Month: January 2013

Towards a transparent interface

Through the history of technology, humans have moved from physical interfaces to virtual —graphical user— interfaces. The former being a sometimes a true interface to the machine and sometimes a control panel to the bigger instrument being interacted with. Computer screens display an array of virtual interfaces to interact with the abstract computer brain. Many times this virtual interface is a metaphor for the real world (aka the now infamous skeuomorphism).

Because of the changes in the nature of our interfaces our actions are also mutating: from Press to Click to Tap. Similar, yet each leaner that the previous. If the simplest of actions is the tought, what does it say about the interface?

The most intuitive interface is the no-interface interface.

Do we still need a graphical user interface? Will interfaces become leaner and eventually dissapear? Yes. We can already speak to ask and command (eg. Apple’s Siri). Soon we will send commands with our thoughts; and those commands will be complete concepts that require no intermediary or interface to be understood by our computer. Do you want to turn the lights on? No need for a switch (physical or digital), you only need to get your idea across to the machine. Clap your hands, say your command out loud or just think it. The machine will pick it up and act accordingly. The interface is the communication channel and it is becoming more and more unobtrusive.

The computer of the future is a personal assistant and she has no apparent UI.

On the complexity within ad agencies

Keep things simple. An idea is an idea. That’s all that matters. The rest is packaging fillers.

Good agencies and good planners 30 years ago were looking for something very similar to good agencies and good planners now – campaigns that created word of mouth, social currency, audience participation and deeper customer relationships as a result.
Of course, we now have many more weapons at our disposal. Social media, big data, mobile, eCRM, experiential, e-commerce, augmented reality, search, content, interactivity, apps etc have made a huge difference to the way we communicate. But I suspect they have made surprisingly little difference to something more fundamental, which is why we communicate in the first place. And this is the bit that planners are supposed to be good at. It’s called strategy. —The Year Ahead For…Account planning

On bad ads and worse common sense

The Atlantic’s —infamous— Scientology ad is exaclty where publishing advertising should never evolve towards. In contrasts with the NYT efforts this was an easy way out.

It’s understandable that The Atlantic would inevitably touch a third rail with any “new” ad format. But what it calls “native advertising” is actually “advertorial.” It’s not new at all. Touching the third rail in this case is unacceptable.

An The Atlantic no only failed to deliver quality content, it also fear of users opinions and decided to censor them.

No matter how laughably “sales-y” a piece of sponsored content might be, the censoring of readership should be the true “third rail,” never to be touched. —Schafer: Atlantic’s Scientology ad

On human fear of the rise of the machines

This is what happens when robots become smarter than we want them to be. We erase their memory.

Brown realized that this formalization of informal language might be a great way for [IBM’s famous artificial intelligence] Watson to understand the way real people communicate. So, he and his team, fed the whole [Urban Dictionary] into their AI. But one problem. Informal language has a tendency to be dirty, nasty language. Its insults and cuss words, new names for gross old things, old names for gross new things, etc. And so, we learn from Fortune’s Michal Lev-Ram, they had to delete all that human messiness from Watson’s memory. —IBM’s Watson Memorized the Entire ‘Urban Dictionary,’ Then His Overlords Had to Delete It

Apparently Watson even used the word “bullshit” in an answer to a researcher’s query. I think the robot deserved a chance to justify himself. My hunch tells me the researcher needed to be called on his BS.

On the NYT evolving the banner ad

The New York Times is researching a new ad formats inspired by their own infographics and interactive articles.

The NYT’s Idea Lab […] is an offshoot of NYT’s Tk, which was set up to come up with new technologies for storytelling. Think of the three-year-old Idea Lab as something similar, only it works with agencies and brands to help advertisers tell stories in modern, interesting ways. […] The efforts are a way for the NYT to stand out at a time when publishers are blurring the lines between editorial and advertising under the “native advertising” catchall. —The New York Times’ Plan to Save the Banner Ad

In other words, the evolution of the advertorial for the digital age. Hopefully not as boring as it sounds.