Saturday, December 29, 2007

Can good design eliminate training tools?

Good design is intuitive. Good design eliminates the need for explanation. One just 'knows' how it should be used. So if we don't need explanation, then we don't need instruction? We won't need documentation, training, elearning?Can good design eliminate the "for dummies" series?

One of the most revered pieces of intuitive design still require a 400+ page "dummies" book? This would lead me to believe that no matter what instruction will always be required. But why? perhaps the iPod just needs some more enhancement. It must not be optimally designed yet.

Good design is subjective. This is based on the user. A user familiar with mp3 players and typical media software absolutely loves Jobs' moneymaker. It seems to effectively deal with most difficulties people have had with media players. My mother on the other hand, will find it a nice looking paper-weight. The former actively uses gadgets and software, the latter does not. Does this mean my mom is a lost cause? No. Enter the training and instruction for the people that lack the prior experience to draw on. Until a product or design becomes completely universal there is always an opportunity for training.

For someone in the training industry better design might be considered against my best interests, but as user - i'm all for it. Personally I would rather create training on substantial concepts and processes rather than a 12-step simulation on how to save a file. The how and why behind tasks will always require explanation. What's in it for me? What's the big picture? These are the pieces that will always benefit from instruction . Basic tasks should be simple. This is what good design is all about. Things should work as you need them to, and as you expect them.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

MS + FB =??

On Oct 24th Microsoft valued Facebook at a remarkable 15 BILLION dollars. By investing 240 million for a measely 1.6% 'strategic interest'.

So what does that mean?

My take: Microsoft is trying to remain relevant against the big G. Microsoft's stock continues to stay flat while Google continues to sky-rocket. Google is making large in-roads with SAAS. Ultimately MS' market-domination will fade as more common tools are to the web and become less OS dependant. So how can they recover? how can they regain the eyeballs of the world? By strategically partnering with the web's current darling - Facebook. There's a huge rash of new development happening in facebook. Startups are being launched with the express intents of creating apps just for facebook. The marketing potential is incredible. The amount of time people are spending on facebook is ridiculous.

So, again - what's this got to do with MS?

Let's say in Jan 08 or at least before their quarterly report MS can launch Office Live as ... a facebook app. Tada!

Facebook is no longer the workplace pariah as employees can be productive and collaborate. The network itself isn't conducive to work but the shift is quite possible. Facebook becomes a defacto web OS.

Sounds pretty win-win to me. Any takers?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

social media - ego or human necessity?

Facebook status, relationship updates, social bookmarks, blogs, twitts. Why? what's the point
But why? what's the point? Does anyone really care? I suppose amongst a close circle of friends sharing pictures is good, but who cares what I thought about the Bourne Ultimatum?

At times I felt most of "2.0" was very narcissistic. Why should one broadcast this dear diary sort of stuff for all the word to read? After spending some time in this world i realize it's less about my need to broadcast myself, more about connecting with others.

In this increasingly computer-oriented society a basic human need is to feel connected to other people. When people are spending more and more time in the virtual world, and less in the real world it's natural to feel less connected. Social media does bring us closer together. Understanding what excites and motivates our friends and family is important. Being able to share anecdotes with someone after you both saw the same movie or read an article is nice. Social media gives us new opportunities to connect with people we don't always have time for.

Why did I get into social media? I believe a web persona or brand is critical for any career-minded individual. A linked in profile is becoming the new resume. Don't think that your facebook profile doesn't carry weight as well. Recruiters and employers are accessing social networks and just plain googling applicants. Why not? It's the new reference check. Normal references from are glowing half-truths from your former coworkers. Googling someone can provide insight on what sites they frequent, which articles they comment. A little digging and patterns of behaviour begin to emerge. You can get to know someone quite well. Anyone can put on a good show in an interview. Google now contains a life portfolio for all to see. The stalker implications are a wee bit frightening.

There are different motivations for using social media, but I no longer think it's just narcissistic blathering.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

pulling the bottled water over your eyes

A few months back I first heard about the environmental impact of bottled water. I had always had water as a beverage over pop or juice just as a health thing. I knew what a business it had become, but i failed to take a step back and think about the greener picture.

This water is bottled at some 'special source' packaged and delivered. After you drink it (assuming you drink the entire bottle) you hopefully recycle it. More often than not that doesn't happen and the bottle becomes landfill. We haven't taken into account the resources required to ship the water sometimes across the ocean.

The fact that in many locations tap water has more rigid controls is incredible. So what it comes down to is that this is just a product of convenience. It's not any healthier, many times it's much worse than what's available for a fraction of the cost. Put a nice package on it, ship it across the ocean to justify the astronomical price and Bingo - You've got a tremendous waste of resources. It's a 35 billion dollar a year industry. This is better than having people buy baking soda to go home and toss straight in their garbage to make Garbage smell better.

The Economist is recognizing the scam, hopefully the problem will become mainstream.

If you don't like the flavour of tap water, get a Brita. Then get a Nalgene or something and just fill it up, you lazy bugger (and don't start about the carcinogens in the Nalgene type bottles, it's still inconclusive)

edit: Okay, don't get a plastic water bottle, it's fine for the environment-but it can give you cancer.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Wii as a learning tool?

With the new Wii and their game development kit, this could be an incredible opportunity for learning. Nintendo has done a remarkable job already with mental fitness in the DS. The ceiling for the Wii is incredible. The ability to work in 3 dimensions, combined with tactile feedback could provide for a great learning experience.

Anyone who has spent more than 5 minutes will admit that this is not just another game system. Gamers and non-gamers alike love the new experience the Wii provides.

Hopefully the learning community can jump on this new development kit and build something special to help take human performance to the next level.

Monday, August 20, 2007


it really is amazing what you can do without when you must. Our home is going up on the market so the agent came by and suggested that we cleanup. Now our place is not dirty, my wife would never let that happen.

All the sweaters you don't wear,But might want to; extra dishes, utensils, printed articles you intend to read...

should we throw them out? doesn't that just increase waste, where we might print/buy it again later on when we Do need it? Perhaps we need to examine how we managed without it and just continue. Or if it's aspiration-based clutter just give ourselves a reasonable deadline to put it into practice.

The idea of aspirational clutter is one that hits home. Things that you don't use, but embody qualities that you aspire for yourself. A treadmill doubling as a clothes hanger; one day you will get in shape. Books you've never read that fill shelves; the budding philosopher that never bloomed. The extra server, more of a footrest than anything; the projects and tools that were never investigated.

Friday, July 6, 2007

off the grid

Imagine turning Out-of-office on, turning off the cellphone,
grabbing a few books and just going.
Imagine just sitting around and being quiet (can be pretty hard to do)

Imagine not being constantly bombarded with some Critical piece of information that you must pay attention to for the next 45 seconds until the next piece comes.

The whole idea of going off the grid is a wonderful concept for me. Except for my allergy to just about everything, going camping, visiting a cottage/cabin is awesome. Being enslaved to a little envelope in the bottom right corner of my screen, or a vibrating piece of plastic in my pocket is quite pitiful.

On our honeymoon, the cottage didn't have cable, or a phone line - we didn't even have neighbours. When it's a bad thing you're "isolated", but if you're at peace with yourself it's "solitude".

Haven't been camping in two years. Probably only going car camping, but it's a start. The raccoon cooing isn't all that peaceful but whatever.

Just imagine.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Rapid eLearning & the instructional designer

With the increasing use of rapid eLearning tools - what does this mean for the traditional eLearning developer. The tool is designed to allow the subject matter expert to build professional content without developer or instructional design skills? Have those skills been eliminated?

Will the tool perform ISD, or ADDIE ? Perhaps it can help facilitate this process, but there is a human component required. SMEs are not being trained in ID before using a rapid eLearning tool. So what's happening?

It would appear that the process is becoming more agile, at the expense of the ID and developers. Is this the price of progress? I'm not convinced; I think what that moves toward is lower-quality content. Without the proven methodology in place the quality of the material must decrease.

Monday, April 2, 2007

it's not my fault

I really didn't think I would come to this. I used to think blogging was too self-indulgent (along with most of web 2.0). I've come to the realization that the blog is a requirement for successful brand-management, where the brand is yourself. Will a blog become a better judge of employability than a resume (or even a linkedin profile)? It would seem that blogging is a a necessity. I'm not sold on micro-blogging yet. Perhaps i'm just getting old. I don't want to have to do this, but i can't help it - not my fault.