Information Design Watch

June 17, 2005, 1:14 pm

Wi-Fi Backlash?

By d/D

Some cafe owners are apparently questioning the economics of free Wi-Fi. Tables may be occupied for hours by patrons who make minimal purchases and inadvertantly change the vibe of the establishment:

“A cafe’s nature can be classified as ‘office,’ ‘social,’ or a hybrid, according to research by Sean Savage, who recently earned his master’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley…. In his work, Mr. Savage found that an office cafe discouraged conversation and was filled with people who came alone and were focused on their work. Social cafes have customers who arrive in groups. ‘If you come into a place like that and it’s a particularly busy time, you get dirty looks if you open a laptop and start zoning out,’ Mr. Savage said.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/13/technology/13wifi.html (free registration required)

On his Weblog, Savage offers his own commentary on the story:

“I see no evidence of a new trend: both of the San Francisco cafes in question have been experimenting with limited access for more than a year.”

http://www.cheesebikini.com/archives/001103.html

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Business, Technology

June 17, 2005, 1:13 pm

Name that U

By d/D

Here’s a diversion for designers. Joey Katzen has extracted letterforms from product and corporate logos. The game is to name the source:

http://www.joeykatzen.com/alpha/index.html

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Visual Explanation

June 17, 2005, 1:11 pm

Cool Clock

By d/D

This Flash-based clock was originally created by Insert Monkey and updated by Anne Jan Beeks:

http://home.tiscali.nl/annejan/swf/timeline.swf

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Visual Explanation

June 17, 2005, 1:09 pm

A Sideways Pyramid

By d/D

With the release of the new “Food Pyramid” the United States Department of Agriculture presents a case study of how not to develop a visual explanation. By attempting to fit a new data scheme into a existing concept, they’ve created an explanation that is metaphorically and visually incoherent. Without a concept of hierarchy, the pyramid becomes just an oddly-shaped area chart; readers must compare the sizes of skinny triangles to determine the department’s recommendations:

http://www.mypyramid.gov/index.html

The thinking behind the new pyramid is explained in an animated tour:

http://www.mypyramid.gov/global_nav/media_animation.html

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Visual Explanation

June 17, 2005, 1:06 pm

The End of Usability

By d/D

Software developer Joel Spolsky is almost ready to say that usability isn’t that important:

“…an application that does something really great that people really want to do can be pathetically unusable, and it will still be a hit. And an application can be the easiest thing in the world to use, but if it doesn’t do anything anybody wants, it will flop.”

Spolsky doesn’t really want to tell interface designers to retire, but he does advocate a change in focus. Instead of fine-tuning how humans interface with computers, usability experts should consider how humans relate to other humans:

“Over the next decade, I expect that software companies will hire people trained as anthropologists and ethnographers to work on social interface design. Instead of building usability labs, they’ll go out into the field and write ethnographies.”

http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/NotJustUsability.html

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Usability, User Experience