Archive for November, 2010
Quoting from his post entitled “The Algorithm + The Crowd Are Not Enough”:
In the last decade, the online world has been ruled by two, twin forces: The Crowd and The Algorithm. The collective “users” of the Internet (The Crowd) create, click, and rate, while mathematical equations add scalability and findability to these overwhelming quantities of data (The Algorithm). Like the moon over the ocean, the pull of these two forces help create the tides of popularity (and obscurity) on the Internet. Information is more accessible, useful, and egalitarian than ever before.
But lately, at least to me, the weaknesses of this crowdsourced + algorithmic system are showing, and the next revolution feels inevitable.
He goes on to look at how many top sites add a human layer to the social, algorithmic web (like Quora and Oyster) and predicts that human taste makers and expert opinions will be part of the next big thing online. It’s a great read and worth a click.
VUDU is on a roll this year! Just in time for the holiday season, VUDU and Panasonic team up to stream VUDU’s HD library direct to Panasonic’s 2010 VIERA Cast-enabled Blu-Ray Disc players.
This marks the last remaining major consumer electronics manufacturers to add VUDU to its entertainment lineup. In just a short 18 months, VUDU expanded from its first embedded partner (LG) to all of the top nine CE manufacturers (LG, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Samsung, SANYO, Sharp, Toshiba and Vizio) and to its first console partner on the PS3.
This morning we’ve seen great coverage on the announcement. Read more below and we’ll continue to update during the day!
Stage Two recently came across this great Business Week article that examines why so many products fail.
The piece – written in 2007 – profiles Bill Buxton, his book and his product philosophy.
Sketching User Experience is, nominally, a book about product design. But it would be just as accurate to say that it’s a book about software development, or, more generally, about the often broken process of bringing new products to market, with examples ranging from the iPod to an orange juicer.
“Hardly a day goes by that we don’t see an announcement for some new product or technology that is going to make our lives easier, solve some or all of our problems, or simply make the world a better place,” writes Bill Buxton in the preface to his book. “Few of these products survive, much less deliver on their typically over-hyped promise.” Why, Buxton asks, are we not learning from these expensive mistakes? Why are we not fundamentally rethinking the process of product development?
Xtranormal is this wonderful little tool that lets anyone make verbally stunted, robotically animated characters say anything the user tells them to – fertile ground for memes, indeed. In fact, one needs no further proof that Xtranormal has reached true meme status than the fact that Geico has started using it to create funny little web ads that have even “gone viral” in their own right.
Even Jeremy Toeman, Stage Two founder, took about 15 minutes out of his busy schedule to create his own “What’s a Meme?” video using the Xtranormal meme (how very meta). The video has already been picked up by our friends over at TechCrunch and has been viewed more than 30,000 times. Check it out below:
We’ve taken the liberty of rounding up some of the best Xtranormal movies from around the web below. If you’ve got some time to kill, these vids should help you along nicely:
iPhone4 vs HTC Evo
So You Want to Start a Web Startup?
So You Want to Go to Law School
The Social Media Guru(classic)
David Pogue takes a look at Google TV in the New York Times today. His verdict? That the latest iteration of Internet plus Television will thrill geeks the world over but will ultimately prove too complex for everyday users. Quoting from the article:
This much is clear: Google TV may be interesting to technophiles, but it’s not for average people. On the great timeline of television history, Google TV takes an enormous step in the wrong direction: toward complexity.
For starters, it requires a mouse and keyboard. That’s right. For your TV. Hope you weren’t going for that rustic look in your TV room.
He also highlights some usability issues that are likely to confound couch potatoes.
On the main menu, quick: what’s the difference between Bookmarks and the Queue? What’s the difference between Applications and Spotlights? All of them look the same: labeled icons.
It’s all customizable, unfamiliar and mostly baffling, and you don’t get a single page of instructions. (I learned how to use Google TV by shooting a fusillade of questions to the Google P.R. people — an option I’m guessing won’t be open to you.)
Stage Two’s Jeremy Toeman made similar arguments for a simplified, easy to use Sony Google TV remote at Cult of Mac recently. New technologies should be easily understood by a wide range of people in order to fuel mass adoption.
Stage Two spotted this informative article over at UX Magazine today. Marek Pawloski does a great job of mapping out some of the emerging trends in mobile usability. As a new generation of people grow up using touch screens and mobile devices, the UX/UI paradigm will shift drastically in the coming years. Indeed, untethered devices and wireless networks are “sweeping away the legacy of interaction methods established for fixed computing scenarios.”
Quoting from the article:
Touch Breaks Down Barriers Between Physical and Digital
Firstly, there is a move from indirect to direct manipulation methods. Touchscreens are a more natural way to interact with the digital world, and are proliferating. Children are having their first digital experiences with touchscreens on their parents’ mobile devices, which are defining their future interface expectations.
There have already been stories of children trying to use the familiar pinch-to-zoom gesture on the physical Polaroids in family photo albums.
As more users interact with digital services through touch, the familiar “chrome” of UIs—buttons, icons and menus—will fade into the background. The content itself—be it document, photo or video—is becoming the new user interface, growing its share of screen real estate, dominating the aesthetic, and responding directly to the user’s fingertips.
The entire article is worth a read. Expect more than a few of these tech trends to impact mobile device usability in the near future.
Last night at the Dolby Labs Theatre in San Francisco, VUDU announced they will be landing on the PlayStation®3 this month. VUDU also gave attendees a sneak peek of the new 2.0 user interface on the big screen, which goes live for all VUDU users in December.
The PS3™ delivers VUDU in a very fast and very powerful way, providing users with the same HD streaming users already love. Let’s not forget this includes streaming Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound.
Following roll out on the PS3™, in December VUDU will release a brand new 2.0 user interface. This new UI is optimized for HD and next generation controllers, including the PlayStation®Move. The redesign offers enhanced browsing, search and navigation to find your next favorite flick. You can see a few screen shots here.
We are seeing great coverage from last night and today – read more below and we’ll continue to update links throughout the day!
Congratulations Superfish! Our client, Superfish has announced today a Series C round of funding from Draper Fisher Jurvetson, DFJ Tamir Fishman Ventures, Individuals’ Venture Fund and Xenia Venture Capital.
Superfish is setting the standard for visual product search, making it easy for consumers to find identical or similar images and products based on the “visual DNA” of nearly any image. The money will go towards expanding operations, boosting market position, building channel and enhancing product innovation and development.
The press coverage we’ve seen so far is below – we’ll update the list as we see more stories go up.
The CNET Crave blog has a great article today that illustrates why great products need memorable names. The post reviews the new Sony RDP-XF100iP which is actually a pretty good portable speaker system. But the “name of the Sony RDP-XF100iP actually conveys nothing about the product.”
Great consumer tech must connect with people on an emotional level. It is impossible to feel anything for a product whose name reads like a serial number. For more on this topic, check out this excellent article entitled “How Bad Product Names Kill Good Devices” on Consumer Evangelists.
While we don’t officially have a “20% policy,” we like to encourage the entrepreneurial and innovative spirits here at Stage Two. We’ve toyed around with quite a few fun concepts in our “Labs,” and one of them passed all our sniff tests to the point where it’s ready for use. Stage Two Labs is thrilled to announce the public beta launch of NudgeMail, the world’s first fully email-based reminder system.
NudgeMail is free, secure, safe and easy. There is nothing to download or install and you don’t even have to set up a username or password to get timely reminders right in your inbox. NudgeMail works across multiple devices to deliver a seamless organizational experience. If you can check email then you can use NudgeMail.
Give it a try by writing or forwarding an email you want to deal with later to firstname.lastname@example.org. Set the subject line to the date or time to be reminded and you’re in business. It really is that easy.
NudgeMail helps busy people manage their time and emails more effectively. For more about the origins of NudgeMail, check out the NudgeBlog.
While we are sure there will be kinks to work out as the service scales, we are especially proud of the product we launched. NudgeMail embodies the Stage Two approach to product experience. We believe in making sophisticated technologies very easy to use. Our focus for products development is weighted heavily toward usability and simplicity. We bring this mindset and expertise to our clients and to the services we develop internally.
We also believe strongly in transparency, which is why we want to share the 4 guiding fundamentals we laid out when building NudgeMail.
1. Must Be Fully Email-Based
Our digital lives are more cluttered than ever, and there’s simply no other universal tech/business tool beyond email. The only reliable platform that is perfectly cross-device, cross-product, cross-browser, and cross-everything is Email. We wanted this service to run on PCs, Macs, Desktops, Laptops, iPads, iPhones, Androids, Blackberries, and Netbooks. Nudgemail must be universal and provide value to people with multiple devices.
2. Must Have Nothing To Download
The single biggest barrier to user adoption is requiring new technology installations on their devices. So we decided NudgeMail had to work with no plugins, apps, upgrades, reboots, loading screens, widgets or required downloads. Again, our focus on usability, interoperability and simplicity drove this decision. Although, we’ll probably build some downloadable upgrades in the future, but they will all be optional components.
3. Must Have No Registration
We wanted NudgeMail to be super-simple to start using. So we removed all the barriers between user and the service. NudgeMail has NO registration. No usernames or passwords to remember. No sign-in screens, no security questions. All you have to do is send an email.
4. Must Work in Plain Language
All commands have to be extremely intuitive so we designed NudgeMail to work with a variety of prompts and commands. Set a reminder for “onehour” or “tomorrow” and your email will arrive when you need it. Other things that just work: “history” (shows your recent history), “march 3rd” (sets a reminder for the next March 3rd), “snooze” (snoozes an existing reminder), “commands” (shows you a list of all commands), “EOD” (sends a reminder at the end of the business day), “nextfriday” (sends a reminder the following friday from now), etc. We’ve documented them all on the site, but it’s gotten pretty hard to stump us (we even know from typos!).
We hope you enjoy NudgeMail and look forward to building a strong, organized community of Nudgers in the coming weeks.