Final Project Video

Posted in Uncategorized on October 20th, 2009 by admin – Be the first to comment

Here is our final project video. This is my first attempt at video editing (EVER!) so it is very rough but I found iMovie so simple to learn and intuitive. Thanks Apple! I opened up Final Cut Pro to try and edit my movie on that and was intimidated. I’ll have to wait till I’m not under deadline to learn ‘real’ video editing software.

I also must reiterate I’m no news anchor and was reading from a script so it’s kind of boring but hopefully it contains enough information that it tells the story it needs to tell.

Final Project Video

Posted in Uncategorized on October 18th, 2009 by admin – Be the first to comment

Our final project video will be posted at some point tomorrow, but I wanted to add in some links that I reference in the video.

Google Keyword Selection Tool








“There’s An App for That”

Posted in Uncategorized on October 13th, 2009 by admin – 3 Comments

I couldn’t agree more with Shibuya Epiphany’s introductory quote from Tom Standage, “The Internet Untethered.”  We do think of mobile as an extension of the web.  After all, from our mobile phones, we’re looking for information just like we do on the internet as a whole.  And the creation of the internet is what enabled the cell phone to be as versatile as it is today.  The cell phone though, is not merely a medium through which we access the internet.  There are major differences in the type of content we access, in the way the information must be presented to us and our expectations with each different medium.

However, this inexorable internet/cell phone link is shaped by the generation in which I grew up. I remember life before the internet, and as previously mentioned, the internet came before the data-enabled phone.  So to me and my generation, the cell phone seems an off-shoot of the rise of the internet.  That’s why I found this quote in the article so interesting.

“Our informants liked to download new ringtones or query an i-mode site to find out if the boy they just met was astrologically compatible – but none thought of what they were doing as ‘using the Internet.’”

To the younger generation who never knew life before the internet, the internet is something you access when you’re at your computer, and your mobile connects you in other ways. Perhaps it utilizes the technology that the internet provides  but that’s where the similarity ends.  In order for us to view the mobile phone for what it truly is, we should take Hirschborn’s phrase “remote control for your life” into consideration.  This book after all, was written in 2002.  7 years later we can see and utilize all the technology that these men had envisioned but back then, it was more of an ‘epiphany’ indeed.

This ‘epiphany’ has come to me recently after I started using a blackberry. I never had a data enabled phone before so I was unable to see the cell phone as vastly different medium from the internet.

Blackberry CurveLet’s take a real-life example.  Yesterday I was running late to a meeting with Professor Simon so I emailed and texted him from my blackberry that I would be late.  After our meeting, I met a friend and we went for a hike across the road at Sleeping Giant State Park. I took some photos and immediately uploaded them to Facebook.  After the hike, I was hungry so I downloaded the yelp for mobile application and based on my current location, it gave me a list of eateries nearby based on user ratings.  It also alerted me to the fact that the restaurant didn’t accept credit cards. So using my blackberry again, I went to my bank’s mobile site, and found the nearest ATM so I didn’t have to pay those outrageous fees for out-of-network facilities.  I then called my husband actually utilizing the technology that this contraption was invented for, and drove home (I would have utilized my google maps mobile app but I have a GPS system in my car).  How on earth did I survive before I had this wonderful tool?

While Rheingold’s chapter is mostly concerned with the way adolescents interact with mobile technology and research on how it’s shaping peer groups, relationships and social communication, I think looking at only these early adopters is a mistake.  Since 2002, mobile technology, especially in the United States, has increased dramatically and texting is only a small portion of it.  We’re all familiar with the ubiquitous motto, “There’s an app for that” and I think that really says it all.  In the near future, our mobile phones will be able to give us any type of information we could conceivably need, on the fly.  Not sitting in front of our desktop or lugging around our laptop.  The social connectivity aspect is important but what is truly earth shattering is the accessibility of all that information, literally at our fingertips.

Legal implications of our final project

Posted in Uncategorized on October 11th, 2009 by admin – Be the first to comment

One would think a website dedicated to helping people locate beer would be fraught with legal implications but it appears this is not the case.  Though there are grave responsibilities that accompany a website that deals with alcohol consumption, it appears that not much legislation exists to govern this type of content.

One immediate concern is the site’s design as we had envisioned using images of real beer bottles as part of the site’s global header.  This could present a legal issue as we’d be using images that are chicory-stouttrademarked.  For example, if we used an image of a Dogfish Head bottle, we’d presumably need permission from the brewer as their logo is trademarked.  With smaller brewers this may not present a problem as we’re giving their product free promotion.  If necessary, we could always visit the brewery to show the brewmaster how earnest and sincere we are about the quality of our endeavour.  :>) If our site is not commercial, then possibly the reproduction could be covered under ‘fair use.’ The US Copyright Office ‘sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair:’

1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
2. The nature of the copyrighted work
3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work

samadams.comThe sites created by major brewers all have a barrier to entry.  You must enter your age before you are permitted to see the site’s content.  On samadams.com they actually make you enter the year of your birth twice! However, these measures seem to be a type of policing encouraged within the industry itself and not created as a result of legislation.  The  Distilled Spirits Council of the United States has 2009 Media ‘Buying’ Guidelines posted on their site and one section pertains directly to the internet.  They also have a ‘Code of Responsible Practices’ which states:

“DISCUS members are committed to the responsible placement and content of their brand communications.  The overriding principle of our Code is to market our products to adults in a responsible and appropriate manner.  Towards this end, DISCUS members pledge voluntarily to conduct their advertising and marketing practices in the United States in accordance with the provisions of this Code.”

It seems as though the barrier to entry created by large breweries, are self-imposed as a result of their membership in DISCUS would not apply to an independent site like ours.

One area of the site that could raise legal implications is the portion that allows users to rate establishments.  The litigious disposition of American society leads one to believe that a lawsuit could ensue if an owner didn’t feel that the review was fair.  However given the ubiquitous nature of reviews, especially on the internet, this seems unlikely.  These days, companies actually hire people simply to monitor what’s being said about them, and the smart ones take the feedback into consideration when making changes to their organization.

Overall there are definitely many factors to consider, legal, moral and otherwise when creating a website of this kind, but due diligence and some common sense should prevent any legal implications from arising.

A Nation of Whiners

Posted in Uncategorized on October 8th, 2009 by admin – 2 Comments

On both sides of the piracy/file sharing debate, I hear a whole lot of whining. The pirates are whining about stifling creativity, greed and the corporate conglomerates, and the MPAA, music labels and their signed artists, are whining about lost revenues, theft and fairness. Each side has valid points to back up their arguments but who’s right?

The MPAA admits in Steal This Film II that piracy cannot be stopped. So what are they accomplishing then with their sporadic lawsuits against average web users? It is like trying to catch Niagra Falls in a thimble. Their time and money might be better spent trying to come up with better strategies for dealing with the new ways people access and listen to music. They should capitalize on the speed and efficiency with which most people can access music instead of trying to combat the inevitable file sharing. You hear a song you like on the radio? You can download it straight to your phone instantly. Amazing! With their thimbleful of lawsuits trying to counter the Niagra Falls of P2P users, the music industry are just making enemies of their customers. Last time I checked, that wasn’t a successful or viable business model (though maybe it IS viable as I hate my cable and internet provider yet am forced to use them due to lack of other competitors in my area).

On the other hand, the ‘pirates’ talk about creativity and open communication and sharing. Let’s get real. Do we really think Berry Gordy founded Motown Records solely in the hope that people would hear the music and be inspired? I don’t doubt that his love of music affected his business decisions but the desire to make money surely played a part as well. The idealism that was rampant in the speakers in Steal This Film II, need to be tempered with realism. Not every artist creates just for the sake of creativity. The musician that creates music and distributes it for free on the internet is great. But what does he use to live? Last time I checked, we need money to live.

Artists should be paid for their work since that’s exactly what it is… work.  Even the creators of Steal This Film II seem to acquiesce to this point, as remarkably, they ask for money at the culmination of their film!

I don’t have a solution to appease either side. But instead of battling each other, or waging the war in the hopes that one wins outright, they need to figure out a solution where both come away satisfied.

Ethics, capitalism and the little guy

Posted in Uncategorized on October 6th, 2009 by admin – Be the first to comment

E-mickann discusses ethics in her office in her latest blog posting.  Some of the scenarios that she presents don’t strike me as morally ambiguous.  She works for a large firm and because of their larger budget, they can spend more on Search Engine Marketing than their smaller competitors.  This is pretty much the essence of capitalism and a free market economy.  They do things differently in China, North Korea and Venezuela but I’m not sure we want to move to those countries where the smaller fish get an equal share of the pie (at least in theory that is!).

While I can sympathize with the compassion she feels towards the little guy, they have advantages too.  I work for a fairly large company as well and we’re stuck with bureaucracy, incredibly slow processes and sometimes a resistance to change.  These hindrances may exist in smaller companies but I doubt they occur with the same regularity or depth.  Also in this day and age, it’s actually seen as advantageous to be the little guy since people feel like they’re doing a good deed by purchasing from a company that’s not a behemoth.  Etsy.com, farmer’s markets and foodzie.com are good examples of these.  Large companies are often seen as monopolistic, greedy and sometimes corrupt (see Microsoft, Google and Pfizer as good examples).  The little guy can make it, they just need ingenuity and intelligence but those are ingredients that were always necessary for their success.

Final Project User Needs

Posted in Uncategorized on October 4th, 2009 by admin – Be the first to comment

My final project partner has posted our updates for this module.


The have-nots and how they got that way

Posted in Uncategorized on October 3rd, 2009 by admin – 5 Comments

I thoroughly enjoyed reading KMD’s rant about Cooper’s view on interaction designers and how they can make the world a better place.  I do agree to a point. I think Cooper is stretching if he thinks bringing interaction design into the beginning of the design/development process instead of the middle or end will really have a profound effect on the gap between the haves and have-nots in our society.  As Kim states, “This world is not a Utopia where everyone is equal.”  Additionally, in Kim’s view designers should not design with the lowest common denominator in mind.  Yes, I think most of us can agree on this.  All software, hardware, websites, etc should not be designed for the person who is truly developmentally challenged in some way.

McDonalds logoHowever, I take a different approach to some of the issues she mentions.  While Kim thinks that, “there will always be people who know and those who don’t. There will always need to be someone who works at McDonalds. Perhaps that will be  “PC-Illiterate-Secretary-Jane”.”  Why don’t we figure out how ‘people who know’ get to be those very people?  And are the people who work at McDonalds there because they want to be, because they are not capable of more intellectually challenging work or sometimes for some other reason?

Let me be bold and categorize myself as a person ‘who knows.’  I am pretty sure I got to where I am because of a solid family support system, growing up in a nurturing safe environment with good education available and some gene pool luck that gave me a brain.  Yes some of it had to do with decisions I’ve made and the work I’ve done.  But who instilled the work ethic in me and gave me guidance to assist in my decision making?  Some people who are born ‘have-nots’ do succeed through perseverance, hard work and sometimes luck.  But these people have to work much harder than someone like me.

It should be a goal in our society to level the playing field.  After all, ‘all men are created equal.’ But not all men are born equal or into equal circumstances with equal opportunities available to them.  By making computers and the software that run them more intuitive, people who are not fortunate enough to grow up with a computer would still be able to compete with the ‘haves’ for jobs that require basic computer skills.

Let’s not take for granted how lucky we are.

Why I am skeptical of UX ‘Experts’ or Interaction Designers

Posted in Uncategorized on September 30th, 2009 by admin – Be the first to comment

What are the standards by which we can judge an interaction designer’s guesses vs more solid research-based information?  I was at least gratified to see that Cooper brought up this issue in “The Inmates are Running the Asylum.”  Cooper defends the profession by comparing the interaction designer to that of an x-ray technician.  But I disagree with the analogy.  In an x-ray, the doctor or technician can point out the injury to a lay person.  While we may not have noticed the dark smudge or infinitesimal line without their assistance, once it is pointed out to us, it is visible and obvious.  The same is not true of design flaws.

Jared SpoolWith regard to digital media specifically, oftentimes, someone who classifies themself as an ‘interaction designer’ or ‘UX expert’ is merely someone with some  experience in the field.  Because our profession is still in its infancy, it is quite easy for anyone to pass themselves off as an expert without being truly qualified.  I don’t doubt that experts in the field exist.  One I mentioned previously is Jared Spool, founder of Usability Interface Engineering.  The bulk of the man’s work is performing user research and testing and reporting back on the results of that testing.  It is quite obvious after hearing him speak that he is truly an expert in the bourgeoning field.

The issue I have, is with people who are not out in the field constantly conducting user research, but are basing their decisions seemingly on opinion or simply ‘guessing’ as Cooper capitulates.  Is there really a way to tell the difference?  I suppose it could be argued that it is unclear what actually qualifies anyone to be an expert at anything.  Cooper also mentions a finance professional who has a better understanding of when to buy and sell than the rest of us (though the recent financial crisis may put that theory to bed).  This expertise is based on experience, track record and sometimes partly a gut instinct.

Very bad web design

Very bad web design

I think the key difference between any of these other professions Cooper mentions and that of an interaction designer is the track record.  For us to take the advice and opinion of a self-proclaimed UX expert, they need to be able to point to a solid portfolio of sites or interactive applications whose development they have been involved in that have performed above or at least met expectations.  Until we set standards for this profession, I fear we’ll be subject to the whims of people who sound authoritative but may not be qualified to be making design decisions.

(A brief background to explain my skepticism. A lot of people in my field think they are the best at what they do.  They are not.  There are a lot of egos involved in web design and development and the push/pull between designing, developing and producing can be extremely frustrating.  It seems very arbitrary to me that I must take one person’s advice over another’s simply because they pass themselves off as an expert or are assumed to be one given their lofty title.  I think the key to a lot of this is that digital media is really a new field and we are unsure of how to assess someone’s qualifications.  I once had a boss who had virtually no digital media experience and yet at the design stage her opinion was paramount.  How can this be?  Sometimes there will be 3 people looking at a design and they have 3

Good design is invisible

Good design is invisible

different opinions.  That’s why I wholeheartedly agree with Cooper about the necessity of an interaction designer and user research.  The issue is finding one that is competent and has a solid track record to support their feedback.)

Video Entry Posted – Deliberate misinformation vs Honest mistakes in news reporting

Posted in Uncategorized on September 27th, 2009 by admin – 2 Comments

Watch at your own peril. I’m not an news anchor by any stretch. I do have more respect for people who talk to a camera after completing this project though. Speaking to inanimate objects ain’t my thing.