psychology of spending money

This is so, so, so important to understanding human behavior, especially how financial disasters happen (via 37Signals):

1. You can spend your own money on yourself. When you do that, why then you really watch out what you’re doing, and you try to get the most for your money.

2. You can spend your own money on somebody else. For example, I buy a birthday present for someone. Well, then I’m not so careful about the content of the present, but I’m very careful about the cost.

3. I can spend somebody else’s money on myself. And if I spend somebody else’s money on myself, then I’m sure going to have a good lunch!

4. I can spend somebody else’s money on somebody else. And if I spend somebody else’s money on somebody else, I’m not concerned about how much it is, and I’m not concerned about what I get.

Adobe Children Never Learned to Share

from DesignAday:

Unless I’m way off my rocker, one of the benefits of purchasing the Adobe Creative Suite is that all of the applications work together. Can somebody then please explain why something as simple as color swatches can’t be shared between applications?

That only scratches the surface of what the Adobe Creative Suite doesn’t do across applications.

they’re not the details

via MacNN:

Apple has won one of its USPTO patent claims for the iPhone, specifically covering the device’s iconic steel bezel. While appearing superficial, Apple claims that the bezel is actually essential to impact resistance, and innovative in part because it merges utility with aesthetics. The part is flush with an iPhone’s housing, inserted into a brace and held with a spring. It is also manufactured with cold worked steel, said to better accommodate design limits while reducing the need for machining.

I know people who would laugh at this and call it ridiculous and trivial.
But it’s not ridiculous. As Charles Eames said, “The details are not the details. They make the design.”

the future – don’t be scared

Most of the time I forget that I’m 32 years old and not a kid anymore when I’m living my life spending time with my wife, working and going out with friends. If feels like it I was just learning HTML at with Dreamweaver 3 and reading the thick manual for Flash 4 (back when they made print manuals for software).
When I’m teaching my web design course at FIT on Thursdays, that feeling goes right away. I’m the old dude, they’re the kids and it doesn’t bother me in the least.
I’m actually fascinated by their opinions and view of the world. We adults all tend to make assumptions and generalizations about kids – what they care and don’t care about. What they know and what they’re ignorant about. Nothing clarifies those assumptions like firsthand discussions in class with them.
Sometimes I’m surprised by the answers I get.
For instance, their thoughts on the future of (print) media and the iPad. I heard a few students talking about it so I jumped in and asked them what they thought about it. I instigate these discussions because their concentration is on traditional print design and advertising and if you haven’t noticed, there’s some serious shit happening in these industries.
I don’t feel it’s enough to merely teach the curriculum I’ve been given. These students need to be prepared for what lies ahead.
I found out some of them were scared about the future of print media, magazines and books. I expected them to be excited about this new device and the potential it has to redefine how we create and consume media. Some (not all) of their opinions were surprisingly old school and traditional. Some were afraid print was going to die, that there wouldn’t be any more magazines. Things were ending and they didn’t know what to expect.
I told them fear should be the last feeling in their heads. It’s an exciting time to be a designer and they’re going to be defining (if they rise to the challenge) how we experience media in this new format. I also explained that print wasn’t going to die, but we are going think much harder on what we want to have printed.
I’ve referenced it numerous times before and will continue to. The key to success in designing and creating media is being agile:

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the most responsive to change

—Charles Darwin
My students are not obligated to design content for the iPad, but if I can teach them to be agile in their careers, then they’ll be great.

Even Better Than the Real Thing

NYT: Photoshop and Photography: When Is It Real?
David Pogue asks an important (but not new) question:

I have to admit that when I saw the winners revealed in a previous issue, I was a bit taken aback, too. I mean, composition and timing are two key elements of a photographer’s skill, right? If you don’t have to worry about composition and timing, because you can always combine several photos or move things around later in Photoshop, then, well — what is a photograph?

3-D Television – Where’s the Value Add?

Saving Sony: CEO Howard Stringer Plans to Focus on 3-D TV

But after a few minutes of playing Wipeout with Hirai, whipping my hovership around curves and caroming off hyperrealistic guardrails, I have to stop. The experience is ridiculously intense — maybe too intense. I’m worried that I might vomit. Sony has studied physiological responses like mine, and executives seem to be unconcerned. After a period of adjustment, most players adapt to the experience without ill effects, they say.

So Sony is betting on another hardware format, is that correct? Have they learning anything from their “win” with Blu-Ray over HD-DVD? Is Sony reaping the benefits of Blu-Ray?
Not only does media want to be free from hardware contraints, but our hardware devices that play said media need great software. Sony still doesn’t seem to be understanding that.

Nokia is trying to build a faster horse

If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse

—Henry Ford
Seems Nokia is asking it’s customers to help it build a faster horse. They’ve set up a Design By Community website that is, “… is capturing the collective thoughts of Conversations readers to define the ultimate concept mobile device.
On the site you use sliders to customize the attributes of the phone. There’s going to be several rounds that focus on different parts of a mobile device like: Display and UI, Size and Shape, Materials, Operating System, Connectivity, Camera and Enhancements. The scale for the sliders ranges from ‘Not Ambitious Enough” to ‘Way to Out There’. If your customization is ‘Way to Out There’ it won’t let you submit it for consideration.
Talk about a recipe for mediocrity.
I’m not sure what amazing insights Nokia expects to glean from this experiment, but whatever it’s going to be, it’s not going to be innovative. The only output I see coming from this is some sort of mutant mobile device who’s DNA resides in the iPhone and the competitors it inspired like all the Android Devices, the Palm Pre and the Blackberry Storm.

job titles

Job titles are important. Very important. But this doesn’t mean they should dictate everything. Job titles should be warranted. They should be earned.
This doesn’t mean, for instance, that an art director can’t let a junior design act as lead designer on a project. In fact, it means quite the opposite. The only way you can grow in your field is to take on more challenging projects than your title dictates.
In the career trajectory of an interactive designer there’s a substantial amount of time you can operate in a ‘silo’ and create designs that you and you alone are responsible for. I have known many visual designers, senior visual designers and art directors who have worked within a team of developers and Human Experience designer where they are the only visual designers on the project – no one junior assisting them and no one senior to them, guiding the direction of the final design.
The art director level in the career of a visual designer represents the point at which it’s no longer about your design chops alone that make you great at your level – how fast and precise you are in Photoshop, or how beautiful you can animate a scene. If we take a quick jump into the etymology of these positions, we notice that the change comes when ‘designer‘ is replaced with ‘director‘. As an art director, you’re no longer designing on the project, you’re directing the design efforts of others (ideally). As a creative director you’re directing the conceptual and strategic efforts of others.
Getting to a director level is also about how well you present your ideas and designs to your internal team and your client. It’s about how you work with and mentor junior designers. It’s also about how you delegate responsibilities. It’s about management.
Despite these characteristics, you’d be surprised how many people consider themselves art directors. This doesn’t mean the people I’ve known who have been art directors couldn’t perform the non-visual tasks I mentioned above or that they’re not worthy of the title. It just means they’ve never had the opportunity to (disclosure – I’m guilty of this ‘silo’ work lifestyle too).
We have to be very careful when we assign titles to people within the companies we work for. I don’t give a shit if you’ve worked for a company for 20 years. If you’re not qualified to be a manager or a director or a senior vice president, then you shouldn’t be one. End of story. What salary compensation you give someone is another story. That is something between your management and you, and doesn’t get added your email signature next to your email address and job title.
When people who are given titles they never live up to, it might give that person an ego boost, but it demoralizes others in the company who look to them for vision, direction and strength and never receive it.
Giving the wrong job titles to the wrong people effectively makes job titles meaningless, and inevitably confuses everyone, making them question their own worth in the company.

being innovative means being profitable

Adam Richardson over at frog design wrote a post last week, Microsoft Finds its Innovation Mojo.
He argues that the new crop of products that are either out or being put out by Microsoft are proof that ‘they’re back in the game’.
Richardson writes:

They have been able, to an extent, to systemetize an approach to innovation that began (it seems) with the Xbox team. The Xbox, especially the 360, established a fresh, distinctive approach to development that had been lacking at Microsoft. Innovating on behalf of customers rather than by linearly extrapolating what they say, consideration of a whole ecosystem, and then taking responsibility for the whole Human Experience in that ecosystem.


We see threads of this Xbox approach showing up in most of the new generation of products – Bing, Windows Phone 7, IE9, and Courier.

If it were true that Microsoft has found the secret formula for extra-tasty innovation mojo, then we’d be seeing very different numbers for Microsoft R&D in this chart (via
Apple spends less than 4% of their revenue on R&D and Microsoft spends about 17%, yet despite spending 4 times as much, Microsoft it’s not making MS anymore innovation than Apple.
As I’ve written before, an innovative product is one that makes money for the company who created it. Apple didn’t create the concept of the mobile application store (I was downloading Palm applications from the CNet Palm page 10 years ago), but through their Human Experience, design and SDK, they were able to innovate within that space and thus become profitable from it.
The examples Richardson gives are not innovations. WinMo7, IE9 and Courier aren’t even being sold or used yet. We don’t even know if they’ll sell well.
I’ll accept XBox 360 as an example of a commercially successful and innovative product by Microsoft, but unfortunately for Microsoft, it’s a loss leader (via BusinessInsider):
And finally, when it comes down to it, Microsoft really doesn’t understand consumer products (save for it’s XBox division). As Mark Anderson was quoted as saying in the NYTimes, “Phones are consumer items, and Microsoft doesn’t have consumer DNA”.