Why flock makes sense

I don’t generally get involved in these web2.0 brouhahas, but Flock has been on my mind recently. The most round of criticism comes after the release of Performancing a cross-platform browser plugin for Firefox that makes Flock pointless.

I was initially excited then skeptical of Flock, but it was at a talk about FireFox recently that I decided that Flock makes sense. Blake Ross and Asa Dotzler talked about how they had managed to create simple software in an open-source geek culture (not known for simple software). What struck me was that their method primarily seemed to be about having a small team that worked as gatekeepers keeping the non-essential stuff out. I am simplifying, but I have thought a fair bit about how to make usable software in an open source culture, and their method was definitely what I would term the “gatekeeper model”.

They also talked about Firefox’s current main challenge, which is to move beyond early adopters, and some early majority and go after more of the Internet Explorer crowd. Strategically, Firefox will be focused on a simple experience that is similar, but compares well to Internet Explorer. That is Firefox’s main battle especially with renewed efforts of Microsoft with IE.

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Jensen Harris at BayCHI tomorrow

Jensen Harris who writes a great blog about the new user interface for Office 12 will be at BayCHI tomorrow, talking about the new “ribbon UI” and other interface changes for Office 12. He promises to provide an indepth look at the what and why of the new interface.

There are many who have critiqued the tyranny of nested menus. In my opinion, the ribbon UI is the most promising proposal for what should replace nested menus.

Qualitative versus quantitative is obsolete – hybrid methods work best

I have long argued that the difference between qualitative and quantitative research is more about what a researcher does with the method & data rather than the method itself. One key difference is the amount of structure in gathering data. Open-ended methods such as interviews and observation are unstructured ways of gathering data. On the other extreme, surveys etc. are close-ended. Respondents can choose from a few given options.

In the middle are semi-structured methods like card-sorting, freelisting etc. which can be used for either qualitative or quantitative research.

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