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Nike + iPod (almost enough to make me want to run)

Nike + iPod

Every now and then, companies do really smart stuff. Apple are pretty well known for doing smart stuff, and Nike have also done lots of smart (or at least, expensive!) stuff online. And now, hoorah, they’re doing smart stuff together. I feel so proud and happy!

Nike and Apple® today announced a partnership bringing the worlds of sports and music together like never before with the launch of innovative Nike+iPod products. The first product developed through this partnership is the Nike+iPod Sport Kit, a wireless system that allows Nike+ footwear to talk with your iPod® nano to connect you to the ultimate personal running and workout experience. (Apple press release)

Why so? Because the user needs are so obviously at the centre of this product design. Clearly the product designers have thought about what they can do to support the goals that runners have, and they’ve designed a product that supports these goals.

Or, in Apple’s words, they’ve been working with Nike and:

creating meaningful consumer product experiences through design and innovation

Kevin Lim has a nice writeup on why this is more than an expensive pedometer.

If I were to start running, then the features that Kevin points out would be exactly the kinds of gimmicks that I’d quickly become addicted to. I’d love a soothing voice telling me how far I’d run and how far I had to go. Almost like a personal trainer but less annoying. And the breath I save from having no one to moan to will be better spent on helping me run further.

Feeling tired but not quite at the end of your run? Then get some particularly pumpy music and 3-5 minutes of running will magically be behind you before you know it. I *know* this works, because if I get a run of pumpy songs on my walk to work I get there five minutes earlier!

The only thing I’m not sure about is the community… but that’s just because my stats would be so embarrassing! All you fit people out there, you know you’ll love it. Just like those biking people constantly comparing how far and how fast….

Unfortunately, Nike doesn’t seem to realise that there is more to ‘global’ than the US… you get that. I suppose we won’t be able to buy the shoes in Sydney until sometime next year anyway… (and while I’m moaning… I don’t get why chicks can’t buy the black shoes… what’s with that?!)

I’m not sure how many shoes Nike will sell out of it … I reckon it’s just a matter of time before you can buy the sensor separately and put them into whatever shoe you want (at least, whatever Nike shoe you want… or perhaps some new running accessory we didn’t know we needed).

Still. I like it. It’s a partnership and a promotion that will make sense and add value to a lot of people’s lives. (At least, until the sensors start breaking and Apple won’t replace them!)
It’s certainly enough to make me happy to have a Nano, and likely to keep an eye out for the Nike shoes. Who knows… maybe even enough to make me run!

What do you think? Feeling motivated?

Image credit: Pellseer2 @ Flickr

flickr goes gamma

So by now you’ve probably seen the new Flickr interface.

Personally… i like that all the functionality is more accessible from every page, but the main photo page seems a little sterile now. Perhaps I liked the clutter? I *do* like having the two columns of photos on all the pages now though. I quite like the ajaxy dropdowns… but they’re kind of ugly, don’t you think?

Flickr Dropdowns

There are a few oddly placed elements, in my opinion. The number of photos and views just seem to be floating up the top of the RHS column, and then from time to time this spot is used for subnavigation/tools (e.g. profile page). It’s fine once you ‘learn’ it… but a little unexpected.

It took me a while to work out how to add a photo to a group. It seems to have disappeared from the Organizer, and has moved to the toolbar under the image name on the image detail page. I quite liked being able to add to groups from the Organizer… that made sense to me, and made it easier for me to select the photos I *really* wanted to add to groups.

But then, I was never really a Group poweruser. Maybe it’s better this way, if you’re *really* into groups.

There’s a good overview of the changes that have been made here.

How do you like the changes Flickr has made?

image via FlickrNation

ActNow Launches (2.0 for good not evil)

Act Now
So, one minute you’re enthusiastically selling toffees at recess at school to raise money for Fred Hollows Foundation, and the next minute you’re thirty something and can hardly be bothered to vote. How is it that so many of us become so disengaged with the issues that affect us, our families, our community and our world?
Keeping young people engaged and active on the issues that matter to them is the mission of ActNow – the latest inspirational program from the Inspire Foundation.
Isn’t that a great mission for a 2.0 site? Yes? Well, don’t just sit there. Act Now! Tell your friends, tell your friends’ kids, write about it on your blog. Get busy. Please :)
I had a flying trip down to Melbourne yesterday for the launch party. When I was producing at Massive I had the pleasure of working on this project and it is exciting to see ActNow move out of beta and into the wild. I’ll be watching (and reading) with great interest.

ActNow is not your average old website – it’s really quite 2.0. You’ll find many of the 2.0 buzzwords in action on the site including User Generated Content (come up with a better buzzword and I’ll use it), RSS, Social Networks and more. It’s based on a Wiki format, where members can create their own pages using a range of different templates, and create or upload content – written word, photos, video, Flash movies, you name it.

Members can go back and edit their content whenever they like. They can also give permission to other members to edit the content. So, if you’re putting a page together about Obesity, and there are a group of you doing research on the issue, you can all contribute to the content that goes on the page.

As you can imagine, this was the topic of *much* angst. Letting anyone put whatever content they like on the website. It’s a scary thing to do. As you can imagine, the lawyers were terrified. But, trust is a 2.0 thing too. We needed to have faith in the community that would build on ActNow and trust that people will use the powers given to them for good and not evil.

Throughout the project we had a little mantra that I borrowed from Peter Merholz of Adaptive Path.

”The Web’s lesson is that we have to let go, to exert as little control as necessary. What are the fewest necessary rules that we can provide to shape the experience? Where do people, tools, and content come together? How do we let go in a way that’s meaningful and relevant to our business?”

Time will tell if this risk pays off. Of course, it will be a pretty quick task to get rid of these freedoms and to build in a more onerous moderation path… but who wants that? Certainly Inspire don’t need the extra work, and it takes away that ‘magic’ of the internet, which is that you press a button and it’s suddenly there for the world to see.

Moderation is boring. So, we’ve taken the approach of distributing moderation – on all of the content pages is the option to ‘report’ content – meaning that the ‘official’ moderators only need to look at a few pages (hopefully) rather than check off every single thing that goes on the site.

I’m fascinated to see how this plays out.

That beautiful homepage is pretty cool too. It looks like a tag cloud, but it’s actually not. (In fact, no tags were used in the making of this site… so, perhaps it’s not really 2.0 afterall ;) – don’t you worry, they *were* discussed at length but we opted out).

So, those things that look like tags are actually the names of the various issues that people are writing about on the site. The ones that are being viewed the most are shown in the cloud on the homepage, with the most often viewed shown in the largest font size and less often viewed in gradually smaller font sizes. Cool huh.

(Don’t you love it when XML and Flash play so nicely together?! Cheers to Damian and Dom for their technical brilliance and many hours of hard work)
ActNow Screenshot

What we’ll get to see over time is what issues are most important or interesting to young people. Also, when something big is happening in the news we’re expecting that this will probably be reflected on the homepage cloud, making it really easy for people to get straight to the content they’re interested in.

It also allows you to get a quick preview of all the top issues from the homepage, thanks to the little preview box.

Lots of crazy stuff, hey? Will the young people be able to use it? We can confidently say yes. You see, this site has been designed in concert with the people who use it, and they’ve been testing it and testing it for months now. Lots of them!
The project has already involved more than 100 young people, participating in ‘incubators’, as interns, helping to develop content and start build the online community.

Working on a project with the Inspire Foundation is a real exercise in participatory design.

The young people have a really active involvement in deciding how the website would work. They used online forums and face to face meetings to discuss everything from what kinds of content the site would need, to how to best group this content so that people could find it.

ActNow specs

They not only *read* the specs, they pored over the wireframes and held workshops. Never before have I walked into my client’s office and found my wireframes stuck up on the wall like this! (Obviously I was so excited I had to capture the moment!)

At every step, the young people were involved in decision making, and were our go-to point when we needed to decide if an idea was going to fly or not. So, even though they didn’t necessarily know what a wiki was, or what and RSS feed was – they took the ideas we suggested and evaluated them and they decided whether it was in or out and how they wanted it to work.

It’s a great way to work, and particularly good when you’ve got such a tough target audience. I don’t think I’d ever want to work on a youth focussed site again without having access to a bunch of people in the target audience to guide what I was doing and to act as a sounding board for my ideas and approaches.

It should be like this for *all* projects… but, in reality, it rarely is. (Unless you’re working exclusively on Intranets, in which case you have no excuse!).

But anyway – ActNow. Launched. Hoorah!

Now what it needs is a vibrant community – which I’m sure it will get if enough young people know about it. So, pass it on.

(Either that or make a cash donation to Inspire ;) )

Thank you!

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Sphere (Review): Hidden treasures, 2.0 Orange & the perils of style for design agencies

Sphere Custom Range

So, I (along with the rest of the Blogosphere) have been checking out Sphere since it launched yesterday. Sphere is the latest in a growing range of blog search engines. (I’m also waiting for Gnoos to launch – we’re just days away apparently from having an Australian blog search engine.)

My initial thoughts? I don’t like it. (But only because I’m miffed that my blog doesn’t show up in their search results at the moment.)

Seriously, I’m always interested to see a product that Adaptive Path have launched. Say what you like, but these guys are thoughtful designers. And this time around they’ve exposed the thought process they’ve gone through, which makes it all the more interesting.

So, from a design/user experience perspective, here’s what I’m thinking:

(more…)

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