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Techmeter – machine as market analyst house

‘Keep talkin’ Larry’: Amazon appears ever closer to dumping Oracle – MarketWatch – I read this as a great ad for Oracle: even Amazon finds it hard to migrate from them

Barber Osgerby launch office furniture with Vitra, betting sofas will | Fast Company – but this creates a set of ergonomic issues

Marshall Auerback: Apple Has an Early Case of GE’s Disease | naked capitalism – more of a valid question than an analysis – but still a valid consideration

M&S to air low-key Christmas ad in attempt to drive sales | Business | The Guardian – spend on reach and repetition; YouTube and Facebook didn’t work for them

HTC is bringing standalone Vive Focus VR headset to North America and Europe | siliconangle – 12 months after launching in China, western markets were clearly an afterthought

Oprah time: Thoughts on Design by Paul Rand

Paul Rand’s slim book Thoughts on Design was originally written after World War 2 when he was in his 30s. He hadn’t yet done some of his most iconic work such as the IBM or TV network ABC.

Untitled

Straight out of the gate it focuses on design and its applicability to the job in hand. My friend Stephen used to talk about designers falling into two categories:

  • Idea led designers that focus on the communications problem
  • Style-led designers. Their work has a particular look and feel, that might be fashionable (for a while). The Designers Republic as falling into this category

Rand is blunter in his assessment under a section called The Beautiful and The Useful. His point isn’t that they are mutually exclusive. Obeying classical art rules creates useless design unless it addresses the communications. The sad thing is that 70 years later it still needs to be said with the same urgency.

Rand describes the designers challenge as an overlap with strategy and planning functions in agencies. Rand started in agencies a generation before planning emerged as a discipline. Planning started in London advertising agencies. The idea of leaving pre-conceptions out of the process is a keystone of planning and strategy.

Finally, Rand focuses less on typography than one would expect. Instead he focuses on the creative use of space and direction. He viewed debates around the use of typography as an unnecessary distraction. Typography decisions would be resolved by wider thinking on space and direction. Thoughts on Design is surprisingly accessible.

ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우

I, Cringely Red Hat takes over IBM – I, Cringely – interesting analysis

iOS vs. Windows – Input and Office – Radio Free Mobile – no real surprise here. One only has to go back to the late 1970s / early 1980s experience of the HP 150 mini computer with a touch screen to see the productivity issue. Keyboards work, and they work better now that more people are reasonable touch typists. Tablets are still interesting as consumption devices, the question is what the market is?

Oath will soon be rebranded as Verizon Media Group – The Verge – what is more interesting is how Verizon changes management approach (presumably after losing Tim Armstrong)

Snapchat Lenses are coming to the desktop and Twitch streams | TechRadar – integration with Twitch will fuel further speculation on an Amazon buy-out

Five for Friday | 五日(星期五) | 금요일에 다섯 가지

Things that made my day this week:

US newsreader narrates a 1967 programme on what the future held in the 21st century

An Unknown Enemy is a Mexican series on Amazon Prime that follows the rise of Fernando Barrientos, Head of the National Security Directorate, Mexico’s Secret Police in the late 1960s

Panasonic helps workers create their own head space with new crowdfunded device | The Japan Times – the design looks hokey, but it mirrors the transformation of offices with hot desking and always on headphone culture to try and provide distance

The People’s Republic of Desire documents China’s online streaming culture that has developed over the past few years

Super-excited by an album of Smith & Mighty’s unreleased back catalogue from 1988 – 1994 being released this week. Here is a taster.

Have a great weekend

The buzz of an emergent community

I was chatting with a friend who was evangelic in their description of the emergent community on the AltSpace VR (virtual reality) social network They had met great friends, the kind of meaningful interactions that seldom occurs on your Facebook wall now.

But was this about the power of VR? My take was that it is a minor factor at best. VR acted as a filter, it brought similar likeminded early adopters together. In many respects this mirrored other technology filters: the early days of dial up bulletin board services (particularly in the US with free local calls on the Bell network carriers),  AOL and CompuServe chat rooms or the Usenet.

Filipino community gathering under the HSBC building

The power of connecting likeminded people can be a transformative experience in the minds of participants.

If I think back before my time on the internet, my friend’s experience in the emergent community of AltSpace sounded like the people I met at the Hacienda. It sounded like the experience of many of the regulars at acid house club Shoom – which was hosted by Danny Rampling out of a small gym in South London.

These experiences are once lived, often never recaptured experiences rather like being on a school or college sports team. They only exist for a fleeting moment in time.

It was like being an early member on Flickr, or my friend Ian’s experience on CompuServe chat rooms (where he met his future wife).

So what makes these communities special?

  • Likeminded people who are likely to share a certain amount of norms and have common grounds to be there
  • A relatively small number of people. This number becomes inexact. In a good nightclub it would be a certain amount of exclusivity because not everyone knew it was there, rather than a strict door policy. The strict door policy is usually a remedial item done once the norms try and break down
  • Agreement to a set of common behaviours, for many years a common etiquette held sway on networks like Flickr. Facebook doesn’t have this except in tightly managed private groups

So what happens to these communities?

  • A number soldier on, particularly around passion points such as Harry Potter books / films / games
  • A small minority (cough, cough) Facebook for example transcend their community and turn into a utility with pockets of interest hidden in secret
  • Things move on. Think about restaurants or nightclubs that are now sites of investment properties in London or Manchester

About the photo: I took this on an early trip to Hong Kong. Every Sunday the Filipino and Indonesian communities would gather in different parts of the city to see friends, eat, sing, dance and trade items. This picture is of Filipinos,  taken in the private public space under the HSBC building in the Central district. Some years later this was a site for the Occupy Central protesters.