Archive for the 'Media' Category

Songs of the Year – Best of 07: Number 2

Mar 16 2008 Published by under Media

Whooops. Must have been the travel schedule. I wrote the previous posts on a flight between NY and Dallas. Without the benefit of the net I accidently skipped my second favourite song of 2007.

And it’s one that’s definitely worth coming back for.

In April of 07 the Arctic Monkeys – clearly my favourite band of the past few years – released their new album. While great, I became infatuated with a b-side from the album’s lead single.

Feature Dizzee Rascal the song continues to energize me with every listen. The hard driving guitar that is now a trademark of the band, the clever lyrics of Alex Turner, and Dizzee’s verse all add up to create an awesome song.

Had I not had a love affair with Jamie T and his entire album, this song would have been the best of 07 for me.

Check it out and let me know what you think – better than anything else on the new Monkey’s album?

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The Change Function

Mar 10 2008 Published by under Media,Startup Strategy

“Want the big idea? Make a product that makes everything I have easy to use”

– my dad, in response to hearing I wanted to be an entrepreneur

Eight years later the gravity of my dad’s statement is greater than ever. The impact that a product’s usability has on its ultimate market performance continues to grow.

I’ve had the pleasure of spending my entire career commercializing new technology across companies in diverse industries. The usability (or lack-thereof) has always factored significantly into the technology’s ultimate success.

If you’re not thinking about usability, deeply, and practicing user-centric design practices, actively, then, well, good luck to you!

It’s something that’s always on my mind. And so during a recent trip to Palo Alto I picked up a book on the topic, Pip Coburn’s The Change Function.

In it Coburn presents a change function to explain the adoption of new technology:

f (user crises, total perceived pane of adoption)

Where adoption occurs when user crisis > total perceived pane of adoption.

Coburn chastises a tech world for its arrogant, supplier-side approach to product development. The “build it and they will come” mentality has far too often resulted in overly complex technology being developed that ultimately fails.

Ideally, Coburn argues, companies should leverage user-centric approaches to product design. Working collaboratively with users, through quick, iterative designs, companies can transition data into information and ultimately into insight.

There are a number of interesting case studies and worthwhile questions that can help guide user-centric design. The most valuable message that the book delivers is how important ease-of-use is to a product’s success and how focusing on the user keeps the focus true.

At 200 pages the book could use some editing. It would make a good 150-page book. The message is excellent at 100 pages. However, if you don’t practice user-centric design I highly recommend this. If the message is lost on you, read it again. The lesson’s that important.

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Songs of the Year – Best of 07: Number 1

Mar 10 2008 Published by under Media

One trend that I love to track is the progression of my musical tastes. I can literally look back over the years and see the influences that created subtle changes in taste that ultimately led to new genres I love.

The genre that has consumed my rca-cord for the past three years has been brit pop. A cool post would be explaining how I got there, but that’s not the focus of this post.

The focus of this post is my # 1 song of the year for 2007. A song that is surely brit pop, yet exhibits traits and elements of a different sound. A sound that, I can already tell, will lead me to a new genre. In that sense the song is significant not only because it was my most loved (and played!) song of the year, but additionally because it marks the beginning of the end.

The beginning of the end of my love affair with brit pop. The start of the long-walk away from the genre that has given me the Arctic Monkeys, Hard-Fi, and countless other favourite groups.

I love to connect songs to single moments in time that are rich, visual, memories. This song captures many moments, capturing a period. Like the genre shifting impact the song is having on my musical tastes, the period is best described as transitory.

Late summer, early fall. A time of transition for 25-year old Fraser.

My song of 2007 is Jamie T – Operation.

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Songs of the Year – Best of 07: Number 3

Mar 01 2008 Published by under Media

I’m in a bad mood because of AT&T, the iPhone, text messaging, and the entire cellular/mobile industry. Long story, and it will only further tick me off to share it.

Anyway, this is my third favourite song of 2007: Kings of Leon – On Call.

Appropriate title considering the cause of my frustration.

The song is good. The band is even better. Everybody (and this is not an exaggeration) can benefit from more rock in their life.

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Songs of the Year – Best of 07: Number 4

Mar 01 2008 Published by under Media

One of my favourite bands is Stars, a Canadian group based in Montreal with ties to Broken Social Scene.

I played their album,  In Our Bedroom After the War, constantly during the late fall. It’s a bit more poppy than their previous release. That’s not a bad thing. Although I did miss the raw emotion that was felt in some of their earlier work.

As a groomsman’s present my best buddy Greg got me tickets to see them in Toronto. The two of us had a memorable evening and the band – originally from Toronto – put on an incredible show in front of their hometown fans.

My favourite song on the new album is The Ghost of Genova Heights. It’s fitting that the most memorable moment of a memorable evening came when Torquil drunkenly reappeared on stage during this song wearing a suit of lights.

The Ghost of Genova Heights by Stars is my fourth favourite song of 2007.

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