I live for good questions which cause me to stand back and have to think and reflect.
While attending Professor David Socha’s UW Bothell CSS 572 course on Evidence Based Design, during a break David asked me to compare and contrast our experience with the success of developing DEC’s ALL-IN-1 to the Kleiner Perkins 10 Criteria for iFund Success:
Chi-Hua Chien shared these criteria as part of his presentation to a Stanford iOS class. My first response to the question was to laugh at the absurdity. ALL-IN-1’s design center was on dumb video terminals and aimed at Enterprises in 1981. Mobile smartphone applications are at the complete opposite at end of the spectrum of rich multiple media portable communications.
However, with David’s wonderfully curious encouragement we went through the ten criteria. While we had to change some of the terms like “iPhone” to VAX/VMS platform and “mobile” to “remote access,” the criteria were surprisingly timeless in their applicability.
David looked at me like I was crazy and said “What are you talking about?”
As I said those words, the impact of what I was saying in the context of the digital humanities discussions hit me between the eyes. I’ve struggled to articulate the design essence of a new medium of communication that is emerging from my understanding of the thoughts that Kate Hayles has imparted.
In the iOS video, Chien makes the observation that the content world of the web is morphing into the “Context over Content” app world of the iPhone/iPad. In other words we are transitioning from a content world (books, web pages) to an app world and from a static content world to a dynamic and highly personalized and contextualized world.
Kate Hayles pointed out that at many levels this mediated world of text was an old development as William Blake wanted tight control of the publishing of his poetry so that he could publish the “text” of the poem embedded within his art (see post on Digital Humanities).
Thinking back to what we did with ALL-IN-1, I wondered whether we could bring back the notion of an email message as a dynamic application where I could bring art to the medium of business communications. Business communication could now be a fully mediating object of socialability.
I then remembered what Harvey Brightman shared for his technique for providing quick feedback to his students for their assignments – just record his comments rather than having to spend a lot of time trying to type his comments. He was four times more productive speaking into the computer than trying to type his response. More importantly, the students loved the verbal feedback much more than the flat text. For myself, I find reading documents from people I’ve met face to face takes on a different meaning. As I read, I am able to hear their voice in my head, not a generic voice. What if we audio recorded the key components of our business communications so that the recipients can hear the communication in our actual vibrant voices.
Synchronicity struck once again. I’d arranged to meet Sylvia Taylor the morning after David’s class to gain a better understanding of her intentional work in energizing teams and developing leaders through her work with the VisualsSpeak image kits. She showed me an example of an online/offline use of the tool:
As she described how she used the photo images and the online version to coach her clients, the vision of the future of business communication crystallized. What if for each business email (or proposal or plan) we sent, we really sent an interactive app (that could come alive on an iPad) that was composed of the text, the images that represented a visual rendering of our ideas, and an audio track that captured our key points and actions in our own voice. The email “app” would then become a container for the social commentary of the recipients (in text, visuals, and audio). The key design aspect is that instead of the content objects being put together sequentially like this blog, it would look more like the Image Center example above – with the text, visuals, and audio integrated into a dynamic form. With this simple transform we would realize on a minute by minute basis what Stan Davis talked about in The Art of Business.
While I was fascinated by the photographic images, I remain impressed with the notion of Team Art from the McCarthy Bootcamp where I first met Sylvia. I asked Sylvia if the VisualsSpeak founders thought about using artwork. Sylvia chuckled and pointed me to co-founder Christine Martell’s blog about “Making a Difference with Art Every Day.” She also showed me a gallery of Christine’s art, some of which was created on the iPad.
I can’t wait to dust off our ALL-IN-1 software designs and bring them into the mediated world of iOS and Android.
What if the critique or responses to our business communications had the ability for the recipients to participate in the team art process of adding to the artwork that came with the text message?
What if we could make a difference with art in our business communications every minute with our intentional emails and business communications?