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innovation – give it ten years (girly geeks london)

Microsoft T-Shirt

So, I went to the Girl Geeks Dinner in London last evening. It was an interesting night. The first thing you need to know if you’re thinking of going, is that it’s not a dinner. It’s drinks and a talk. But it’s still good.

I went there knowing absolutely no one, and ended up meeting a few people (hooray to those girls who were brave enough to introduce themselves to people they’ve never met… this happened about three times throughout the night, I did it a few times but not as bravely as some!)

One thing I’m taking away from the evening is that I need to find a way to talk about what I do that sounds as exciting as I think it is. As you do when you don’t know anyone, you find yourself explaining what you do with your time at work. You’d know by now that I’m pretty enthusiastic about my work – but I know that when I talk about it, it doesn’t have that zing. That’s something to work on.

Someone who does much better at it is Abigail Sellen. She’s been involved in amazing HCI work for ages. At the moment, she’s working with Microsoft. Abigail gave a really interesting talk to the Geeky Girls. I loved her relaxed presentation style. Abigail has been doing this work and talking about it a lot. She has such an understated approach, but her CV is so incredibly sexy, I suppose it’s easy to be understated.

Abigail says – if you’re going to *really* innovate – really do something out of the square – then be prepared for a ten year wait to see it go to market- otherwise be prepared to engage in taking it to market (getting out of the research lab and going out for lunch with product managers, engaging with the economics and the politics of the organisation outside of the research lab). She was talking about projects they were working on ten years ago that we’re looking at today and thinking ‘how sexy’. Seen that two handed desktop interaction? That kind of thing. They were working on it ten years ago and now the market is almost ready to find a place for it.

If you want to take innovation to market quickly, then focus on tweaks. Find ways to make existing technology work better. And this is no small task. Abigail gave the example of the mobile phone and the way that SMS completely revolutionised what that device meant to people and how they used it. That’s a reasonably small innovation that came to market reasonably quickly (depending on what market you’re in) and made huge changes.

At Microsoft they’ve been looking at the home technology market. Their thinking is that up until now, home technology has been divided into two areas: time saving and time wasting. This is a pretty simple breakdown, they say, and there must be some more interesting opportunities for technology in this environment – like for using it to allow people to express themselves, to emote, and for supporting families.

Really interesting stuff – enough to turn some of us green with jealousy, I’m sure. Sometimes I really like the idea of working in a research lab. But then, they too have frustrations – such as the ten year wait, and the products that are designed but never get to market, and getting IP Patents for all your ideas can’t be that much fun either.

It was definitely worth the effort to make it to Geek Girls and I’d recommend it to other London gals. Get along and check it out!

Meanwhile – check out Sarah Blow’s great t-shirt (picture above). It’s a customised XXL Mans Microsoft .NET tshirt. Microsoft has never looked so cool. Mash-up of the year I reckon :)

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Check out a non-crunchy version of the photo here.

gender differences in usability professional salaries

have you seen the UPA 2005 Salary Survey? [warning - PDF]. Paul Sherman, who authored the report made a note in his summary that ‘The average salary for males was $82,882; for females, $74,316′. I’m not even sure if I’m surprised or disappointed. Any thoughts? (via WebWord) ALSO: via Lela: Google in need of the feminine touch

chicks & conferences downunder – the conversation continues

So, Ben Barren revved up the Downunder Conference conversation again this weekend. More conversation ensues at the Women of 2.0 post earlier on this site.

We’re talking about unconferences (what are they?), should a chick blogging conference be included as a stream in a larger Downunder Web Conference? (If so, which one). And, is Ben Barren the appropriate champion for Aussie women who blog?

Come, join the fun :)

women of 2.0 (get up and go to a conference?!)

Unconference - Gaping Void

See, this is why we need more women talking out in tech.

We’re just sitting here talking about how we’d like women in technology to be more visible, and ways that we can make this happen and suddenly Dave Winer, Ben Barren and Richard McManus are organising not just one but *two* more conferences!

Just what the world needs. :)

Seriously, whilst I think it would be great to have a web2/blogher doubleheader conference in Australia (it would be great to not travel a million miles to see someone as ‘famous’ as Dave speak) and I would love the opportunity to see and meet more chicks who blog, particularly those who blog about web2, let’s not get distracted.

Fact is, we don’t know where most of these women are and they’re probably not going to write a proposal to speak at your conference. And *that* is the nub of the problem.

Agree? Disagree?

Get down here to my earlier post and join in the discussion.

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