Interesting elsewhere – 17 January 2013

Things which caught my eye elsewhere on the web

  • Standing on the shoulders of giants | Government Digital Service We also believe in openness and we think that government departments should behave as though there are humans in them. This is from our human side.
  • Creating digital services. A jump not a journey | iansthoughts It seems to me that we shouldn’t just talk about “digitising services” as this implies digitising our anlogue thinking. We need to “create digitial services” and see it as a jump not a journey (or any other term that implies incrementalism).
  • The dreaded ‘innovation and toilets’ trope – Nesta All this suggests that humans aren't very good at assessing the relative importance of new and old things. Today's innovations are controversial, modish, disposable. Yesterday's are indispensable, transformative, foundational.
  • Aral Balkan — Design is not veneer The way something looks is not veneer layered on top of its functionality. The two are inextricably linked. The way a thing looks creates inherent expectations about how it is meant to be used. This is called an affordance. If your site or app has intuitive affordances — that is, if it satisfies with its behaviour the expectations that it creates with its appearance — it will go a long way towards providing a usable experience. But even this level of basic functionality — what we call ‘usable’ — takes lots of thought, effort, iteration, and testing to achieve. It also requires vision. Good design rarely happens without intent — sustained, focused intent — what we call vision. If you don’t see yourself as a designer, you’ve already lost. For it is the designer who thinks about the user, tries to understand the user, and creates things that empower, amuse, and delight the user.
  • Schneier on Security: Feudal Security These vendors are becoming our feudal lords, and we are becoming their vassals. We might refuse to pledge allegiance to all of them — or to a particular one we don't like. Or we can spread our allegiance around. But either way, it's becoming increasingly difficult to not pledge allegiance to at least one of them.
  • From hierarchy to networks, can we write a road map? | Open Policymaking Networks move and change far faster than hierarchical organisations can and while other industries are facing the same challenges they are embracing radical change by accepting that some organisations will fail and fall away. Are we able/willing to do the same in the Public Sector?
  • Locus Online Perspectives » Cory Doctorow: The Internet of the Dead By 2050 more than half of the Internet’s users will be dead – that is, of all the accounts ever created by Internet users, more than half will have been created by people who have since died. We don’t have the norms, the laws, the software or the markets to deal with this data.
  • Designing for the social customer – confused of calcutta Whenever you’re designing products and services for the customer, start with the question:

    Will this help build trust between the customer and the company?

    If the answer to that question is No, then everything else doesn’t really matter. Just icing on a cake that no customer wants to eat. No customer, no business.

  • The BBC regains its honour » Spectator Blogs >> Nick Cohen The absence of freedom of speech in the workplace has disastrous consequences. It cannot be said often enough that the interest of organisations – which require robust internal self-examination if they are to survive – and the interests of rent-seeking managers – who want to enforce deference and secrecy to justify their positions – are in conflict.
  • Some advice from Jeff Bezos by Jason Fried of 37signals [Jeff Bezos] said people who were right a lot of the time were people who often changed their minds. He doesn’t think consistency of thought is a particularly positive trait. It’s perfectly healthy — encouraged, even — to have an idea tomorrow that contradicted your idea today.

    He’s observed that the smartest people are constantly revising their understanding, reconsidering a problem they thought they’d already solved. They’re open to new points of view, new information, new ideas, contradictions, and challenges to their own way of thinking.

  • Are we ready for this? « Community Links blog More focus on smoothing the edges, on reshaping transition points into transition passages and on building readiness throughout these processes would reduce the need for rescue services and crisis management afterwards. It would be more effective for more people and ultimately less expensive. Our public services need flexible protocols and well trained staff devoted to building readiness. Then, they need parents, patients, journalists, politicians, managers, tax payers ,citizens willing and able to trust them. Are we ready for that?
  • Humans in Design – The interface of payment We’ve done a great job at making it easy for us to part with our money. We don’t have to part ways with pieces of paper that we’ve earned. We don’t have to watch as money leaves our bank accounts. We just watch numbers change, if we choose to pay attention.

    Perhaps the next step is designing systems that allow for more responsible spending and help build a sustainable economy.

  • Why the tools are not the answer Nothing that we do with online communities can’t, in effect, be done on 3×5 index cards. The tools are not the answer —they’re merely the scaffolding to make great things happen; it’s just potentially a whole lot easier online. I don’t want you on Twitter, or Facebook, or LinkedIn, or blogging. I want you talking with people. I want you building and nurturing community. I want you gathering valuable data to make your policy, program or information better.
  • How We Finally Made Agile Development Work – Jeff Gothelf – Harvard Business Review Non-designers didn't participate in the process, and that was fine with us. How would they contribute anyway? We were the "designers." The agile process forced us out of the safety of the design phase and into a furiously fast new reality in which product managers, software engineers, and QA specialists were far more involved in the work we created. The demands of two-week sprints forced us to cut up our "big ideas" into lots of little pieces that could be fed to the "dev machine" to ensure that, God forbid, no developers sat idle.
  • newswireless.net .:. News .:. net.wars: My identity, my self None of which means we shouldn't be asking questions. We need to understand clearly the various envisioned levels of authentication. In practice, will those asking for identity assurance ask for the minimum they need or always go for the maximum they could get? For example, a bar only needs relatively low-level assurance that you are old enough to drink; but will bars prefer to ask for full identification? What will be the costs; who pays them and under what circumstances?