Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Avatar Imax 3D - very good user experience

If you are going to see Avatar (and do), get there early and get a good seat. I was near the front and to one side, and the 3D didn't work naturally all the time. The plot and characterisation is better than Titanic but maybe not as good as Terminator 2. I was easily swept along and fully engaged by the film. The presence of real actors makes it a real film rather than an animated film. The world on Pandora is amazing, the visual experience is terrific. There were some very young kids in the audience, who were more upset than impressed.

Forecast for the coming depression

Political atrophy in the West, Solar Cycle 24, Peak Oil, the Western debt crisis, shifting demographics, and the move of power from West to East makes for a heady mixture. Generally unpleasant and with plenty of potential for extremely unpleasant instability. Forecasting emergent properties of such a complex system is unwise but seasonal. Here goes. Links might get added at a future date.

The US will have a jobless recovery. The UK will have a jobless non-recovery. Europe will sort itself out economically but not politically.

Our very tenuous hold on technology will lose its grip from time to time on a global scale. Hopefully in computing rather than genetic engineering.

The books of the coming decade are, alas, Brave New War and Globalistan. Much more of mankind will return to its natural state (war, rather than peace - JCF Fuller).

Some flows:

In the West, the flow of money has been from the mainstream to the very rich. After the fall of the Shah, his folly in hollowing out the middle classes was highlighted. The vampire squid community has the arrogance and ignorance to believe they will avoid such a fall. They are wrong.

The traditional energy-intensive industrial flows of making things, and moving materials and people will be severely tested by pricing, shortage and climate. In pruning terms, a 'thirding'. Those that adopted real lean practices and the mantras of the dot com era (think global act local, network or die) will be best placed to survive. Airlines and newspapers are the ones in focus now, but hotels and tourism, more general publishing, building, shipping, car manufacture etc will all be affected more and faster than they themselves think right now. The flow of materials has acquired two disruptions. Firstly, lots of it will flow East rather than West, and the West doesn't have the money for a Plan B (expensive food and energy through cold winters will certainly focus the mind, but the wallet will remain empty). Secondly, the dispossessed will become empowered to prevent such flows (See John Robb e.g. on MEND as a template).

The communications flows are really starting to change.

In John Boyd terms, the Western political elite has achieved moral and mental isolation from the populace, and there is no flow of ideas or values. It is 'The Plan' or hell in a handbasket for Western politics. Probably the latter, alas. The show at Westminster will be unrecognisable in five years time. Unfortunately most of the new entrants will be from the same isolated, clueless elite and Parliament will be completely unable to cope with changed circumstances. Douglas Carswell (on the right) and perhaps Frank Furedi (on the left) seem to see this and have something to offer. Pocket money on political betting should be distributed among whatever really long odds are on offer.

State-run higher education has had its day. The flow of ideas and knowledge between the young and the old will by-pass the State-run universities more or less completely.

Commercial communication based around 'brand' has become obsolete. Tiger Woods may become seen as the turning point, reflecting its lack of authenticity, its shallowness and its irrelevance. User-centred innovation around social objects (Hugh MacLeod at gapingvoid) has won. Madison Avenue just doesn't know it yet. Celebrity 'culture' is in its death throes but will become much more bizarre before going. In other respects, Web 2.0 will continue to devour everything as it has been doing.

As regards moral flows, repelling islamism will become more and more pressing. The only force that could enable Western civilisation to survive is the power of Christ. Christianity will either save the West (again) or die with it. Perhaps Rowan Williams could take retirement immediately and let John Sentamu run things. The Pope seems to be on the case.

Finally a wish; that the HSE pilots a repeal of the Taylor reforms for the wider Bootle area, enabling Goodison and Anfield to become economically viable and to restore the Kop for the Shankly Centenary.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Christmas Crackers

Some reading for the Christmas break.

Charles Stross has a wonderful big-picture overview about mobile phones, Google and Apple.

Mark Coleran has assembled screenshots of his work on Fantasy User Interfaces.

Not at all festive, but a wonderful post by Edward Harrison at Barry Ritholtz on "The recession is over but the depression has just begun."

A wonderful insight into how to treat complexity (or not) in Afghanistan. Very entertaining article and do download the powerpoint. Winning the War through Powerpoint.

And of course, the campaign to bring back The Mogambo Guru.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Integration, resilience and specialization in meeting the user experience

Information Arbitrage has a very interesting post on vertical integration. It, and the comments, go wider than vertical integration, into what sorts of organizational structures are best able to support an experience economy and keep up with user needs and aspirations driving technology. The author, Roger Ehrenberg has moved from a firm belief in a tight organizational focus and specialization, citing Apple as an example of how having tight control over hardware and software enables them to provide a user experience not matched by Dell/Intel/Microsoft. His case for integration is based on speed. My suspicion is that flexibility in investment, freedom from IPR wrangles and the ability to move resources are more important than organizational speed. The need for flexibility and redundancy in supply chains is discussed. There are some very good comments.

The move to deglobalisation or reglobalisation with much less material travelling round the world (especially with slow steaming) looks quite likely.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

HCD for dementia care

Gerry Robinson is doing two programmes for BBC2 on re-designing dementia care. The first one was wonderful and is on iplayer. The second one is 15th Dec 2009.

The revolution in dementia care is understanding the patient experience and looking at care from the patient's point of view, using an activity logging approach called care mapping. Apparently this is a radical thing to do. So it is, in terms of the' service provision' community.

The regulator, of course, is concerned with box-ticking and paperwork rather than the Quality In Use of care. It would not be hard to adapt HCD standards and apply them to service delivery such as dementia care, to the immense benefit of all parties.

He shows that good care is attractive to relatives and helps the bottom line in privately-run care homes.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Clarkson is right about the internet

This blog does not intend to become a Jeremy Clarkson fanzine, but the man has the impact of the internet exactly right.

"It’s a monster. An invisible machine over which mankind has absolutely no control. We can’t even turn it off."

This is a nihilist view compared to Kevin Kelly's view of the Technium as an unruly child but similar in view. Kevin Kelly:
"We don't quite appreciate it yet, but our child, technology, is more powerful than we its parents are. "

Clarkson's post about Murdoch vs. google seems, like most material on this topic, to miss the main point. How did the very-savvy newspaper industry let its advertising revenue go to google? I used to know a newspaper advertising manager (Bob's dad), and the importance of raising advertising revenue used to be fully understood. What happened?

Great piece by Clay Shirky from March 2008.