Sun CEO’s haiku tweet resignation announcement

I love that Jonathan Schwartz tweeted the announcement that he was leaving Sun, including this haiku: “Financial crisis/Stalled too many customers/CEO no more”.

Two things about it:

  1. You’ve got to appreciate someone who can keep a sense of humor in what must be a pretty difficult time (though perhaps I detect a sigh of relief?)
  2. People assume that a CEO’s role is complex, but, as his succinct comment makes clear, it’s fundamentally simple. Not easy, but straightforward. Understanding what executives want is no mystery.

I’m trying to figure out what Facebook is thinking…

This New York Times article discusses how Facebook is doing more and more to come across as Twitter-like.

Which strikes me as absurd. Facebook and Twitter serve some pretty distinct needs. Any move toward “Twitter-like” will detract from Facebook’s core offerings, and is thus likely to piss off the literally hundreds of millions of people who already use it. And I’m sure there’s heaps more to do with that core offering–focusing on really blowing out that “social graph” experience must have tons of opportunity. Why distract itself with a wholly orthogonal communication model?

What does the user experience field have to say about social media?

In recent months, likely due to the rise of Twitter, potential clients of Adaptive Path have been asking more and more about social media, and how to respond to it. And while we have some definite ideas, one thing I realized is that the field of user experience has been oddly silent about how to engage in social media. If you read the blogs and mailing lists that designers frequent, they rarely address how to consider Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc., from a user experience point of view.

This surprised me, since the UX community is a remarkably active participant in social media. Since the field began to take off in 1998 or so, blogs and mailing lists have been the single best means of learning about the field and leveling up.

I fear that the user experience field has defined itself by a series of artifacts (flow diagrams, architectures, wireframes) and this has placed a conceptual boundary on the kinds of problems we successfully engage. The user experience of social media is not addressed through wireframes — unless you work for one of these social media providers, your company’s or client’s user experience of social media will be outside of your design control. It’s meaningless to draw a wireframe of a Twitter conversation.

I suspect that in order to embrace this opportunity, user experience types will have to put down Visio and Omnigraffle and find other ways to “deliver”. The most obvious next step is that we’ll need to be more comfortable writing principles and guidelines, akin to Christian Crumlish’s recent piece for the ASIST Bulletin.

But, as designers, the distinct value we can bring is in experiential tangibility, and it leads me to wonder, how, as a field, can user experience folks best engage in the social media dialogue? Because right now, it’s sadly dominated by douchebags who seem to think that social media = a sexy new form of marketing communications.

Twitter has something Google doesn’t – immediacy

This is obvious, but it’s worth pointing out, because I think it will be the crux of how Twitter defines its revenue potential. Last week, I tried to find out where I could watch Obama’s acceptance speech. had it chunked up (I’m guessing for advertisement views) and the MSNBC site had a bug such that it showed the wrong video. The Democratic Convention site required Silverlight (and wasn’t updating fast enough, anyway), and C-Span took me back to 1999 by giving me a Real Media file. Searching Google gave me nothing, so I threw it out to Twitter, and less then 10 minutes later, Brad pointed me to the BBC. Boom, done.

Google has succeeded in large part because it is the first place people turn when looking for information. Twitter, and it’s real-time Q&A community, could insert itself into that behavior stream, when people know that what they’re looking for has a time-sensitivity that Google simply cannot currently handle.

In more recent days, Twitter has become a valuable in the spread of news, whether Sarah Palin’s nomination, or tracking Gustav. Google’s blog search is nearly as immediate, but just. not. quite. Twitter really does let you dip into a global conversation as it happens, for better and for worse.