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Oakland, CA

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I read the news today, and yesterday, and the day before, oh boy.... Posted on 01/14/2002.

"Bard of Suburbia" (LA Times)
Feature on Todd Solondz, director of Welcome to the Dollhouse and Happiness. Todd may have the most consistently good track record of any active filmmaker (Happiness was probably my favorite film of 1998, if only for the opening scene with Jon Lovitz, which might have been the best bit of film in the last, oh, 5 years), so I'm quite looking forward to his upcoming effort. If nothing else, it'll probably piss people off and freak people out, which is usually a good thing.

"Consuming Rituals of the Suburban Tribe" (NY Times, you are registered, aren't you?)
Magazine article on the use of ethnographic methods in the marketing of consumer products. Kind of light on details, but gets the basic points across. And, happily, disses focus groups. We like it anytime focus groups are dissed.

"Blame Game" (SF Gate)
Pretty good article on the debate on whether or not video games lead to acts of violence. I'm fascinated by how this discussion parallels the Porn Debate from the 80s. I studied the Porn Debate when I was a mass communications major at UC Berkeley, and can say with assuredness that there's never been any shred of worthwhile evidence to suggest that porn leads to any significant behavioral change. And it seems that the same can be said for video games. Any change that *does* occur is extremely short term, but that's true of any media. For instance, After seeing a Jackie Chan movie, my adrenaline is up and I wanna do cool stunts off of walls... That's kinda the point of fantasy and storytelling, no? But it eventually dissipates.

"The Curse of Complexity" (LA Times)
Inspired by the Consumer Electronics Showcase, a story on how setting up home entertainment is becoming increasingly frustrating. Even features a _de rigeur_ Jakob quote. It's funny... While the OS folks are trying desperately to make things simpler (e.g., the task orientation of iPhoto or Windows XP), the product designers for consumer electronics seem hellbent on making things unnecessarily difficult. I'd argue there's a *huge* market opportunity for usable home entertainment products (and one of the reasons why TiVo has such a slavishly loyal customer base).

"Under the Counter, Grocer Provided Immigrant Workers" (NY Times)
Fans of Fast Food Nation will appreciate this article about an immigrant grocer who trafficked in illegal aliens, supplying Tyson Foods with thousands of undocumented workers. Like we needed another reason to believe that meat processors are the most bottom-feeding unscrupulous dollar-chasing fuckwads in industry. My favorite line:

While not speaking extensively about the case, Tyson lawyers have said that corporate officials of the company, which is based in Springdale, Ark., were unaware of any recruitment of illegal immigrants and that the six charged employees had been dismissed or placed on leave. If found guilty, the company could face sanctions and heavy fines.
Of course they were unaware. Because, you know, those "corporate officials" are STUPID.

12 comments so far. Add a comment.

Previous entry: "Interaction Design, Meet User Experience."
Next entry: "iPod IA and design."


Looks like I'm not the only one who saw the "curse of complexity" article and thought the quote from Jakob looked hokey. I like Jakob about as much as any free-thinking person (i.e. not a Jakob's-words-are-gospel zealot), but I'm getting tired on only seeing Nielsen quoted in articles about usability. Spool is clearly the next most visible "guru"...

Peter, I think it's time you stepped up to the plate to be a Usability/IA Poster Boy (UIAPB[tm])! :) We need some fresh blood out there.

Here's my post about the same article:

Keep up the great work!

Posted by Lyle @ 01/14/2002 03:07 PM PST [link to this comment]

The next person to use the phrase "Usability/IA" (or "IA/Usability" for that matter) gets their kneecaps broken.

(Nothing personal, Lyle!)
Posted by jjg @ 01/14/2002 03:46 PM PST [link to this comment]

What are you talking about jjg? They're like, the same thing! Though to be more correct, it should be Usability/IA/User Experience = UIAUE. All the same thing.
Posted by mathowie @ 01/14/2002 05:33 PM PST [link to this comment]

Right, where's my bat?
Posted by jjg @ 01/14/2002 05:34 PM PST [link to this comment]

don't beat up mathowie! no! stop that!

(also, i second his suggestion. i think it should be pronouced as a high-pitched yodel)
Posted by judith @ 01/14/2002 08:45 PM PST [link to this comment]

I just got a call from the vowels "O and sometimes Y", and they are pissed that they got left out. Can we change it to "UIAUE+O and sometimes *!@#$% Y"?

Point of clarification: a slash (/) means "or"...I meant "Usability *or* (not to be confused or interchanged with) IA".

Is it proper to say the following?
"I R A IA or UX dude."

So when can we expect that Peterme poster? I see Jesse's already got his own poster, albeit a bit dated (before he started wearing black).
(Isn't Google great... :-)

...guarding my kneecaps from "Jesse James"...
Posted by Lyle @ 01/14/2002 11:03 PM PST [link to this comment]

> After seeing a Jackie Chan movie, my adrenaline is up and I wanna do cool stunts off of walls...But it eventually dissipates.

You must be a Jackie Chan fanatic, cause every time I see you at a conference you're kicking people in the head, heaving their bodies against refrigerator doors and the like. Oh, wait, that's just the verbal stuff.
Posted by mfry @ 01/15/2002 06:08 AM PST [link to this comment]

i have a boner
Posted by sdfj;sdlafj @ 01/15/2002 10:02 PM PST [link to this comment]

You mention TiVo as a usable home entertainment product. Not everyone agrees.

Actually, an interesting socological obsevation and viewpoint on technology.
Posted by Gary Davis @ 01/16/2002 10:01 AM PST [link to this comment]

You mention TiVo as a usable home entertainment product. Not everyone agrees.

Gary there's a huge difference between some random writer's hardware problems (Phillips should have just sent him a new unit) and the amazingly simple user interface that thousands of Tivo customers enjoy daily.

I know a few friends that have had occasional hardware hiccups with their tivo, but the months of fine operation and service otherwise has never turned them sour. Tivo does change the way you use television, but of course, being based on basic computer hardware, it's prone to failure every now and then.
Posted by mathowie @ 01/16/2002 10:30 AM PST [link to this comment]

Does this have anything to do with the United Arab Emirates? I'm confused.
Posted by Anil @ 01/16/2002 11:49 AM PST [link to this comment]

Couldn't ever get that Solondz article to open, but there's a really great one in today's NYT.
Posted by Steve Portigal @ 01/20/2002 02:41 PM PST [link to this comment]

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