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Category: Ben Boudreau

Podcamp Halifax: Does design even matter anymore?


Jeff White is an experienced and innovative web designer and professor based out of Halifax, Nova Scotia. With a passion for social media and an eye for aesthetics, his perspective is one focused on integration, usability and – of course – super cool internet toys.

You can find Jeff blogging, tweeting and presenting at Podcamp Halifax but I managed to catch up with him for a quick chat before his session!

1) How are we seeing design's impact on the internet change as social media grows?

I'm planning to circuitously discuss this on Sunday. I think design has an even bigger role to play in the social web. As tools for interacting with people get more and more complex, we need good quality design and usability experts to make the process simpler, more straightforward and enjoyable. Look at the difference between MySpace and Facebook. Sure, MySpace allows for more personal expression, but you can't even read the damn thing! At least Facebook sets standards for everything that make it relatively easy to figure out what's going on. This is why it has become a tool that almost anyone can get into, no matter their age or computer experience.

2) Of the major players, which are the ones pushing the bar with design?

I really think we can all learn a great deal from Facebook. They have set standards and this creates challenges for app developers, but at the same time it shows which apps are truly pro and which are more fly-by-night. As a recent iPhone convert, I am a serious advocate for the platform. What Apple has managed to do with the iPhone OS puts every other smart phone maker to shame. I'm also really stoked on what Palm is doing with the Pre. RIM, Google and Microsoft seriously have their work cut out for them if they intend to compete on a similar usability level. They're simply not even close. I also have to say I'm blown away by the design work coming out of the Obama campaign and the recently released If the Whitehouse is blogging, what excuse does any business have?


Podcamp Halifax: Social media in Atlantic Canada


Giles Crouch has been passionate about marketing and communications for close to 20 years much of which has been spent working in international markets. Also the co-creator and founder of the Ice Awards, creative advertising awards for Atlantic Canada, Giles has long been pushing for change and innovation within the industry. It's only natural that he has come to spend the past two years entirely immersed in his newest passion, social media.

Giles was happy to chat with me before his state-of-the-nation presentation at Podcamp Halifax!

1) Atlantic Canada's social media scene – how does it measure up with the rest of Canada/North America?

We’re on a par in many ways with the rest of Canada in terms of what social media services and tools we use and how we consume but participation is another matter. We’re seriously lagging with mobile application usage. In terms of Internet usage Ontario and BC lead simply because of density of urban populations, higher incomes and access to broadband in more rural areas coupled with increased populations since the Stats Can survey in 2005. As the Atlantic Provinces increase broadband access in rural communities I think we’ll see a big increase in social media usage as these rural communities find their “voice” and we expect that to be with tools like photo and video sharing, music sharing and blogging. The work the provinces governments are undertaking to build high-speed infrastructure in this regard is very positive and shows insight to the future.

The interesting thing we’ve seen in Atlantic Canada is the way the Power Law curve has come into play. This means that while many people are “consuming” social media (watching, listening) fewer are very “active” in social media in terms of writing and creating. This will change in 2009. We saw a drastic upswing in people voicing opinions and discussing issues from the spring to winter of 2008.

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