Archive for the ‘Society’ Category

The New York Times iPad Application

April 6th, 2010 No comments

It is interesting to note that the user interface on the iPad is not as effective as in iFlex due to the limited range of control provided by the original iPhone gestures list. On the iPhone the swipe gesture was only used to spin through a list. As a result the only swipe gestures provided are either horizontal or vertical to spin through a displayed list. You can not swipe up and down in a list that is displayed as sequence of horizontal screens.

In the iFlex user interface the user moved within an article by using the arrow keys to scroll vertically and with the left and right keys to scroll to the next article in the section. This provided a great user experience as scrolling down within an article was natural and scrolling left to right to skim the above the fold view of each article provided ideal article surfing.

With the restriction to a single left right swipe for the scroll through a list, the developers have been forced to only allow scrolling through an individual article, and then forced the user to use a very awkward button to return to the front page. Pressing a button is not directional, so doesn’t allow the next or previous article to be selected, and interrupts the surfing experience with the need to press a small button instead of using a swipe.

In the absence of multi-dimensional swipe, the iPad has a drag gesture which would allow movement both vertically and horizontally with gestures. It isn’t clear if the iPad presentation layer would allow this to be used to flip to the next item rather than providing a location for a moved object but this may provide an interim solution. The long term solution would be to switch to a swipe gesture which allows movement in both dimensions and a return to an elegant surfing of the content.


Social Entrepreneurism

June 27th, 2009 No comments

One of the topics that came up in this week’s Thursday Morning Coffee Meetup was the extent to which companies should be following social rather than financial objectives. Most people want to do their bit for society and it seems that possibly the majority of people in the startup community are wanting to adopt a primarily social or charitable focus to their activities. I can’t help worrying that this is not a realistic path for most of the people following it. If one is generating cash then diverting a potentially significant proportion to charity definitely helps us all but trying to factor in social objectives to every business decision leads to some very difficult decision making.

One can barely travel to a client or deliver a product and present it as ecologically sustainable. Even the much heralded virtues of the ingredients of some chunky ice creams are really greening of a product which clogs arteries and even kills off customers. Trying to be truly consistent could lead to some very long office meetings. The effect would tend to be a weight on the ecologically and socially conscious businesses. The more equitable way forward, I would argue, is for people to be better informed to be able to make the decisions they need to make and to be less shy about regulation so that businesses are on a level playing field that takes account of wider social impact. For each company to try to decide this for itself is a less practical solution than the regulation adopted in Europe, Japan and increasingly in China.

The prevailing wish in the discussion this week to have corporations manage the decision is probably in large part an effect of being in US culture where there is minimal regulation, little supervision and a lack of any notion that government should have a more active social role. Or even be effective in general. Corporations seem to be looked to to solve all problems. Our national government spends less than 0.5% of spending on education, less than 1.5% on social programs and a total of 48% of non overhead spending on the military. So the idea that the national government should be taking care of social expenditure, taxing carbon emissions and other destruction often seems foreign. It does seem though that at least the need is being identified, which is a cultural change for the US, if the solution being discussed is still a very different one.


Chai Network publishes a free Business Strategy course

November 28th, 2008 No comments

A former NYU lecturer, Jack Sandler Bloom, has published a community around a Business Strategy course. The course is an effective start (currently two classes) of a business strategy course. His vision is of a broader educational platform where participants can make available for free, educational materials. He also offers a marking and feedback process for a charge. The two current classes are of good quality offering very interesting content.

At present the content is little more than a video blog and a lot is needed to realize the goal of large scale distribution of free educational content. Several other organizations have tried. At one time CompuServe started CompuServe University and a number of national education departments make a modest amount of material available for free.

As young potential students and parents start to understand how much material is available for free and the extent to which many so called universities in the US are just teaching commoditized courses from the major educational publishers the model of paying exorbitant fees has to come into question. The social network of like minded people is something which is available online at little or no cost and accreditations in varies certification forms are available at much lower cost.

The remaining niches retained by universities are brand and the ability to sanction grants and low rate loans. The micro lending platforms could easily tie in to certification agencies as a way of providing loans to finance the team people are able to spend educating themselves. The university brands themselves are extremely over vallued but this has been a factor in education for centuries. The openness provided by technology will slowly undermine it just as the invention of printing and the translation of the bible into lay languages greatly undermined the authority of the church.

There are bigger questions about the effect of the certification style training as a substitute for education and the effect it has on stifling creativity or even thought. Moving to greater certification and a closer link to people’s future earnings through commercial loans does hamper the ability to provide a rounded eduction for the good of the individual themselves.


The future of news papers or the lack of it

September 11th, 2008 No comments

Newspaper readership is continuing to decline. We continue to read messages directly from companies and governments while still getting news of incidents from a traditional news source for free online. Layoffs at newspapers continue a pace.

The amount of non paid add space is noticably declining in a number of publications and even on television despite it being an election year.

Jeff Jarvis has posted a presentation on the current state of the news industry here.

Categories: Marketing, Society Tags: , ,

Life Expectancy

February 8th, 2006 1 comment

Here’s a little calculator which tries to predict your life expectancy (Click the title above). Not so useful to plan the retirement savings you are going to need but interesting in that it points out some of the social factors that keep us all going. It’s an old survey so it doesn’t ask how many people’s blog diaries you read on a daily basis! Have a look you’ll understand what I mean.

Categories: Society Tags: ,