In my talks on user experience, I mention the importance of focus (in the context of user experience being the central focus-point of the development process). It's time to apply the same principle to my life in general. My interests, the technologies I work with, my various projects, and activities have somewhat accumulated to the point that it had gotten impossible for one person to keep on top of them. So I need to consolidate things, close some things down, and focus on the things that matter to me in the here and now.
To start with, I'm narrowing down my active projects to the iPhone app I'm developing. Until that app is out that's all I'm going to be working on.
Consulting and training
I will be removing the consulting and training links from the site this week so that I can concentrate fully on building a beautiful user experience for my iPhone app.
I've been having a blast giving my Remember the Magic! talk this year and I intend to continue doing so! :)
I also want to concentrate on supplementing my talks with content on this blog.
I'll be doing the talks that I've already agreed to and will consider offers to present my Remember the Magic! talk at future conferences. In the past, I've given dozens of talks on a myriad of subjects but I'm going to focus my future talks on User Experience alone. So if you want a technical talk on the technologies I use (Flex, the Adobe Suite, Cocoa, Python, etc.), I'm not the speaker for you :) However, if you want an inspirational talk on User Experience, ping me on Twitter (@aral or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Focus on user experience
In the past I did love doing technical talks and writing about technical subjects but today, the technologies themselves interest me less than what you can do with them. Development technologies are tools and, like so much of software today, are commoditized. There are still huge differences between these tools in terms of simplicity and user experience, of course, and the simpler technologies will win in the end (note the rise of dynamic languages and that stagnation of static ones, the fall out of favor of cryptic languages like Perl, and the failure of Java as a client-side web language, for example.) (This should also hopefully explain my recent rant against the complexities I perceived in the upcoming version of Flex, which I consider to be one of the simplest rich-client technologies to work with).
I also see undue attention and importance being placed on tools when, actually, we have more tools today than we know what to do with. Think of all that has been created with a tiny domain of tools in the real world through the history of mankind. If they created the pyramids with wooden tools, pulleys, and pounding stones, of course you can create your latest application in the Flash IDE or even using just the command line and the open source SDK, or heck, Silverlight even. Your actual choice of technologies will determine how much effort and time you'll have to put into building your app and those are, of course, very important considerations, but at the end of the day, we're not limited in what we can do by our tools any longer. (Case in point, the pyramids may have been built with simple tools but they did require a heck of time and labor to build.) Of course, it's nicer to work in Flex 4 with its new states system than it is in Flex 3 or in the new Flash Builder with its interface and workflow enhancements but it's not necessary. And, at the end of the day, if you create a great user experience, your users are not going to care one bit which tools you used.
(The caveat here is to think of the whole user experience. So, if you create your app in Silverlight and that requires the user to have to interrupt their experience to install the Silverlight plugin then they will care about that.)
What was I saying again?.. oh yes, focus, focus, focus!
So the focus of my talks, my writing on this blog, and pretty much everything I build and do will be User Experience. As I oft repeat in my talks, we live in a commoditized world and the only differentiating factor, the value, is User Experience. As excited as I am by new technologies, I'm far more passionate about using them to create beautiful user experiences. I hope that the evolution of this blog, and everything I do from this point on will reflect this focus.