Why A Virtual Reality Web May Never Happen, As Hospitals Go Digital Human Stories Get Left Behind, In Praise of the Incomplete Leader, The Panama Papers + more

I wrote a bit last week about Virtual Reality and how it is starting to impact our world.  Fastco Design has a quick read on why we may never see our existing web experience translate to that medium.  While demos exist of “what could be” today, no designers or developers are lining up to actually help create the experience.  The user experience of the web has been defined and solved, and while that UX may evolve over time, it has the same principles at its core.  As it stands today, the VR web is just transferring a very two-dimensional experience to a three-dimensional (even possibly four-dimensional) space.  It’s not immersive; it’s not what we might expect from a world with immersive 2-D experiences like Second Life and The Sims.  It seems like looking at those 2-D immersive experiences is getting in the way of a new UX for virtual reality.  That said, we know that’s what people expect, so let’s give it to them and then direct the crazy ones, the misfits, and the rebels who can re-imagine our world as a four-dimensional virtual one to focus on so they can break us out of the box that is our existing browsing experience.

Also from Fastco Designs is an article about how Kik thinks Chatbots will kill webpages.  Continuing the story of Tay, the “teen” AI/bot that Microsoft unveiled a few weeks ago just to pull down and how bots are seen as critical both in China and by the larger tech companies in the US, Kik, a messaging app, has a new platform which allows anyone to create a chatbot.  In Kik’s paradigm, the bots are “summoned” to provide contextual information and are created by the users themselves (or will people pay $.99 to buy a bot that someone else has created?).  The belief is that bots are going to solve the problems with the App ecosystem, but unfortunately it doesn’t’ look like Kik is set to use bots for what is most beneficial: machine learning.  Chatbots, apparently, are going to be everywhere.

One of the tougher nuts to crack of the past few years has been creating an interface for medical records that keeps up with the changers other industries are seeing, again from a UX standpoint.  I’ve known quite a few entrepreneurs who have tried to crack the “gamification” nut that seems to serve so many other thought-based industries well, however they’ve failed.   I think that is in part due to the high level of government regulations and requirements, but this article from STAT points to another issue: the interface used for tracking patient records gets in the way (in this case EPIC), and in fact reduces the most complex portion of a medical practitioner’s diagnosis, the emotional side, to information that is simply lost in translation.

Business Insider has a great piece this week on how we should forget about unicorns, and that investors are looking for “cockroach” startups now.  The premise is that unicorns are mythical creatures that are appearing to be more over-valued than not and have a huge amount of risk due to market fluctuations.  Cockroaches, on the other hand, are resilient. After all, the legend has it that only the cockroaches would survive a nuclear war.

We all have high expectations of our leaders, and as well others have high expectations of us as leaders.  The belief is that we’re flawless, that we can do no wrong, and that we have it all figured out.   The reality is, no one does, and we’re all pushing ourselves to grow every day.  Being a lifelong learner goes hand in hand with being a good leader, and we have to realize that with a lifetime of learning comes a lifetime of growth.  HBR outlines four components in their framework of distributed leadership: sensemaking, relating, visioning, and inventing.  The article from HBR also provides a framework for evaluating where you are in relation to those skills and can be used to diagnose your team or organization as well.

It’s hard to think of the Harvard Business Review without thinking of Peter Drucker, the management guru of the latter 20th century.  Success had a piece back in 2010 that captured his career and how he created what is modern management theory that is as relevant today.  Looking back for that article was inspired by a brief collection of ten Drucker quotes I stumbled upon from Entrepreneur.   While you’re digesting that, take a moment to read what Forbes thinks are the lessons we can learn from Disney’s staggering CEO succession failure.

Along the lines of privacy, WhatsApp just turned on encryption for a billion people this week without even blinking an eye.  All the news of late has been about the face-off between Apple and the FBI, and while that has been getting a lot of news cycles, other tech firms have been quietly addressing security issues on their platforms, I guess while we’re all distracted.

The Panama Papers.  I’m sure every one of you has heard something in the news the last week about these.  There are numerous articles out there, but what fascinates me is how close to 400 journalists kept quiet about it for a full year before the story broke.  Take your pick on who you want to read: 6 things you need to know about the bombshell Panama Papers leak from Salon, The Panama Papers and SF’s housing crisis from 48hills, McAfee’s opinion that “a time bomb is hidden beneath the Panama Papers” from Business Insider, A Primer on the ‘Panama Papers’ Offshore Revelations from Bloomberg, or What you need to know about the #PanamaPapers investigation from PBS.

Joi Ito, head of the MIT Media Lab, has an excellent TED talk that speaks to how, in order to innovate, we have to be focused on building quickly and improving constantly.  This doesn’t apply just to software, but to hardware, manufacturing, bioengineering, and more.

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