Hobnox recieved the Grimme Online Award

grimmeHobnox recieves the Grimme Online Award.

The Grimme Online Award is one of the most prestigious awards for online projects in Germany. The jury does mention the quality of the design.

As Head of Concept and Design this makes me happy. But there have been many people working on the design that are not yet mentioned anywhere. And I want to give them credit here – even though some may have been working for Hobnox only a short period of time:

I want to thank everyone mentioned here for the effort that contributed to the achievement. Thank you!

Senate Report: Bush used Iraq intelligence he knew was falseusa,

Described in this article of the Huffington Post the U.S. Senate Select Commitee on Intelligence has released a series of reports on intelligence related to Iraq before the war.

The reports show that the Bush administration actively ignored available intelligence to press ahead with an agenda that will ultimately lead to the installment of permanent U.S. military bases in the Middle East.

The reports give examples that there was no intelligence that supported

  • statements and implications by the President and Secretary of State suggesting that Iraq and al-Qa’ida had a partnership, or that Iraq had provided al-Qa’ida with weapons training, were not substantiated by the intelligence.
  • statements by the President and the Vice President indicating that Saddam Hussein was prepared to give weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups for attacks against the United States were contradicted by available intelligence information.
  • statements by President Bush and Vice President Cheney regarding the postwar situation in Iraq, in terms of the political, security, and economic, did not reflect the concerns and uncertainties expressed in the intelligence products.
  • statements by the President and Vice President prior to the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate regarding Iraq’s chemical weapons production capability and activities did not reflect the intelligence community’s uncertainties as to whether such production was ongoing.
  • the statement of the Secretary of Defense that the Iraqi government operated underground WMD facilities that were not vulnerable to conventional airstrikes because they were underground and deeply buried was not substantiated by available intelligence information.
  • repeated statements of the Vice President that the Intelligence Community did confirm that Muhammad Atta met an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague in 2001.

 

Sen. Dianne Feinstein concludes:

»Even though the intelligence before the war supported inaccurate statements, the Bush administration distorted the intelligence in order to build its case to go to war. The executive branch released only those findings that supported the argument, did not relay uncertainties, and at times made statements beyond what the intelligence supported.«

Hobnox – now open for everyone! New contest coming up!

So Hobnox (the startup I am working for as “Head of Concept & Design”) has reached the end of the private beta phase and is now running as public beta (which means: everyone can register and use it).

There are still many things that we have in the pipeline. As of now it appears to be a (a) video sharing site with a community plus (b) some WebTV plus (c) some Flash apps (which are still in demo mode)… and these things will become more and more interconnected as we move along, because the level of interconnectedness is key to success of the concept.

Meanwhile we get reviews like this:

Coming up:

We restart the Evolution Contest and creatives can win $30.000 in three categories (so the sum of the prizes is $90.000). People will be able to submit projects starting next week… the actual voting starts on 4th of August.

If you wonder what the Evolution Contest is you might still browse the participants of the first contest (Nov’07-Feb’08) in this archive.

Web 3.0? Maybe user generated applications…

In few seconds I was able to create a new music browsing application combining puzzle pieces together without any effort:

todaysfashion.muxtape.com

All I needed was Fluid and an example to learn from.

Fluid basically is a bare-bones web browser that turns a website into an double-clickable application. It is a website – but it feels like an application (as long as you are not offline of course). The original idea for Fluid was inspired by Mozilla’s Prism project.

But wait… what’s happening here?

Is this a step back because it disregards the openness and hypertextuality of the web by suggesting to constrain web pages that are not meant to be pointing to other sites into windows?

It is an interesting trend that — after big browser vendors now finally comply to standards — new concepts appear that require users to use certain devices or browsers (or plug-ins) to use them. Actually the initial design goal (and the reason for standardisation) was to get rid of these dependencies.

But this is not just about the web as standard. It is about users being able to create applications from the rich offerings of the web. It is about DJ-ing with code, mingling logic and shining ideas. Users that can translate “cool ideas” into fun things without becoming an expert first. And it’s about developers creating pieces that are basic and yet well crafted and interoperable. It is about everyone contributing to the story.

While it right now does conflict a little bit with the device-independency that has made the web strong… it may turn out big on the long run.

Grimme Online Award Nomination for Hobnox

Hobnox was nominated for a Grimme Online Award yesterday (category “special”). The Grimme Online Awards have always been a sign post for cultural relevance of web projects for me. So this makes me very glad that Hobnox has achieved this nomination.

Side note: As announced on the FMX/08 conference the Audiotool has been updated with a TR-808 rythm composer. The next update (hopefully) will add saving compositions and maybe MIDI support.

FMX/08

I am going to speak about web entertainment (and Hobnox) on FMX/08 tomorrow. I will probably see some friends there as well.

I haven’t been to a previous FMX-conference. Judging from their program they do focus a lot on technology and Visual FX. The panel I have the privilege to participate in is subjected “realtime”.

I think this is a very good topic altough the notion is quite dated. But the term gets a slightly new meaning as the networks start to become real multimedia channels that can deliver streaming high quality video and multiplayer games with minimal latency and without wires.

New seminars – summer semester ’08

The new seminars for summer term 2008 are fixed. It is always a very exciting moment to think about new topics for projects… or rather: to pick the best from the ideas floating around.

And I always love to define topics with a leightweight appearance but at the same time much depth.

Here are the two candidates:

Project seminar: »Habits«
Design research about our habits and how they shape our daily life and how we use things.

Project seminar: »PIM«
Design for Personal Information Management systems.

iPhone SDK – a complete solution?

Apple has released the iPhone SDK. The 2.1 gigabyte download is free after registration and includes the latest Developer Tools as well.

I personally don’t use an iPhone. Being able to hack it (or get third party software for it) was a stopper for me. Another argument against the iPhone was the rather limited storage space — 4 and 8 gigs simply did not seem enough space.

Apple still wants to retain some control over which apps are pushed on the phone, but it seems the upcoming operating system of the iPhone has already been hacked. People may be able to install software independently from Apple (e.g. to remove a SIM card lock) on a hacked phone.

But looking at the developer site for the iPhone simply does it right. I get a clear product, a very readable documentation and easy to digest tutorials – developing hardware and software together again pays out in a consistent product.

The Android SDK on the other hand is lacking the simple question: How can I get started (I mean really)? What devices can I deploy an Android application on? In fact the Android FAQ states that there are no phones that Android is running on. So who is supporting Android? Why should I spend time on developing for a theoretical market? Android is nothing more than an approach to an upcoming problem that Apple has already solved from A-Z.

That is the reason why Apple is succsessful: They offer solutions – not concepts.

People that think the stylishness of their products are key to Apple’s success don’t know much about Design.

Director 11 – there’s life in the old dog yet

This is a surprise: Adobe announced Director 11 – the follow-up release to Director MX 2004. After years of speculation Adobe seems to be committed to develop Director further.

There is a rough comparison chart on the Adobe site which compares Director to Flash. I am not quite convinced the advantages of Director over Flash will set it apart and (re-)create its own market (or re-create its former market). The ubiquity of the Flash plug-in, YouTube & Co, ActionScript 3 and Flex have brought a lot of seriousness to the Flash platform in the past 3-4 years.

Hobnox Audiotool – Kewl! Totally!

Next week Hobnox will launch the first Beta version of the community website. And we will integrate Flash-based tools to manipulate a content library. Here is an appetizer…

Most areas of the site will start out as closed beta and/or demos, but we want to slowly ramp up the features and the design. We have many ideas on the drawing board, but we want the users to participate in the development.

If you live in Berlin there will be a festival on 28th of Februrary (with the nominees from the evolution contest playing). Some performances will be streamed live over the Internet.

There are still many projects online that did not make it to rank 1-3 but are worth a look.

Soon you will be able to log-in, play around and add your own profile and content to the system. You can apply for the closed beta now.

Personas? Yes… influence group thinking!

Jason Fried from 37signals argues against the use of Personas.

Personas don’t talk back. Personas can’t answer questions. Personas don’t have opinions. Personas can’t tell you when something just doesn’t feel right.

This is a pretty sketchy definition of what personas are supposed to do as a tool: The foremost reason for personas is to have people from all departments think about their product from a customer perspective and with a mindset that can be shared. Personas are not meant to “talk back” – they are meant to align imagination and create labels for »common thinking«.

It makes a difference if people talk their ideas pretending to be someone else or not. Personas drive positive groupthinking. It also forces to anticipate users. It also makes deriving marketing stories from that easier.

Ron Paul – too intellectual and clear sighted?

Rarely mentioned here is republican candidate Ron Paul who seems to be getting a lot of buzz from the Internet crowd in the US. Paul was able to raise a lot of money for his campaign for supporters.

It is the first time I feel there is a presidential candidate does not need a spin doctor to tell him what to say on TV screen. He is not scared of public statements that people may not like to hear – and at the same time looking to solve issues by looking at the monetary issue.

Two selections from a public debate on ABC television early January 2008:

Interview at Google in July 2007:

Here is speech almost 25 years ago where Ron Paul about the dilemma with paper money vs. gold… and the habit of creating purchasing power out of thin air:

This ultimately leads to his critizism of the Federal Reserve system:

Here is a interview with Ron Paul in Aaron Russo’s documentary “From freedom to facism” that addresses this topic:

Update:

I found this interesting clip of a US soldier on YouTube on a skirmish between Huckabee and Paul about Iraq:

News from the evolution

The Hobnox evolution contest is half way through and there are now 280 submissions in three categories: music (220), film (79), urban culture (30). There are regular “news” with portraits of some of the contestants on the Hobnox channels like this:

For example »Twisted Reality« by Johannes Guerreiro and Krystian Majewski from the Koeln International School of Design.

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