Best Technology of Bush Years

govt technology

With Bush finally leaving office, now is a good time to do a quick Tip ‘O’ the Hat to those gadgets and widgets and useful technology that the Bush Administration was able to put in place.

The FBI has built a Most-Wanted widget.

The TSA has an employee blog about security.

The State Department has an internal Diplopedia to help diplomats share information with each other.

The CIA now recruits on Facebook.

Also, the Library of Congress now uses Flickr to show off some of their special collections and documents.

A complete list compiled by Nick Thompson can be found here.

Obama has already received plenty of advice about what technologies he should focus on during his administration.

New Tools for Visualizing Information

Visualization of Obama’s Inaugural Speech. You are able to interact and adjust the visualization, not just a static image.

This is just one of many visualizations available on the IBM Many Eyes site.
I am intrigued with the dynamic abilities of programs and powerful computers to integrate and display complex relational databases as well as simpler data sets. There are many resources for doing this including, Google analytics, tweetstats, and others.

Data is king, but recently it is also about how you presetn your data. I recently went to an Edward Tufte seminar in San Francisco. He spoke about  how to present information in ways that were engaging and intelligent. I wrote more about his course as well as his website in this blog entry.

New Usability Tools

test pilot icon

The ability to do usability testing more naturally (not in a lab) as well as get more data (not a one hour session) have been issues that usability professionals have dealt with for years.  Leave it to the innovators at Mozilla Labs to help get us out of the rut of lab testing.

Soon we will have Test Pilot. An add-on that will allow usability testing in their ‘natural environment’. Testers can target specific questions, like how many tabs users keep open, how often they press certain buttons, or even ask detailed questions when triggered by certain events.

Spatial Integration of UI

There have been many implementations of gestural interactions with computers and data.

Oblong has g-speak

g-speak overview 1828121108 from john underkoffler on Vimeo.

Microsoft Surface

Indeed, the hippest phone around, the iPhone is exciting mostly (and arguably) because it provides the ability to interact with information more realistically and naturally.

What we are missing is the ability of the information to then respond back realistically. Haptic feedback is the missing piece.

There are some attempts that are promising. we have had video game controllers that move and shake when you fire your gun or crash your car. This was taken to the next level at this year’s CES by D-Box. Their new Motion Control Chairs work with games, and Blue-Ray discs to provide an immersive experience.

There are game vests that use compressed air to make you feel the experience and 3D glasses to see the information more realistically.

We’ve tried holograms, but even the big splash on CNN was not real.

We need to bring all these aspects together so we can start having the experiences of the HoloDeck from Star Trek. I want to completely escape reality. Make my Second Life like my first life. Meat space is overrated, don’t you think?