A web without windows

moz_design_challenge_logoCan’t help but love the shot at Microsoft in the latest Mozilla Labs Design Challenge post. Nice.

No windows, no unnecessary trappings.

I’m sure that this was not intentionally aimed at Microsoft’s IE8 RC1 announcement. But it made me laugh. It’s hard to imagine the world without the trappings of the personal computer. This is one of the unique challenges presented by August de los Reyes about Predicting the Past. I’ve been thinking more about personal health data, and thinking about how to build solutions aimed at informing and altering behaviour. Not on the scale of transformation that the Office Labs and MSR teams did with Future of personal health concept.  The video storyboards used in the Aurora Concept and the MSR Future of Healthcare videos are a great medium for students to express the complexity of the environment and the changes they see in predicting the future.

The question posed by the Mozilla Labs team is about extending the interpretation of the web. What does a user experience look like if the web is ubiquitous?

The Design Challenge is a series of events to encourage innovation, and experimentation in user interface design for the Web. Our aim is to provoke thought, facilitate discussion, and inspire future design directions for Firefox, the Mozilla project, and the Web as a whole.

It’s an interesting outreach to inspire and engage members of the Web community. It builds on the work that Mozilla did with Adaptive Path on the Aurora Concept exploring the future directions and ideas for Mozilla as a browser. The Design Challenge Spring 2009 asks 20 students to answer the following questions:

“What would a browser look like if the Web was all there was? No windows, no unnecessary trappings. Just the Web.”

It’s an interesting question and it provokes a series of other questions:

  • What does the Web really mean?
  • What does the Web mean in the context of a device? Does the device have local storage? local computation?
  • What assumptions as designers are we making about bandwidth? latency? interaction? behaviour?

The question of what is the Web and how individuals and groups interact, communicate and collaborate is really interesting. I hope that design students will document their assumptions about the hardware, software, networking infrastructure, carriers and to make their visions real.

As the Web becomes even more ubiquitous, we’ll never have to leave it. Whether it’s on touch tables, giant wall-sized screens, mobile devices, or just our computers, exploring the interactions for browsing a windowless Web will become ever-more important in the next couple of years.

Great opportunity for 20 design students to design a vision for the future. Plus they’ll get to work with Beltzner, Madhava, Aza, Alex and the rest of the team at Mozilla. 

2009 Canadian TMT Predictions


Deloitte has made their Technology Media and Telecom Predictions for 2009. The session was streamed on UStream.tv. The photostream is up on Flickr. You can find feedback on Twitter. The predictions aren’t really all that insightful, they don’t prescribe any solution or advice for companies whether they be large, medium or small. It’s a very good job summarizing the weak signals and trends from 2008 moving into 2009.

The most interesting commentary (other than Simon Avery inappropriately calling for the demise of the National Post before 2010) was during recessions that larger companies look strongly at ROI (Return on Investment) and that because of zero-based budgeting that companies are looking at spending $0 on innovation and research. Given the history of big companies failing on their investment on innovation, there is a huge need to change innovation by building a culture of execution, aka, getting shit done. And for startups where the investment in the right thing is even more important.  

  1. Make every electron count: the rise of the SmartGrid – Transforming our electrical network to be as smart as our telecommunications network.
  2. Disrupting the PC: the rise of the netbook – They’re cheap, they’re small, they’re cute…did we mention they’re cheap.
  3. Downsizing the digital attic: when infinite storage is a bad thing – Don’t hit that save key…when cheap storage ain’t so cheap
  4. Social networks in the enterprise: Facebook for the Fortune – Enterprise 2.0 is affordable and no training wheels are required
  5. Putting print out of peril may require stopping the pressess – 4 sale: 1 major city nwspaper – $20 obo (or best offer)
  6. Rising stars take on the megastars: Indie is the new mainstream – Be like Feist: 1, 2, 3, 4…smaller acts pack the floor
  7. The dawn of WIFI radio: 10,000 radio stations in your pocket – It lets you listen while you travel, but knows where you are.
  8. Mobile advertising finds its meaning: cell phone ads are the new billboards – Monetizing the screen you look at 50 times a day.
  9. Smart phones: how to say clever in a downturn – It’s not dumb to pay a premium for a smart phone.
  10. Digital communication loses its message: no email Fridays – When a productivity tool starts impairing productivity.
  11. The mobile broadband accident in slow motion: traffic jams on cellular networks – Netbooks and smartphone are chewing up bandwidth.
  12. One for all and all for one: no more redundant fibre optic network – Sharing the cost of fibre means more speed sooner.
  13. The browser becomes the operating system: changing of the guard? – Better living through better browsers.

The reports are available for perusal: