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Friday, February 13, 2004

3 days to go

Well - 3 days to go until the official release of Demon Tweaks on Gourmet. There's been some very positive feedback for it so far - let's hope that the sales reflect that!

Potential Sleeve Images?

Two recent photographs that would probably look good on record sleeves ;-)

As ever, you're completley understating things! These images are incredible! posted by Paul : 21 November, 2004 10:12   Comments

Just trying out this comments lark posted by Paul : 21 November, 2004 11:12   Post a Comment

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Early riser

Woke up ridiculously early this morning with several things on my mind. My first thoughts were of this blog (kid with a new toy I guess).

Seconds later, I recalled Dan Hill's 'Insanely great, or just good enough?' piece on Apple and their design strategy. In outline, he suggests that because Apple products are designed with little user tampering possible - that an adaptive design process is at the back of the engineers minds, and that Apple expects users to trust them to do what's right.

In particular, he discusses the recent iPod Battery furore, and how what was seen as a design classic, has become sullied as a result of disgruntled users wanting to know why it has to be so hard to replace a battery. What was on my mind was whether this was an oversight on Apple's part or a conscious decision (I suspect the latter). The view that Apple seek perfection in their designs suddenly becomes questionable - this particular issue suggests quite the opposite.

There's no question that at the time of release, Apple products may seem akin to perfection to the buying public. I'm sure Apple never views them as such however - at the time of any launch, subsequent models are already lined up. Built in obsolescence is what keeps any company so profitable. Despite the seemingly noble (user centred) intentions, Apple exists to make money, and they can't do that by shipping perfect product that no one need upgrade.

If Apple were to make the iPod truly adaptable, they may well improve the product, but would limit future sales too. As a user wishing to upgrade my iPod, the most desirable part to update (to add usefulness rather than sustaining life) would of course, be a larger hard drive. More than any other tweak, this could affect sales of subsequent models. I'm sure that none of these things are oversights - but business decisions. I think Apple hints at a perfection, but intentionally keeps it out of reach. How else do they sustain and fuel user desire?

Comparing the adaptive design of a virtual object to a physical one raises some interesting questions. At what point do incremental changes you've made to a virtual product effectively constitute a wholly new offering? In the virtual world, there's no significant cost to replacing everything as part of an ongoing design 'refit'. It could also be argued that a new model of iPod exists as a result of an adaptive design process, rather than in spite of it. Would the inclusion of 'a removable panel, flush to the back of the casing but with a fingernail-sized catch for release' demonstrate this? In fact, the virtual consumer is also expected to ditch a perfectly serviceable piece of software for a newer model - Photoshop 6 - 7 for instance. Granted, in this case the old verion doesn't 'fade away' and force the issue. My point is that an adaptive design process isn't excluded by (or necessarily related to) a marketing one. Incremental change happens to most products - the variable is the pricing model.

I do find these ideas very interesting, and I'm often seduced by the consideration given to the Apple Products (hockey-puck mice and CD eject buttons that only appear on the keyboard excluded) that could constitute a quest for perfection. I also happen to think that Apple is just as cynical and business minded as Microsoft. Sure, they use "design" to differentiate themselves in a crowded marketplace - but whenever they make a sale, they've already one eye on the next one. The notion of an adaptive design process is, to me, akin to Darwinism. Any product will, over time, adapt and (theoretically) be improved upon. In a capitalist society, this remains true, but you'll pay for those poseable thumbs.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Demon Tweaks Released

Off to see Graeme in a mo with my first "finished copy" of Demon Tweaks. Being as it's his birthday today, and as the cover image is one of his photos, I felt it worth mentioning.

I guess the novelty will soon wear off, and I'll end up posting once a month or something. Surprisingly, I'm really pleased with the way the artwork has turned out (being a perfectionist, I'm usually dissapointed with everything I've had any involvement in). Maybe that's the issue here - my involvement is minimal (actually pretty much non-existent - I've just passed on the image). Guess the dissatisfaction will be Graeme's this time around! All that's left is to hope that the beauty of the artwork translates into sales.

The first post

Well, this is the first (and hopefully not the last) post to the Flicker Blog. No idea if it will develop into a structured argument about the merits of house music and graphic design (my two passions) or degenerate into inane ramblings.

I've been meaning to create a blog for some time with little (or no) idea as to why it will be useful. I'm imagining that it'll be the perfect place to document the strange thoughts and voices in my head. Anyway - inspired by some recent reading online, I've decided to forge ahead with no idea of why I'm doing this. Lets see what happens - and hope that it's something!

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