Category: Uncategorized

Monday Reads – 16/03

blue banner sign posters
Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

You don’t need me to tell you that the World is going through some very difficult and unprecedented times. I was wondering if it made any sense to publish my weekly collection in such times, but decided to focus on some articles that I found helpful:

Understand VUCA And Better Lead Your Company Through The SARS-CoV-2 Virus – ‘VUCA‘ is one of those abbreviations that I was not particularly fond of. It seemed like just another unnecessary addition to the jargon of the corporate world. Events of the past few weeks have led me to reassess my point of view. While I can’t say that I have completely reversed my opinion of it, I don’t mind saying that it can provide a useful framework for framing a response to facing uncertain times.

Resources for Families – If you, like me, have children stuck at home these days, then you might find these resources from National Geographic useful.

Dealing with the Immense Uncertainty of the World – This veers more towards spirituality and meditation, so might not be everyone’s cup of tea. But for others, it offers a perspective and a course of action.

Yuval Noah Harari’s History of Everyone, Ever – Finally, if you are looking for a nice, long, slightly distracting read, then you might like this particular feature on noted academician and author – Yuval Noah Harari. I learnt that Mr. Harari practices Vipassana meditation and he regularly visits India for these sessions.

Finally, please stay safe, this will soon pass.

Monday Reads – 02/03

Laptop with image of food
Photo by Igor Miske on Unsplash

History, Future, Food and Apple – an eclectic mix in this week’s set.

How German cruiser ‘Emden’ struck terror in the heart of the British Empire, and became a Tamil word – Starting with History, a fascinating story from the time of World War II and the birth of a new word in the Tamil and Malayalam languages.

Steve Wozniak – Continuing with History, I just came across this fascinating interview with the co-founder of Apple. It seems like everyone knows everything about Steve Jobs, but this was an eye-opening interview about the engineer who set Apple on the path to future success.

Superintelligence – Speaking about the future, this is a thought-provoking article on what might be the biological impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on humans, and what the end state might look like. It also asks us to think about ‘Why is it that we exist as humans?’

What Noma did next: how the ‘New Nordic’ is reshaping the food world – And finally, a long, but very informative article from the word of Fine Dining. It is interesting to see how a restaurant (and now, movement) has been so successful in establishing a region that was not really know for its food culture on to the World Map of Fine Dining. It will be great to see something similar evolve for Indian (or South Asian) cuisine.

Monday Reads – 24/02

Weird mural of Man riding robot
Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash

A mix of topics in this week’s selection covering the state of Asian corporates, how to work through an ‘off’ day, tips to write better and one of the most thought-provoking and inspiring articles I have read in a while.

Corporate Asia: A Capital Paradox – A detailed look at the state of Corporate Asia. It does not, unfortunately, paint a very pretty picture. “…capital-intensive Asian companies are not necessarily generating economic profit; this may not be sustainable in the long-term.” Looking forward to reading more in this series from McKinsey & Company.

Sloggy Days – When You Don’t Want To Do Anything – Most of us, I am sure, would have gone through days in our lives when we just do not feel like doing anything. It happened to me last week after a relatively hectic weekend of traveling and work. Rather than fight through it, I just decided to take the afternoon off and have a nap. It really helped. I accept that I am lucky in that I possibly have far more control over my daily schedule than a typical ’employee’. In case you are going through one of such days, you might find this article helpful.

Turning a Passion into a Profession – I have also enjoyed writing. And for the past 18 months or so that I have been maintaining this blog, I have given myself liberty to express myself on topics that catch my fancy. I do not consider myself a very good writer, but my belief is that you can only get better with practice. Please read this article if you would like to explore the creative side of your personality, or indeed have a desire to get better at something. And while on the topic of writing, you might also want to check out this video on ‘3 Ways to Write Better‘.

Stay Weird – A powerful article on the tendency of most corporates to demand conformity from their employees, leading to group think and the killing of individuality. The solution – Stay Weird. In this day and age of ‘diversity hiring’, the real need of the hour is for corporates to celebrate the diversity of thought within their ranks., thereby enabling employees to bring their ‘best selves’ to work every single day (except maybe when they are having a ‘sloggy day’ :-)).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday Reads – 17/02

blur book stack books bookshelves
Photo by Janko Ferlic on Pexels.com

This week’s articles are on the topic of AI or Artificial Intelligence –  we look at the history of AI or Machine Learning, and a couple of interesting (and thought-provoking) use cases.

10 Overlooked Machine Learning Advances in the Last 10 Decades – While AI has become a buzzword fairly recently, the history of Machine Learning (or ML) goes back at least a century. This article covers the key Machine Learning trends and developments of the past 100 years.

What will Music be Like in 20 Years? – A fascinating peek into how AI is already part of the music industry and what the future might hold. How would you feel if you suddenly discovered that your present favourite song was created by AI?

An Algorithm That Grants Freedom, or Takes It Away – “Across the United States and Europe, software is making probation decisions and predicting whether teens will commit crime.” Sounds familiar?

 

How is Design Impacting your User Experience?

Juice Dispenser

I have been fortunate to have worked closely with graphic designers during the course of my Digital Marketing career. I am primarily a data-driven performance oriented marketer, but I do have a keen interest in art and design. I might not be able to draw to save my life, but I can appreciate aesthetics and good design.

But this post is not about web design or UX Design. It is, unfortunately, a bit of a rant triggered by a few observations of items that I use daily.

The first exhibit I would like to present is the image above. I am sure you will agree that it’s a very aesthetically pleasing design. I was observing people consuming juice from this dispenser at my co-working place. I guess it must be very obvious what the design flaw is about this dispenser. Yes, the tap is placed not at the very bottom, but a few centimetres above. And, as you might have guessed, it means that a good amount of juice at the bottom of the dispenser cannot be extracted easily. Surely, the better design would have been to move the tap closer to the bottom. Yes, it might not be as aesthetically pleasing as the current design, but, surely, far more practical and useful?

Mobile Phone

The second exhibit is my mobile phone. Without revealing the brand, it is a standard design for a smartphone with a relatively large screen. No physical buttons anywhere on the front, but it has a power button on the right towards the top and volume levers across this on the left. These are both fairly well designed ergonomically. Except for one irritating flaw. If I am holding the phone with both hands, as one does fairly regularly, then I have discovered that there is no way I can switch off the display without pressing the volume lever on the opposite side. And pressing both these switches simultaneously triggers the screenshot capture. I have lost count of the screenshots I have taken when I meant to switch off the display. Again, I am sure there must be a way I can programme it such that pressing the two switches together does not trigger a screenshot capture. But it is too much effort to research and act on. So I just grumble whenever this happens, delete the image and move on.

Laptop

The third exhibit is another device that I use almost daily – my laptop. And the irritating piece of design is very similar to my mobile phone. The power charging socket of the laptop is on the right, at the very top of the keyboard close to the screen hinge. And on the left hand side of the keyboard, towards the middle is the power button. Every time I use my left hand to firmly hold the laptop as I insert the charging socket using my right hand, my fingers on the left hand brush against the power button, putting the laptop to sleep. Which means that I have to remember to pay close attention when I am doing a mundane activity such as connecting the power charger to my laptop. Something that I will be happy to do without really thinking about it.

For sure, these are not critical flaws affecting the usability of the products (except the first one). But when one is a regular user of these products, these flaws can prove to be a cause of irritation. I might not change these products due to this flaw, but I will definitely consider other brands when I am purchasing my next phone or laptop.

This leads me to wonder – why is it that such large and leading brands have such basic design flaws? Is it that they are not aware of the existence of these flaws? I am sure they must be doing User Experience Testing as part of the Product Design process. Is it that they have not tested for these use cases? Or is it that they are aware of it but decide to let it slide as there is no simple solution for it? Irrespective of the real reason, it feels like they could probably do with being more ‘customer obsessed‘.