Links

Osborne’s Version of Sustainable Development

George Monbiot writes about another boneheaded reform from a Conservative-led government nobody voted for. He concludes:

Plutocracy passes through a perpetual cycle. It lobbies against the restraints that curb its destructive greed. It succeeds. As a result it collapses. It gets rescued, at enormous cost, by the forces it fought: regulators, planners, tax collectors, an interventionist state. It recovers, dusts itself down, then resumes its attack on the people who rescued it. This assault on planning belongs to the cycle. But the damage the plutocrats mean to inflict will not be reversible.

These are the times in which we now live.

Don Norman: Google doesn’t get people, it sells them

Bobbie Johnson at GigaOm:

“What is Google? What do they sell?” asks Don Norman, the author of The Design of Everyday Things and a demigod of the design world.

It’s a question that gets asked a lot, especially as the company’s power and products continue to expand. In a talk on Friday at the dConstruct conference in Brighton, England, he pointed out that – despite the complexity of the organisation – the answer usually looks pretty simple.

“They have lots of people, lots of servers, they have Android, they have Google Docs, they just bought Motorola. Most people would say ‘we’re the users, and the product is advertising’,” he said. “But in fact the advertisers are the users and you are the product.”

Then he went further. “They say their goal is to gather all the knowledge in the world in one place, but really their goal is to gather all of the people in the world and sell them.”

Whilst some bemoaned the fact that his opening keynote shared little new, I think it’s important to be reminded how the industry works, and how it’s changing – sometimes for the worse. The world needs more people like Don Norman.

Steve Jobs’ Best Quotes

August has been a crazy month in the technology press, but no story has had the same impact than Steve Job’s resignation as CEO of Apple. Whilst I’ve been enjoying commentary and many stories regarding his 14-year tenure, it’s the man’s own words that have been most insightful. From this collection of Steve Job’s quotes, an answer given during an interview with Wired caught my eye:

I’m 40 years old, and this stuff doesn’t change the world. It really doesn’t.

I’m sorry, it’s true. Having children really changes your view on these things. We’re born, we live for a brief instant, and we die. It’s been happening for a long time. Technology is not changing it much – if at all.

These technologies can make life easier, can let us touch people we might not otherwise. You may have a child with a birth defect and be able to get in touch with other parents and support groups, get medical information, the latest experimental drugs. These things can profoundly influence life. I’m not downplaying that.

But it’s a disservice to constantly put things in this radical new light – that it’s going to change everything. Things don’t have to change the world to be important.

Only a few weeks ago I was bemoaning the overuse of the phrase ‘change the world’. I heard this said far too often when I worked in the Valley, so it was heartening to read Jobs’ thoughts on the matter.

I do so hope Steve will have plenty more opportunities to part with such wisdom as he enjoys his retirement.

Zerply

Zerply is a professional network that helps you find like minded people by tags, skills, location and more. Essentially it’s a simpler, classier replacement for LinkedIn. It gained a degree of traction this week after being featured by Tina Roth Eisenberg, who perfectly summed up my problems with LinkedIn:

I had fallen out of love with LinkedIn a long time ago, but last week’s sneaky move (read about it here) pushed me over the edge. What a lost opportunity. LinkedIn was built on such a fantastic core idea. And then they tried to be twitter-and-facebook-and-everything-else at once. Bummer.

I’ve deleted my LinkedIn account. You can now find my professional profile on Zerply.

Hacked Off

Sniff Petrol:

Murdoch’s money brings F1 to Sky. “Are Red Bull running team orders? Let’s hack into their radio messages to find out…”

Own a Shape

Clayton Miller:

Microsoft’s Metro UI owns the square. Apple has a corner on the roundrect, from the Springboard launcher to the iPhone hardware itself. Nokia, despite its late entry with MeeGo’s Harmattan UI, found the squircle unclaimed and ran with it beautifully. Palm has used the circle from the early days of PalmOS, and in WebOS, HP continues the tradition with care (one might even note that both Palm and HP structure their wordmarks around the circle).

I have a nagging feeling this observation will become useful on future projects. (Via John Gruber)

Short Term Benefit

Andy Budd:

Humans have the tendency to focus on short term benefits over long term harm. This helps explain Facebook.

Flatten up Those T’s

Invaluable advise from Twitter’s Mark Otto:

If you’re a graphic designer, work towards bringing whatever print experience you have to a small single page site. If you’re an interaction designer, start checking out HTML and CSS, and then move on to some basic jQuery. By doing so, you become a much more versatile designer and contributor on any project.

The Streets of San Francisco

Me, after a day spent exploring my former home of San Francisco:

Underground cables rumbling, sirens wailing, horns beeping. Trams ringing and drums thumping. San Francisco has a soundtrack, and I like it.

Facebook is a Ponzi Scheme

Joseph Perla explains how Facebook’s business model is built on sand:

Eventually, though, and this might take a long time, but it is finite, everyone will have tried Facebook ads and know that they are useless. Eventually, after 10 million businesses have invested $1000 each, and Facebook has earned $10 billion in revenue in total, then they will have run out of new customers and their revenue will dry up. A useless product is never sustainable.