Just when you thought you knew all about the development of Western civilization you find your the Greeks had some highly refined technology chops. Watch this short documentary on the Antikythera Mechanism
Category Archives: Technology
How Mobile Retail Apps Become Proximate Concierge
Here’s another perspective on using technology to enhance the rewarding customer experience. Read more about how mobile retail apps become proximate concierges at media post.
Resources To Power Up Your Slack
There’s a lot of gold here but be prepared to spend a little time finding a starting point. The makers of Slack have given us a post comprised of category resources. Very neat way to share the goodies. Thanks slackers.
Biomaterials Living Clothing And Off The Rack
Lining Yao has demonstrated how bacteria-powered clothing can respond to the body’s needs.
She has, in effect, created living clothes, ones that react in real time to heat and sweat mapping with tiny vents that would curl open or flatten closed as exertion levels demanded.
That’s a pretty awesome avenue of inquiry. You can read more about how designer and MIT PhD candidate Lining Yao’s work utilizes novel materials and interfaces.
Yao inserts her genius in the biological cycle, and applies it to merging the interactions humans have with computers and materials. The result is clothing that’s alive. I can’t wait until I can program my I-phone Siri to check in with my closet to find out which of my shirts wants to be worn most that day.
Cheesehead TV Streams to Fans Live From Packers Training Camp
I have to give a nod of thanks for Streaming Media‘s issue on Companies Crushing It In Online Video. As a huge fan of video content but mostly clueless about most of the stuff in the magazine each month, the October 2015 issue made my little grey cells finally tumble into place.
A fantastic article by Corey Behnke co founder of CheeseheadTV.com shows how one video site brought the circus-like atmosphere of Green Bay Packers training camp to thousands of die-hard fans, with tips for successful multicamera streaming.
That’s just what I have in mind for the Riverside Food Systems Alliance. Corey maps out the process, the gear and shares what he’s learned. It’s a pretty cool story. Thanks for dropping those breadcrumbs for the rest of us to follow. It’s greatly appreciated.
Tracking Web Users: Confusing Consumers For Profit?
There’s a lot we take for granted in our web browsing. There’s all that tracking of where we go and what we do – even if we do nothing. And don’t get me started on privacy policies, terms and conditions and all the other ridiculously long scrolling admonitions we often agree to with a knee-jerk response to end the tedium and get on with what we came for.
Nate Cordozo has an excellent story about this on Electronic Frontier Foundation‘s site. If a business model wouldn’t work if users had to opt in, it deserves to fail. Maybe if we flipped the funnel so to speak, we’d get a far better web user experience. If every site had a default “NO Tracking” setting, we’d start to reassert some autonomy of our virtual lives.
Then again, maybe that’s the point. The more we get used to ‘sharing’ everything in our virtual world, and I use that term loosely, then we’ll be used to submitting to all sorts of other practices, policies and laws designed to constrain what we as free humans can do .
When do you think the last time that “This call is being recorded for training and customer service” actually resulted in either? Why should we think web tracking will be any different?
Why Brainstorming Works Better Online
There’s some truth to having a remote brainstorming session. I’ve been having a weekly conference call with a brilliant colleague where we brainstorm on each others projects and progress. It has been indispensable to my business development.
In the late 80’s, Peter Drucker predictedthat in the near future technology would play a central role in increasing the effectiveness of teams. Although he was right, teams have yet to experience the full benefits of technology. Yes, there is a great deal of talk about virtual teams and collaborative tools, but our ability to leverage technology in a way that consistently and systematically boosts team performance is based mostly on intuition rather than science.
One exception is group brainstorming, a technique that is still widely used in organizations despite the lack of evidence that it works and compelling evidence that it actually leads to a productivity loss. The good news is that technology can make brainstorming more effective, by replacing physical and oral sessions with virtual and written ones – a technique also known as brainwriting or electronic brainstorming.
Indeed, studies comparing the performance of matched groups on physical and virtual sessions indicate that the latter generate more high quality ideas and have a higher average of creative ideas per person, as well as resulting in higher levels of satisfaction with the ideas. As shown in meta-analyses, virtual brainstorming enhances creative performance – versus in-person brainstorming sessions – by almost 50% of a standard deviation. This means that almost 70% of participants can be expected to perform worse in traditional than virtual brainstorming sessions.
The advantages of virtual brainstorming have been attributed to three main reasons.
First, the fact that virtual brainstorming eliminates production blocking, the process where dominant participants talk too much, taking over the session and eclipsing their colleagues. This leads to cognitive overload and hinders creative idea generation in more introverted participants. In virtual brainstorming there is a clear positive relationship between group size and performance, whereas in traditional, in-person brainstorming sessions, things tend to get messy with more than six participants. Online, there are no real limits to group size: the cost of having 5 or 50 participants is nearly the same, and you actually save costs by allowing to people to work remotely and in dispersed locations. Thus virtual brainstorming is much more scalable, and each person you add has the potential to contributing a new idea to the mix.
Second, virtual brainstorming enables feelings of anonymity, since ideas cannot be attributed to a specific person. This reduces evaluation apprehension, particularly in less confident individuals who would underperform in traditional brainstorming sessions. Anonymity also means that ideas are judged more objectively. In traditional sessions, the process is as biased and political as in any other physical group interaction – the powerful people take over, and though democratic in theory, in fact decisions are driven by one or two powerful individuals. Conversely, when team members rate ideas anonymously and without knowledge of the author, politics are out of the way. An example of this is textsfromlastnight, a site that allows users to anonymously submit quirky text messages, which are then rated – good or bad – by other anonymous users. Organizations would do well to copy this process: have a live, real-time, virtual depository of ideas for new products, services, or processes, which can then be rated or evaluated by other employees, and perhaps even clients.
Third, if designed intelligently, virtual sessions can increase the diversity of ideas. In traditional brainstorming, being exposed to others’ ideas causes uniformity and regression to the mean: the most creative people will descend to the level of the group average. But by preventing participants from being exposed to each other’s ideas during the idea-generation phase, virtual brainstorming encourages participants to offer a wider variety of ideas. In line with this, studies have shown that individual brainstorming, where people write down a number of ideas on a piece of paper, often produces more and better ideas than group brainstorming. Virtual brainstorming preserves this mechanism while providing a searchable archive of ideas for the team to weigh in on later.
Thus virtual brainstorming retains the original postulate of traditional brainstorming – that teams can crowdsource creativity by curating the ideas they collectively produce in an informal, free-flowing, stream-of-consciousness, session – but overcoming the main, originally unforeseen, barriers.
7 Mistakes to Avoid on Your Ecommerce Site
Some worthwhile points to consider if you have an e commerce website. The number one lesson of all is to make sure the user has a rewarding experience. That means one that makes them want to come back . . .. again and again.
We’ve all been there. You’re all set to buy something, credit card in hand, but for one reason or another you never close the deal.
Maybe the third time you were asked to enter your credit card number you gave in. Perhaps it was the exorbitant shipping costs. Maybe the site crashed.
The truth is, there are at least seven things that send potential customers fleeing in horror from your website, some of which were chronicled in this perceptive comic from The Oatmeal. If you actually want people to stick around and buy stuff from your site, you may want to take note of and avoid these common pitfalls.
1. Your Site is Too Slow
Every 2 seconds of load time on your site equals an 8% abandonment rate, according to Gomez, the application monitor from Compuware. If you drop your load time from 8 seconds to 2 seconds, your conversion rate actually jumps up 74%.
It’s easy to see why: Do you want to waste your time waiting for a site to load?
Unfortunately, there are a lot of reasons why your site is loading so slowly. Steve Tack, Chief Technical Officer for Compuware, says many ecommerce sites are overloaded with third-party plug-ins for Facebook, Twitter and ad networks — all of which can slow a site down. Another cause is cloud issues: If you’re using a content-delivery network (CDN), your site can slow to a crawl if your service provider is having issues.
2. Your Site is Too Complicated
If you’re asking consumers to take more than five steps to buy something off your site, then you’re asking too much. Compuware recommends the following:
- Welcome/cart contents page
- Bill-to section
- Ship-to section
- Payment module
- Confirmation/thank you page
3. Your Credit Card Entry System is Punishing
Here you may also want to take The Oatmeal’s advice about credit card entry fields. Is there anything more frustrating than entering your name, address, 16-digit credit card number and three-digit security code, and then restarting from scratch because you forgot your ZIP code? And yes, if most of your business is in the U.S., why not put the country first on the scroll instead of way down at the end, as it would appear alphabetically?
Sucharita Mulpuru, an analyst with Forrester Research, says that there’s a standard sequence of information for credit card information. If you mess with that order (by putting the credit card number before the name and address, for instance), then users are apt to enter the wrong info because they’ve been trained to log such data in a certain sequence. Says Mulpuru: “Follow the industry standard.”
4. You’re Charging Too Much for Shipping
Mulpuru says that if you’re charging more than 10% of the total cost of the item for shipping, then you’re charging too much. “You’re probably depressing your sales significantly,” she says. “People are more likely to abandon your cart.”
5. You’re Overselling Your Tablet App
If a potential customer visits your website on her iPad, that doesn’t necessarily mean that she’s keen on downloading your iPad app. “Don’t over-invest in customizing your mobile apps,” says Mulpuru. “Unless there’s a clear value, most people figure, ‘Why bother?'”
An alternative is to optimize your site for the tablet experience, something that few are doing right now, Tack says.
6. Your Site Performs Horribly on Certain Browsers
You may be a Google Chrome fan, but there’s a world full of people who are using old versions ofInternet Explorer. Have you tested your site on those other browsers? “Many sites don’t perform well across various browsers,” says Mulpuru, “so people abandon them.”
7. You’re Hitting Your Customers With Irrelevant Offers
OK, you’ve completed the sale. This person has indicated that they’re interested in what you’re selling, so it’s natural to conclude that they might want to buy something from you in the future. So why not hit them with offers for things that they’re actually likely to buy?
Mulpuru recalls, for instance, that after she bought a bed from Costco, the retailer besieged her with offers for … more beds. While deals on pillows or sheets might have made sense, a bed is something you generally purchase every five or 10 years. Says Mulpuru: “At this point, I’m not in the market for more beds.”
What peeves you about ecommerce sites? Let us know in the comments.
Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Clicknique
Everything You Need To Know About Net Neutrality In 13 Minutes
Courtesy of Adam Mordecai on Upworthy.
This topic is so boring, I’m not even going to tell you what it’s about. John Oliver’s epically informative and hilarious analysis will have to do the talking. It’s REEAALLY important.
Please watch. You’ll laugh and learn why the boring is actually quite imperative to us. I’m begging you to stick around to at least 4:02, as it’s really important to understanding how they could really make things worse.
Ok folks. This is your moment. Go to the FCC website. And say something. NICELY.
And then, in the spirit of freedom and dingos, you could share this. So people can learn about the most important boring thing ever.
The 10 Commandments of Typography
Thanks to Free Port Press for this infographic.
The 10 Commandments of Typography