11 Dec 2007

Winter Holiday UX News Round-Up

11 Dec 2007

On November 7th, 2007, RollingStone published an interview with William Gibson, author of Neuromancer and the man who coined the term ‘cyberspace’. In the interview, Gibson suggests that one of the “challenges” we will face is the prospect of ubiquitous computing. He prophesizes:

One of the things our grandchildren will find quaintest about us is that we distinguish the digital from the real, the virtual from the real. In the future, that will become literally impossible.

Richard Titus, now acting head of user experience at the BBC and executive producer of Who Killed the Electric Car, responded to the RollingStone interview on his blog. He wrote:

The net today is a thing we can only take brief momentary snapshots of, like photos out of a moving vehicle – in fact that’s really what widgets are are [sic] special cameras which allow us to capture some of the data running around the net into a single, momentary user experience.

Inspired by the comments of William Gibson and Richard Titus, and in the spirit of the season, of people coming together, this week’s News Round-Up takes a look at things coming together: “widgets” and innovations that break the boundary between the virtual and the real, bringing us into a state of perma-connectivity…

Need a New Phone? TryPhone beta

Forbes.com reports a new interactive service called “TryPhone.” The service allows cellular phone shoppers to try out phone interfaces online. Among featured phones available for test drive are the popular Apple iPhone and the BlackBerry Pearl. Although it could be more interactive and offer more phones, the service, created by MobileComplete, debuted in beta on Monday, December 10.

E-tools for E-Retailers

In a similar vein, if completely different industry, Internet Retailer brings us news of features e-retailers are offering in order to help customers get closer to the merchandise. New site features like Coach.com’s “Try This Bag On”, 6pm.com’s “Fit Survey”, and Gap.com’s “Quick Look” allow users to get a better idea of how the goods will look and feel on their person. Good news for holiday gift-buying?


This week, JetBlue became the first U.S. domestic carrier to offer free in-flight e-mail and instant messaging services. Through a partnership with Yahoo!, Research in Motion, and LiveTV, JetBlue’s “BetaBlue”, an Airbus A320 equipped with onboard wireless network, took its inaugural flight this Tuesday morning. Cnet News blogger Caroline McCarthy had the chance to write from this flight. Not to be outdone by the competition, American Airlines, Virgin America and Alaska Airlines are reported to have plans to offer Web access in the next several months, for a cost of around $10 a flight.

Thanks to UXnet for the reference to ubiquity. News Round-Up will return on January 8th, 2008.

Happy Holidays.


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