less is not enough

Less is Less - How Cover

OK. So I’m finally almost brave enough to send you in the direction of my very first ever podcast that I did for the Office 2.0 Podcast Jam. (Assuming you haven’t wandered over there and had a listen already.

I’ve been thinking a bit lately about this ‘cult of less‘ that 37 Signals seems to be leading and whether, in fact, it has an evil side. Well… ok, not an evil side. But is it all as good as it seems?

I started thinking this when I was listening to Peter Morville give the keynote at EuroIA the other weekend. He was pondering the ever increasing abundance of information that we have around us now, and wondering if it was helping us to learn, to make good decisions.

I wondered the same about information architecture and interaction design.

So, I’ve been thinking a bit about these web based project management solutions such as BaseCamp and GoPlan and thinking about what they *don’t* do when compared to more complex software such as Microsoft Project.

Now, don’t get me wrong… I’m not saying that there aren’t some *serious* problems with Microsoft Project but it was, for better or worse, instrumental in teaching me how to be a project manager. This is something that neither BaseCamp nor Go Plan could do.

Similarly, we’ve seen some interesting user testing lately that has shown users asking for more complexity to help enable their decision making.

So our natural response as designers, to simplify the interface, may in fact, be reducing the ability of the people using our software or websites to be able to learn, and to make good decisions.

So, that’s the crux of what I’m thinking of. What do we lose with ‘less’? And is it (always) worth it?

If you want to hear the full blow raving version, you can find it here.

I think I sound a bit less like Judith Lucy in this one :)

Image credit: 37 Signals being featured in HOW magazine

what’s it like being a designer at Flickr?

I’ve wondered this myself… so I thought I’d use the PodCastJam as a great excuse to get in touch with George Oates, an Australian (ex Adelaide) gal who’s been working with Flickr since before they were Flickr (remember Ludicorp?).

So, in my podcast interviewing debut (and… yes, I need more practice. Want to be interviewed?), I’ve posted an interview with George on the PodCastJam site.

I feel very nervous suggesting this, but I can’t hide such a great opportunity to chat with someone who designs in such an interesting spaces…. so, go check it out!

(Does anyone else think I sound remarkably like Judith Lucy?! Surely I don’t talk like that all the time…. must be my special podcast interviewing voice. A cousin of my phone answering voice).

Personally, I’ve found it really interesting that despite all the different perspectives that people have been coming at Office 2.0 at the conference and the jam, two really loud recurrent themes keep coming out – community and collaboration.

I like that.

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but, what is Office 2.0?

So, as you know, I’ve been trying to recruit design and user experience types to participate in the Podcast Jam for Office 2.0. (hello! are you out there!). Something I’ve noticed is that your average designer on the street doesn’t necessarily know what Office 2.0 means, and what’s included.

If this sounds like you, can I recommend that you invest 5 minutes in Richard MacManus’s opening keynote podcast in which he talks about Office 2.0 as a paradigm shift that is more than just web versions of the Microsoft Office suite, and discusses a few examples of Office 2.0 services that you may or may not have heard of.

Meanwhile, an amazing thing about podcasts… I love hearing people’s voices! I particularly love people being surprised to hear that Richard has a New Zealand accent!

And, I’ve noticed that people are saying ‘two dot oh’.

Surely I’m not the only one who’s been saying ‘two point oh’…

or am I?!

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Jam On at Office 2.0 PodCast Jam!

Office 2.0 PodCastJam

The Office 2.0 Podcast Jam kicks off tomorrow – so be sure to go check it out and get involved. There’s some really interesting stuff happening from kick off including podcasts from Richard MacManus, Rosemary Stasek (talking about her experiences in Afghanistan, now that’s a perspective you don’t get at your average conference), and Eric Severson (talking about XML single-sourcing for document management, which is, for now, lost on me, but Anne tells me is very important and often overlooked!)

The online chat is open now, so that’s one very easy way to participate!

But it’s not too late to record a podcast and send it in as part of the jam!
For many of the participants, this is their first experience with podcasting, and I can tell you, it’s pretty straight forward. It’s even easier if you have someone you think is interesting and set up an interview with them! (or get them to interview you, or interview each other!). I’ll be doing some of that during the week using Skype (still investigating the best ‘recording’ option – anyone got recommendations)

One of the GREAT things about PodCastJam is that it allows all those voices who are usually absent from a conference like the Office 2.0 Conference to participate in the conversation. I’m particularly hoping to hear more women speak, more people talk from a design and user/customer experience perspective, and more people based in places other than the US.

So if any or all of those sound like you – let me encourage you to give it a go! Just a short 5-10 minute piece on whatever you think is interesting (you can really only cover one topic well in that time I reckon), and send it off for everyone to consider and talk about.

It’ll be great fun, so get involved! :)

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