Transparency, transparency, transparency

Crossposted on

Guess what? Lately I have become obsessed with transparency! The more I work on it, the more I realise that transparency is at the very core of any healthy business relationship.

It works inside an organisation, it works between organisations. It’s the essential ingredient to build trust and understanding. Continue reading “Transparency, transparency, transparency”

3 things about Apple Watch



I think that the heart rate sensor is the most relevant feature of this product. It’s not just about fitness: with the right software having a constant monitor of heart rate and other activities will soon start saving lives. In a few years this class of products will have an impact on the healthcare budgets. It’s big.


Remember iPhone 1.0? iPod 1.0? iPad 1.0? Holding my first iphone today, it looks and feels like ancient technology. The current Apple Watch looks a bit chunky, but in no time it will become much sleeker. This is a 1.0.



Color of the year

The color of the year for 2014 is Pantone® 18-3224 Radiant Orchid. Now you know.


When I started working in graphic design, having a Pantone color book was one of my main goals. They were rare and expensive, back when Macs screens were still black and white and it was the only way to manage colors. And they were cool little objects, I think I still have mine somewhere.

Back then most colors fit in 3 digits numbers (I still remember how one of the first logos I designed used blue 300 and grey 428). At some point 4 digits colors started appearing, and they were kinda exotic. Amazing how we got all the way to “18-3224”. Looks like there’s still a lot of colors to invent.

Anyway, it’s good to see how Pantone has been able to modernize and be still around after all these years. These days I think that the Pantone product I use more is my coffee mug :).

Google: a lousy evil empire?

I’m a fan of every conspiracy theory as any other geek, but this whole narrative about google gaining control our whole life has a big flaw: Google Plus.

I mean: I have 4 active email addresses that I use every day, and they are all on gmail. I use google for every search, google maps, google calendar, google docs both on my Mac and my mobile devices. I use Chrome for most of the time when I’m on my Mac. And then they shut down the aggregator I was using, they force me to have a G+ account to comment on YouTube, in other words the pretty much have full control of my digital life, and still…

…they haven’t managed to get me interested to Google Plus. Nor any other of my friends, who in most cases have pretty much sold their own souls to Google like I did.

Now, I’m not saying that they are not evil… but surely so far it doesn’t look like they are very good at using all the power we gave them in order to control us.

Ranting about professions, tools and respect.

This post by Glenn Fleishman about Yahoo’s new logo is absolutely brilliant, and it’s a great lesson about what graphic design is [via DF].

But I don’t really think that the problem is the “engineering mindset” or the “designer mindset”, I think that one of the main issues we face today is lack respect for other professionals’ expertise.

A part of the problem is probably the wide availability of tools, Fleishman writes:

Too many people think graphic design is not a specialty, but something anyone can do, because the tools to make decent-looking Web pages, newsletters, books, and the like are readily available.

This of course applies not only to graphic design but to pretty much every aspect of human life that is producing some kind of software tool: you are not a designer just because you have Illustrator, you are not a musician just because you have Garage Band, and you are not an engineer just because you have a scripting utility installed on your computer (and you are not a manager because you have Powerpoint ;-).

But the real trouble is that, unlike Marissa Mayer, a lot of people don’t even have these tools on their computers, they just assume that having them is all you need to be a professional designer/engineer/musician/etc. Actually I would argue that if they did have those tools installed, they might have learned that there is very little you can do with them, unless you have training, talent and experience.

My job is all about being in a strange middle place where I’m not a designer, an engineer or a manager, and I’m incredibly lucky for the opportunity of working with brilliant designers, engineers and managers, and to try to expose each group to the complexities of the other professions, learning new lessons every day.

We must not only learn to respect other professions, I think that today we all have the means to try to understand a little bit about other professions. This not only will give us the ability to work better with others, but it will also help us distinguish real professionals from guys who just have a bunch of apps installed on their computers.

Spies Like Us

Since we started getting weekly revelations about the NSA, it appears that one of the main justifications from the US administration is “we are not spying US citizens“.

Not being a US citizen I find this slightly annoying, but I wonder if this should not be troubling also for them. If all countries would adopt the same approach, it would mean that we would all be spied by approximately 200 different countries BUT ours.

If I could choose, I’d rather be spied by my own country and not others. Better than being spied by a bloody trash bin anyway.

Keep it short

Euan has some very good advice for “That first CEO blog post“.

I would add: keep it short. It doesn’t have to be an assay. One thought, one paragraph. Come back tomorrow for more. Before Twitter and all the other social media (especially for those of us coming from the Scripting News school of weblogging) most blog post were one liners.

Link pain

This tip for website that want links passed on is very good.

Now, still with the Economist, here’s what not to do.

Reading the Economist on my iPad (disclaimer: I think that reading the Economist is one of the best things I do on my iPad) I found an article I wanted to share with my friends on Facebook.


Continue reading “Link pain”

What happened to “camera phones”?

My father in law wants to upgrade his mobile phone (he has a simple and cheap Nokia phone which is a few years old).

He went to an electronics store, and they sold him a 150 Euros Samsung smart phone.

Of course, he got home and had no clue whatsoever on how to use it, connect it to his Mac to download photos (or even answer a phone call).

So he came visiting with pizzas and beer, and I tried to figure it out. I could not.

I will admit that it was my first time with Android, and it probably was a pretty old version of Android but… what an utterly piece of crap!

The UI is totally confusing, and the very poor Italian localisation doesn’t help. I had to google (on my iPhone) to find even the simplest commands (for example: why is USB configuration in the “Networking” panel?). And even after one hour, I could not get it to download photos when connected with the USB cable (iPhoto would “see” the phone, but there were no images to download).

And once configured with the gmail account, suddenly there were notifications in three different apps: email, gmail and social hub. Why?

For his sanity (and mine), I convinced him to take it back and ask for his money back.

Of course, now I have to find a simple phone with three features: calls, SMS and a decent camera. The less smart, the better. Nokia used to make phones with pretty good cameras, but now good cameras only seem to be available on the Lumia series.

Any recommendations?

People don’t read (but they watch TV)

Yes, it’s what everybody is talking about: people don’t read long articles, long email, books. In this era of easy to generate content, we have all had enough.

Even one liners seem too long to read sometimes. In the short registration form of State of the Net conference there was one simple question: “Is this the first time you will come to Trieste?”. Well, 21 people from Trieste checked “yes”.

At the same time I’m quite impressed with the analytics of the conference’s keynotes videos that we have posted last week: an average of 20% of users get to the end of them, with peaks of 40% for some.

While I do understand that watching a video requires much less engagement, I still find these number significant (and somehow depressing).

Little boxes indeed

Euan writes:

I have been writing text in little boxes on the interwebs for twenty years. Used to be called usenet, then bulletin boards, then blogs, now social. Still little boxes.

The tools we use to write have been pretty much the same for a very long time. Sometime in early 1984 my dad came home with the first Mac 128. It came with two floppy disks, each with the whole operating system and an application on it: one for MacPaint, one for MacWrite.

MacPaint was my favorite, but I remember MacWrite well, here’s what it looked like:

Now, what I find odd is that some 28 years later I’m still writing in a box which pretty much offers the very same features (actually I have lost tabulation).

Why haven’t writing tools evolved? Why are not relevant content from the interwebs popping up while I write this, helping me finding more information in real-time? Why isn’t this post appearing in real time on Euan’s screen, while I’m writing it, allowing us to develop a conversation? Why aren’t previous rants I wrote about how technology has not evolved enough for me automatically linked to this post?

There are ways to do all this, but they are far from being mainstream.

PS: true, there are outlines.

Don’t be stupid

Euan Semple about the Olympic communication team social networks restrictions:

Trying to control use of the social web in this way in this day and age is impractical. It makes the organisers look stupid.

They are not alone. Most people running our institutions don’t understand what is happening and don’t know what to do about it. They pay agencies to do it for them and the agencies themselves don’t understand what is going on, or find it challenging and try to retain their own form of control.

I see this every day, and even if it isn’t rocket science, it’s so distant from current corporate culture that I’m afraid that until every single member of this generation will be out of the game, we won’t see real change.

Meanwhile we should get at work figuring out new kinds of organizations.