Temper, temper

I lost my temper twice yesterday and once today. Always at the wrong people. OK, they didn’t do what I needed them to do at that moment. And I’m under massive pressure to get things done, so anything or anyone standing in my way gets bulldozered. I feel really bad about it, too. Even counting to ten … or to a hundred for that matter … or going for a cup of coffee or tea doesn’t really work. The problems don’t disappear by themselves.

The problem is, of course, that I myself only do things I think are worth doing, things I believe in, and don’t expect anyone else to act any differently. Everyone is a free agent, that’s my basic philosophy. So first I have to convince them. But when you’re under pressure it’s so hard to get everyone working together productively toward a common goal. We have a huge project but no real project team – basically the core actors are running around trying to get everyone else interested in what we’re doing. This is a bunch of writers and editors used to coordinating their output. With very high standards, and a lot of humor, and hanging out in the kitchen, so there is informal team building, certainly. But setting an agenda? Defining where we are going and who is doing what when? No way. it’s incredibly draining. I could sometimes scream. And I do. I mean I just did. Poor Helmut’s ear is buzzing.

With this project it’s like knitting a sweater starting at the sleeve, and not having a pattern or really knowing what size it’s going to be when it’s finished. I’m happy enough to unravel everything and start over … I don’t own any ideas, I want to try things out and then improve them, I’m very playful in that way  … so I’m doing a lot of extra work up front so people have a product to discuss and improve. I think it’s the only way. But then comes the feedback, when people start expecting things that, at least where I stand, are out of the question. I know how hard it is to keep a user coming back, how easy it is to lose him or her. And we’ve been stuck with some miserable design parameters that make life very difficult. But thankfully we’ve got the ear of our inhouse admin, so I’m hoping that in the last two weeks before the relaunch we’ll be able to patch up the worst problems.

Until then, does anyone have any tips for how to keep cool?

Cheap, cheap, cheap

The world’s cheapest computer, the Sakshat, which translates as “before your eyes”, is being developed in India. It’s supposed to cost 1000 Rupees (16 Euros) initially and to come down to 500 Rupees (8 Euros) through mass production. It’s a joint project of the Vellore Institute of Technology, the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras and the state-controlled Semiconductor Complex, so time will tell if they can meet their launch date in 6 months. The prototype laptop has 2Gb of RAM and wireless connectivity. This machine will be a lot cheaper than the “$100 laptop”, the XO designed by scientists at MIT, which is having difficulties generating sales. (Guardian)

I stumbled upon this barrier-free education portal. Interesting. Nice for a bit of Indian English, too.

Online paper 1981

“Imagine, if you will, sitting down to your morning coffee, turning on your home computer to see the day’s newspaper. Well, it’s not as far-fetched as it may seem.” Video of a 1981 KRON report predicting the rise of news reporting on the internet. My eyes hurt just from watching the film, those screens – ouch! “We’re not in it to make money. We’re probably not going to lose a lot but we’re not going to make much, either”, he says. Well, new business models: The San Fransisco Examiner today runs a free (!) print version next to the free online paper. From techncrunch, seen on http://isarblick.net/

Internet for everyone

The USA ranks 15th in broadband adoption, which is key to getting more access for rural areas. Germany, where I live, has dropped from rank 10 to 14. The table is from a publication by InternetforEveryone.org called One Nation Online. Also see the OECD report, The Future of the Internet Economy.

Of course, the US, Germany, Sweden etc. are still doing comparably well in terms of overall Internet access. World internet usage statistics showing general access add perspective.

Here is the Internet for Everyone official call:

Robin Chase on internet access in rural areas:

Robin Chase mentions her green web-based companies zipcar (car rental) and goloco (ride sharing).

Launch of InternetforEveryone.org at the Personal Democracy Forum in New York City (June 24, 2008).

The Spoken Web

Isn’t he lovely? Photo by Jurec, who found this Buddha “who really listens” in a Tempel in Hangzhou, China www.pixelio.de

Asia is listening as IBM India Research Laboratory tests the World Wide Telecom Web (WWTW), a network of VoiceSites you access by phone. In this alternative to the WWW, users record a description and phone number of the VoiceSite they want to recommend using a regular phone. Callers listen and press a key or say a word when they find a site they want to be transferred to. I wonder how well voice recognition will work in India with its many dialects and languages, or in multilingual Asia and Africa. 70 per cent of the Indian population live in the country on $4 a day or less, so no computers. But 300 million people there use cellphones, with 8 million new subscribers each month. The market is gigantic. Since an astonishing 38.7 per cent of Indian adults can’t read or write, a phone-based web is perfect. (Wikipedia). (reporting: New Scientist, Computerworld)

I wonder: Is this the beginning of a new digital cultural divide? If the Spoken Web is a success, audio will rule there, while we seem to be going with text and video here. OK, we still call our friends and family, but do you leave as much voicemail as you send email? I wonder how this will develop in the next years.


Notice anything different about this site? Christmas came early this year, when Christian moved my site domain to http://annehodgson.de, installed an updated version of WordPress, and migrated my content into it. I then spent the weekend trying things out and putting in the tags and categories you see on the right. What do you think? Can you find what you want? Do you find it more inviting? In short, is the site more useable?

Continue reading Useable