March 12, 2007

You don't need to be here

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KathySierra.jpgUshering her audience out, Kathy Sierra questioned why interactive attendees would bother to show in person in the age of live blogging and streaming content. With an opening line of "you don't need to be here", admittedly a few poured out of the conference room doors. However, Sierra stated, that there are still elements that exist as the missing link between computer interaction and human expression. Responsiveness to software was compared to the likes of Asperger's syndrome, unintentionally rude and often narrowly focused.

Comparing portraits of human expressions, Sierra explained that basic human-computer interaction is not taking place. One such example is that software doesn't have "WTF" buttons for user experience. Attempting to tone her language down for the innocent of ears, she stated that FAQs and Help don't cater to the common user experience, an often lack interactive dialog.

While Sierra made an argument for creating software for the human expression in order to help close the gap between reactive human interaction and computers, a significant point seemed to be missing from her bullet points. Given that there will always be some sense of a gap between interacting with a person and interacting with a machine, why place the pressure on computers for being able to react to confused human faces as opposed to making people interact with people more effectively? Why not make the user experience with people a more enriching one? While it's a given that software should always be moving forward in user experience, customer service often is a pain point across all companies. Sierra stated that conversational language keeps a user's attention, as such, user experience should maintain an integration between people and machines in order to create a truly interactive and expressive environment.

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I listened to Kathy's talk. I thought it all made sense, but I kept wondering what the audience was like. Did they really need to hear that we need to create more empathetic experiences? Was the audience that hard core techie?

BTW, being on the marketing side of things—we have the opposite proble. Sometimes it's all emotion and less "how the frick is this gonna work"?


I was in the audience, and while I don't write software, I do believe in Kathy's message—that we need to be more human in our approach to product development. The same can be said for our marketing programs. In fact, I often feel like I'm trying to teach my clients to simply speak English to their customers.

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