Nov 20, 2011

Getting it done with good ol' fashioned failure.

Now one can get into a good debate as to whether or not austerity in these uncertain economic times globally is in fact the right direction for this country, but I believe it's difficult to debate the sheer political genius in how this nation's version of austerity is being implemented.  I'll explain:

I think it's pretty clear that the super committee is going to fail to come to any sort of agreement, however, I believe – despite not hearing a single similar opinion in the press, or blogosphere – that impasse was part of the political plan to begin with.

Sure, the inability to come to agreement will look like failure in the eyes of the public. But I believe to those architects of the joint select committee as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011, "failure" will, in actuality indicate to them that their plan has succeeded.

Am I mad in thinking this entire concept of a super committee may well be one of the most ingenious political devices to come around in years?  I mean, it's happening right before our eyes: $1 trillion in cuts to the federal budget and not a single member of our government will be hated for it! 

I suspect this first go may just be a test, one that we'll likely see repeated, and ultimately designed to level those fiscal albatrosses that truly threaten the long term economic stability of the United States: the sacred budgetary allocations whose mere mention of cutting would be tantamount to political suicide.  They're now exposed, for the first time in a long time, to this "zero responsibility" scheme. 

This "Super Committee", which involves a relatively small and obscure (to the majority of the public anyway) number; being six of each opposing party, can now indignantly storm out of whatever chamber they've been ensconced in, nodding their heads, furiously pointing their fingers and, as usual, off to collect ever-more money from their impassioned base whilst espousing ever-more extreme and inflammatory allegations against their opposition.  It would seem just another day in Washington but for the fact that, by default, they just came to agreement on cutting a trillion dollars from our budget!

So Congress just keep doing-nothing, but now they do it in order to get things done! 

No political power is lost, if anything it'll be gained, and $1 trillion gets gutted from our budget.  It's the new Alice in Wonderland political environment we live in, but I'm encouraged by what I assume is evidence that pragmatism  of this structure which predicted failure, in fact embraced failure as the centerpiece of its newly found political super-weapon.

Nov 3, 2011

Gmails new look, & a fix for its annoying "feedback" button!

If you're just looking for the fix to the annoying "feedback" popup on the new Gmail look, then skip to the bottom.  There you'll find the solution in boldface-type...

Anyhow, not sure if you've been invited to switch to the new Gmail look; but if not, or if you've postponed it, I thought I'd give you a link to upgrade yours:

The link also contains a compact and helpful tutorial which outlines some of the improvements to the system that go beyond looks alone.

You'll probably notice there's more to this change in Gmail's look than looks alone: there are also some interesting improvements to functionality as well.  I believe the most significant change of all — and perhaps the most significant change implemented by Google to one of their systems in a while — is their first implementation of a truly "dynamic UI" in Gmail.  

Of course you'll continue be able to specify how you want the UI to appear, but in this particular instance, the dynamic UI enables a type of functionality in Gmail that automatically responds to and manipulates its interface and screen layout in response to how YOU use it!  This all works in an effort to better accommodate your unique preferences and particular use-idiosyncrasies without your having to take the time or thought to specify them yourself.

I LOVE this genre of technology and am really excited to see it deployed on Gmail.  Anyhow, the main reason I decided to write about it was to get you thinking about how you too can use this type of technology in the near future.  Specifically, you might be able to leverage you may already know about your users to adapt your service(s) automatically in better accommodating them. 
This of course is all in contrast to how it's been done since the dawn of commercialism, which has been to put the burden of "accommodating" (to a product or service) entirely on the user in forcing them to "accommodate to" the product or service they wanted to use.  

The attitudes of conventional static (vs. "dynamic") deployments of products and services have caused us as consumers to expect to be instructed by the company on the proper use of their wares.  That's in stark contrast to the possibilities that automated-change which allows us to instruct our product or service on our preferred method(s) of use by simply using it. 

Typically companies tell us that we need to:

" this button to make our widget do X", or "if you need to change X, then pickup the phone and call 800-xxx-xxxx..."

In the coming shift to dynamic and automated usage-based change, the examples above will transition from "the way it's always been to the way things were" very quickly.  Instead of being forced to follow rigid use instructions, companies will initially offer choice-sets or modes of use to their customers; and will remain flexible while they listen to and watch for hints users leave to their particular preferences.  Then, based on the data they collect from the user in response to that flexibility, they'll ultimately organize their product/UI/service/etc to the exact preferences of each individual user.

The concept of dynamic auto-customization (which may be dubbed "mass customization" or "mass personalization"...) that I'm trying to articulate in this post will soon be a reality, and I'm all but certain will be one that will significantly favor those businesses that adopt it earlier than their competition!
Something to think about...
Anyhow, it's a bit ironic, but in this new deployment I found myself being ritually haunted by a persistent button that pops up on the bottom of the screen begging me to learn “about the new look | send feedback”...grrr!  I kept swatting its "X" close button only to have it persist...even after I yielded and input my thoughtful feedback...the thing kept coming after me like some senile zombie, begging FEEDBACK!!!

Enough was enough, and thanks to Jabba Laci's post the solution was simple:

So, if you too have been annoyed by the constant “about the new look | send feedback” button popup that came along with the new Gmail look, then you can stop it by downloading adblockplus.  

For Firefox it can be found here:

or here:

once downloaded, simply add this filter:[class="GcwpPb-MEmzyf GcwpPb-bEO5kc"]
For Google Chrome you'll find the add-on here: 
and there you have it, no more requests for feedback popups! 
Christian Hunter
Austin, Texas 

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