Annabel Else, who worked as project manager and content strategist on the BBCi homepage redesign, has unfortunately had to leave us and is looking for pastures new.

If you need an editorial person with skills in project management, copywriting, editing, usability, content-strategy, metadata, CMS and other workflow related stuff; then go visit her homepage.

Sweep the forecourt

File under “Ammo”: a Saul Bass anecdote with which to buttress brand-experience design:

“When my NatWest business cheque book finally did arrive with its tweaked logo and grown-up colours I was reminded of a Saul Bass story which might interest those responsible for the bank’s new look.

When the design legend was invited to refresh the livery and visual identity for a chain of gas stations he drove into one of them to check out the customer experience. The forecourts were filthy, the attendants sloppy and the service virtually non-existent. When he called the client to find out what plans they had to address these issues, he was told not to worry because all that was expected from him was a bright new look and feel. He walked away from the job.”

» FT.com: Creative Business: Don’t bank on the brand


Since I’ve started running iChatStatus a week ago, 3 people 4 people (Hi Euan!) so far have IM’d me in response to the “now playing in iTunes” status I’ve asked it to display. They reponses have been ones of

  • identification: “Hey! I’ve got that song! / I love that! / I was just listening to that”
  • mood-divining: “aaah… Queens of the Stone Age, eh? Working? / Beach Boys! Happy about something are we?”

Expression by proxy of the media I consume, ambient, trickling, clouding around me. To my friends, to my buddylist, while I’m busy doing other kinds of nothing.

Should it up-sticks with me and follow me round, this cloud? Just as iTunes never leaves me, pouring itself regularly into it’s iPod EVA suit. If I had a bluetooth cloud of ID3 tags around me would I like strangers to be able to sniff them?

What social advantage would there be to activating this SongGetty?

We often wear the t-shirts of the bands we want people to think we like while we secretly listen to deeply loved but unhip esoteria. Guilty pleasures contradicting our projected persona.

Also, I would ordinarily never play music to myself while in the physical proximity of my buddylist friends – I’d be talking with them I’d hope.

Some edge-cases and markets present themselves – long journeys in the company of friends maybe, opting to broadcast your playlists to others and seize upon coincidences as socially-acceptable interruptions of the natural (and hopefully comfortable) together-alone silences. Or the t-shirt metaphor transfigured: younger folk looking to find common ground in public settings around their media choices.

Betteridj likens it to active-badge tech/concepts pursued by the world and his wife for donkey’s years.

It’s here after a fashion in the form of iChatStatus: scriptable, personal and extensible.

[n.b. must finish reading Byron and Nass]

Vehicular not ultimate

Fabulous post from WDavies in iSociety‘s continuing quest to examine the reliance of the networked society on emergent GoogleTruth. He attended a seminar/discussion about the influence of the kind of knowledge and ideas produced by policy thinktanks on society, which includes this fascinating list of characteristics:

“The type of knowledge produced by LSE and Demos is defined as:

  • vehicular not ultimate [particularly interesting idea: this knowledge is not expected to remain valid, but to be a useful way of producing further knowledge by drawing interesting people together; its constantly snowballing and fragmenting]
  • diagnostic not predictive
  • meaning rich/information poor
  • communicative not representational
  • transient not timeless
  • inclusive not polarising

All it ever takes is a view well-placed /stutter/edit/ a few well-placed, finely-crafted, meaning-rich/info-poor Oblaat-shielded memebullets… The world is slicked with the vaz, and everything slides. Goodnight, United Nations.

» iSociety blog: “The university of chat”

Tab Context

Sounds like a great name for a pulp-fiction character. A UI Engineer that by night, uses his uncanny Fitts-law-honed reflexes to FIGHT CRIME.

Alternatively, it could be something Stefan cares about a lot in his user-experiences.

FWIW, I agree with Stef. Tabs have mutated as to create such wildy different expectations in people using interfaces that feature them; but showing different modes or views of data based around a central point of departure or query seems to have emerged as the default understanding.

In 1999, Jakob Neilsen was bemoaning the fact that tabs where moving away from this meaning:

“I still think that less than 50% of sites use tabs in the (erroneous) meaning of navigating to the main sections of the site. Thus, I still think that the correct use of tabs is preferred and I recommend using different techniques to visualize the main areas of the site. But this may be a losing battle and I may have to revise this recommendation in a year or so if more and more sites adopt a misguided use of tabs.”

So, he was keeping his eye on whether the consensus/convention had shifted. With UI changes in 800lb convention-setting gorrilas like Hotmail and Amazon in the meantime, has it?

What’s your experience?

» Whitelabel.org: “Search engines and maintained keyword state”