One of the best films of the Alfonso Cuaron, showing his most famous specialty in camera works

Some films have very special attraction. Before actually seeing whole film, you instantly know how you will feel about it, how you will like it.

When I saw the trailer for the first time, I began to think it’s going to be one of my best films in 2013, and once the director’s name was revealed to be Cuarón’s, I instantly had satisfaction as if I’d watched whole movie already. It was so predictable, in a good way.

Finally saw it, and the film did exactly what it promised to do. Since watching Children of Men, knowing and being fascinated by Cuarón’s specialty no matter they are artificial or not, his great works in extreme long sequences were so effectively done in the film. Taking advantage of being in space, where no up or down exists, the camera flew around so freely, becoming the main character of the film.

I believe the positions of cameras in the film are more important than the objects they are taking, and Cuarón’s Gravity gave me the best example for emphasizing such idea, and I’m very thankful for it.

While the narrative itself is great too, I think there will be more interesting story about how film making was done, and I’m sure I will spend some amount of time searching for “Making of…” videos or blogs, speculations from other professionals. Hope our techniques in film making continue to innovate themselves, and the great examples like Gravity will not stop being presented and beloved by many.

P.S. At the end of the film, I’ve notice the name of the actor, who did “Mission Control voice.” Knowing his past involvements in some famous films, I couldn’t help but smirk. I wonder if the producers did know there will be reactions like mine when casting him.

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iOS Tech Talk 2011 in Seoul

[This blog does not contain any technical information. Also, I am an Apple fan, probably my blog will be purely subjective.]

iOS Tech Talk World Tour

Today, December 8, was very special day for me.

It was my birthday, which was meaningful to me and my parents.

Also, it was the event day for iOS Tech Talk in Seoul, which was meaningful to every iOS developer in S. Korea.

One of the greatest things I didn’t expect from this event was to be able to meet the same instructors who were at the WWDC. In other words, this Tech Talk event can be considered as the extension of WWDC, not the another kind.

To some people, including myself, these instructors are the Rock Stars. They were touring around the world to excite their fans. Some people took pictures with their stars. I didn’t do it because I thought it could be perceived as objectifying them, which could be impolite. However, I just hope I don’t regret not taking pictures with them, later.

Aside their professional authority in the field of software development, the instructors were extremely friendly. They were so generous enough to pay good attention to people they never met before, who kept asking annoying questions. Probably, it’s their job requirement as the  Apple Evangelists. However, it’s impossible to ignore but respect their effort.

This one day event did impress me a lot, strengthening my positive perception about Apple and its people. They do know how to make their fans happy.

Allow me to reuse the tweet I shared: With these enthusiastic, friendly and yet extremely professional masters, the future of Apple will stay to be bright, I think. Even if Steve is no longer with them, with us.

I definitely want to attend WWDC 2012. Not only because I am eager to learn new technologies, but also I want to continue the joyful conversation I was having with the masters. Now it’s clear to me that, everything about Apple has become very personal to me.

BOOK: Designing for the Social Web by Joshua Porter 06

I have been posting selected excerpts from the book “Designing for a Social Web” by Joshua Porter. Translating back from the Korean version of the book, I just want to tell the readers that the serial posts of the excerpts is not authorized by the owner of book. I just wanted to share the excerpts so useful to my own projects, and thought the imperfect translation from Korean version back to English may be acceptable.

Following excerpts are not as structured as a serious composition should be, merely combining the selected sentences I took from the book and translated back to English.

<< Previous Chapter 5: Keeping the users constantly satisfied

Selected excerpts from Chapter 6: Building collective intelligence

Sometimes, an individual must be sacrificed to provide better service to the mass.

Complex System is the mutually linked one, cannot prove its features or functionality when it’s disintegrated.
But when it’s integrated as one system, it shows more than one actual or potential features or functionality.

Adaptability is the capability to change flexibly throughout time.

It’s important for the designers and the developers to flexibly change the target users for keeping the system as healthy as possible.

The purpose of this kind of social system is to concentrate individual activities and bring out or create the most qualified and largest number of contents. The result of this process is called the collective intelligence.
The designer or developer can draw insightful ideas and information from this collective intelligence generated by many people.
In other words, the larger number of people can make the more qualified and accurate decisions, than the smaller number of people.

For this to be possible, activities of the users must be recorded and the innate or implicit patterns must be brought out using these steps:

  1. The initial behavior like submitting a new content. The fate of it is determined by the system rules and the other users.
  2. Exposure. The algorithm or the rules of the system based on the subject or suitability to the system. The exposure changes to display the good ones among different contents.
  3. Feedback. The users of the system can change the exposure of the content by affecting the algorithm through positive or negative interaction like commenting to the content.

When your content is exposed with other similar contents, it would require only little effort to promote it.

Too much content of different quality causes confusion to the users. The system must be able to control the submission to encourage quality content exposures over others.
Entry barrier is the mean to gain superiority in the market, likewise adopting or abolishing the entry barrier in the web service is critically considered for keeping the service as healthy as possible.
These are three types of barriers:

  1. Unofficial barrier: The special design or advertisement only work implicitly on special group of people.
  2. Official barrier: Requiring signing up for an account, installing an application.
  3. Extreme barrier: Invitation only, not open to the public.

Digg uses these kinds of barriers to ensure the quality of content submitted.
It is important to evaluate the suitability and the originality of the content.

Normally, people consider the well exposed content to be valuable.

  • Exposure in the main first area
  • Frequency of exposure affects the value
  • Head position in the first page
  • Higher rank compared with other contents

The purpose of most content is to draw a lot of visitor traffic, to the point of server error!

The ranking depicts the relevancy of contents to the users. Each user applies different combination for viewing conditions to the list of contents.

  • Chronological order
  • Popularity gained during certain range of time
  • Level of participation
  • Collaborative filtering
  • Relevancy
  • Identity of the content provider
  • Providing different perspective to look at one’s own content

The ranking is important to promote better user experience. It allows the user to recognize the value of content by comparing it with others.
The value of news service is freshness, of search engine is relevancy, and of social network is relationship.

Interface of the service is the world where users dwell and play. What’s displayed through interface determines the user experience. People often rely on the decisions made by others to make their own. Unless, the interface of the service purposely not showing information about what others think of the content, people’s evaluation on the content is heavily affected by how positively of negatively the content is examined beforehand by others. Social interface changes user’s decision.

The implicit and explicit feedback to the content are combined together to construct the overall reputation of the content.
The implicit feedback is generated from the user activities like visiting the page, bookmarking, clicking the download icon, and purchasing.
The explicit feedback is like reviewing, commenting, expressing the user preference.
It is very important to make the mechanism for feedback to be so easy to use, like Digg button on a page.

Leverage point is the small thing of the service which can affect the large part of it. Opening this leverage point to the users to participate in building the quality of the web service is necessary for actively growing the social network service.

Next Chapter 7: Encouraging to share >>

BOOK: Designing for the Social Web by Joshua Porter 05

Korean version of Designing for a Social Web
Korean version of Designing for a Social Web

I have been posting selected excerpts from the book “Designing for a Social Web” by Joshua Porter. Translating back from the Korean version of the book, I just want to tell the readers that the serial posts of the excerpts is not authorized by the owner of book. I just wanted to share the excerpts so useful to my own projects, and thought the imperfect translation from Korean version back to English may be acceptable.

Following excerpts are not as structured as a serious composition should be, merely combining the selected sentences I took from the book and translated back to English.

<< Previous Chapter 4: Bringing people to sign up

Selected excerpts from Chapter 5: Keeping the users constantly satisfied

The real difficulty in running the web service is to find the way to bring people to use it constantly. The first impression which led to have loving relationship quickly fades. The answer is in motivating the users.
Keep paying attention to the users, and it will be rewarded with more ads and sponsors. Remember that these are the effect of the successfully running the service, not the necessities.

  1. Understand why people wanted to sign up and use the service
  2. Build the right interface which can motivate the users to keep using the service

Why people sign up?

Most people use the web service for simple reason. For example, the users of Amazon give and get helps from one another through reviews (reciprocity). They simply wanted to return the favors. They believe that sharing their experiences can help the other to make sound judgment.
Designing a social web service is not about economical problem, but about social capital problem. This is the list of things related to the social capital to be used in building the right interface:

  • identity
  • uniqueness
  • reciprocity
  • reputation
  • sense of efficiency
  • control
  • ownership
  • attachment to a group
  • fun

Manage identities

We have rights to present our identities freely in online environment. Online anonymity is also about managing identities. If the power and the importance of identities is neglected or denied, these problems may occur:

  • Spamming meaningless messages to the mass
  • Abusing the service, or using the service not as what the developers intended it to used
  • Inappropriate use of commenting
  • Pretending to be someone else, deceiving others

Usually, lack of clear identities cause and condone bad behaviors. There will be no way to describe one’s action and to ask for responsibilities or reward the right behaviors if the identities are not known.
Depending on how the service manages the identity, the minimum requirement like using a nickname will be sufficient enough to prevent some abuses.
Profile page is closely related the concept and the value of the web service. Each different web service displays the user profile differently.
The content must dynamically updated and displayed to the users. These are the updating mechanisms:

  • Lifestreaming. Showing the latest activities from every source.
  • Commenting Wall
  • Notification

Be aware of the problem of social network being deteriorated caused by lack of interesting activities beyond signing up and updating profiles.

Emphasize individual uniqueness

The web service should know: What’s it that only this person can do and no one else? What makes each user unique to one another?
For example, Netflix recommends movies based on the reviews the user has been made. The good service recognizes and responds to the uniqueness of the user. There are many ways to respect and encourage the users to express his or her uniqueness:

  • Display special copies about certain activities which require participation
  • Emphasize that the user can make positive contribution
  • Bring out the benefit of his or her unique contribution
  • Keep reminding him or her how unique he or she is
  • Develop the unique contribution into the meaningful perspective or element used in the service
  • Display the page which shows the differences between the contribution of the user to that of others

Maximize reciprocity

Reciprocity is about exchanging what the users gained from one another. People do have tendency to make contribution as a response to the favors they received from the other users met while using the web service. Being able to give is another form of having respectful authority.

Empower reputation

Reputation is built around the opinions of others so have strong objectiveness. The good web service has the clear system of managing and measuring one’s reputation. These are the example criteria:

  • The number for friends or fans
  • The number of posts
  • The ranks of these posts
  • The number of comments and their qualities
  • The number of posts recommended by others
  • The number of first submissions
  • The length of being an active user

The reputation plays the important role in collaboration, and the result of collaboration affects the reputation. The three conditions for collaboration to occur according to Robert Axelrod in “The Evolution of Cooperation” are:

  1. Possibility to meet again in the future. Staying as the users in the same service increases the possibility.
  2. Ability to know about one another. Knowing the reputation alone is strong enough to decide whether to collaborate of not.
  3. History of past activities of the users. The best way to judging the reputation is examining the user from the past records.

Promote usefulness

Usefulness can be defined as what benefits the users can obtain from the values of themselves using the web service. Rewarding properly to what the users contributed is how the web service becomes useful to the users.

Allow the power to control

The users often demand the power to control their own contents, whether it’s actually practiced or not. It’s important to the users to have the secure means to control the web service even if they will never use it.

Give ownerships

Let the users feel that this web service is specifically built for them, using the contents of them, and managed by them. Assure the users that it’s meaningful to use the web service. These are the effects of giving ownerships to the users:

  • Adorn the contents to be more than what they seem to be
  • When the contents are published, the owner takes more responsibilities, by taking care of them to have more values
  • Some responsibilities to manage the contents are delegated to the owners, easing the burden of the web service
  • The perception about the web site becomes more friendly

However, don’t let this ownership invade the ownerships or the user experiences of the others.

Provide model behaviors

For promoting the right ways to use the web service, the model behaviors of certain group of users can be used.

Develop attachment to the web service

The love for interacting as a group is one of main reasons why people use Internet. Most of the famous websites are for supporting group activities. Community is the very essence of social web service. People becomes the users of the service not only because it’s useful, but also it’s fun.
According to Kathy Sierra, if the web service can help the users to know more about their worlds, and to believe that the web service is exactly what they needed, they can see about themselves under the brighter lights. In other words, they will find themselves to become better than before, strongly motivated.
To receive passion from the users, the designer and developer must give passion to them first.

Next Chapter 6: Building collective intelligence >>

BOOK: Designing for the Social Web by Joshua Porter 04

Following excerpts are not as structured as a serious composition should be, merely combining the selected sentences I took from the book and translated back to English.

<< Previous Chapter 3: Sincere Conversation

Selected excerpts from Chapter 4: Bringing people to sign up

The users who consider the web service to be useful, they will show appreciation toward the developer who invested so much time and energy.

Usually it takes only 8 seconds for a new user to make a decision to sign up.

Even for the already signed up users, the continued process to keep them interested and persuaded is crucial.

The issues about persuading people to sign up:

  • First impression doesn’t change easily. Decision to become a loyal user is done when he or she saw the web service for the first time.
  • So many questions without opinions. Answering to their questions is the opportunity to talk about the web service.
  • A watchful latent user is becoming an active user at this point
  • The critical decision is made. To the general users, decision to use your service is not as important as success of the service.

The categories of users:

  • The users who are ready to use the service. They know the value of the service and willing to accept some difficulties in using the service.
  • Interested, but not assured users. They need to have an opportunity to find about the value of the service.
  • The fact-finders. They want to examine the service objectively based on the opinions of others. Provide them with the good instructions for using the service.
  • Skeptical users. Show the proof that many users are satisfied using the service.

The well designed sign-up page can make a visitor to be an user of the service.

Must for well designed sign-up page:

  • Give clear description of the features of the service
  • Convince the users that this is an useful service
  • Provide answers to the obvious questions
  • Challenge the unreasonable criticism or provide the facts of the service
  • Let the users to try the service to finish a task
  • Let the users to contact the other users of the service
  • Give an idea what kind of relationship the users and the service provider can establish

The essential questions:

  • Who will use the service?
  • What will the service do?
  • Where will the service be used?
  • When will the service be used?
  • Why the service is important?
  • How to use the service?

Using the pictures or the icons, explain what the service does concisely.

Complicated interface means complicated service.

Show people how to use the service.

The technical people are interested in the efficiency of the service.

Adopting the social influence idea, people care about who uses the service. It’s hard for the general public to resist the general trend.

People find it easier to sign up when their friends are already using the service.

Show the recommendations from the respectful personnel, and even from the competitor.

Specify the target users. The specifically defined service is effective.

Provide the user stories about how the service is successfully being used.

If the number of the users or usages is significant, show it to be visible to bring more attention.

Utilize the authoritative figures, their presence in the service.

Let the visitors try or use the service for free without any limitation.

Reciprocity is powerful. Give something for free to make the receiver to react in some way to return the favor to get out of the sense of being indebted.

Unless it’s necessary, build the service without needing to create an account.

Ask only for the necessary information from the user.

Next Chapter 5: Keeping the users constantly satisfied >>

BOOK: Designing for the Social Web by Joshua Porter 03

Following excerpts are not as structured as a serious composition should be, merely combining the selected sentences I took from the book and translated back to English.

<< Previous Chapter 2: Framework for Social Web Development

In this post, there are a few sentences came up by myself while translating.

Highlighted excerpts from Chapter 3: Sincere Conversation

The company must communicate with the customers directly.

Web service developers are easily get estranged when they are not good enough:

  • Because they don’t face the customers; or the users face to face.
  • The dissatisfaction is very hard to notice.
  • The support for the service is also the product, or at least a major part of the service.

The long term benefit of active and sincere conversation is far surpassing the temporal pain of negative statement.

The sincere conversation will lead the users to have interest in your service.

How to become the better service:

  1. Listen to the public opinions.
  2. Conversation will allow you to have more information without spending much on research.
  3. Those who give positive feedback are the enthusiastic users, worthy enough to record the conversations with them.
  4. These enthusiastic users are not only good users but also potentially good partner in application development. For this to be possible, open the sources

There must be more than selling. Servitude must become the priority of one’s service.

Aiming for the buzz marketing, the service must  take good care of the users more than necessary.

Ten steps for building trust:

  1. Don’t wait for the conversation to be started.
  2. Spread the story of  your company. People with the same idea will be gathered together.
  3. Clarify what kind of relationship you want to establish with the users.
  4. Prove that you are listening to the users very seriously.
  5. Let the user to learn about the service on their own pace.
  6. Expose the communication channel clearly to the users and respond to the messages as soon as possible.
  7. Give the users multiple options.
  8. Delegate the right and the responsibility for communicating with the users to most people in the project.
  9. Expect the changes and prepare for them. Take good care of the enthusiastic users.
  10. Hire the community manager. It’s preferable to hire the currently active member of the user community.

Experiencing the website itself is the purpose of providing service.

Building community doesn’t necessarily mean adding more functions.

The big name web services are started from satisfying needs of small communities.

If possible, try to develop it by and for oneself. This way one can know the aspect of being a user.

Most people are passionate about what they made by themselves.

Let the users contribute to the service. They are the best supporters.

Release the updated version as frequent as possible. Keep letting your service to be known. And fail as much and quick as possible, so one can know and minimize investing on what’s not working.

More failure means more experiments, finding the right solutions from the wrong solutions.

Fast cycle of development will gather more data which will support the argument against forceful pestering.

Entertain the users by presenting the whole process of development to them.

Respond positively to the negative opinions.

Someone will come to help when you sincerely admit your failure.

It’s impossible to avoid bad evaluation. Use it for your beneficial development.

Next Chapter 4: Bringing people to sign up >>

BOOK: Designing for the Social Web by Joshua Porter 02

Following excerpts are not as structured as a serious composition should be, merely combining the selected sentences I took from the book and translated back to English.

<< Previous Chapter 1: Emergence of Social Web Era

Highlighted excerpts from Chapter 2: Framework for Social Web Development

The biggest disaster in project development is feature creep.

Not knowing what is really important, adding unnecessary feature instead of focusing on the essential one.

And this will cause competition among the features within.

The elements which the service developer cannot control:

  • The competition among the interest groups: taking each element to the different direction will diminish the effort to go to the common goal.
  • Political dispute, opinions or arguments that don’t concur: clash of different characteristic of the team members?
  • Lack of understanding about the users: clearly understood the need of users?
  • Ambiguous strategy: is strategy responsibility of only the strategy department? adopting outside strategy will change the way how the team works?
  • Absence of vision or goal: what’s the definitive measure of success?

Find the value of features and set the priorities:

  • For which task should our team invest time and energy?
  • What features must be added or deleted?
  • Are these feature work with or for the whole strategy?
  • How can avoid political dispute or argument about opinions and focus on the questions about the strategy itself?

AOF method(Activities, Object, Features):

  1. Focus on the most important activities: Always think about how to answer what the users do?
  2. Find the social objects: What social object will motivate the users to be active?
  3. Develop the essential features: What people do with social objects? How can the web service support the activities with the social objects?

The most important question: What does people do with the service?

People take interest on the service which does one thing so good.

Purpose if the final state the users try their best to get. Activity is the collection of methods to achieve that purpose.

If the activity were clear and specific, there wouldn’t be any need for a service to organizing it.

Profit or property are the auxiliary result out of the activity.

Research:

  • Interview: Focus on what they do, ignoring what opinions they have.
  • Usability test: Observe the users to know what activities they do, if they are satisfied or not with the activities.
  • On-site observation: Becoming the users themselves. Contextual research is getting information by actually observing the process.
  • Self-observation: For it’s almost impossible to be objective about oneself, it’s better to do it as a pair.
  • Listening to the reviews, using feedback forum

Don’t be afraid to change the ideas of own.

Identify the social object; the social medium or the social interactivity that connects the users. The object, the topic or the idea that is shared by the users.

What people want to do to achieve these purposes? Answering to this question will identify the essential features that must be developed.

Adding more features will cause conflict. Introduce the new feature to the users, actually operate it, and modify it make it more usable and useful.

Develop the most unique feature as possible, not imitating the others.

Next Chapter 3: Sincere Conversation >>