Archive for November, 2011

Overqualification

“The history of the design professions is largely a history of overqualification, of men and women who have insisted on doing more than either clients or public ever asked for.”

-Ralph Caplan, By Design

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The value of Apple’s innovation process

Horace Dediu makes an important argument that Apple’s stock price has been based simply on the value of its latest products, whereas “the process of product development at Apple is worth nothing.”

In other words, from the market’s perspective:

Innovations are valuable, but there is no such thing as an innovation process. If there was such a thing, then we could measure it and put a number on its value. Until then, innovation is nothing more than a spin of the roulette wheel.

Dediu’s unspoken point, of course, is that the market is missing something huge: Apple has honed and demonstrated its ability to repeatedly design, produce, and sell innovative consumer electronics products. I am absolutely convinced that their success is not due to luck but rather to a finely tuned innovation process. That doesn’t mean they will never release duds, of course, but it means that on the whole they can be counted on to continue to disrupt markets with innovative products. The wider technology community misunderstands this ability so deeply that instead of trying to copy Apple’s innovation process, they insist that it is nothing but good luck and good marketing.

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How many students take Intro Statistics?

The University of Washington has about 30,000 undergraduates, about 500 of which were enrolled in introductory classes in the statistics department. Assuming that number holds every quarter, 1500/30000 = 1.6% of UW students take an intro statistics class each year.

There are 18 million college students in the United States. If the overall percentage who take statistics is the same as at UW, then about 300,000 college students take intro stats each year in this country.

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Interfaces of the Future are Tactile and Manipulable

Bret Victor released a really excellent article about what is missing in the user interfaces of current technology, and what we should consider when crafting visions for the future. Compelling and easy to understand.

I call [iPad] technology¬†Pictures Under Glass. Pictures Under Glass sacrifice all the tactile richness of working with our hands, offering instead a hokey visual facade….

We live in a three-dimensional world. Our hands are designed for moving and rotating objects in three dimensions, for picking up objects and placing them over, under, beside, and inside each other….

To me, claiming that Pictures Under Glass is the future of interaction is like claiming that black-and-white is the future of photography. It’s¬†obviously a transitional technology. And the sooner we transition, the better.

Read the whole article, which has great pictures as well.

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Viable democracy

“There is no such thing as a viable democracy made up of experts, zealots, politicians, and spectators.”

-Liz Coleman, president of Bennington College [TED talk]

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