Notes on interaction design & development. Get the Feed.
By Christoph Ono, builder at GBKS, and tweetable at @GBKS.

Newsletters

8/30/14

Recently I sign up for a few design & tech related newsletters. I really enjoy the format of a weekly, summarized update. It lets you be confident that you get a nice, concise summary of interesting news in your Inbox. Now, these are newsletters by individuals who are experts in their fields, not newsletters by companies or magazines.

Frame Clashes, or: Why the Facebook Emotion Experiment Stirs Such Emotion

8/30/14

Do we, as a public, want companies like Facebook to be able to do large scale human subject research outside the regulatory and normative framework that academia has developed? What kind of norms and regulations do we want for new practices like A/B testing and the power it entails? How can we safeguard that large-scale, fine-grained human subject research – both by corporate entities and individuals – does not harm the individual and public good?

Lots of discussion right now about the Facebook newsfeed experiment. The human subject research part is certainly a big issue. Others claim that the A/B testing Buzzfeed, Amazon, et al constantly do is the same thing, which is incorrect.

Facebook claims to be a utility to keep up with friends. There is an expectation that you should see the most important posts, whether they are good or bad, sad or happy. That's what it means to stay in touch with friends. Messing with what is shown means you are manipulating people's relationships, which should not be done lightly. How I feel about the posts I see should not matter. When my friends post something important, I should know.

The relationship between Amazon, Buzzfeed, etc and their users is different. They are not communication tools or social networks. On Facebook, friends post content, Facebook organizes that information, and then I see it. On Amazon, Buzzfeed, etc there are only two parties involved, and it's really just about me as the user. They post things I can decide to read or not, that's it.

So the newsfeed experiment, to me, is another big step in eroding trust and accountability between Facebook and it's user. You just really can't be sure anymore if Facebook is really helping you stay in touch with friends, or whether it's just trying to squeeze another click out of you by showing you whatever emotional post of moment.

Material Design

8/30/14

The design changeover is being driven from the top. Ever since Steve Jobs has died and Larry took over as CEO, he's gotten the design religion, and his goal is for Google's design to remain fresh and drive trends forward perpetually. So as far as the company is concerned, this is a feature, not a bug. It's true that the individual designers responsible for doing the design often vary from project to project. However, there's a fair amount of continuity as well. The designer who initiated the design refresh announced today has been with the company since 2006; the designer I worked with for the visual refresh of 2010 now heads up design for all of Search. They are explicitly told by executives to make things fresh and remove previous constraints when imagining the new Google.

No wonder Android gets redesigned very year, management wants it to be "fresh". Problem is that design should be driven by function, not by a desire to be hip. I think that's why Android designs always seem shallow and poorly thought through below the surface.

Sweden’s proposed six-hour workday

8/30/14

I moved from the US (high on the list) to the Netherlands (bottom of the list) a while ago. Different jobs and sectors vary, but the theme I can confirm is that the Dutch feel more productive, generally (I work in software development). In very broad terms, the Dutch are more likely to plan and stick to those plans. Personal time and time off are valued, so you need to be efficient in your working hours. You can't really expect someone to respond to your emails after working hours. Having to work in the weekends at all is a sign of bad project management, and should be exceptional. Meetings have agendas which are sent out ahead of time. Americans are generally more optimistic, which makes for worse time management and planning, which leads to overtime and stress. Being seen at work somehow equals working, and internal guilt for not working efficiently while at work leads to more weekend work. There's a big focus how much you've 'worked' this week. Interruption is common for things which could be structured. To be honest, it's been pretty difficult to adjust, but the payoff is huge. Actual free time after work, real weekends, and longer vacations are all possible because people plan... whereas friends back home are often unable to plan vacations because they/their boss don't know how busy they'll be in 5 months.

What are common mistakes that new or inexperienced managers make?

8/30/14

The single most common mistake I see managers making is assuming that their job is to manage the people rather than the project, closely followed by trying to micro-manage the project itself. Trust and delegation are key to all of this. A good manager looks after a project not its people, concentrates on the big picture while letting others deal with the small details. A good manager achieves this by delegation.

Putting the Chat into Snapchat

8/30/14

But until today, we felt that Snapchat was missing an important part of conversation: presence. There’s nothing like knowing you have the full attention of your friend while you’re chatting.

I really like how they are continuing their unique take on their product.

"Objectified": Jonathan Ive

8/30/14

...so many of the products we are surrounded by want you to be very aware of how clever the solution was... at some level you're aware of a calm and considered solution that speaks to how you're going to use it, not to the terrible struggles we as designers and engineers had in trying to solve some of the problems.

Samsung Philosophy

8/30/14

Samsung will strive to ensure that reason and emotional sensibility are harmoniously embedded throughout the whole design process from cognition and the organization of thought to expression and creation.

It's a good idea for Samsung to define and declare their philosophy, and the vision of making technology work for people makes sense. But this writing style turns turns it into gibberish.

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