The look on his face suggests he’s about to say something profound, and he delivers.

“Culture is generation. Generation is power.”

“Explain that to me—because you use generators to make power, right?” Zulueta laughs with a loud bark.

Pitbull continues, straight-faced. “When you become a generation—say, the MTV generation—that’s where you create your power.”

Zulueta purses his lips, trying to understand.

“The content fed the culture, the culture fed the generation. Everyone says content is king. But culture is everything. Content creates a culture—the Kardashians created a culture.”

“I got it,” says Zulueta, though it seems like he might not.

We’re also big users of Google Calendar at the radio show. The desktop interface for that is good but the Google Calendar iPhone app is just fucking annoying and really should go to hell. Here are two annoying things it does:
1) Every day (and after every time you close the app) it asks you to log in again with your name and password, which is a pain in the ass.
2) After you log in, a little blue box appears saying “Install this web app on your Phone: tap on the arrow and then ‘Add to Home Screen’” which irritates me because the app should know that it already IS on my home screen. It already is on my iPhone. Where does it think it’s living?
"Artwork featured in the Rolling Stone article, ‘The New Face of Heroin,’ modifies the iconic image on a can of maple syrup — from the traditional sugarmaker in the woods, into a heroin user getting a quick fix.  Vermont has been in the national media spotlight since Governor Peter Shumlin dedicated his entire State-of-the-State speech to the state’s opiate epidemic.    
Epidemic or not, maple industry leaders say the artwork rubs them the wrong way."The sugarmakers I know are honest hardworking people and this really puts a tarnish, showing someone that might be a sugarmaker doing this. I imagine it’s done because Vermont has such a national reputation for maple syrup, and we are really proud of that. It just goes to show how famous we are, but this is certainly a bad thing for Vermont and a bad thing for our industry," said Sam Cutting, Chair of the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers Association." - WCAX Burlington

"Artwork featured in the Rolling Stone article, ‘The New Face of Heroin,’ modifies the iconic image on a can of maple syrup — from the traditional sugarmaker in the woods, into a heroin user getting a quick fix.  Vermont has been in the national media spotlight since Governor Peter Shumlin dedicated his entire State-of-the-State speech to the state’s opiate epidemic.    

Epidemic or not, maple industry leaders say the artwork rubs them the wrong way.

"The sugarmakers I know are honest hardworking people and this really puts a tarnish, showing someone that might be a sugarmaker doing this. I imagine it’s done because Vermont has such a national reputation for maple syrup, and we are really proud of that. It just goes to show how famous we are, but this is certainly a bad thing for Vermont and a bad thing for our industry," said Sam Cutting, Chair of the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers Association." - WCAX Burlington

Apps and old people

I’ve recently had the honour of hanging out with my two favourite grandmas. I heard about their frustrations with online shopping, why Facebook is ‘trivial’ and how much they love getting new mail.

“One of the reasons the iPad is successful is the level of complexity is lower, the risk of getting into trouble is lower.”

To start with, I’d assume the majority of the elderly wouldn’t refer to themselves as ‘computer-people’. But it’s fairer to say most computers are not ‘human-computers’. The iPad is different, and was loved dearly by both grandmas.

I think it goes without saying that you should never underestimate anyone’s intelligence, young or old. Especially the old. But I couldn’t help but be a little shocked by the critical, clear thinking of both my grandparents. The problem for them is that their body and minds are kind of moving in different directions. Think about it. You still want to catch the bus to go shopping, but you can’t run to catch it, you can’t read the timetable to see when the next bus is coming, and your hands can’t find coins or a bus card. How do you feel about going shopping now? The same applies online. Same motivations, less ability, higher frustrations.

The positive stuff. What characteristics do the elderly value? Here are some basics: Thoughtfulness, respect, tone, inclusiveness, consideration, manners, helpfulness. The world lacks these values. “People don’t have manners anymore.” “People don’t take the time.” This doesn’t mean they experience more negative experiences, but they are more sensitive to them. Similarly, a positive experience not only stands out, but will be talked about, treasured. It’s illuminated by a golden ray of light. If something works in your 20’s it’s a ‘good app’. In your 80’s it’s a fucking miracle.

For Grandma A, the world is scary, fast, rude, unforgiving and unkind. With no thanks to unpleasant people, unluckiness and CNN, that belief is constantly reaffirmed and a big ingredient of daily stress. For her, the computer can provide a safe haven but can conversely reflect and magnify this negative attitude. For example, if customer service at a shopping centre can ruin her day, attempting to get a refund from Amazon can be either a delight, or a complicated nightmare. It goes both ways.

'I hate the cloud' declared Grandma B. She was a much more skilled user than A, and enjoyed a range of apps like Dragon, Spider, Paper and routinely powered through 300 page books. Cloud computing services? Not so much. Until iCloud works magically for normal users, there’s no way you’re getting Grandma on board. Most users would (and do) appreciate iCloud’s powerful backup, but it usually only takes one bad experience for users to be distrustful.

We talk about changing behaviour and creating habits, but it’s no easy task. For a long time I struggled to stay in contact with A. Something that helped was watching her reaction to the new message ping from mail.app. Pure delight! For someone who might not see their family much, or live alone, the significance of an alert tone can’t really be overstated.

“Do you use Facebook?” A asked me. What followed was an interesting conversation. I said I used it mainly for messaging friends. That didn’t make anything less complicated for her, as I attempted to explain the difference between a facebook message, a sms, an imessage, skype and an email. She didn’t care about all that ‘nonsense’, but did care that her friends and family were sharing valuable photos with hundreds of strangers/followers but not with her. As far as she’s concerned, social networks are a big stupid party that she’s not invited to.

I showed A how to make an audio call on FaceTime. She shook her head as the app dialled. “I can’t believe no one showed that to me.” To call, I had to click an (info) button and then a (phone) icon. But it really wasn’t clear, and I had to be very precise with my touch. Explaining this feature to her was like describing an international phonecall. It was mind boggling and exciting all at once.

There’s nothing new to learn from all this, but it’s worth repeating this: Like the rest of us, the elderly deserve and appreciate usable, intuitive software.

Instapaper highlight highlights

You want to own a restaurant? Don’t.
“A third of what you sell it for is food cost.” - The Globe and Mail

Run a jazz club in Tokyo instead.
“If one out of ten was a repeat customer, then the business would survive.” - The New Yorker

If it’s easy, it’s more likely to become a habit.
“The purpose of locks, said the locksmith, is to protect you from … people who might be tempted to try your door if it had no lock.”  - Dan Ariely

"The dotted lines around each rider/character suggest it was some kind of pull-out poster for children (or nostalgic road-racing fans)." - Rapha
Arguably this is an infographic, but when you say that in 2014 all I think of is the stereotypical.
This poster was made before that word existed (i think), and is mainly illustrations. That’s why I like it. It’s accessible because it looks as if you could assemble it into some sort of game on your kitchen table. Plus, it communicates a truthful picture of any big cycling event (just lots of guys on bikes, and other guys shouting and chasing them around in cars).
Other stuff that could use this art direction: Rambo: First Blood, The Olympics, The Middle East, Oliver Twist

"The dotted lines around each rider/character suggest it was some kind of pull-out poster for children (or nostalgic road-racing fans)." - Rapha

Arguably this is an infographic, but when you say that in 2014 all I think of is the stereotypical.

This poster was made before that word existed (i think), and is mainly illustrations. That’s why I like it. It’s accessible because it looks as if you could assemble it into some sort of game on your kitchen table. Plus, it communicates a truthful picture of any big cycling event (just lots of guys on bikes, and other guys shouting and chasing them around in cars).

Other stuff that could use this art direction: Rambo: First Blood, The Olympics, The Middle East, Oliver Twist

So does that new technology mean I don’t have a purpose anymore?

image

I can’t see into the future, but…

I’m confident our voices will become the dominant, primary mode to interface with machines. That is, in the consumer context, to quickly access relevant, useful information. Watching my 8 year old cousin ask a tablet “is there going to be a thunderstorm tonight?” and immediately getting an answer, crushes any doubt that this technology will prove itself. 

But how does this affect me?! Will this move the centre of gravity away from designers and back into the able hands of the engineers (*booming thunder and evil laugh*)? No, not necessarily.

The definition of digital design is painfully incomplete. The way designers market themselves and their services is even more opaque. Yeah, transparency is scary, especially for creatives, and it’s much easier to throw a smoke bomb than to explain or question yourself.

But, however painful, you have to define what your mission is. The point of this exercise is to make sure your course is always correct. At worst, you can hold on and continually weather the storm, catching up with trends and methods as they fly past. At best you see over the waves and change direction. Basically just stuff like: Why are a designer? What are you are helping fix? What can you do that others can’t? Why are you a designer (or lumberjack, or pastry chef)? If you don’t know what you’re doing, how will you ever achieve x? 

But within the design industry especially, it’s very difficult to hear above the din of twitter and medium, and find true north for yourself (last nautical analogy). For me, this essay is something that I’d refer to, to help recalibrate.

"The time bar graph was invented about 250 years ago. The map and the written sentence are both about 5000 years old. They are beautiful, venerable forms of visual communication. The bugs have been worked out. They are universally, intuitively understood.

The pulldown menu, the checkbox, and the bureaucracy-inspired text entry form were invented 25 years ago, desperation devices to counter inadequate technology. They were created for a world that no longer exists.

Twenty-five years from now, no one will be clicking on drop-down menus, but everyone will still be pointing at maps and correcting each others’ sentences. It’s fundamental. Good information software reflects how humans, not computers, deal with information.” - Bret Victor

There’s a reason I search out opinions like this. I agree with them, and it confirms my bias of the importance of the ‘visual communication’ of information. (That doesn’t mean I’m correct, or he’s correct).

Voice as an interface doesn’t kill interface design, because it doesn’t kill information. But it will permanently change it. And that’s something I have to think about.