Design for the human

In episode 467 of HBR Ideacast Evernote CEO Phil Libin discusses how the increasingly personal devices such as the phone or smart watch are changing how work gets done.  He makes many interesting points in this podcast, but one that stood out was how these new devices are reducing the session length of each interaction.  Where time spent on a computer can be often measured in hours, time spent on each interaction with a smart watch can be measured in seconds.   This difference, a drastic reduction in session length while at the same time dramatically increasing the number of sessions per day, means that software design must take this into account by designing not for the device but the human.  

Already in the consumer space users are requiring software that seamlessly operates from device to device depending on the context (such as Apple’s continuity).  Enterprise software, or business process within business, hasn’t caught up with this phenomena.

Oh Myyy! I’m surprised I liked this book

George Takei, Mr. Sulu to most of us, has become a real internet celeb.  I recently read his new book Oh Myyy! There Goes the Internet.  I don’t spend any time on Facebook but the detail he provides on building an audience is fascinating. He spends a good bit of the book outlining how the Facebook systems work from his vantage point. I think it sounds like a creepy addiction machine but whatever. It’s a super short read, well worth the time even if you’re not interested in social media. He’s just a funny guy.

 Buy the Book

Using endless latinate language

Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London appeared on BBC Newsnight. At about the 5min mark the interviewer asked the Mayor to review three clips of other British politicians of various parties. It’s interesting to watch Johnson as he views these clips, his reaction is priceless.

More importantly his message about what was wrong with all three clips is a critical lesson. Simple language is more effective. In the words of Boris Johnson, using endless latinate words is a clue to the intent of the speaker and that intent isn’t positive.

Speak simply. Use plain English.

Mobile is eating the world

This is an update to Ben Evans previous work (started I think before he joined a16z).  It’s very interesting to see the data presented so starkly.  From a business standpoint it’s important to realize that the change has occurred.  Everything is mobile now, certainty in the developed world.  If you’re serious about that business process, new venture, new product or new improvement effort you had better be thinking about mobile pervasive connectivity.

Stupid simple slide transition tip

So dumb, so helpful

— Merlin Mann

On a recent episode of the Inquisitive podcast, #11: Merlin As A Service, the guest Merlin Mann mentioned a simple yet excellent tip on how to use presentation software (PowerPoint or Keynote for example) to improve the transition slide to slide.

When I have to present to an audience one of the issues I have, especially if I haven’t prepared enough, is to make the transition slide to slide seamless.  I can also struggle if I’ve wondered off the script and need to gracefully transition back into the next slide, often I’ve forgotten what the next slide is!

Merlin’s tip is to use the notes fields in the presentation software in two specific ways.  For each note, aside from the talking points on the side itself, the first line should include, in large bold type, the first thought, words or concept that should come out of the presenters mouth when the slide is presented.  More importantly, the last line of the notes slide should include the first words, thought or concept on the next slide.  This is frankly a genius recommendation.  Having notes arranged this way ensures that as you start the transition from the current slide to the next you can be talking thru the transition as it occurs.  Even if you don’t know your material by heart it can seem like you do.

This approach also has a side benefit of helping redirect if you, like me, wonder off topic.  You can simply hit that last line and transition.

Two Beatles in the class

Sir Ken Robinson is probably known by anyone who’s a fan of TED.  His talks at the TED conference are among the most popular, and for good reason.   In this short video he makes the point that “experts” cannot always identity talent, even great talent.  I think this is especially true if that talent doesn’t operate along traditional lines.

It’s about the data

A great overview on Daring Fireball of the recent decision by some retailers to turn off their existing NFC systems to prevent customers from using the new Apple Pay system

And the reason they don’t want to allow Apple Pay is because Apple Pay doesn’t give them any personal information about the customer. It’s not about security — Apple Pay is far more secure than any credit/debit card system in the U.S. It’s not about money — Apple’s tiny slice of the transaction comes from the banks, not the merchants. It’s about data.


Increasingly the business model of retailers is less about selling stuff and more about data collection and manipulation. The fact that retailers want to collect and use data on customers isn’t the issue, it’s the fact that the vast majority of customers aren’t aware of this.