The wannabe mobile technology emperors still has no clothes
Yet another mobile payment option showed up at my local supermarket today. The latest salvo in the battle for my swedish wallet is called BART. It has two things in common with all other mobile payment options I have seen and tried so far: The technology seems to work and it gives me no benefits above what I already get from my trusted plastic credit cards.
In fact the absence of value to me is almost comically apparent from the BART website. Here is the closest thing I could find to a sales pitch:
Bart turns your mobile phone into the perfect alternative to using your card for payment at selected shops.
So it´s a perfect alternative to using my credit card, but wait a minute. Isn’t BART connected to my credit card which means I already have to have a credit card to use it?
I’ll read on:
It works just fine.
Now we are talking. In fact they had me at “it works”. Not. I still don’t get it, but I haven´t given up yet. Maybe they´ll sway me in the final paragraph:
We’ve started on an interesting journey, and right now we’re looking forward to many exciting stages rather than the final destination. Join us. Why not from the start from the beginning, so you don’t miss any of the fun?
So I should use this now because something fun may happen in the future. Apparently they are not looking forward to the final destination, but the journey is going to be great.
I´m not above using technology for it´s own sake from time to time. However using a new way to pay for milk and cereal is not my idea of fun so I think I’ll pass on this one for now.
I´m being flippant of course and a bit unfair. Disruptive innovation and the next big leap in technology and solutions often emerges from the primordial soup of trial and error and it´s seldom clear who is going to come out the winner on the other end while the category war is raging.
It may be that one of the mobile payment solutions I´m trash-talking will take over because of shear market power and network effects and I may be forced to use these technologies whether it gives me any added benefits or not.
However if that is the game we are playing my bet is on credit card companies like VISA and MasterCard who owns the payment brands and the transaction systems, the big banks who are the keepers of the end points of the transactions, smart phone OS developers like Google, Apple or Microsoft who controls the new platforms or big vendors like Amazon who already own the customer relationships.
If your goal is to disrupt the establishment I don’t think you can win by technology alone - you have to at least solve some problem for someone better or cheaper than everybody else. Right now I don´t see anyone doing this in the mobile payment space, but I´d love to be proven wrong.
Did anybody notice that TV history was made this weekend? Netflix released the entire first season of a really good original TV-series -simultaneously to subscribers all over the world.
Directed by David Fincher and starring Kevin Spacey, House of Cards, goes directly for the throat of the established TV business model. You can watch it on any device, in any geography, at any time. You don’t have to wait a week for the next episode. You don’t have to pay extra to see it and there are no ads inserted into it. It´s as good as downloading it of the internet - but legal.
As Fresh Air´s TV critique David Bianculli put it: “If the broadcast networks especially aren’t frightened by this, they should be”.
Information Visualization Resources
About a year ago I made an effort to summarize the books, blogs, and conferences that have informed my understanding of Information Visualization. I recently went over the list again and I think it holds up for the most part so I´m republishing it here for everyone who is interested in the field.
Books to read:
- Readings in Information Visualization - Using Vision to Think by Stuart K. Card, Jock D. Mackinlay and Ben Scheiderman is a collection of important papers in the field of Information Visualization. It´s recomended to anyone who wish to understand the academic underpinnings of the field and read some of the original papers.
- Visualizing Dataand The Elements of Graphing Data by William S. Cleveland introduces some visualization methods and principles of good visualizations in the field of statistical graphics.
- Information Graphics - A Comprehensive Illustrated Referenceby Robert L. Harris is exactly what the title implies - a reference book or a bestiarium of different visualization methods.
- The Grammar of Graphics by Leland Wilkinson attempts to present a foundation for almost every quantitative graphic that has ever been produced. Like language grammar it does not say anything about the quality or purposefulness of the output, it merely describes what is possible.
- Information Visualization - Design for Interactionby Robert Spence is an introduction to information visualization with lots of examples and a special emphasis on interactive computer graphics.
- The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics - The Dos and Don’ts of presenting data, facts and figures by Dona M. Wong is a book of best practices for business graphics.
- Visual Revelations and Picturing the Uncertain Worldby Howard Wainer uses lots of examples to illustrate good and bad information visualization.
- The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Visual Explanations,Envisioning Information and Beautiful Evidenceby Edward Tufte are beautiful books about the history of information visualization with lots of examples of good and bad graphics and principles that one can use to tell them apart.
- Show Me the Numbers and Information Dashboard Design by Stephen Few are two books on best practices for presenting business data.
- Exploratory Analysis of Spatial and Temporal Databy Natalia and Gennady Andrienko is a systematic approach to techniques and methods for exploring data.
- Information Visualization - Perception for Design and Visual Thinking for Designby Colin Ware approaches the subject of information visualization from the perspective of the science of human perception.
Blogs to follow:
- Ask E.T
- EagerEyes.org - Visualization and Visual Communication
- Information Design Watch
- Information Is Beautiful
- Juice Analytics
- Junk Charts
- Life Analytics
- Making Maps: DIY Cartography
- News: Datablog | guardian.co.uk
- PTS Blog
- Simple Complexity
- Trends and Outliers
- Visual Business Intelligence
- Visualization Blog
- Visualizing Economics
- Well-formed data
- writing | ben fry
- »Me, myself and BI«
Conferences to attend:
- VisWeek is an IEEE visualization conferences showcasing visualization advances in Academia, governement and industry. The conference is held annually in the United States.
- EuroVis is a European conference on information graphics.
- SIGCHI is an ACM special interest group for computer human interaction that organizes the conference on human factors in computer systems (CHI) where interesting papers on information visualization is sometimes presented.
Any blogs, books, or conferences you would add to the list?