Posts tagged “appliance”

Reading Ahead Quickies

While the Reading Ahead project was a couple of years ago, we continue to find stories that resonate with or extend beyond our findings. Here’s a few!

For Their Children, Many E-Book Fans Insist on Paper [] – A key Reading Ahead finding was that people select different content for different environments, situations, etc. By extension, it makes sense to see that people are also making choices among platforms for similar reasons. Reading is a multi-headed beast.

Print books may be under siege from the rise of e-books, but they have a tenacious hold on a particular group: children and toddlers. Their parents are insisting this next generation of readers spend their early years with old-fashioned books. This is the case even with parents who themselves are die-hard downloaders of books onto Kindles, iPads, laptops and phones. They freely acknowledge their digital double standard, saying they want their children to be surrounded by print books, to experience turning physical pages as they learn about shapes, colors and animals. Parents also say they like cuddling up with their child and a book, and fear that a shiny gadget might get all the attention. Also, if little Joey is going to spit up, a book may be easier to clean than a tablet computer.

Fulfilling the status role of books [Applied Abstractions] – An admittedly facetious concept that pokes at the ongoing struggle between objects, in this case books, as physical tangible demonstrable symbols versus digital and generally invisible personal content, an issue that arose clearly in the Reading Ahead research

The Norwegian publishing and bookselling industry yesterday introduced a new concept for e-books that is rather harebrained. They want to sell e-book tablets where you can buy books not as downloads (well, you can do that, too) but as files loaded on small plastic memory cards, to be inserted into the reader. According to their not very convincing market analysis, this is aimed at the segment of the book buying market who do not want to download books from the net (but, for some reason, seem to want to read books electronically.) I initially thought I would make a joke about having to replace my bookshelves with neat little minishelves for the plastic cards, when it dawned on me that perhaps we have the solution here – i.e., a model where we could get the accessibility of digital books with the status display of the paper version. Why couldn’t the publishing industry sell you a digital book (for downloading, if you please) bundled with a cardboard book model, with binding and all, to put in your bookshelf? This would look great, allow you to effortlessly project your intellectualism and elevated taste, while avoiding the weight, dust, and (since these books would only need to be a in inch or two deep) space nuisances of traditional books. You could even avoid physical distribution by letting the customer self-print and cut and fold the “shelf-book” in the right format. You could even electronically link the two, so that you cold pick your cardboard book from the shelf, wave it in the direction of the e-book tablet (using transponder, 2D barcoding or other identifying techniques) and the book would show up in your reader. If you really wanted to show off, you could add a little color coded bar indicated how far you were in each book, much like a download bar for your computer, to be displayed on each book. Moreover, such as book could be lent from one reader to another.

A Digital Whiteboard for the Kindle [] – Already two years old, this post evoked for me another key tension: are digital book platforms translations (with relevant, reading-related enhancements) of the book reading experience or are they new digital platforms for a range of digital activities? Our research suggested a stronger desire for the former, with fears of distraction around the latter.

Luidia, the maker of an interactive whiteboard technology called eBeam, is extending its reach onto another screen: Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader. The start-up is launching a system that automatically zaps a copy of notes and scribbles left on whiteboards into people’s Kindle or Kindle DX. It works by turning the notes (captured digitally by the eBeam system) into an image file, and then emailing that file to a Kindle. “We saw the potential not just to read a novel and textbooks, but also have other kinds of content created live in the classroom by students and teachers themselves,” says Jody Forehand, Luidia’s vice president of product planning…But apps that extend or go beyond reading are one of the most anticipated additions to e-book readers in the coming year. Kindle competitor Irex has said it would release a software development kit so that programmers can make their own apps for its e-reading device.

“Organizational Empathy, from Top to Bottom” published in Appliance

My article Organizational Empathy, from Top to Bottom has been published by Appliance magazine. I consider my experience as an HMO “customer” as a way to look how organizations instill and act on empathy at all levels.

I went online to make a medical appointment recently, and I was surprised that there was no place to explain my symptoms or reasons for needing to see the doctor. When I arrived at the clinic a few days later, a receptionist collected my copayment without any discussion of my situation. I found my assigned room and dropped check-in printout in the appropriate tray. After a moment, my name was called, and a medical assistant brought me back and began administering “treatment.” I was told to stand on a scale, and then brought to a room where she took my blood pressure. Then she wheeled over a device on a pole and produced a long metal probe. She advanced on me with it, pointing it at my face, without saying a word. Bewildered and slightly afraid, I soon realized it was a digital thermometer and that I was supposed to open my mouth (which I did, seconds before impact).

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • In praise of the single-use device – 1) The over­all trend is clearly towards media devices with mul­ti­ple (but dis­crete) func­tions.
    2) There’s still room for a solid hand­ful of dedicated-use devices who do their job really, really well; for read­ing plain text, a device like the Kin­dle could fit into that cat­e­gory.
    3) A lot of what we read isn’t plain text. It never was.

    Poten­tial solutions:

    1) When­ever pos­si­ble, tear down the walls between the “sep­a­rate” func­tions on multi-function devices. It should feel like a device that has one func­tion — just that the func­tion is com­plex, mul­ti­lay­ered, inte­grated.
    2) Within the con­tent, too, stop treat­ing text as if it could be fully iso­lated as a sep­a­rate data chan­nel from every other kind of media.
    3) The end of the multiple-function device, and per­haps even the multi-media object; the birth of the inte­grated–func­tion device, and the inte­grated–media object. These last two were made for each other.

  • Kottke: People read more than books – E-readers — are all focused on the wrong single use: books. The correct single use is reading.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Mark Menjivar's You Are What You Eat – Set of naturalistic images of inside of refrigerators, with brief profile of the owner. Beautifully done.
  • Rollasole – after-dancing semisposable shoe vending – Fact 1: The best nightclubs are notoriously located at either the top or the bottom of a massive flight of stairs.
    Fact 2: The best nightclub shoes are painful, precarious and perilously pointy.
    But fear not, for we at Rollasole have appeared like Prince Charmings (sic) to gently escort you down the stairs, across the kerb and into the back of your carriage – all without falling on your face.
    When you're all danced out, just slip one of our vending machines a fiver and it'll sort you out with a pair of roly poly pumps and a shiny new bag to shove your slingbacks in.

    (via Springwise)

  • Legendary McDonald's failure in the UK – McPloughman – Although vegetarian burgers have failed in the U.S. McDonald's, one of McDonald's most spectacular production failures happened in Britain. This failure can be seen not only as a failure to understand the desires of its primary market, largely for burgers and fries, but also as a lack of understanding of a food product that is tied to British identity. In 1994 McDonald's test marketed the "McPloughman" in Britain. A "ploughman's lunch" is a very traditional British lunch that consists of bread, cheese (British, of course, usually cheddar) and a pickle (also cured in the British style). An attempt to tie the America-based company to such a traditional British product was a "McFlop." The company admitted that the British counter crew were embarrassed both by the concept and by the name itself.

    [Thanks to Stokes Jones for the tip to this one]


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