What I mean when I talk about service

A couple of conversations recently made me realise I should write this down. Jane tweeted: "Public Sector Digital peeps, what is now the best definition of a ‘Service’ for people not used to working in our world? The end-to-end journey which enables a user to ‘do a thing’ - am sure many have put it … Continue reading What I mean when I talk about service

Not All Mammals! In defence of designing for “people”

I've been thinking about this exchange with Roberta... @mattedgar Lots of people _talk_ about getting users in the room. This weekend @mHealthLeeds is actually doing it. #mhleeds @RobertaWedge @mattedgar Users of what? In a health-care context, the term covers layers of euphemism. @mattedgar @RobertaWedge fair point. Alternatives to the word 'user' gratefully received. (Often but not always "people" … Continue reading Not All Mammals! In defence of designing for “people”

The risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things

I once worked in a Parisian office where the walls were emblazoned with encouraging slogans in English, "share ideas!" "create!" "go!" But my favourite was always the half metre-high vinyl entreaty to: "do it simple!" In my more cynical moments I would claim this word art spoke volumes about the culture of multi-national business, more … Continue reading The risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things

“Please join me in a drive for better letters”

As a follow-up to the 1951 'No Idle Words' booklet, comes this gem of a letter about writing letters. Its author was Charles Hill, a doctor turned broadcaster and politician who briefly held the office of Postmaster General. Note also the lovely simplification of the royal coat of arms - just remove all the fussy heraldry … Continue reading “Please join me in a drive for better letters”

No Idle Words: a style guide for the age of austerity

Russell Davies' lovely post on the writing style of the GOV.UK beta inspired me to scan this 1951 Post Office writing guide. We inherited it from my wife's grandfather who taught telecommunications at the Post Office's training college, in the days before BT. If anyone knows more about the booklet I'd love to hear from … Continue reading No Idle Words: a style guide for the age of austerity

Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party

I have been using the word "machine" in this connection, because it was the only name by which it was designated at that time. The adoption of a suitable name, however, was being discussed at this time by Mr. Sholes and his associates. "Printing machine" was first suggested, but the name did not meet with … Continue reading Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party

Small pieces loosely joined: on the way home from the Story

Cornelia Parker got the army to blow up a shed full of stuff and then hung the shards from an art gallery ceiling. It felt like a metaphor for almost all the talks at Matt Locke's brilliant event, The Story: everywhere narratives are fragmenting, and no one seems certain how to put them back together. … Continue reading Small pieces loosely joined: on the way home from the Story

The Hyperjoy of Hypertext

In my ramble through the possibilities of Mobile Gothic, Ruskin's fifth quality of Gothic - Rigidity or Obstinacy - was the hardest to express. It may not be all of Christopher Alexander's qwan, but it's certainly an important part of it. At the time I wrote: "The articulation of the parts of the mobile user experience … Continue reading The Hyperjoy of Hypertext

Ten years on, can we stop worrying now?

Ten years ago this month the Sunday Times published an article by Douglas Adams called "How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Internet". You can read it here. Some starting observations: It's a tragedy that Adams died, aged 49, in 2001, depriving us of more great literature in the vein of the Hitchhiker’s Guide, … Continue reading Ten years on, can we stop worrying now?

ШITH TШЗИTУ-FIVЗ SФLDIЗЯS ФF LЗДD HЗ HДS CФИQЦЗЯЗD THЗ ШФЯLD

Thus somebody - and nobody quite seems to know whom - said of Johannes Gutenberg. But even with the belated arrival of the "w" to make up the Latin alphabet to 26, this once mighty army now seems barely enough to log into Bebo. There are forces at work. Web-based services demand that users have … Continue reading ШITH TШЗИTУ-FIVЗ SФLDIЗЯS ФF LЗДD HЗ HДS CФИQЦЗЯЗD THЗ ШФЯLD

Sous les pavés, la plage

The payphone has bluescreened... ... the departure board has 404ed... ... the giant TV screen is somebody's Windows desktop... Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain! Since posting my three broken technology pictures, I've been suffering the blogger's equivalent of what the French call "l'esprit de l'escalier," and for which German has the … Continue reading Sous les pavés, la plage

By Their Words You Shall Know Them

Recently I've been spending time around online advertising people and I'm starting to wonder: if they're so smart at communicating, do they ever listen to themselves? For some reason this industry has adopted the most aggressive and unattractive jargon - targeting, eyeballs, cut-through, impressions, and so on. It doesn't have to be this way. The … Continue reading By Their Words You Shall Know Them