Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I’m bored of this UX event


If this is you, get out of the way. I’m off to the IA Summit next week and it’s the highlight of my year. Honestly. If you want to bring your event-weary commentary along with you and bemoan the fact that it wasn’t like it was 10 years ago then if you don’t mind having that conversation with yourself that would be lovely. I don’t know if I mentioned, but it’s the highlight of my year. Some people never get to go to events at all.

Really, I’ve nothing wrong with some kind of constructive criticism of events and conferences, and that has appropriate channels, to make sure it gets back to the organisers. You know, the event organisers. That small army of people who took upon themselves 11 months ago to make the event in 11 months the most awesome event in eleven month’s time it can possibly be notwithstanding the fact that actually no we’re not getting paid to put this thing together and we possibly didn’t realise 11 months ago what a monumental task we agreed to be a part of and now it’s upon us we could literally weep with the joy and relief of letting loose the staggering waif of the fawny event calf as it teeters into the forest of discovery like some conference Bambi, slipping and sliding on the ice of enlightenment, growing, living, flourishing and maturing into that majestic stag of experience, standing proudly atop mount adversity, barking, or whatever stags do, I AM THE EVENT STAG, HEAR ME BARK, OR WHATEVER IT IS I DO. What you probably don’t want to hear at that point is “Yeah, that event stag isn’t as good as last year’s event stag. It’s a bit shit. I’m going #sightseeing. Who’s in?”.

If you really are having a bad experience at your event, conference, meetup, bootcamp, jam, summit, unevent, unconference, unmeetup, unbootcamp, unjam, unsummit, (unjam is a word? Who knew?), then I’m sorry about that. Not all events are as advertised. Not all events run smoothly. Not all events meet expectations. But it might be just you. Well, maybe you and a couple of others. Alright, maybe it’s really bad. But if you’re quietly snarking at the back, that’s fine, I can deal with that. I mean, it’s annoying and once I’ve noticed you doing that I can’t unnotice you doing that and you’ve already planted a seed of distraction that will grow like a triffid in my subconscious, like some venomous metaphor for something really distracting and vegetative. However, in a parallel universe-made-the-opposite-of-parallel, it’s now pretty much alright to do that snarking out loud. And when I say out loud, I obviously don’t actually mean out loud. I mean on the #backchannel, which isn’t a backchannel at all, but a Norwegian bridge that small children skip lightly across to get from #whatisthis?land to #Ilovethis!land with faces that radiate with pure delight, but being a Norwegian bridge, thereunder treads a recalcitrant troll, lobbing poo bags at minors squawking BLAH BLAH BLAH I’M BETTER THAN THIS. Even worse, some trolls have got so good at lobbing their poo bags of derision that they can make them stick when they’re not even at the event.

You take the joy out of it. Stop it. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Ride the lightning

Notwithstanding a pithy reference to a metal experience that reminds me of the second half of the vinyl rack at the record shop where I used to work, tonight I rode the lightning at the event that uses the name but in no way conjures up images of axes and diminished 3rds because it’s got UX at the end and so rather suggests there might be crumpers and iphones and projectors and bottles of water and stuff which there was, for tonight was lightning UX and I spake of random percentages, gears of fear and communicating only through michael jackson thriller dance moves. There may have also been occasional references to mobile wallet design challenges amongst which and of I mused upon that included cognition of conceptual architectures, complicated contexts of use, and user confidences in and around the whole bloody wallet thing what they don’t even get ffs. Grrr.

I was, however, merely one of the peas in a UX pentapod that had been popped forth to live and breathe the warm air of a university basement and deliver a missive so sweet that it must just be our very last thing we do in a 10 minute burst looked upon by the sparkling eyes of the eversokeen. Within the delicate constraints of the framework – like rolling down the grassy hill of a summer’s day, passing the baton of freshly plucked UX grass between us like it might be the day all summery rolling down hill baton-passing days might be like – the five of us took that which was close to our hearts and set it into the ether upon the wings of hope where, in my case, it kind of crashed about a bit in a series of profane outbursts vaguely resembling a topic whereupon it flew too close to the flame of relevance and singed it’s little wings a bit.

In other words, I talked some stuff about designing mobile wallets and I made a lot of numbers up and the four others speakers on the bill were very good and actually when we opened it up to questions that got quite interesting and if anybody wants to ask me about the perception of flawed security models in the deployment of mobile payment frameworks or how you draw a thing which says PAY NOW then I’m more than happy to follow up with you. Point your stick toward @timcaynes. Come see me at the IA summit. I am UX.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Hacking NFC

Not strictly speaking hacking the protocol or platform or whatever you want to call it, because that might require rather more technical knowledge than I have left and implies something that is probably illegal, but hacking, in terms of using the near field communication infrastructure to muck about and produce something akin to a chocolate fireguard that you can show other people and say ‘look! I did a chocolate fireguard!’, as they add the finishing touches to their ‘tap-to-space travel’ demo.

Last week, the UK’s first NFC hack event was launched in Norwich. It’s a pretty ad hoc affair, under the Hot Source banner, that Proxama are supporting by making their NFC technology platform available to anybody who wanted to enter a team. All you have to bring to the party is your creative minds and a willingness to stand in front of the other 17 teams at the end of the month and show them what you’ve managed to build. And show them you can. With an NFC-enabled phone, access to Proxama’s hardware and software, tags and tech, you really can build an NFC-enabled technology solution. You just write that HTML5 stuff that displays a monkey, loyalty card, free gift or whatever, when your programmed NFC tag is tapped with your phone. Of course, since your team defines the experience, owns the code, has the idea in the first place, you can do much more than monkeys. If you want to write a bunch of HTML that’s loaded in webkit, or the Proxama app, and then have that web content do something else, like, say, integrate with your ecommerce platform, turn on the lights, leverage location services on your device and send a message to the queen specifying exactly where the bloody cake is to be delivered already, then you can do that, just with a tap of your phone on the programmable tag.

You see what’s possible here? It’s not just about using your phone to pay for a banana. I mean, the platform could support that if you wanted to do that, but, like, you can already do that. The idea of the hack event is that armed with the technology platform, you create something new, innovative, quite possibly ridiculous, but definitely original and potentially commercially viable. And, if it is, all well and good. Take that idea away with you and make it commercially viable. Proxama aren’t going to steal it, it’s your IP. Do with it what you will. What the event is about is demonstrating what you can do with the NFC platform. And I’m leading the Flow team. There’s also a Foolproof team, but, you know, I don’t give them much hope for winning the competition. I mean, I can’t see how anyone is going to top my shark tank escape game. It’s simple – you get dropped in a shark tank with your NFC phone and have to tap on the hidden tags to open the escape hatch. You either tap all the tags, in the right order, within the time, or, well, the demo gets really interesting. I haven’t decided which team member is going to demo it yet, mind.