Friday, July 31, 2009

UX my latest interest

The world of UX is truly mesmerizing. I have been defining software products over for many years, especially in the enterprise domain. But, the innovations being brought by web 2.0 client-side technologies are changing the face of UX design. In fact, UX designers are the product and brand managers of the past merged into one with an additional responsibility of actually executing on the visual aspects using widely available tools.

In last couple of months, I have found great tools to give effect to my UX visualizations ranging from firefox plugins like Pencil Project, Powerpoint to using Jquery and its plugins. The journey gets more and more interesting as I get better with the tools available.

Amongst the IT professionals, traditionally, client side functions have been treated with disdain by the server side guys. In recent years this paradigm has been turned on its head with a new found realization in businesses that in the Internet world UX is what makes or breaks a service or product.

It is great to be building a service and picking up skills on the way. The journey is great and with the end result looking more promising with each day, i couldn't have asked for more.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Google's demise - a possible theory

History has shown that nothing is eternal and every real and abstract construct goes through the cycle of birth and death. I understand that this statement lacks a formal argument chain that makes it susceptible to ridicule by a lot of people. But I urge everyone to humor me as, while this is what made me think about topic, it is not the central theme of this post.

The above-mentioned belief made me start to look at the forces that may cause Google's downfall. In addition, to the belief stated above, I have been noticing that Google services are having outages that are getting progressively more conspicuous, even though the availability statistics might be getting better. I just faced ( 9.00 AM EST May 18 2009) a ( 503 Server error). This is on top of an outage reported just yesterday.

I recently heard a talk on fall of civilizations and one of the themes highlighted was that the cause for a civilization's failure is, often, the reason the civilization was successful in the first place. Arguably Google's success in large parts can be attributed to the presence of an extraordinarily large number of extraordinarily smart people. They have built a large, proprietary and hugely sophisticated system that is, possibly, unparalleled in its complexity in the modern business world. It is similar to the financial markets in its complexity which have been made complex due to an intricate web of really complicated financial instruments. Even the smartest of people with enormous talent could not stop the systemic failure in the recent financial crisis. If anything at all the smarts, arguably, contributed to increasing the risk of a systemic failure.

I believe that Google is susceptible to the risk posed by complexity of its ever evolving system. This system will continue to demand, more and more, high-horsepower intellect which will continue to become increasingly difficult to attract over time due to various competitive pressures and Google's waning charms. I hear that, already, Google search algorithms take over 600 signals to rank search results. While most of us view this as formidable IP that is hard for anyone to replicate and better, I believe that there is a risk of this beast becoming increasingly elusive to the core team at Google, which will start to affect its quality.

If I were Google, I'd employ some of the smarts to look at this specific risk - the risk of failure due to increasing systemic complexity. In my experience, Google is unique in bringing such sophistication to the consumer space while dealing with phenomenally quick changes in the problem space. One can argue that sending a space ship to the orbit is a more complex enterprise. I will not argue the complexity of the system. The competitive and problem dynamics, though, are relatively static, allowing engineers to design for a relatively unchanging problem space. The complexity dimension of the problem is not amplified by competitive and problem-space dynamism.

Google doesnt have that luxury. Taleb views efficiency as form of leverage. I'd extend that to include complexity as a form of leverage and hence a contributor to risk.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ishaan's bipartisanship

For days now Ishaan, my 4 year old son, has been insisting on sending one of his crayon-drawn masterpieces to Barack Obama. Just after he finished putting one of these into the envelope with the White House address, he asked me if I remembered John Mccain - Barack Obama's old friend. I said "Yes, sure". He said he wanted to send one to John Mccain as well as he hadn't received any of his cards yet. So now I have 2 fat envelopes for BO and JM with their addresses ready to be sent to DC.

It was the purest act of bipartisanship I have witnessed, till date. This is the change we can believe in !!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

accuracy and precision

The other day I was, yet again, explaining the difference between accuracy and precision to someone. I was explaining how John Doe was precisely inaccurate in his assertions. The image below (borrowed from statistics lessons in the past) illustrates this difference well.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

identity of spiderman revealed!!!

Let me give you a close up for some clues............

Still wondering who ??