Mashup Camp just concluded in the Computer History Museum. A very nice, direct, simple mash-up -- PodBot -- won 'best mashup'; second prize went to the everyhing-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-Chicago-crime-statistics mashup ChicagoCrime.org. PodBot does just one simple thing but does it for data around the world; ChicagoCrime does lots of things for just one city and subject. Also, PodBot is all about having fun and ChicagoCrime is about not getting killed. Sort of a yin/yang thing.
The unconference itself was good. A lot of good sessions conflicted, so I had some quandaries; but I think I made the best locally optimal choices possible. No regrets. The WiFi was good (better than most conferences with 250 people in a single room) but still not perfect. But it wasn't too bad since there was little need for a backchannel.
Software Development's Evolution towards Product Design -- Danc Redmond writes a great article from the perspective of a product designer. I agree with nearly everything he says, especially the need for small, unified, cross-functional teams. A few minor caveats:
- Programming, done properly, is not a production activity that can easily be separated from product design. If it could be, it's basically rote work that can and should be automated. The non-rote work that programmers should focus on is all about figuring out how to hack the universe in order to deliver superior benefits to the customer. Which is part and parcel of product design, which is why those small, cross-functional teams are so valuable.
- A big factor in game development and web design companies' successes was sheer volume and high competition. There are plenty of terrible user experience in both camps (books have been written), but the industries have thus had a chance to learn from lots of successes and failures and iteratively improve.
- Nit: The benefits summary is great -- 98% success vs. 18% success is a great statistic that can get business people to sit up and listen. But y'know, this needs to be backed up with specific references to really pack the necessary punch.
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