Donald Norman is one of my favorite writers on technology and usability. This page is a rich treasure trove of all of his writings, on everything from PowerPoint to robots to DVDs to almost anything that anyone reading this would think was interesting. I
A classic, but sooo much here I didn’t know about.
Month: July 2006 (Page 2 of 3)
TechCrunch blogs about a new tool that lets website proprietors watch what their users do. And I do mean watch. They provide “movies of users’ individual browsing sessions” including all mouse movement, clicks, and keystrokes. They also aggregate data to provide overall statistics.
These types of tools are often used in usability studies to make websites more accessible or information easier to find. However, in usability studies, there is full disclosure and the participants are usually paid.
It’s nice to think about this in terms of usability and bloggers and indie websites, but in reality how is ClickTale going to make money? Through its relationship with enterprise customers. I am sure that the free package is only the tip of the iceberg, and that paid customers get far more advanced user tracking tools. Ouriel at TechCrunch mentions the privacy features: only website owners can view the results, no personal information is tracked, no password tracking.
But there is no consent and no means to inform the user that they are tracked. While a few people voice privacy concerns on the comments to this entry, the responses are:
1. Privacy’s dead, get over it –and
2. That is a niche user preference.
Arik from ClickTale says in the comments:
Again, privacy is reduced to a boutique concern of a small number of users. This is unbelievably irresponsible and I have no problem calling ClickTale out on that. There are plenty of ways they could require informed consent from users, but they know that marketers far prefer users not to know about tracking, because users will then opt out. These types of technologies should not be opt-out in the first place, and I am curious how this will fly in the EU where privacy rights are more strict than they are in the United States (which has some of the weakest privacy rights in the world).
BTW, as I’ve written about before, “personal information” does somehow not include IP addresses. But an IP address is a perfectly legitimate personal identifier (just ask the RIAA) and it’s specious to think otherwise.
The argument “privacy is dead anyway” is a straw man. Privacy rights have diminished greatly in the United States because people don’t know that most privacy violations are going on, people don’t know what their rights are, and because the government has not legislated any sort of privacy protections. If these things changed, we could have a greater expectation of privacy. To say “there’s nothing we can do” ignores the fact that we are going to see more technologies like this which are increasingly intrusive and problematic.
My solution would be legislative, since neither marketers nor technology companies seem to be able to follow an internal code of ethics. Similar to anti-spam laws, technologies which track user data should a) notify the user and b) require consent to proceed. I also believe that tracking cookies (like DoubleClick) violate privacy, and this type of requirement would cover those as well.
Now off my high horse. I have to catch up with go fug yourself.
I’ve blogged before about my infuriation with technology companies who market to “women” as if they are a monolithic group consisting of mommies and fashion junkies. Today, CNET gets into the action with a really condescending article about women and gadgets. Some choice excerpts:
“It’s increasingly not just about having a gadget, but having a functional product that enhances the life of the family,” said Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis for The NPD Group. “The idea that people go online to go shopping–that makes the computer (purchase) something of a household decision. It’s not just guys in charge of the gadgets.”
Gadgets for girls
Whether the wallet is being wielded by a stay-at-home mom, a working woman or any of the other countless variations on the 21st century female, gadget makers are taking note. Major companies including Apple Computer, Motorola, Eastman Kodak, Sony and Nintendo are giving products like cell phones, USB flash drives and handheld game devices bursts of color and graceful lines, and featuring women prominently in ads. Some designers, meanwhile, are developing products with an exclusively female audience in mind.
These “countless variations” are still family-oriented. There are just as many married men as there are married women (duh), but you don’t see articles about gadgets singling out that they are for men– that’s by default, I suppose– or mentioning kids or family responsibilities.
If there’s a theme, it seems women are attracted to portable gadgets like cell phones, digital cameras and notebook computers, which, according to NPD’s Baker, “tend to do better with women than big, desktop, stationary kinds of products.”
No way! Like everyone else? I know that all the men I know would much rather have a giant, heavy boom box than an iPod video.
“Women don’t want anything but an iPod,” she said. “Most of them won’t go outside the iPod circle for an MP3 player.”
Part of the appeal has to do with the abundance of iPod accessories, Hughes says. Another factor? Advertising. “The way that Apple advertises…they advertise hip. It doesn’t seem like a nerdy thing. It’s hip. It’s fashion.”
Thanks Hughes. I hope you’re not getting paid the big bucks for your invaluable consulting advice. The article does gently point out that she’s totally wrong and that there’s no evidence that women purchase iPods more than men do. I would also like to point out that the iPod has major market share in all demographics. Overall, this article completely jettisons any discussion of features, or functionality in favor of vague generalizations about style and design.
The trackbacks and comments are way better, pointing out that it might be nice to focus on women users in all articles, rather than run one of these tired pieces every three months. I’d also like to see more on women technologists in general, about sexism in technology culture, and also on use of technology by actual people, rather than these “consultants” who are totally talking out of their ass making major generalizations about how “women” use technology. Women make up the majority of bloggers and the majority of teens using social software are girls.
Women are more than half the population. Can we please stop talking about women as a monolithic group? Thank you.
This was one of the featured topics in the Cafe Press newsletter this morning:
Does this strike anyone else as odd? The other featured topics are the World Cup and something suspiciously artificial-sounding called “Parents Day”.
Great piece on lifestyle brand extension into Second Life and other virtual worlds. Of course it would be skanky American Apparel who leads the charge. How much would you pay for a virtual sweatshirt?
Nothing groundbreaking, but a couple decent statistics (they claim 54mil users in June) and more “lifestyle portal” talk
Excellent list of links to brands using MySpace for promotion. Great resource.
ComScore sez: 700mill (over 15 years old). This is as good a statistic as any.
Lengthy and interesting report on the intersection of education’s increased focus on skill set combined with the rise of community-oriented collaborative software.
Some good data here, esp. since everyone is still citing the same Pew Internet & American Life stats from 2004.
Stats cut and pasted from various sources, ranging from 2004-2006.
A few I hadn’t heard of.
Suggest software ideas, work on software ideas, launch them, get paid. Someone jumped on the crowdsourcing bandwagon, but the site design is nice. One to Watch.
Good resources for teaching, academia, etc.
Ultra-hideous graphics giveaway site. Now with frames! And people wonder why MySpace secondary markets haven’t taken off.. because they all look like this, that’s why.
Three Greasemonkey scripts to make MySpace less of a twitch-inducing nightmare.
A guide for coders on how to work within MySpace’s somewhat bizarre restrictions on custom code.
A myspace customization/add-ons/widget blog!
This post made me so mad. An incredibly condescending, and overly cutesy, guide for adults on how to navigate MySpace. Get over yourself. It might make more sense to try to understand what’s appealing about the site rather than assume it’s disgusting.
I’m not sure how shady this service is, and I am also not sure if it works.
If local sheriffs are already using MySpace to track down criminals, it’s hardly surprising that the NSA is doing the same. And by “criminals” you can include “citizens.”