emergency weblog; or: epersonae; or: elaine nelson

in which I write about stuff

why simplicity matters

more notes

Categories: conference notes, General, Professional, webvisions 2005

thought “nobody will be blogging this” because it’s a very small conference, etc. 😉

going to be personal. researching operant conditioning at seaworld, car crash with pickup truck. louder than he would’ve imagined.

first thought: ctrl+z. got big laugh.

the tools we’re creating change us. (which is why using IE drives me batty; ctrl+tab does nothing.) ballerina’s toes. a pivot point in the world…we (in this room) are replacing the roles of kings, priests, shamans, in re: creating ritual. “persuasion technology” with great power comes great responsibility.

concerns about persuasion. “how computers can manipulate people”

like fire, good uses and bad. right now it’s like slow torture. not just a nuisance. think how many hours of your month have you wasted on solving computer problems.

the digital products we create will determine the future of this planet. (yes! yes! yes!)

bongo video. (I think this is part of why Mom & Dad A. didn’t want to keep their computer.)

*frustration* — cost is higher than expected and/or benefit lower than expected — resentment, sense of powerlessness.

vs. delight. cheaper or more benefits than expected…can’t always live here, but satisfaction is good too…that point in the middle.

we need to keep our users out of that corner. “radical simplicity”

why simplicity?
# lazy
# limited abilities (40% of american adults are illiterate or semi-literate; his sister would probably fall into that category, as might mine. hi, liz; I love ya, babe.)
# busy
# it sells; fewer examples in the hightech world, but lots in consumer products, look at cleaning products. picking a small/narrow problem and solve it simply.
# inclusiveness
# empower people to do what inspires them
# untouched field, lots of opportunity; either commercially or to do good things

back to the diamond. learning brings costs down. or fun makes things seem simpler, same difference. conclusion from studying video games: secret sauce is instant feedback that you are improving.

gratitude is the healthiest emotion (?)

what gets in the way of radical simplicity? it’s just more work. simplicity is brittle, doesn’t always translate between design and execution, easily broken.

plus cost and benefit are different between people and between contexts. costs: what people hate: giving up scarce resources. (cognitive energy, physical energy, time, money; there’s the other reason…it took way too many of those resources for mom to get any benefit out of computing.)

# research. studying people outside of silicon valley and their experiences with computing. “I just want a [cell] phone that makes phone calls” — he lives in a senior community?
# empathy. can be developed/learned. #1 quality he wishes for from his students at stanford. research can be about developing empathy. being an outcast can be good for developing empathy (is it because outsiders have the dominant mindset all around them at the same time they have their own…thought for later)
# be couragous. add a new feature? get the data to support it! every feature is an opportunity for failure.

grow your freedom…his goal is to create technologies that help people grow their freedom.

OMG…so inspirational!

q: why living in a senior community? was going to be a weekend home, but turned out to be a great place to live, and great interaction opportunities.

q: web as it? research/perspective on creator’s perspective? subjective nature of the user changes perspective on web? no, but he has a story/metaphor. dad makes wooden bowls, gave him a bowl that had fingerprints in the varnish, and that’s what he wanted. you should be proud of leaving those fingerprints.

q: how you teach students empathy? if he shares uncertanties, they open up more. more systematically, pictures with cards, people photos on them. (oh, like that writing exercise from intro to fiction!)

q: how do you get to simplicity? in a few months will be able to talk about case study in detail…lots of user-facing stuff to find key components. “3 things that always came up.” solve for the smallest set. enough talking that you never hear anything new…but what is the commonality? the smaller a chunk you solve for, the better.

q: how to avoid analysis paralysis? he uses external constraints, because it’s too much fun.

q: is anybody making a phone that’s just a phone? he doesn’t know.

q: wanting a search engine for the physical world. 🙂 (more a comment than a question…) simplicity is the way of getting things done that spends the least resources. he wants to Tivo people. (I’m always wanting to blog conversations.)

q: shining examples? can you think of products that are too simple? products he admires: ipod shuffle. jump to research on web credibility (I’ve blogged that at some point) — the more it looked like google, the more credibile it was. “clean” as an adjective.

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