Interesting elsewhere – 19 August 2011

Things which caught my eye elsewhere on the web

  • USENIX 2011 Keynote: Network Security in the Medium Term, 2061-2561 AD – Charlie’s Diary It’s nearly impossible to underestimate the political significance of information security on the internet of the future. Rather than our credentials and secrets being at risk – our credit card accounts and access to our email – our actual memories and sense of self may be vulnerable to tampering by a sufficiently deft attacker. From being an afterthought or a luxury – relevant only to the tiny fraction of people with accounts on time-sharing systems in the 1970s – security is pushed down the pyramid of needs until it’s important to all of us. Because it’s no longer about our property, physical or intellectual, or about authentication: it’s about our actual identity as physical human beings.
  • The Ministry of Lorem | Helpful Technology So I knocked up Ministry of Lorem. It grabs the latest press releases from about a dozen central government departments who publish usable RSS feeds, cleans up the first line a bit, randomises the order, and generates as many paragraphs of text as you need. Oddly mesmerising stuff:
  • A tale of two networks | Curiouscatherine’s Blog The problem here is so obviously not the technology –to say so is to take a technological determinist view of the world that ignores the fact that we have been on a path to a more networked society every since the telegraph enabled us to reach across the planet. You can no more remove the networked behaviour at this point than you can stop people talking on street corners.
  • The invisible website by Michele Ide-Smith I found there are websites and web applications I admire from a user experience perspective, because as a user I enjoy using and interacting with them. They minimise frustration and maximise the experience of finding information, carrying out particular tasks or sharing and communicating with other people.
  • HMRC – not very nice but a lot more efficient | Flip Chart Fairy Tales People won’t like it. Most no longer believe the more-for-less spin but a lot still think they will get the same for less. They will be in for a shock. Performance and productivity are not the same thing. The public services of the future will, hopefully, be more cost-effective but, in becoming so, they will won’t give us as much as we have been used to. In some cases, cheap may well mean nasty too.
  • Wicked (1) – Charlie’s Diary It is not the case that wicked problems are simply problems that have been incompletely analyzed; there really is no ‘right’ formulation and no ‘right’ answer. These are problems that cannot be engineered. The anger of many of my acquaintances seems to stem from the erroneous perception that they could be solved this way only those damned republicans/democrats/liberals/ conservatives/tree-huggers/industrialists/true believers/ denialists didn’t keep muddying the waters. Because many people aren’t aware that there are wicked problem they experience the failure to solve major complex world issues as the failure of some particular group to understand ‘the real situation.’
  • Difference & Relationship Between Usability & User Experience | Usability Geek In terms of a web site, the aim of usability is to make that web site easy to use whilst the aim of user experience is to make the user happy before, during and after using that web site. Thus, usability relates to the ease with which users can achieve their goals while interacting with a web site while user experience is concerned with the way users perceive their interaction with that web site
  • John Kay – Kipling’s game theory lessons for Greece In the dollar bill auction, one party eventually scores a pyrrhic victory and takes possession of the dollar bill. Both parties lose, but the smaller loser is the person who sticks out longest. That is not usually the rational player.
  • Contrast Rebellion – to hell with low-contrast fonts! Clearly, aesthetics are important but aren’t the ultimate goal of design. And often poor readability doesn’t get noticed during the design process, as we are not like our users. We don’t read the texts as a visitor does.
  • Five Popular Web Strategies That Don’t Work | UX Magazine While usability is a must for long-term success, it’s really just table stakes. If your websites and products aren’t useful as well as usable, then all the usability in the world won’t help you.
  • What’s the next challenge for Open Government data? | Emma Mulqueeny Forget the data. Find a way to enable these revolutionary ideas, apps, websites and widgets that save time, money and mind-numbing frustration from those who have to engage with government. Do that, and only that.
  • Man walks into a column, no.29: Change « arbitrary constant My point is that no amount of cajoling or persuasion will get service users over the natural resistance to change if they can’t experience the benefits of a redesigned service themselves (and after all, we know most politicians are liars, as I’ve blogged before: why trust them?). It’s a version of the ‘if you build it, they will come’ argument. We may hate change, but it’s amazing how quickly and radically we do change if we find something better than we had before.
  • Pervasive UX – Who is Responsible? – Digital Optimist As businesses and organisations offer more information and functionality through more channels and in more places, it is imperative that someone considers who all of this was being done for to begin with. If the output, due to internal disagreement, is already a compromise, then the experience for the individual can only be fragmented.
  • Stumbling and Mumbling: Rebekah Brooks & modern management Could it be that remote control managers function much as the gods did in ancient times. They get blame when things go wrong and praise when they go right, but in fact have no power at all, except that which ignorant people impute to them? They are, technically, redundant and are sustained in their lucrative positions only by superstition and ideology.
  • Our Responsibilities as Citizens | Involve As we discussed the issue, I began to reflect that social media is changing the world far faster than I had understood; the very power of social media to give our opinions a platform also constrains us. With the power of social media comes a level of responsibility that we, who are used to viewing ourselves as private citizens, are only just beginning to understand. We are increasingly public citizens with all the implications that this entails.