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March 26, 2010

Size and shape on Design by Community

5. Week-round-upGLOBAL – After the initial buzz and excitement of the Design by Community launch, things have started to settle into a groove this week. The comments and feedback are becoming more useful and less cutting, thankfully, but hey, we know this isn’t a perfect process. On Monday, myself Rhi and Mike got to spend time with a couple of designers in London. Meanwhile Phil and Carita have been talking with a design team in Espoo about materials (the same crew who’ll be working on the concept sketches, as it happens). We’ve got some interesting stuff lined up for next week, meanwhile let’s take a look at what happened this week.

You still have two days (until Monday 29 March) to get your votes in for Size and Shape. The figures so far are pointing very much down the middle of the road, where we’re seeing an obvious limit to how thin, and small, you guys want this device to be. And that’s pretty interesting.

When we created the slider concept to capture data, we wanted it to be restrictive, so you couldn’t just pick the best of everything. We wanted there to be an element of compromise built in. Sure, the considerations for “best” were ours and ours alone, but we like to think we have a reasonable level of intuition on these things. After initial (almost instant) feedback from a couple of early voters, we relaxed the restrictions to give you more choice. And so it was, that this week the possibility was there to create a pretty small, thin device. But you didn’t (or at least you haven’t so far).

This suggests that those submitting their votes are thinking carefully about the concept. Which of course is what we want. Of course there are elements of it which are pushing the boundaries, but the initial results this week suggest a healthy dose of realism, to combat the futuristic optimism. And I find that quite encouraging. Perhaps the hivemind is working for the greater good here.

At the start of the week we went to visit Nokia’s London Design Studio. There we caught up with two of Nokia’s senior designers (sorry, you’re going to have to wait until next week to hear what the second one had to say). Rather brilliantly, they both looked at things entirely differently, and their insight, even though we were with them for a short time, was utterly astounding. I feel really lucky to be able to spend time with these folks, and always find it utterly fascinating. Whatever I think I know about mobile devices and how people use them, is almost irrelevant when I compare it to what they know.

Check out Ian Pottie, Senior Design at Nokia and what he thinks a concept device should be.

And then we looked at things from a completely different perspective. The man known as MickyFin (AKA Micky Aldridge), editor of and, took to the streets of his local town to find out if one size could fit all when it comes to form factor. The results are well worth a read, if you haven’t already.

Right now we’re preparing for next week and making some last minute tweaks to the materials sliders which we’ll be rolling out on Monday. Your constant feedback means we can hone and improve the Design by Community process as we move through it. Hopefully with the result of making it better. One thing that strikes us though, still, is the need to look wider at the operating system and offer up the opportunity to review specific specs on what this conceptual beauty might run.

Both are interesting and have us spending hours in virtual meeting rooms debating how we tackle them. Be assured though, we’re working on it, so let us know what else you’d like to see happen in the comments below.