Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Dealing with Ambiguity

Apple and their fans tend to view their products as the top of the market, with price and attitude to match (and this is helped by their competitors trying to undercut them with unrefined but cheap ripoffs).  Yet they clearly market heavily, which suggests according to the Advertising Curve that there's room above Apple for a better product, for even more money.

Which naturally leads to the question: considering an Apple product like the iPod Touch, what would be better, and in particular, enough better that you could actually sell them?

Sunday, September 5, 2010


The topic of alternative keyboard layouts inevitably comes up from time to time on programmers' forums: is Dvorak really better than Qwerty?  Is it objectively proven?  If nobody has proven it, why would anyone switch?  Also if it's unproven, why aren't there any satisfactory studies?

It is this latter point that fascinates me.  We have studies by August Dvorak, inventor of the Dvorak keyboard layout, which purportedly show that it's faster than Qwerty.  We also have studies by Strong, commissioned by the GSA in 1956, which claim to show the opposite; supporters of the Dvorak keyboard claim that Strong was biased in favor of Qwerty, and most accept that Dvorak may have been biased in favor of his own creation.

How does one design and execute an unbiased study in a world where only the biased even care about the outcome?  If such a study were performed, would the 'losing' side accept the results?  Or would the study get ignored (or contested) for all time?  If an alternative keyboard were, in fact, proven to be better than the existing choice, how many people would actually switch?