi, We’re excited to share our work with you. Watch this space for more, soon.”. Define soon.

Everybody wants to be design these days, but the way is not to collect some mildly interesting projects and throw them in a cool URL, together with a blog and some videos, and then forget about the whole thing.

Anyone can do such a move. Yahoo, you can do better than that.

Update (28/11/07): After some days of uncertainty, design.yahoo.com finally awoke to the full splendor of their projects. Wish you the best of lucks.

Thought / People-centred Design

It has been a buzz word for some time. It occurred to me that perhaps it is not that new a buzz word, or even a concept.

It came to me that some actors use to research roles they will play, for example, George Clooney being in a real ER before doing ER, and Leonardo DiCaprio hanging out with policemen before The Departed. Stuff like that.

Suddenly it occurred to me that it can be considered people-centred design. In a way, understanding the end user, tailoring an experience, researching the environment, conveying a realistic scenario, isn’t it all happening there?

They’re selling movies to people and they know how to, because they know what appeals to people. How? Knowing what they like, what they care about. They (the people) are in the centre of this kind of movie industry. So they seem to be quite people-centred.

What’s for us to do?

Thought / Mediated content, part 1

We love social networks. Or we don’t.

There’s something interesting about social networks: they put us in contact with information and resources that are indiscernible for us without peer’s mediation.

Until now (in most of cases) peer mediation has existed as a side-effect, as a collateral. Most of social networks don’t let peers mediate information or resources, just share them.

Side-effect I mean since the fact that finding two peers that share the same information might actually influence (and inform) our vision of those resources and bits of information.

Currently some of us can benefit from mediation, as in “if [friend x] would recommend a film, I’d go and see it, cause he shares my taste”. Just an example.

Now, another (real-life?) example: I love TED talks, but I surely don’t have the time to see them all. Some of my friends (colleagues, mostly) have the same lack of time and the same passion for some of the talks. I get some from friends, some from browsing, some from blogs.

What if one could build a social sub-network for TED conferences? then one would have all one’s friends and colleagues that like the TED talks on one group, and they could post all their favourites, and one could browse their choices. Boring. I might not like the ones they like. Boring.

Why boring? Because it is accumulating data, and I think we have the desire and the need for mediated information. Someone that can make the decision for us on what we might like. Sort of a secretary, an agent (or better an intelligent agent)

Now let’s explore a scenario:

I have my facebook community. I select some people and add them to a channel I just created, the TED channel. I get some videos from TED they promote. I vote on every video I see. Voting goes directly to the person that suggest it, but also to what the video is categorised as, suppose “technology, sustainability”, and also (for the TED voting system), to certain keywords such as “dazzling, informative, mind-changing”. Server software analyses it and gives back an answer. The ranking of the person that published the video I voted gets raised or lowered, the keywords are weighted and added to a scrutinized, hierarchy-driven list, the theme gets promoted/demoted, and so on. At the end I start getting the TED videos I might like.

Where’s the magic? In mixing systems. My friends are my choice, and I’ll keep learning from them (“Chris posts too many psychology videos, not what I like” so Chris gets demoted in “TED importance” by the system) and the rest is the algorythms’ choice (user xxx has seen 12 “technology”, 4 “dazzling”, 9 “funny” videos, this “dazzling, technology funny” video might suit him), and video voting (this “dazzling technology funny” video was not that good, “technology and “funny” are still big, let’s keep them and throw “dazzling” down a notch). In the end I might get better choices.

Facebook already has the API, TED is easy to link and rather interesting, we might as well stop doing little “I hug/puke/bitchslap you” applications.

Is it too complicated? Perhaps. Four years ago we might have said the same to a page ranking system like Google has right now. “We’re not google”. Sure. But we might get there, eventually.