We keep hearing that data is this century’s greatest natural resource, but way more effort goes into talking about it than into figuring out how to mine it and what to actually DO with it.
Domain7 recently hosted the 2014 Open Data Day Hackathon at our Railtown office. Local developers gathered to discuss ways we can use open data sets, and to hack some new tools using some of the City of Vancouver’s data.
Data like this is at our disposal, and now our job is to figure out how to use it to better humanity. That day we heard about some great projects that are using open data for human-friendly results:
- Bike lanes: Vancouver’s bike lanes have been directly influenced by a developer who used ICBC data to show where frequent collisions have historically taken place.
- Vancouver budget: Though the City always releases their budget in PDF format, few residents will actually take the time to review it. That data has been turned into a handy tool—...
A couple weeks ago my colleague Ryan James asked a great question: How is the trajectory of ubiquitous computing going to affect the Web and browsers? Kevan Gilbert followed up with some of the ways ubiquitous computing will mesh with storytelling, including a mention of Wilson Miner's talk When We Build.
In Miner's talk—already 3 years old—he describes how so much of computers as we know them (screens, network cables, keyboards, etc) has disappeared.
With the loss of visible computers, is the Web in danger?
In short, no. It’s thriving in new ways as the Internet fundamentally transforms the way we work.
Here are some examples:
- Networking: Whether it's your phone, watch, thermostat, oven, garage-door, TV, stereo, or car, anything with a decent chip in it can connect to the internet. And you can bet that if it's connecting to the Internet, it can talk with servers you can...
A couple weeks ago I decoded some of them terms you’ll inevitably hear when working with a web designer. Once design moves into development, however, it’s a completely new dialect. Fortunately I’ve been rolling with those foreigners for three years now, and I’ve picked up a bit of developer patois.
In the lay-est of laymen’s terms, here’s what they mean.
Agile Development: 99% of the time, what clients and developers initially set out to build looks very little like the actual end product. A traditional planning approach—with a detailed and rigid set of launch requirements—can be counterproductive. It’s like installing a state of the art chef’s kitchen when all you ever eat is takeout; or conversely, like building a one-bedroom bungalow when your wife is pregnant with twins. It’s why many digital products take so long to launch, and often flop once they do. Instead, agile (or iterative) software development focuses on the very basic requirements for your application (see “MVP” below).
Whether it’s an event registration system,...
What does tomorrow hold? Are ‘the machines’ taking over the world? Will human and artificial intelligence become one—achieving singularity? Are test-tube burgers coming to a McDonald's near you? Probably.
It feels like our future is being defined by technologists and venture capitalists. While their hearts are usually in the right place, there will be some shortcomings and ill-effects along the way. I sense a palpable restlessness among the complicit majority—the rest of us who blindly snap up iPhones and open Facebook accounts. Marshall McLuhan warned us way back in the Sixties: "innumerable confusions and a profound feeling of despair invariably emerge in periods of great technological and cultural transitions.” Can I get an ‘amen’!?
No wonder Spike Jonze's science-fiction drama, Her has many a technologist and futurist buzzing. His vision of the near-future depicts the human emotional experience enmeshed with ubiquitous computing, artificial intelligence and user-experience design. Crazy, right? Not really.
In the film, the shock of a man falling in love with his personalized operating-system is matched only by the plausibility and...
As I’m writing this, I’m sitting in a coffee shop with around 20 other people. Every single one of us is looking at a screen.
Some (like myself) are punching away at keyboards connected to large screens, some are flicking their fingers across screens the size of a greeting card, and some are tapping away at screens that fit in their pockets.
Most of us are interfacing with the same massive, global network: the Internet. Some of us are interacting with it through the web in a browser, and some of us are interacting with it through native apps designed and optimized specifically for the devices we’re holding.
At any given time, I can safely assume that the majority of the people I know are looking at a screen at the same time I am. This is the ever-connected lifestyle we live in, and it’s a world that has only existed in its current pervasiveness for a handful of years.
So what does the future hold? Where are we headed?
All of the screens in my life—my phone, my notebook, my iPad— they all know me. They all have my information in them. The thing that’s going to change is how much my various devices know each other, and how they will know other devices...
We're wrapping up a year of big leaps in hardware—smart watches and Google Glass dominated much of the tech talk of late. In 2014 we’ll see exciting growth in the platforms and applications that bring this hardware to life. We'll also see businesses evolve as they realize the real power of the web.
Here are our Tech and Web predictions for the year ahead:
Digital Communities Reorganize Real Communities
This year companies began to understand the revolutionary impact the Cloud can have on their businesses. Just yesterday the City of Vancouver unveiled their 3-year digital strategy at an AIM lunch, and it is all about delivering online services, inviting the public to solve problems through open data sets, and bringing together communities through digital channels (ummm, and did we mention we just launched a newly RESPONSIVE site for the City?). In 2014 more and more organizations will begin to seriously rethink the way they operate, and use the power of the Cloud to do it.
Smarty Aluminum Pants
While we’re not foreseeing an apocalyptic film-scale...
As web users we’re used to smooth in-site search systems—systems so smooth we don’t even think about them or realize the planning that goes into them.
Google has set a great precedent for search—their years of analysis and refinement have given us all high expectations. So when an in-site search is non-intuitive or produces irrelevant results, it’s a frustrating experience for users.
Sometimes search isn’t the best way for people to experience your site—you may want to guide users along a certain path. Before you add search, consider carefully if it’s the right tool for your strategic user experience. More often than not however, users want to jump directly to the content most relevant to them, and you should make it easy for them.
Look at your own web properties: if search is key to wayfinding on your website, how can you meet those user expectations? Customers frequently ask us what to do about site search, and the answer is: It depends.
The best search tool depends on the content on your site. Will data come from public, indexable content in your Content Management System (CMS)? Or are there special considerations for your content—...
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