Blogless: Blog of Design Less Better.

Posts tagged Social Media.

You’re doing it wrong: Ford adding social networking to cars

From the BlogLESS Department of Doing it Wrong, Ford is adding social networking to their cars via touchscreen and steering wheel controls.

Derrick Kuzak, Ford's product development chief, told reporters on Jan. 4 that "we are intent on maintaining leadership in this kind of connectivity. We saw people becoming addicted to connectivity and we saw increased use of these devices inside the car and we connected the dots."

...Ford said it's augmenting Sync with the ability to convert incoming texts into spoken words. It will offer drivers 15 standard text responses that can be sent with a voice command. Ford is still researching the ability to convert speech to a text message, said Jim Buczkowski, its director of electronics.

And, in perhaps the best moment of bad design decision rationalization of 2010 so far:

Most of the industry studies show that just driving and just talking is the same," Kuzak said. "As long as the customer's eyes are on the road, they are not compromised.

Stacked Car Crash
Image via Geekologie

Via Core77

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PaulFeb 5, 2010

Health Insurers Bribe Facebook Gamers to Oppose Reform Bill

Via The Business Insider: Health insurance industry trade groups opposed to President Obama's health care reform bill are paying Facebook users fake money -- called "virtual currency" -- to send letters to Congress protesting the bill.

Facebook users addicted to social games, and eager to accelerate their progress, often buy "virtual goods" -- such as a machine gun for "Mafia Wars" -- with "virtual currency".

One of the ways to acquire this currency is by accepting offers from third-parties, usually companies who agree to give the gamer virtual currency so long as that gamer agrees to try a product or service.

According to The Business Insider, an anti-reform group called "Get Health Reform Right" was recently caught paying gamers virtual currency for their support. Instead of asking the gamers to try a product, "Get Health Reform Right" requires gamers to take a survey, which, upon completion, automatically sends the following email to their Congressional Rep:

"I am concerned a new government plan could cause me to lose the employer coverage I have today. More government bureaucracy will only create more problems, not solve the ones we have."

While not apparently illegal, this practice is obviously ethically problematic.

A Screenshot of the 'Get Health Reform Right' Survey
A Screenshot of the "Get Health Reform Right" Survey


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PaulFeb 1, 2010

The Digital Economy’s Coming Subprime Crisis

Obviously, economists today are more interested than ever in isolating factors that make economic crises predictable. We can see many of these factors in play in the current Internet advertising climate.

In the Shadow of Foreclosures
In the Shadow of Foreclosures, via.

The Harvard Business Review has an excellent article about our favorite topic, design ethics. There, Umair Haque has eight interesting points. I'll paraphrase several for you below.

  1. Toxicity: Wall Street's subprime crisis was built on toxic financial instruments. The mediascape's subprime crisis is being built on toxic communications.
  2. Value Chain Expansion: The financial crisis happened in large part because of massive reintermediation. Banks sold debt it to the next guy, who sold it to the next guy, and so on. What was once a simple, short value chain lengthened to the point of absurdity. Exactly the same value chain pattern is surfacing in media.
  3. Unnovation: The deeper issue is this: The digital economy is supported wholesale by ads, but no one's improved ads. In the final analysis, every industry that does not improve must reach the crisis point.
  4. Ethics: Every financial collapse is really just an ethical collapse that happened a few years earlier. Is the state of advertising in ethical crisis? Obviously, we think so. And if that sounds familiar, recall Wall Street 2001-2008.

A very nice article, and some serious food for Monday thought.

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PaulNov 16, 2009

Learn Something Everyday

A shout-out to branding and design firm Young for this smartly-designed and charmingly illustrated site. Combine trivia with clever visuals and you've got me hooked!

Learn Something Everyday homepage
Learn Something Everyday: ABBA
Posted on September 12th.
Learn Something Everyday: Relocating
Isn't this the truth? Posted on August 12th.
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NickOct 6, 2009

Keep a leash on your social marketers

This week on BlogLESS starts with business as usual as yet another case of unscrupulous design ends up biting "Liquid4Health" in the ass.

Josh Peters wrote a nice little post about an experience he recently had on Twitter. In the process of being spammed by Twitter user Liquid4Health, he noticed that the user's logo was a somewhat shoddy rip-off of the Mozy logo.

Comparison of Twitter Avatars for Mozy and Liquid4Health
Comparison of Twitter Avatars for Mozy and Liquid4Health

Interestingly, Liquid4Health is a marketing account on Twitter for a company called GBG. GBG's logo is not the same as the Twitter icon in question. This seems to imply that the marketer who created, designed, and uses their Twitter account is making a series of unethical (or at least unpleasant) design and marketing decisions on behalf of the company. The lesson here? Keep a leash on your social marketers. This Twitter account is driving brand value down and attracting negative chatter on the internet. (Go ahead and Google Liquid4Health: the Josh's article is already on the front page.)

Funnily, one of the three taglines on GBG's homepage is "driven by ethics." One more lesson that design ethics is not a spectator sport. You've got to actively ensure that your brand is ethically represented, otherwise, as Josh says, it'll come back to haunt you.

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PaulOct 5, 2009

Four Design Links: July 28, 2009

Surprise! Four Links hits on Tuesday this week. Come and get them.

1. New Media Artworks: Prequels to Everyday Life

In a story related to Paul's piece last week, Golan Levin writes:

some of today’s most commonplace and widely-appreciated technologies were initially conceived and prototyped, years ago, by new-media artists.

Golan Levin -- Comparison of Aspen Movie Map and Google Street View
Comparison of Aspen Movie Map (1978-1980) and Google Street View (2007).
Image arranged by Golan Levin

2. Lessons from a failed meeting with a Social Media Guru

Matt Daniels chronicles how not to pitch a client your expertise.

3. Making Money with Flash Games

Lost Garden has an extensive article about revenue streams for independent game publishers. Even if you're not into selling Flash games, there are some good thoughts to consider.

Ads are a good secondary source of revenue, but surely there are richer sources …? There is an obvious one, used for decades by all other game industries...why not ask the players for money?

4. The New Yorker Critiques the Kindle

Those used to reading blogs don't often see design criticism of this magnitude: Nicholson Baker of the New Yorker has 6,300 words on the Amazon Kindle.

I forced myself to read the book on the Kindle 2. It was like going from a Mini Cooper to a white 1982 Impala with blown shocks. But never mind: at that point, I was locked into the plot and it didn’t matter. Poof, the Kindle disappeared, just as Jeff Bezos had promised it would.

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NickJul 28, 2009

The Facebook Trap

How do non-profits know how much and in what manner to commit to social networking tools like Facebook? Michael Gilbert has some good analysis and advice.

This piece is a really nice article by about the value (pro and con) of Facebook for non-profit organizations.

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PaulJul 27, 2009

Brand control by cultural improvement

In today's world, every employee you've got is a steward for your brand. You should probably treat them as such.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about the recent PR disaster at Domino's Pizza. To recap, Domino's suffered a major impact to brand perception as a viral video made by two less-than-savory employees in a Domino's kitchen rapidly and probably lastingly besmirched Domino's online presence.

Noid: p0wn3d

I also noted that since this, media bloggers are in overdrive, trying to prepare damage control strategies to offer their clientèle in what everyone now understands are inevitable future instances of similar PR pandemics.

It strikes me, though, that in this instance an ounce of prevention would be worth a pound of cure. Or a ton.

While no one ought to attempt to justify the behavior of the two employees, it's worth considering that the whole incident might have been prevented if they had a different relationship to their employer. Many companies feel comfortable relying on the bad economy (or other mitigating factors) to motivate employees to perform well at their jobs. This means that these companies can jettison part of their own responsibility to help ensure satisfaction among their employees. Since they can, of course, they often do.

We all know, also, that there has been a particularly strong correlation established between happiness and productivity. We also know fewer Americans than ever are happy in their jobs. As any behavioral psychologist will tell you, when people are unhappy, they act out. Sometimes this means merely wasting company resources playing Solitaire all day, and sometimes it means making a video of yourself and your co-worker violating every health code known to man in your employer's kitchen, and then posting it on the Internet.

I don't have any strong evidence to demonstrate the relevance of these observations to this particular instance, but as a small business owner myself, I'm pretty sure they're worth considering.

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PaulMay 4, 2009
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