Creativity is just connecting things.
— Steve Jobs

Tag Archives: idea

You Value What You Pay For

One man’s opinion reminds me of a recent guest appearance by Tina Fey on The Late Show with David Letterman. When the time came for Dave to bring up the DVD of 30 Rock’s first season, Tina quickly mumbled a line that really stuck with me and was at first funny, but now, it’s quite smart. And in fact it’s in line with the previous link’s assertion:

People value what they pay for.

Whenever I’ve had cellphones, they were always provided by my employer. And usually, those phones were incredibly shitty. I’m sure I’m not alone, but, even though I wouldn’t intentionally try to break the thing, if I dropped it, I really didn’t care if I broke it. It wasn’t because I simply had the expectation that my employer would replace it, but that the phone itself seemed so generic and crappy. My perceptive value of the phone was quite low.

This brings us back to the recent hot topic of debate: The iPhone price gouge cut.

I paid the full price when it came out and my perceived value of the device is MUCH higher than previous phones. The hype isn’t what did it. It’s the idea that I just paid a LOT for it and that it was able to do so much. I cringe when people refer to it as a phone because to me, it kinda isn’t. I don’t constantly talk on it all day and whine about the EDGE network. I use it for many other reasons. One of which is the sheer inspiration value.

I find this device to be so intriguing because of the power packed in that tiny case. I also bought it with the hopes that a batch of hackers would sprout up and give me control over the damn thing.

Luckily they have, and the sheer fact that I can personalize the device so damn much, makes my perceived value even higher.

Music Notes

I just read an interesting recap of Prince’s career on the New York Times and it got me thinking about some musicians that have come into my view lately: Prince, Billy Corgan, and Buckethead.

They each have their own way of promoting their music in the digital age where everything can be copied and redistributed in a heartbeat.

Prince is by far, the most progressive digital marketer in the music industry. Forget about Steve Jobs. He created the idea of getting music to the masses via the internet without regard for piracy. In fact, he probably encouraged it because at the end of the day, his name was bigger and he was in demand.

Billy Corgan, on the other hand, is quite the opposite. He did have an interesting blog for a while but stopped updating it. It’s too bad because I found his writing to be quite interesting. It mostly recanted old Smashing Pumpkins stories and how they made it big, which is always cool to read since for me, SP just appeared out of nowhere with Gish on MTV.

Recently I blogged about the news that SP was reforming and releasing new music…in a way that flies in the face of Prince’s concepts. He created a distribution deal that was split between four major music retailers. Each retailer would only be able to sell 1 version of the new record. The difference being that each CD had 1 song that was different from the other 3 versions. Talk about bleeding your fans dry.

Then there’s Buckethead. Say what you want about the guy’s name and persona but you can’t argue with his talent and ability to get the word out. Here is a lone guitarist who usually records on independent labels yet has come up with some really interesting ways to promote himself and his music. The most recent example of his ingenuity is his simultaneous release of 13 CDs. (I have heard them, so I’m speaking from experience here.) Buckethead knows that aside from his unparalleled musical ability, his mysterious persona is a major draw. Keeping his mysterious persona in mind, the 13 CD set sounds more like you are getting access to multiple private recording sessions where he plays everything and anything just for you. There is no distracting audience noise or cheering, no overproduced tracks with 5 other musicians (can you say the new GnR?). You can easily picture just him sitting in a studio, pressing the record button, and wailing for hours, hence the CD set title “In Search Of The”. There truly are some really incredible bits in there. He’s not trying to create 3 minute hooky songs for radio. He’s letting you into the studio and hearing bits and pieces of future songs while he’s working on them.

Anyway, the truly unique aspect of this CD set is that he is personally autographing and drawing little things on each and every CD. The response to this idea has been so huge that they’re on backorder and it’s tough for he and Travis Dickerson to get them burned and out the door.

Back to the point of this post. What differs Buckethead from Prince and Billy Corgan is his use of the internet. His website is quite crude, which is odd considering that he’s been an underground music star for about 10 years now. What is most interesting about the site is the total lack of an online store. You cannot purchase music on the site, period. He only links out a handful of sites where you can get his music…typically the recording studio where he recorded the album.

What Buckethead does do is use the power of social media like YouTube. Ok, it can be debated that he “uses it” or doesn’t have time to shut people down, but either way, the popular video site is the perfect showcase for his work. Fans from all over the world post not only videos of him playing live but also their feeble attempts to recreate his musical magic on the guitar. For a musician whose “act” relies on a visual image, online video is the best thing to happen to his career. Regardless of his official stance on the site, when an artist has a bootlegged video of one song that has over 700k views, a guitar lesson with over 588k views, and another with over 442k views, he MUST be happy with those numbers. And those are just the top 3 videos. There are many more with 200k views per video.

Finally, another huge win for Buckethead was his inclusion on the super popular game Guitar Hero 2. His incredible playing and persona was the perfect fit for the game and I’m sure has introduced him and his music to millions of music lovers around the world. My guess is that the next tour he puts on will be sold out in every single venue across the U.S.

So, in the age where it seems the mainstream media proclaims that the music industry is imploding, iTunes is killing P2P sharing, individual artists are taking quite different roads to marketing themselves and sell their music.

The Need for Recognition and iPhone

Roughlydrafted has a great piece on the iPhone and the final wave of hater reviews despite the complete lack of information on their part. One really interesting section discusses the idea of Safari on Windows and how that relates to the iPhone:

Apple Hacks the Hackers.
Mehta also noted, “There’s bugs in Safari for Windows. There’s speculation that these vulnerabilities will also affect the iPhone. And there’s a good chance that we’ll see vulnerabilities that affect the mainstream version of OS X affect the iPhone. That, to some degree, offsets the fact that it’s a closed development platform. It gives people with malicious intent something to look at and work off of.”

Of course, the bugs reported in Safari for Windows are primarily connected to the beta support libraries Apple ported from Mac OS X, not Safari itself, and so are not really related to Safari on the Mac, or Safari on the iPhone.

Still, if there were problems in Safari, it would be a good idea for Apple to throw it out there and have black hat hackers try their best on it before actually shipping the iPhone.

Surprise! You’ve been hacked, hackers! By trying to beat up Safari on Windows, you’ve helped Apple harden Safari in general, which is good for the Mac, but also good for the iPhone. Apple wouldn’t want your attacks on Safari to be linked to the iPhone in its first days of ultra hyped media coverage, so thanks for jumping the gun!

Tip of the hat to the RD reader who came up with that creative thought. I’m sure that could have been part of the plan but relying on the vast universe of Windows Nerds to reveal the worst bugs in your software is a really risky way for Apple to avoid future problems.

Adobe CS3 UI Debate

Now that CS3 is finally getting out there, some people are waxing on about the UI “inconsistencies” so now seems like the right time to add my two cents on something I’ve noticed:

First let me say that I think alot of effort was put into addressing the management and display of palettes. It’s a tough problem to solve because everyone works differently.

With that being said, I liked Adobe’s idea of the docking well at first glance. But then after closer inspection, I believe there are far too many targets in close proximity of each other. Here is an example that shows a closeup of the docked wall of palettes to the right and the Character palette on the left as it is fully expanded.

Before:

After with my target count:

Here’s a quick breakdown of the number of functional items versus logistical according to my little chart:

Logistical (moving, closing palettes):
1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 10, 11, 15, 16, 17

Functional (palette specific functions):
4, 7, 8, 9, 12, 14

You may argue that numbers 10, 11 and 16 are the same but they’re not. They all have different results if you engage them even though they appear the same.

As you can see, there’s a very high chance of click error when working quickly on deadline. There must be a better way to relocate the more logistical things and make them less obtrusive. But the bigger issue is this. Has the new UI scheme really simplified anything at all? Is it really easier to work with palettes? I would love to hear from someone at Adobe on just how many iterations and revisions were made prior to coming up with this solution.

Edit: A colleague suggested I link to a definition of Fitts Law for the uninitiated.