Archive for August, 2008

Why is the web flat?

Posted in 1, IT and communication with tags , , , , on August 27, 2008 by Geir Stene

I’ve been wondering for more than ten years now; why does web sites on internet seems so “flat”? It’s like transferring paper to the screen.

Updated comments below article

When I ask this question to designers, they often get very defensive. Its like we all believe that a web shall have a global menu, sub menus, a logo on top, a lot of informative text and if creative some great images to follow. Isn’t that recipy like a soup in a bag? Just add water…. But do not misinterpret me, there is a lot going on and internet and the web is still only in the early phase of evolving into what we will see in the future. There are a lot of interesting blogs out there discussing and talking (writing?) about this kind of topics, one interesting is this one: 360

Inventions, phenomena’s and ideas tend to keep a pattern we have to accept; they all tend to be loyal to the origin they came from. “The world is flat” we all know this postulate, and it took centuries to evolve from this idea to the one we have now (what ever that is these days..), even after the fact was stated people continued wanting to believe that the world is flat for decades. Web sites (pages!) has a lot of it’s idea created around the idea of print. I always found this interesting, since the computer screen is digital, and factually resembles the TV set more.

Even designers used to defend the fact that designing web pages frequently seems like a “forced electronic paper version” instead of a medium of visual communication with  another fact:  “3D is to expensive in most cases” or “live images can’t get quality due to lack of broadband capacity” This statements are now less true than before, and designers are working hard to evolve the web.

The idea of (and knowledge to) create a perspective in an image was developed during the Renaissance , you don’t need 3D technology to draw diagonal lines to a center point! You need knowledge, and you need a basis for your idea world. Lot’s of interesting things are happening, but far to much of it seems to me to be “experimental”…. And I don’t get it. Experimental?? what is so experimental by implementing what art, cinema and, radio/TV has done for years? What’s so experimental by doing what PR and commercials have been for years? There is less experimenting on the web, than in most new media the last centuries!

Since the “history” of the web is, in my opinion, based upon an “electronic paper”, and the idea has been to provide knowledge and information spread, it’s hard to get out of the thinking patterns that we have to use a lot of text, mainly a form of one way communication, we will still have that as a major direction of how a web page will look, and function. Even web 2.0, social media, interactive solutions keep producing “flat web sites” If one wants’ to get out of this, one will need to take the bull by its horns, and questioning the basic of the idea of what a web site really is, for whom and to do what.

  • It came to my mind that Itera group uses the term “the world is flat” from the book: “The World Is Flat – The Globalized World in the Twenty-First Century, by Thomas L. Friedman
    There are two major points in my opinion on this use of term. First, using such terminology; To me it sounds typical American (excuse me my US friends) to simplify a phenomena by the wording that much so that the complexity disappear, it’s in fact a dangerous rhetoric trick of (amongst others)politicians to do so, and thereby avoid that the public focus is at more troublesome sides of the case.
    Thomas L Friedman’s book, tries to speak of a “flatter” (read less hierarchic world) but argue in fact of new business models, new technologies and how to achieve this – but, in my opinion naively overlook that it’s not very likely that e.g. poor / common people in the world (so called third world) are the one to enable this. Maybe the commercial corporation Itera group didn’t overlook this and see possibilities for profit in this term ?
    I would rather have a far more Holistic world, than a “flatter” one.

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Police dep. wake up!

Posted in 1 with tags , , on August 22, 2008 by Geir Stene

It maybe sound unbelievable, but NTB in Norway report that the police data systems are outdated and should have been replaced years ago, in order to be up to date.

Security threats and network stability is at risk. The Norwegian Police data Dep. even state that ordinary police work is at risk at all times due to the old data systems.

The saddest part is that this is not only a fact for the police dep. but for a lot of official authorities. Health dep. social dep. and so forth are frequently reported to have outdated technical systems, or/and outdated solutions when it comes to take advantage of information and communication systems as a whole. (IKT)

There is an old saying that you can “save yourself into poverty”. This is very much true for the news article mentioned above. Police work suffer, cost per hour rise, results comes slower or doesn’t come at all. The result is an inefective police core, which gets de-motivated as their competence is not put in effective use.

Everyone in the Public sector should examine their systems and organizational procedure and invest and reorganize in order to become more effective, and work smarter. It’s not only the equipment and technical investments that solve problems and give smarter solutions. It’s very much an human challenge to use IKT systems effectively.

When it comes to the systems of the police force in Norway, there is only one thing to say to those who provide the budgets; Stop it!

Analyze your needs, and get what you need to enable you to do your job! Look at cost/benefit and look after that the investments, increases effectivity, provides increased motivation for the police so they can make full use of their competence in their daily work. The goal should be that the police force doesn’t save money on their budget; but that crime rate drops!

Open standards and collaboration

Posted in 1 with tags , , , , on August 20, 2008 by Geir Stene

Well, why not apply the “KISS” (Keep It Simple Stupid) model? Microsoft says they are focusing on open standards and pinpoint the great benefits of collaboration and interoperationality. In Digi.no there is an interessting article today.

That’s great news, even though I doubt Microsoft has what it takes to give the market just that. But one never knows. Microsoft has to change, they know it, what remains to see if they are just talking the talk, or walking the walk.

Collaboration is a huge area of business models, concepts, technologies and organizational implementing systems. Intermobility is as well. The offers on the market is large, and not very easy to  have a clear view of. Why not simplify the task at hand, and use the web as the front end? Not Microsoft, not SAP, not Polycom or Tandberg, but simply the web. The web is an open standard; the web is simple and familiar for all users. The web is accessible from where ever. The broadband capacity is increasing as we speak mobile networks as well. So why not? The answer is in the business models created a long time ago. This goes for Microsoft, Tandberg, Telenor and the lot. They are all reluctant to change, that’s one of the main reasons the KISS model aren’t implemented already. They are afraid to loose market shares, and want to lock their customers into their own proprietary hardware/ software. This is old fashioned, and can in the most simple way be described as a mild form of bondage, and who want to be that submissive in business?

But there is hope! There are alternatives for web based solutions that are open for all ( this includes software from e.g. Microsoft, like Sharpeoint) where one can integrate web meeting solutions (like meetcon in scandinavia/ Wiredred in Europe and the US), project management solutions and so forth into a complete, simple web based interface tailor-made for your organization and business. It can easily be scaled for small businesses, and for large cooperatives. Safety is not a topic, it can all be managed. 

For a while yet, the large companies, like the ones mentioned above will keep argue that it’s not true that the web can solve the collaboration and intermobility challenge. At the same time the very same corps. are the already working very hard to try to change, before google snap the market shares in front of their eyes.

PS: Latest news: Speculations on Tandberg being in a a possible buy up situation Read more here (in Norwegian)

Scared of recession?

Posted in 1 with tags , , on August 20, 2008 by Geir Stene

World economics are falling into recession. There is no need to discuss if this is what is happening. Everything is “falling”: The stock exchange, The Dollar, Banking, Real estate, and so forth. The cost of a oil barrel isn’t though..

What does this tell us in the digital communication business? Normally that revenue will drop. Both private enterprise and the public sector tends to stop investments and sit put, till someone shout out; the danger is over – go spend money again! Is this a wise strategy?

What is important when economics slows down? In my opinion it’s important to look at new opportunities, to look at means to become more efficient, to get more value out of the same or less input; in short to be clever. Good times seem to, at all times, favor laziness! “Harder times” seems to split organizations and businesses into two major groups. The scared ones –  and the creative ones. The digital business and internet companies has a lot to offer to the market in this situation. Producing new business models that are cost saving, increase efficiency , build stabile and secure solutions that avoid high cost rescue actions, and provide the public with internet services that are easy to use, that gives them correct information and empower people to take the best actions in the society and in their personal lives. 

It’s kind of obvious, in times of recession all things tend to get cheaper. That’s when it’s clever to buy stuff, to invest – simply because one get more value for the  money! That’s when people tends to get more creative, in order to find solutions they can afford, this gives the market effect that providers of goods and services have to adapt and have to become attractive by getting better, more creative and keep being competitive.

There is no need for a genius mind to figure this out, still, why do so many get scared and run down in their caves and hide, hoping for everything to vanish, to not be this way anymore? And why is the media so in love with crisis? Just look at the media, in Norway; Dagens næringsliv, Dagbladet, VG, and Aftenposten, and also in the internet media like Digi.no, to name some examples. They are all shouting out headlines like bankrupcy, crisis, regression, in any business segment you can imagine. Worldwide media is no better. There is nothing that sell better than fear! Media knows this and do their best to make use of it.

The interesting part to watch in the coming months and year will not be the ones that sit put and wait; it will be the one that start acting now. That’s the winners of tomorrow. For private enterprises, my hope is that environmental solutions for energy, transport, fair trade, ecological production of food, seafood and so forth is the ones investors now will put their eyes on and give finanical support  to grow and be even more inventive and strong in the marketplace for the best of us all, including the return of investments and branding value for the investors. I hope for the best for us all that we will have a lot of clever, creative, innovative leaders especially in the public sector, because that will give the effect that the living standard will not suffer for the poorest, instead we will have the opportunity to make far better solutions and services for the general public that will save a lot on budgets to spend on the ones in our societies that doesn’t have the economic strength to live thru the “harder times” ahead.

Hacker’s in power

Posted in 1 with tags , , , , on August 18, 2008 by Geir Stene

Didn’t most of us, at one point, naively believe that a hacker is some dodgy pale guy, living of coca cola and pizza, playing around on his computer24/7, testing just how “clever” he could be, and that’s it, a pain in the ass for those that became his victim?

Why is it so that none of us like the idea that our governments and military around the world use every method available and useful also on the internet and also have skilled hackers on their payroll?
Cryptology, God damn, is invented by power structures like the church, the Greeks, the Roman Empire, the Persians, the Chinese in ancient times used systems of hiding and protecting information, and to mislead enemies and the population with disinformation when suited. Why should this change?

The internet is an excellent place for any authority to spread information in a manner that fits them best, it’s also a perfect environment to collect as much knowledge of opponents as possible. The amount of information, the scale of shared information and communication and the speed it’s delivered by is obviously interesting and time saving for any structure that have motifs for altering a fact, or deny some from getting a fact brought into public. Georgia just experienced this, and I’m just amazed that people react with surprise and “shock”.
Of course nations do this; they use any legal (and sometimes illegal) mean to get hold of information and knowledge. This is also true for information that is not meant to be shared. But it’s incredibility naive to believe that their own systems are not as vulnerable as others! It’s not only Georgia’s governmental web that is easy to lock down, most countries in the west have far too many weaknesses, and some are even without any crisis strategy in case of an attack. Why is it so hard to believe that a hostile party could do such a thing (or worse), if they have a strong motif for it?

It is indeed a fascinating paradox that Governments have knowledge to make use of gathering information, or being active in preventing or misleading others actively, but they seem to neglect that this fact goes for other Governments as well and they easily can become a victim of far worse scenarios that the Georgian example.

What are the damages, you might ask, if our country’s official web pages where shut down, it will only take a few hours or a day to get online again. Well, what if they didn’t put the pages down? What if they slightly change some of the information instead? What if they directed the public interaction to their own servers instead? There are so many ways of developing the simple attack “someone” did with the governmental site of Georgia, which could become very dangerous for individuals, groups of people in a society, or the whole nation. And even this simple action of “someone” proves that Georgia showed them very vulnerable and weak. What did that do to the Georgian public’s opinion of their leaders? I think the “someone” knew exactly what they could gain of this action and used the simplest means to achieve it.