Interesting elsewhere – 13 March 2013

Things which caught my eye elsewhere on the web

The Android Paradox, Hackers and Casuals – acoustik – Quora
Most Android developers, designers, and product people tend to be Hackers. That’s why we do the things we do. And when we build features, we tend to build them for ourselves. Normally there’s nothing wrong with that: you’re supposed to be your first user.

Except with Android, that’s not enough. Because you also have to worry about Casuals. You have to take it one step further, and make sure that this market, that you don’t understand and probably completely disagree with, can totally understand and make sense of your app.

It’s so tough being me | Matthew Taylor’s blog
Hillsborough, the cover up of abuse by priests, MPs’ expenses, tabloid telephone hacking, misselling of payment protection insurance, Mid Staffs hospital: it is my contention that not just at one point but over and again in these episodes a siege culture of corporate self pity kicked in and helped tip the scales against acknowledging wrong and choosing to address it.

Bartleby, the CIO | Lost ConsCIOusness
Much enterprise IT demonstrates contempt for the user. I often ask people from big organisations, public and private sector, how they feel when they have to use their corporate HR or finance systems? And I do mean feel, usercentricity starts with how we feel.

The universal, UNIVERSAL, response I get is a chorus of groans. People hate using these core, fundamental business systems. Some of that is down to the business processes which themselves are often bedevilled by some of the things I have mentioned previously, but a lot is down to a user experience which seems rooted in a contempt for those who are forced to use these systems.

Manifesto for Half-Arsed Agile Software Development
Responding to change over following a plan
provided a detailed plan is in place to respond to the change, and it is followed precisely

potlatch: the problem of ‘evidence centres’
The very character of Big Data is that it is collected with no particular purpose or theory in mind; it arises as a side-effect of other transactions and activities. It is, supposedly, ‘theory neutral’, like RCTs, indeed the techno-utopians have already argued that it can ultimately replace scientific theory altogether. Hence the facts that arise from big data are somehow self-validating; they simply emerge, thanks to mathematical analysis of patterns, meaning that there is no limit to the number of type of facts that can emerge. There’s almost no need for human cognition at all!

From transactional welfare to relational welfare | CLES
All of this means it is time to change the questions we are asking – not how can we reform existing institutions but how can we provide services that support people to grow and flourish in this century.

Why bureaucracy is a Good Thing | Flip Chart Fairy Tales
Bureaucracy is the corporate equivalent of the rule of law. It protects people from arbitrary decisions inside the organisation. Rules and procedures give people clarity about their roles, their scope for decision making and their boundaries. Like the rule of law, they protect employees from random and vindictive treatment by their bosses. It has become very fashionable to deride bureaucracy but working in organisations with fewer rules and procedures can be just as unpleasant. Trying to second guess the whims of a maverick autocratic boss can be every bit as energy draining and innovation stifling as working in a bureaucracy.

Design is the easy part… | disambiguity
It saddens me how many great design solutions are hidden away in filing cabinets. It’s not enough to know the right answers, the real design challenge is in getting the organisation to adopt and implement and maintain (a whole other challenge) good design. It feels to me like we need to focus on this more.

‘How to Be Yourself’: My Ignite talk about authenticity — Scott Rosenberg’s Wordyard

The Google Glass feature no one is talking about — Creative Good
The most important Google Glass experience is not the user experience – it’s the experience of everyone else. The experience of being a citizen, in public, is about to change.

One Laptop per Child – Nesta
The marketing circuit still trundles on, appealing to gullible ministers and journalists. That’s the symptom that we don’t live in a knowledge society. If we did new ideas like this would be treated with enthusiasm, but they’d also be interrogated, analysed and judged. For now hype and vapourware are still winning out.

How Complex Systems Fail [pdf]
The potential for catastrophic outcome is a hallmark of complex systems. It is impossible to eliminate the potential for such catastrophic failure; the potential for such failure is always present by the system’s own nature.

Maybe It Was Apple | The Baseline Scenario
In the rush to anoint a charismatic savior, hiring committees, search firms, and boards substitute leaps of faith for cold rational inferences, fastening on the bits and pieces of a job candidate’s resume that play to their desire for a superman and overlooking the vast amount they just don’t know (see Rakesh Khurana for more). And this is one reason why external CEO hires tend, in the aggregate, to do worse than people promoted from within, who have the benefit of years of insider knowledge and precisely relevant expertise.

Theresa Christy of Otis Elevator: Making Elevators Go | Creating – WSJ.com
In the real world, there are so many parameters and combinations that everything changes as soon as the next rider presses a button. In a building with six elevators and 10 people trying to move between floors, there are over 60 million possible combinations—too many, she says, for the elevator’s computer to process in split seconds.

Will There Always Be A Tube Map? | Londonist
Rather than continuing to update the increasingly cluttered Tube map, might we one day ditch it entirely? Could a souped-up journey planner ever have a persuasive number of advantages over a static map, enough to render the old way of doing things obsolete? Could our generation’s Tube map be the last?

Project Management: Believing in Lies | systemsthinkingforgirls
This type of project begins with everyone realizing that the project plan is little more than an educated guess. And yet somewhere along the way as the project gets underway people begin to lose sight of the fact that the project plan was just and educated guess. As the project progresses there remains less and less awareness regarding the non-reality of the project plan. Individuals begin to take the plan as gospel believing that it is an accurate projected of what is going to happen.

[Robert Brook] 176
Why not think of situations where beneficial organisation change has happened, then trace back to the source? Was it really an invited speaker? And I don’t mean organisational change as in we successfully completed that tedious project, but in the wider sense. People are less unhappy and we’re doing better work.

Don’t be beguiled by Orwell: using plain and clear language is not always a moral virtue
The way we speak and the way we write are both forms of dress. We can, linguistically, dress ourselves up any way we like. We can affect plainness and directness just as much as we can affect sophistication and complexity. We can try to mislead or to impress, in either mode. Or we can use either register honestly.

Why organizations need a Clark Kent, not a Superman – Boing Boing
Flouting the rules of the org is great for getting things done. But sometimes, without sufficient checks and balances, they turn out not to be the right things. Much-maligned bean counters and compliance personnel exist to make sure this doesn’t happen too often, even if it means that, some of the time, not much of anything gets done at all. Innovation and initiative have their place in any organization, but so do coordination and rules. The trick is knowing how much of each.

Schneier on Security: Our New Regimes of Trust
Think of this as a “security gap”: the time lag between when the bad guys figure out how to exploit a new technology and when the good guys figure out how to restore society’s balance.
Critically, the security gap is larger when there’s more technology, and especially in times of rapid technological change. More importantly, it’s larger in times of rapid social change due to the increased use of technology. This is our world today. We don’t know *how* the proliferation of networked, mobile devices will affect the systems we have in place to enable trust, but we do know it *will* affect them.

“Identity is the new Money”. Brilliant – I wish I’d said that
If you know who all of the counterparties to a transaction are, and can establish their “credit” then there is no need for cash. Identity substitutes for cash: when I go into Waitrose and pay with my John Lewis MasterCard, it’s an identity transaction. The terminal in Waitrose establishes that I have access to a line of credit that means that Waitrose will be paid. No actual money moves between my card and the Waitrose till. On the other hand, when I buy an apple from a market stall and pay for it with a pound coin, the stallholder doesn’t need to waste any time or money trying to establish who I am, because he doesn’t need to trust me. He just needs to trust the pound coin, which he self-assays.