An Agile Answer to “Are we Agile if…?”

June 3rd, 2010 No comments

The Agile software development movement and the realization that Agile techniques work in non-software environments have led to practitioner discussions asking “Are we Agile if…?”, or the Agile-but counterpoint “We’re Agile, but we don’t…”

Of late, many have repeated the mantra that Agile is a mindset, not just a set of cookie-cutter elements to be applied unilaterally. These elements need to be tailored to fit the organization based on it’s stage of development and environmental factors in order to create positive results.

It seems to me that deciding an organization’s level of agility based on adherence to a prescribed practice and ceremony list is not an evaluation process that fits with the key concepts of Agile itself!

The first element of the Agile Manifesto is “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.” Here is my approach, focusing on individuals and interactions, for answering the question “Are we Agile if…?”

Read more…

Do Gesture-Based Mobile Apps Represent a New “Attention Risk”?

May 31st, 2010 No comments

This quick post is about a question from a project design meeting for a new mobile application. The application will have a gesture-based graphical interface, initially targeted for iPhone and later on for Android and other platforms. At issue is the question of whether use of screen gestures while driving represent a new driver attention risk.

My first thought was “Anything that takes concentration off of the road is an attention risk, similar to texting or holding a phone instead of using a hands-free system.”

A compelling counter-argument in the discussion was that the device would be mounted within easy reach of the operator, in a fixed location, and these are “large gestures” that do not require any screen attention or reading. Doing a gesture on a touch screen device like this is no different in terms of attention for the driver than reaching to turn on windshield wipers or to adjust a radio on the dashboard.

In thinking about this while driving this afternoon, I’ve shifted to agree with the counter-argument, and think that gesture interfaces, as long as they don’t take careful examination or reading of a screen shouldn’t be a new risk.

What do you think about this question? Under what circumstances would using gesture-based commands with a mobile app represent a new driver concentration risk, and under what circumstances are this sort of interaction benign?

2010-06-01 We Are The Network: How to Tell a Powerful Story in Text Chat

May 31st, 2010 No comments

How to Tell a Powerful Story in Text Chat

Please join our global discussion group
every Tuesday at 12pm noon U.S. Pacific / 3pm Eastern time

This Tuesday, June 1 at the Epoch Institute in Second Life

Click here to teleport to the Epoch Institute in Second Life
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This Week’s Topic

How to Tell a Powerful Story in Text Chat

Some discussion topics flow easily. A “hot issue” appears in the news. An offhand mention of a thought-provoking idea.

Once in a while an topic appears that seems important, but is “off the radar” for most of us. Sometimes it’s so much a part of our daily routine that it seems commonplace, yet has the nugget of an interesting area to explore. How to Tell a Powerful Story in Text Chat is one of these topics.

We have become accustomed to communicating in text chat. This new medium is commonplace and seems familiar, yet in some ways is “all new”. Some people have figured out how to be storytellers, people who can engage our imaginations and keep us “hooked” to read as they type, not looking away or multitasking off to the next shiny, interesting browser window.

There is something subtly, yet importantly different about text chat compared to other electronic text forms, such as email, blogs and web pages. Text chat is interactive in a different, faster, and more spontaneous way. People see thoughts appear as they form. The bits of concepts show up as they are typed, rather than after careful editing of some longer form piece. At the same time, text chat feels like the longer form, traditional writing forms.

This week we’ll explore strategies for telling powerful stories in text chat, discuss how stories get rearranged and restructured to be effective in text chat form, and practice techniques for text chat storytelling.

Join us Tuesday at 12PM noon U.S. Pacific / 3pm U.S. Eastern time for an interactive discussion, and thanks for being part of “We Are The Network”!

If you do not have a Second Life account and would like a quick start to attend the session, please contact me for more information.

Best regards,

Joel

Reading links below – have fun and see you soon!

Read more…

2010-05-25 We Are The Network: Does Social Network and Virtual World Experience Build Marketable Skills?

May 23rd, 2010 No comments

Does Social Network and Virtual World Experience Build Marketable Skills?

Please join our global discussion group
every Tuesday at 12pm noon U.S. Pacific / 3pm Eastern time

This Tuesday, May 25 at the Epoch Institute in Second Life

Click here to teleport to the Epoch Institute in Second Life
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This Week’s Topic

Does Social Network and Virtual World Experience Build Marketable Skills?

While some people see social networks and virtual worlds as purely social or game-focused environments, others use these platforms to experiment with business ideas, build skills and either create and deliver educational services or to learn new skills.

Does this experience translate to real-world marketable skills? What are marketable skills? What skills are learned implicitly by participation in these environments? Which skills can be learned purposefully? Are skills learned in this way equivalent to skills of the same names learned in person? Are there good and bad ways to describe, explain and market such skills to people who are not familiar with these platforms?

Join us Tuesday at 12PM noon U.S. Pacific / 3pm U.S. Eastern time for an interactive discussion, and thanks for being part of “We Are The Network”!

If you do not have a Second Life account and would like a quick start to attend the session, please contact me for more information.

Best regards,

Joel

Reading links below – have fun and Read more…

2010-05-11 We Are The Network: Parallels in Physical and Virtual Community Development

May 9th, 2010 No comments

Parallels in Real and Virtual Community Development

Please join our global discussion group
every Tuesday at 12pm noon U.S. Pacific / 3pm Eastern time

This Tuesday, May 11, at the Epoch Institute in Second Life

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This Week’s Topic

Parallels in Physical and Online Virtual Community Development

The development and character of communities in both physical and online environments are affected by a variety of design decisions. Some decisions affect whether the community “takes hold” as well as its growth rate, while others affect the character, level of engagement and social behavior of the community. How are community design and development decisions similar in physical and online environments, and how are they different? What can these design decisions accomplish, and what needs to be accomplished in other ways? What can physical and online/virtual community designers learn from each other?

Join us Tuesday at 12PM noon U.S. Pacific / 3pm U.S. Eastern time for an interactive discussion, and thanks for being part of “We Are The Network”!

If you do not have a Second Life account and would like a quick start to attend the session, please contact me for more information.

Best regards,

Joel

Reading links below – have fun and Read more…

2010-05-04 We Are The Network: How Should We Deal with Cyber-Bullying?

May 1st, 2010 No comments

How Should We Deal with Cyber-Bullying?

Please join our global discussion group
every Tuesday at 12PM noon U.S. Pacific / 3pm Eastern time

This Tuesday, May 4, at the Epoch Institute in Second Life

Click here to teleport to the Epoch Institute in Second Life
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This Week’s Topic

How Should We Deal with Cyber-Bullying?

Bullying has become a consistent concern of school administrators, teachers and parents. What is the best preventive approach and response to cyber-bullying? This week, we’ll discuss how we should handle and respond to cyber-bullying.

On one end of the spectrum, a middle school principal recently sent a strongly worded email to parents directing them (not asking – directing) to remove their childrens’ social media accounts, to install monitoring tools, and to monitor their txt messages.

At the other extreme, some take the position that the genie is out of the bottle, and we should educate kids while not using direct control to manage their use of communications tools.

I wrote a post about a related topic in January “The Mobile Invisibility Cloak of Today’s Internet-Enabled Kids,” and when I heard about the principal’s email mentioned above I thought it might be  time for us to talk about this issue head-on.

Does technology create cyber-bullying? Will controlling technology stop it? What approach should we use to prevent cyber-bullying, and what should we do when it is discovered? Which strategies will instill the most useful skills and beliefs in our children for their future?

Join us Tuesday at 12PM noon U.S. Pacific / 3pm U.S. Eastern time for an interactive discussion, and thanks for being part of “We Are The Network”!

If you do not have a Second Life account and would like a quick start to attend the session, please contact me for more information.

Best regards,

Joel

Reading links below – have fun and Read more…

What is the Side Effect of Pulling Energy from the Air using Wind Power?

April 30th, 2010 3 comments

The Massachusetts Cape Wind Project has been in the news this week, and listening to the debate has got me thinking that there is a part of the picture that seems to have been left out of the discussion.

Wind power sounds like a great deal. It is renewable. It doesn’t rely on exploiting oil, coal or other physical reserves. The on-going costs are mostly hardware maintenance.

At the same time, the engineering part of my head keeps whispering “Hey! Energy doesn’t appear from nowhere!”

Wind holds energy. The atmosphere circulates this energy in weather systems. Wind farms generate electricity by pulling energy out of the air, which removes energy from the atmosphere.

This leaves me with a question that I have not heard discussed. What will large withdrawals from the atmosphere’s energy reserves will do to the atmosphere, our weather and our climate? Maybe the effects are invisible while we still have very few wind farms. What will happen if the numbers of wind farms grow dramatically?

I am not suggesting that wind power is a bad idea. The tradeoffs may be far better than those involved with oil, coal and other non-renewable sources. At the same time, I think we should try to have an understanding of what the side effects are pulling our energy “out of the air” will be, since it doesn’t actually come from nowhere!

What do you think? Do you know anyone who has solid background in this area, or have you seen any research on the topic?

Categories: Misc Tags: , ,

Three Simple Steps to see if Your 3D Virtual World Scene is a Low-Performance Computer Killer

April 28th, 2010 No comments

Have you checked your 3D  virtual world scenes on a really low powered machine like a netbook? If not, you may be in for a surprise. Users with low performance machines like netbooks may find a huge performance penalty when they visit your virtual space. In other words… things may look just fine and performance may be “totally ducky” on your machine, yet with a low performance machine your space may be close to unusable.

Isn’t There a Simple “Follow This Rule” Design Guide?

It would be nice if there were simple “follow this rule” guidance that would make design for low performance machines easy. Unfortunately every simple rule I have seen is either incorrect, incomplete, or creates unnecessary compromises.

In other words, simple rules don’t really work well in creating performance optimized builds for a wide range of hardware. Because of the number of variables, testing is the only reasonable way to be sure your build works well with lower performance machines.  When there is a build-induced performance issue, the cause is often that one aspect of the scene exceeds the complexity and performance levels low performance machine graphics systems.

A Recent Example of a Surprising Answer

I recently diagnosed a problem in a well known virtual world environment where even mid-level computers were showing 25-50% frame rate reductions, and netbooks showed extreme performance problems with no other avatars present. We found that the grass surrounding the stage was constructed in a way that caused particular problems for low performance computers.

Removing the grasss and replacing it with a different ground cover improved the frame rate on mid-level computers by 25-50% and a netbook by over 100%, all by replacing ONE graphical element in the scene! This illustrates that a single element can have a surprising and large impact on user experience.

A Simple Three Step Test Read more…

The Twitter Opportunistic Follower Explosion, and how it has Changed my Follow-back Strategy

April 28th, 2010 No comments

Many new followers appear and then disappear after 24 hours if I do not follow them back. A quick check of their profile shows that they are following only to get me to click their profile link to check out their web site. They silently follow, with no “hi,” no contact, no attempt to connect in any form past a click. Many are blatantly hard-sell pitch marketers, with Twitter streams that are only vaguely disguised broadcast sales messages. Just in case you (and you know who you are) are wondering, sprinkling one “thought of the day” in the middle of a dozen or two dozen “whoa click this link, this is cool” Tweets is not a very convincing disguise!

I’ve started calling these folks Opportunistic Followers. They mock-follow, as if they have some interest, but really are only trying to get you to watch their push advertising. Some call this Twitter-spam. Regardless of the name, it pollutes the stream, and if it gets too pervasive will cause many people to drop the use of social media because it will have reached the same level of noise and nonsense as other environments.

Once in a while I will check the new follower list to see who to follow back, but have started to wait for someone to actually engage in a meaningful way before following back. The personal cost in time to check out, and discard, the high percentage of opportunistic followers (spammers to be blunt) is high enough that it interferes with getting real work done, and it is getting hard to justify spending time reviewing the piles of daily opportunistic followers who churn in and out.

If you are following me and want to connect “past the click” please do so – send me an @reply or contact me on my Contact page. It will be great to have a real conversation and stay in touch!

Categories: Misc Tags:

2010-04-27 We Are The Network: What Would it Take to Create a Non-Violent Human Society?

April 25th, 2010 No comments

What Would it Take to Create a Non-Violent Human Society?

Please join our global discussion group
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This Tuesday, Apr 27, at the Epoch Institute in Second Life

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This Week’s Topic

What Would it Take to Create a Non-Violent Human Society?

Anger. Conflict. Bombings. War. Threats of violence.

Are these things endemic to the human condition? Is violence built in to humans, in an unavoidable way? There have been long debates in academic and non-academic circles about this topic, with strong positions on both sides.

Rather than debate whether violence is preventable, what if we thought about the issue from a different perspective? If we were to assume that it is possible to create a non-violent human society, what steps might be necessary to make a transition from where we are to the removal of violence as a constant in our world? What would this transformed world look like if we could “snap our fingers and have it be done”?

Are there downsides to the creation of a non-violent society? Are there parts of our culture, belief system, economy and psychological well-being that are reliant on the presence of violence in society (perhaps that is why the goal of non-violence is so hard to achieve)?

Join us Tuesday at 12PM noon U.S. Pacific / 3pm U.S. Eastern time for an interactive discussion, and thanks for being part of “We Are The Network”!

If you do not have a Second Life account and would like a quick start to attend the session, please contact me for more information.

Best regards,

Joel

Reading links below – have fun and Read more…