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The other night, I attended a talk titled The Psychology of UX. Great talk, but one of the comments made towards the end of the time has really stuck in my head:

…what you have been talking about looks like the web from 1995. When are we going to get into the rich media and contextual-driven experiences that take advantage of the tech and abilities of the people using them?

Ok, not a direct quote. But very close to the sentiment from the person who also mentioned that they were a part of the team that built Siri. And closer still to how I think that many people think not just about their technologies and tools, but how they are being used – and what should be better about them given what we have in our hands and where we have been in times past.

I am in a coffeeshop right now. Am sitting in between two guys who I talked with before about how they are going about collaborating with one another and their clients. They are on laptops, emailing a document between one another. They have their mobiles on the table in front of me – one with a Blackberry and the other with an iPhone. One has a stack of papers that he is going through, and translating to some product on his laptop.

I am in the middle – Nokia mobile on the glass table as well, iPad in hand and looking at Scrivener wondering if I can/should push further than Evernote and Adobe Ideas.

This is the UX of working in a coffeeshop. Isolation, communication, reflective surfaces, and delegated streams of media and communication. We see it as normal, but I see it as broken and in need of a major operational update.

Thinking of the two gentlemen around me:

  • Where is the VPN-secured document management workspace (SharePoint and Office365 in their case)?
  • There is obviously some mixed media and template manipulation happening, has the IT and marketing groups for their company put together a template in their content management system that addresses this? Better yet, are these two empowered with the admin privileges in their intranet domain to build their own?
  • Why are the mobile separated from the process (my perspective)? Shouldn’t there be an OTT group messaging service that’s secured with the same (similar) security model the company-issued laptops are given?

And then thinking of me:

  • My mobile and tablet aren’t connected to one another for passing media between them (links and pics)
  • Outside of Penultimate, I cannot create a document that takes online, drawn, and picture sources and put them into the same document (I spent a ton of time debating how to write this; why)
  • No with this iOS device to send social networking notifications to my mobile instead of the tablet – interruptions aren’t always nice
  • Now thinking that a camera would come in handy if the camera on the tablet were able to build a virtual canvas and trace my gestures on that advanced document-like structure

In a sense, I sit in a coffeeshop and marvel at how much we have working, but how little of it shows any sense of unity in working. The UX model of computing is broken – we are still sitting in a spot, doing heads-down activities with the hope of an end product being profitable and productive. And it is, because we don’t see anything different.

What if we did?

What if the glass table in front of me was a virtual workspace, where the cameras on their laptops could show the information they shared and composed/edited together? What about the avatars of those stakeholders whom will be receiving whatever they are working on – headshots on the side by greyed-out until the compiled document was ready?

What if you didn’t just see text on a page here, but an impromptu video of me doing what I am talking about could be generated by my tablet and/or mobile, with a bit of branding on the bottom right edge connecting it to whatever social streams (this is public work) for the cafe, myself, and possibly the city I am in?

I got to get off of this topic. I have a bucket of data over at Mobile Ministry Magazine to continue to refine into malleable data streams so that a better mobile UX can be built around it. Its not just managing knowledge and communications, but also templating the data in such a way that whether someone is public working or private collaborating, the UX facilitates an intended message.

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2 thoughts on “Reflecting on the UX of Working in A Coffeeshop

  1. The overriding experience of the past 20 year has been one of fragmentation rather than convergence. Just think HTML evolves into XHTML and XML . Creating the connectors to join together the fragments just adds to the fragmentation . Apps and hardware reflect the messages they carry. Fragmentation of media and technology is the trend. Ux is about creating the best fragment of experience. Not the best pattern of experience. E.g. Pint rest and twitter. Do one thing. But do it well and very simply..

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