Attention venture capitalists that have some extra money to throw around, or motivated and interested entrepreneurs:
You should invest in creating a good auction site. Wha-What’s that you say, eBay already exists and has monopolized the online auction market?
Have you ever tried to USE eBay recently? as a buyer OR a seller? The user experience (forget the actual customer experience, that’s even worse) of eBay is mildly better than immersing yourself in boiling canola oil.
It’s funny sometimes how a company can have, for all intents and purposes, a monopoly on a market, as is the case with the internet auction market… but deliver an absolutely miserable user experience just because it can.
Brief message to the kid sitting in the marketing department of eBay who is scanning google blog search and happen to stumble upon this post.. Please run along and give this urgent memo to your boss:
– If your designers are designing for usability, they have utterly failed and need to really turn in their badge immediately.
– If your developers are optimizing for speed, the site runs like molasses… O(n!)… I need to find out if there’s a Vetta vintage out there with my name on it, not solve the damned traveling salesman problem with brute force search.
– If your designers are web artists, they are sadly just not very good at their craft, because the site is soooo old school and reminds me of Yahoo! in the mid-1990s.
– Your emails that come to me if I’m watching an item are HORRENDOUS, and unreadable on a mobile device.
– Saved searches are unintuitive and somehow return back matryoshka dolls even though I’m looking for a vintage bike saddle.
….Tell you what. If I get a chance and free time (probably wont), I’m going to whip up a redesigned page and help you out.
I understand eBay might feel like they’re safe because they have a monopoly on internet auctions. But the second a better designed version is released, I am willing to lose my eBay reputation score in order to switch completely.
I’ve learned from working with the experts in human inquiry methods at the Institute of Design a lot about learning about patterns of daily human life. As we know, there’s very little asking of questions necessary in most interviews on the researcher’s part.
Lately I’ve been looking into more participatory approaches into design, which somehow I have an appreciation and affinity for– mostly because of the philosophy of putting design into the hands of the ultimate end user. I realize though, that it’s much harder to accomplish in reality. I’m still trying to find out why that is, but I suspect that it has a lot to do with putting words into people’s mouths. A collage tool in which you take a subset of the images in the world and ask people to organize in a particular way is severely limiting– an image itself is a specific combination of a particular lens on a particular subject. There are infinite combinations (and compositions) of photos in the world… and somehow allowing the user to organically create their own is probably better, but time consuming and requires more effort from the participant.
I came across this day in brands today and thought it’s probably a good way of understanding what people already use, love, and spend money on.
Out of curiosity, has anyone used this technique to help inform the design of new offerings?
I’d specifically love a way for people to note down the brands and services they use on the web… for learning, self help, personal development, or consumer electronic devices.
This summer semester I’m taking a global sustainability class and I was just reading about Farming the Cities.
Urban farming is generally pretty awesome, I can’t wait for it. In a way, it might render the areas outside of major cities mostly useless. Well that’s harsh, I shouldn’t say useless; But certainly undesirable. The only reason I might want to live in a suburb right now is to have a garden of some sort in order to grow my own produce, and for the greenery. I can pretty much do without the fast food chains and stripmalls (or malls at all for that matter)… and the traffic jams to get into the city where the real action happens anyway.
That’s neat, but I want to see a residential structure capable of sustaining itself through food production or a vertical farm. (It’s perfectly fine for it to be a colony of vegetarians… I can’t imagine the generally uncivilized practice of raising livestock with the intent to slaughter it and eat it taking place in the SAME building that you sleep in.. but I’m biased)
Ok, explain to me… why WOULDN’T it have a cut and paste functionality, remind me again? I mean… c’mon! If you’re going to make it a fully featured mobile device, you better have the basic functions that I’d use between Safari and mail, like copy and paste.
…and THAT’s why I’m not going to get it [yet]. My 2G is perfectly fine, thank you.
When I was wee little lad, I loved this book so much. It’s a book in the time machine series (of which I’ve read quite a bit), it’s from the makers of choose your own adventure. Back before the interactive days of the internet, Choose Your Own Adventure books were the best way to keep entertained for hours and hours on end. I used to love the idea of choosing different paths and seeing what happens each time. Lots of times, I’d “cheat” and basically read all the future options at the same time, and try to keep all the different parallel paths in my head at the same time. It got pretty confusing (who knows, maybe it generated an “opposable mind,” that’d be great wouldn’t it? Sometimes I remember I gave up trying to keep them in my head and I drew a graph like a huge nerd (Apparently I wasn’t the only one).
Many of you might have seen the internet video used to mimic choose your own adventure before, but this is the first time I happened to stumble across the idea…
I have totally wondered for a while now why there hasn’t been a proliferation of the CYOA model for media like movies and TV shows, with the advent of fast home delivery and technologies that enable On-demand entertainment. Then it occurred to me that to create all those different paths that would probably go unused COST a lot of extra money for TV/film producers. (Also, in the theater, there’s no way to “choose” an adventure until theaters are retrofitted… so the only extra revenue that Hollywood could hope for would come from DVD sales).
Well with the YouTube, cheaply created media, all this CYOA stuff becomes possible. If Google is smart, they’ll adapt YouTube to enable this type of interactive choice within the video medium. If not, I think that a video platform that enabled CYOA interaction would be great as a standalone service. I know that I would personally be far more entertained by it.
In fact, if TV was more interactive and game-like, I might even be willing to spend a few hours a week on it, who knows?!
When I was at Veggie Bite on Milwaukee the other night (I love that place now, in case you haven’t noticed)… I saw this guy with a rickshaw charging a small fare for carting people around in this little contraption.
It reminded me of India of course, when I saw it, but then I thought quickly that this was quite possibly in our near future with gas possibly approaching >$5/gallon this summer.
In any event, I’m doing my part. Since I sold my car when I moved to Chicago, I’ve been so happy to just use a bicycle to get around. I was just telling Kevin this morning how funny it is to see people sitting in cars, looking like little prisoners in their wheeled boxes sitting in traffic, moving slower than molasses at rush hour while I jet past.
Today, I bought a new bike (I realized finally that I was too big for the bike I had used until now). It’s a beaaauuutiful vintage road bike – turquoise Trek, with a Reynolds 531 lugged frame that’s pretty light. It has very few scratches on it right now.
The only mods I’m thinking about right now: Getting a brooks saddle (I might wait until the end of the month to do this), a rack for panniers, and a set of interrupter brakes that I just learned about this week. Pure sweetness!
At first, I wasn’t thrilled about the electric blue-ish color but I’m getting used to it pretty fast, so I don’t think I’ll have it painted like I originally thought. I’d have to get it powder coated anyways and who knows how much that would set me back!
Thanks to Jonathon for finding me the sweet ride. You should definitely email him if you are ever looking for a bike in Chicago!
I didn’t fully appreciate the lessons that I received from Larry Keeley’s Innovation Frontiers class last semester until I started to explore the X-prize model in depth.
Listen to their elevator statement:
“The mission of the X PRIZE Foundation is to bring about radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. The Foundation fosters innovative, high-profile competitions that motivate individuals across all boundaries to solve grand challenges.”
That’s all great and fine, but it is the method by which they do it that is so interesting to me. The actual price money itself is paltry compared to the scores of people who are willing to dedicate time and invest money towards achieving the goal (and subsequently winning the prize).
…By the way, Charles Lindbergh is an amazing man. I love this quote:
What kind of man would live where there is no danger? I don’t believe in taking foolish chances. But nothing can be accomplished by not taking a chance at all.
In any event, the Orteig prize spurred innovation because it changed the public’s expectation about flight– NOT because there were any associated technology breakthroughs. The technology breakthroughs came as a result of a paradigm shift… and an increased level of public confidence and sparked imagination. It was this same imagination that was sparked during the Apollo missions that made Dr. Diamandis want to create the X-prize about commercial space flight.
Now there are multiple X-prizes, as outlined here:
Ansari X PRIZE (space; won Oct. 4, 2004)
Archon X PRIZE for Genomics (medicine)
Progressive Automotive X PRIZE (automotive)
Google Lunar X PRIZE (space)
Dr. Diamandis’ innovation (or the innovation he borrowed from Orteig) is a financial one: It recognizes fully that the small prizes create unsurpassed leverage. Because of all the positive social and communal externalities that are generated by winning a prize, it can be the most effective tool for venture philanthropy yet.
The most powerful idea is yet to be unleashed by the x-Prize foundation, something they are calling “My X-prize”– which puts the power of spurring innovation into the hands of local communities. Imagine smaller purses of prize money being created to solve a social ill in a smaller setting. The same rules regarding leverage apply — Now, combine this large-purse idea with a networked crowdfunded system, and you might be able to build better governments and communities with fewer elected officials. Or maybe that’s a pipe dream?
What if the platform we created for Design Planning (two semesters ago) could be combined with an X-prize? That would be interesting.