Some Topics for 2013

Hope you all enjoyed the holidays and closing out 2012. Continuing something I started doing last year, here are some topics I’ll be following with interest in 2013. You may notice some are repeats of last year, but that’s not to say any have dropped off my radar. I just felt like repeating them for one reason or another.

As always, find the comments to add your thoughts and to clue me in on anything you think I’m missing.

Fringe Mobile OSes

Today’s announcement of Ubuntu for Phones was a timely reminder that I’m always interested in new mobile operating systems. I’ve always enjoyed tinkering with my phone, one reason why I can’t commit to returning to iOS, and as projects like Firefox OS, Tizen, and Jolla Sailfish mature, it’s interesting to get a new look at what a smartphone OS can do.

These projects don’t have scads of existing users and are underdogs, allowing them to experiment in ways that Android and iOS cannot. These aren’t necessarily hallmarks for success, but they could produce some interesting results.

2013 looks to be a year of releases for these projects, in one form or another, and I’m keenly interested to see their takes on the mobile OS.

Sharing Everything as a Business Model

By sharing, I mean physical objects or tasks, not personal status or pictures. Companies like Uber, Airbnb, Zipcar, Getaround, TaskRabbit, Exec and numerous others are disrupting traditional supply chains and creating economies of scale that large businesses cannot match.

This hasn’t gone totally unnoticed, given that Avis has announced it will acquire Zipcar.

Bit of a weird thought, but it’s happening, thanks largely to smartphones, ubiquitous connectivity and the trend toward moderation.

Interestingly, many of these companies fill a need that Craigslist also meets, which leaves me wondering.

Security, Every Year, Forever

2012 brought more stories of hacks and more stories of how people’s entire lives can be pwned with relatively little effort through password reuse, phishing and misrepresentation.

As connected devices continue to invade our lives, creating more attack points, it’s more important than ever to take security as a personal responsibility. Use unique passwords (ahem, 1Password), keep your devices fully patched, and accept that being secure will be annoying, but is essential.

Tell your friends and family, and rest assured, I doubt anyone is posting nasty videos about you online.


I love the maker culture, and even if I never go hands-on and finally do something myself, a distinct possibility, I’ll always be impressed by what people make.

The average person’s experience with electronics is as a finished product, made in factories by robots and people with facemasks. So,there’s something wonderful about remixing and bending the world to do something more or something differently.

Or maybe it’s just me.

Aside from my child-like wonder, I like that fact that maker’s don’t care about looks. Wires and circuit boards are exposed, soldering is visible, many projects look like what they are, mad scientist experiments.

Aesthetics are undeniably important, but it’s refreshing to see function over form every so often.

Interface Evolution

Two words: Leap Motion.

I’m a skeptic by nature, but Leap Motion looks fantastic. I’m excited to see what it can do, despite the killer footnote:

The Leap Motion controller works with Leap-enabled software only. Functionality may vary depending on software.

Saw that one coming. Still, I’m always interested in the evolution of how we interact with technology. I’m looking forward to seeing more from the Google Glass project, although we all should check with Steve Mann before pre-ordering.

Data Utility

Whether it’s personal assistants like Google Now or data mashing, e.g. Sitegeist, Field Trip, I want data to work for me. Everyone does, until it gets creepy.

The Disconnection Movement

Netflix went down on Christmas Eve. As I cursed the TV and then the tablet, it occurred to me that this was an odd problem to have. Had you told me this story on Christmas Eve in 2003, 1993, 1983, I would have had a much different reaction.

After Christmas, I went searching for a recent movie, released in 2011, to watch with the family. It wasn’t available to stream, so I had to find a physical copy to rent or buy. After trying three options, I hit pay dirt on the fourth.

How very 2010, or something.

Disconnection is the new black.

Happy 2013. Find the comments.




  1. Fringe Mobile OSes: I don’t think are a major concern to users, Android and iOs and their capabilities beyond phones and tablets would be one to watch. iPhone 5 too. Love to see Android on Chromebook, etc. Wearable solutions?

    Security: For sure. How to balance security with UX for public sector for example.

    Interface evolution: Defo. Consider Pebble watch and Apple iWatch (,0,3412189.story). Leap and Google Glass been pushing all last year ( I have a feeling the wearable device is still a couple of years out, but it will start making more appearances. Spectacle wearers have always been picked on, and the aesthetics aren’t exactly Chanel, but it’s not stopping the uptake!

    Makers: You know I see a lot of innovation and agree with function over form, particularly from a UX perspective (search for AS400 on iPad apps on the Apple store). However it’s unfocussed and not aimed at solving business solutions. Perhaps that’s the clue to progress.

    I would add:

    Multi-modal solutions: Voice, NLP, avatars
    Platform as a Service: Think EngineYard, cloud development, Heroku,

  2. I’m not trend-watching or predicting, just talking about topics that interest me and why. There’s really nothing new here, and I’m not necessarily hoping to solve any business problems. Just stuff I like to read and talk about.

    Re. fringe mobile OSes, these are cherry-picking opportunities for Android and iOS. Seeing how other projects solve similar problems will add perspective.

    Re. security, it’s going to be difficult to invest in UX as the sands shift. Passwords and secure keys aren’t the answer. New innovation will be around supporting multiple personas on devices and adding layers.

    Re. interface evolution, wearable computing is interesting, but it won’t go far until there’s a mainstream device for developers. Google Glass’ pricepoint may keep it niche at the outset. The iWatch has been done by LunaTik, and I’m not sure Apple will do much beyond that. If they make smart choices w sensors, developers will jump. I’m very interested in the rebirth of the stylus as an interaction mechanism.

    Re. making, for real-world solutions, I’m looking at IoT and APIs.

    Thanks for adding your topics. Perhaps you should post them in depth?

  3. Mobile, BYOD, glass, voice, NLP, etc., already covered on my blogs. Cloud development, PaaS will be in new year. Along with some new ideas still in gestation, but here’s a couple more:

    * I am also interested in is innovation coming from the ICT4D world, naming checking M-Pesa and Dual-SIM, and how the rest of the world could adapt or adopt it to solve problems.

    * Context of use is also massive area for me, I think much generic UX advice we see on the web misses out on it. Totally inspired by 37Signals on that and Her Majesty’s Design Principles ( In fact Context is pretty much central isn’t it (e.g., NLP knowing what you’re doing, where, and responding, etc).

    thanks for asking.

  4. ICT4D, interesting, had to Google it 🙂 The idea of Dual-SIM is cool; I saw a multiple SIM hub last year, can’t recall the name. It had all the SIMs of Europe, complete w flags, pretty cool.

    Context is huge. I’d roll that into little data and personal assistants.

    We should chat about these areas to divide and conquer 🙂

  5. Mobile only is the right play for a large portion of the World, makes a ton of sense. I’d love to read about your research in Africa 🙂

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