What is lacking in social networking now?

January 9th, 2011

This thought started with a Quora question – what is still missing in social networks – I believe it is the category-domain knowledge based discussion groups. Forums today do this, but they are very hard to find, and its hard to compare which/where is the best place for me to make my contribution.

Twitter is too ephemeral and length restriction make it impossible to have a meaningful discussion.

Facebook is best for friends & family sharing – its not a platform for meaningful discussion about a specific topic.

Quora may have some elements of what I’m looking for, but I have a hard time seeing how it will evolve beyond Silicon Valley.

So that leaves an easier way to find and participate in category-domain knowledge based discussions where it doesn’t matter so much who you are, or who you know, but what you know.

Top 10 Places to go in Tokyo if you only have one day

May 17th, 2010

I have been asked about this enough times to just write a blog about it. If I only had one day in Tokyo, this is how I would spend it (I grew up in Tokyo). And all of this can be done via the Subway system, which is super-extensive.

1) Start the day early at the Tsukiji Fish Market – you can see one of the world’s largest live Fish Market – There are some restrictions now like when you can visit – so check that out here You can get early morning Sushi breakfast, as early as 5am here. Its the freshest sushi you can get (straight from the ocean!).
Tsukiji Fish Market

2) Ginza: Take a morning walk/stroll from Tsukiji to Ginza, the Fifth Avenue of Tokyo – its a long walk, but you can see the heart of Tokyo come to life in the morning, plus you’ll walk by a classic Kabuki Theater.

3) Asakusa: Get on the Ginza line when you’ve seen enough and goto Asakusa. Asakusa has a big shrine and lots of little stores with Chotskies. Find some classic Soba noodles to slurp or Yaki-soba at a food stand.

4) Kappabashi: Take the Ginza line back toward the town center and get off at Tawara-machi. It is not very well-known, but where you find life-size plastic moldings of all kinds of foods, like sushi and ramen. It is used by restaurants thru Japan. It makes a great gift for back home.
Kappabashi plastic food

5) Akihabara: Start your afternoon with a visit to Akihabara, he gadget/hobby/electronics heaven. You’ll find the entire neighborhood crawling with anime, latest gadgets, and weird electronics stores.

6) Harajuku: Take the Yamanote Line (above ground green train) Now assault your senses with the latest in Tokyo teen-fashion. This is where Tokyo teens dressed up goth before there was a word for it. There is a street called “Takenoko Doori” – literally Bamboo Street, that is a narrow winding street that has the highest vintage clothes store per square foot.

7) Meiji Shrine: Rest your senses with a serene visit to Tokyo’s largest shrine – Meiji was one of the great emperors of modern Japan.

8 ) Shibuya: if you can still walk, walk to Shibuya via Yoyogi Park (site of 1960 Olympics) its a good walk to the entertainment center of Tokyo. Visit Tokyu Hands, a hobby store that is now a 9 story department store with all kinds of little gadgets/tshotchkies.

9) Shinjuku: Take the Yamanote line to Shinjuku at night, and prepare to be “Lost in Translation”. Night scene (more specifically the safe red-light district) is here.

10) Roppongi: If you’re looking for English speaking bars and clubs, and for “late night” clubbing – you can’t beat Roppongi, which is where the gai-jin (foreigners) come for British pub crawl to hyper-kinetic disco dancing. It is close to the US embassy compound – which is why it became a “hip” part of town, way back in 1970s. You should easily be able to find something to do here until its morning.

It would be super-human to do this all in one-day, but if you’re not yet 30, perhaps you can.

Have a great time!

Obamacare needs more marketing

January 27th, 2010

As we witness yet another Democratic Healthcare effort going down in defeat, it seems to me Dems once again failed to MARKET the new healthcare legislation to the Joe Plumbers of middle America.
Consumer marketing 101 – people don’t want to feel stupid when comfronted with a purchase/conversion decision. And Democrat policy wonks always cast healthcare legislation in a complex, numbers oriented way that makes the average person’s eyes glaze over. We don’t want to know nor care if the total amount of health care bill is $852 Billion or $823 Billion. Or whether the coverage is 93% of Americans or 91%. The entire debate became about TOTAL COST of the bill, not about what it means to average Americans at an individual level.

What does it do for me, the average American who has some form of employer-based coverage? Most probably realize Healthcare is too expensive – premiums rising every year, actual Dr bills are outrageous – $4000/night hospital stays, or heard of relatives who went bankrupt due to medical bills. And that the whole employer based system requires one to be employed, which everyone knows now is not so guaranteed. So why hasn’t anyone tapped into this fear/uncertainty in marketing the new healtcare legislation?

And why hasn’t someone from the Dems side come up with a simple slogan like “Decent Health coverage for anyone who wants it for $100/month”. It doesn’t even have to be completely true (you can always pass additional legislation to help the poor, the illegals, abortion issue, etc.)
But a simple core idea like that can be appealing even to those with insurance, because it offers assurance that even if I lose my job, I can still afford some type of care – and this is not at all emphasized in the debate.
Like Hillarycare, Obamacare was run by too many Health Economists and Budget Directors (Peter Orzag should never have been the face of Healthcare), and not by Marketeers, who could’ve packaged & sold this more effectively.

Reasons Why We Commit Site Centric Sins instead of User Centric Design

December 5th, 2009

Some Site Centric Sins…

1) The user experience of the feature is designed with what you want the user to do for your site’s goals & objectives, not the user’s.

2) The site is designed to bring users to the site (traffic generation), not for them to actually fulfill their needs.

3) The feature is designed to make use of┬áthe site or business’s┬ácompetitive advantage WITHOUT regard to what the consumer wants and needs. This is often the case with companies with cool technology that has no user value.

I thought of why we often as product managers or designers create features that commit these sins, and I think some of the blame is on the PRD process where often it begins with “Objectives” and “Goals” that are site-centric, like increase conversion by 25%, collect 100,000 reviews, etc.

I think that we talk so much about “user-centric” design but never actually implement it, because we are often bound by these site-centric goals and objectives, much more than actually thinking about the user.

Obviously, sites are often businesses, and it is natural that there is some conflict. But the other part of this phenomenon is that pure user-centric improvements are harder to quantify – it may show up in the elusive “retention-metrics” but you often have to wait a few months to see the fruits of a lot of these metrics.

So we often commit these sins, because we improve things that can be quantified – its “metrics-driven” – but we lose a lot in this process.

So simple

October 20th, 2009


Originally uploaded by emilychang

So simple, yet so elegant. Only one color, but use of shade, form & function all come together to deliver in functionality as well as elegance. Websites should be designed this way.