Posts Tagged ‘luke wroblewski’

Squirrel vs Skunk

Monday, August 27th, 2012
CSSquirrel #96: Squirrel vs Skunk

Mobile development superstar Luke Wroblewski (whom lucky attendees of AEA: Chicago will be hearing speak on mobile design later today) stars in today’s comic along with… CSSkunk? How could Luke mistake him for the Squirrel? Is he really copying so much of his “trade dress” that someone would mistake them for one another?

By now virtually anyone moderately connected to the tech world has heard of the verdict in the Apple vs Samsung trial, with Samsung losing out to the tune of $1.049 billion dollars.

I think it’s fairly apparent that Samsung was least somewhat in the wrong, with a solid trail pointing towards willful infringement on their part. Despite this, I also believe that by letting this trial come to a verdict (instead of being settled out of court), both Apple and Samsung have actively aided in continuing to back the travesty that is our current patent system and through doing so are perpetuating harm on the future of technological innovation.

I also feel that the verdict reached seems over-reaching and filled with errors. After reading of some interviews with the jurors and some breakdowns of the verdict I go the feeling it was off. Then I saw this post by Groklaw, which goes over it in much more detail.

Luke seems to hold the opposite position about the verdict and it’s appropriateness, as shown by a series of tweets starting with this one: “Companies better rethink ‘best practices review’ as a way of doing design in light of today’s ruling.” In one tweet he points out the Lumia 900, which runs Microsoft’s Windows Phone, as a great deal of unique innovation, and appears to indicate that Samsung’s infringing devices lack innovation and therefore merit.

I’m not sure I buy that line. Like in nature, most changes in technology are evolutionary, not revolutionary, building upon what comes before incrementally. Part of my biggest personal objection with modern patent law is how aggressively it seems to disrupt that process, forcing competitors to go out of their way to radically create something new instead of building on what came before.

Call me crazy, but if all of these companies are counter-suing the hell out of each other constantly over violations of one another’s patents, then something is seriously amok here. I would say that many of the patents that are being granted are too fundamental in their nature, representing obvious interactions and form-factors that are common sense solutions to the problems facing a given technology. If each mobile company is stealing from one another, when they’re each aware of the legal risk involved, then is it possible that there are problems that innovation alone cannot resolve, creating a situation where patents are restricting unnecessary processes that are required by any device in the market merely to be functional?

A good piece discussing the lawsuit and the issues it represents is “Who Cares If Samsung Copied Apple” by James Allworth, which I saw via a link on Bruce Lawson’s reading list of the day.

The article was written prior to the verdict but remains relevant after as it directly speaks to the issue I see here. In particular I like the last two paragraphs, which go as follows:

If Apple ends up winning this case against Samsung – and either stops Samsung from releasing their phones and tablets to the market, or charges them a hefty license fee to do so – does anyone really believe that the market will suddenly become more innovative, or that devices will suddenly become more affordable? Similarly, if Samsung wins, do you really believe that Apple will suddenly slow its aggressive development of the iPhone and iPad? It’s certainly not what happened last time they lost one of these cases.

Now, if you’re with me so far, then I don’t think it’s a leap to suggest that having these companies duke it out in court over “who might have copied who” is counterproductive. All these lawsuits flying around suggest that everyone is already copying each other, anyway. A better solution? Let’s have these companies solely focused on duking it out in the marketplace – where consumers, not courtrooms, make the decisions about innovation. In such a world, the best defense against copying isn’t lawsuits, but rather, to innovate at such a rate that your competition can’t copy you fast enough. That, to me, sounds like an ideal situation not just for consumers – but for the real innovators, too.

Matt Drance at Apple Outsider also wrote a piece prior to the verdict, “The Trial” which follows much of the same vein. Here’s a good quote from the piece:

Most importantly, this case brings the ever-brewing controversy of software patents further into the spotlight. Apple’s case is far from patent trolling, but I do worry about the precedent it could set. If a verdict is reached, lawyers and judges across the country will surely look back to this case repeatedly during their own. In closing arguments, Apple attorney Harold McElhinny told the jury: “If you find for Apple in this case, you will have re-affirmed the American patent system.”

I don’t know if I’m correct with my view that these sorts of trials, regardless of who wins, are harming us the consumers in the long run. Maybe I’m just cynical. But I know that these corporations don’t hold us in their best interest. They exist to extract money from us, and the only reason they’re using our court systems to wage their wars is to gain an advantage in collecting more of that money.

Using lawyers to stifle competition doesn’t sound to me like it’s going to make the next model of iPhone cheaper for me to purchase, nor will it somehow create more options for me to choose from on the market. So if these trials aren’t benefiting us, what impact will it have?

I know a lot of people have a strong opinion on this topic. I’d like to hear them. If you took a moment to tell me why I’m right or wrong using one of the methods below, I’d be grateful.

Comic Update: Push To Dispense Free Cheese

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

Today’s comic continues the storyline started by the last episode in a display of continuity rarely tolerated here. It continues the celebration of my attendance at An Event Apart: Seattle by showcasing many of the speakers of that groundbreaking event: Andy Clarke, Nicole Sullivan, Jeremy Keith, Eric Meyer, Aarron Walter, Jared Spool, Luke Wroblewski, Jeffrey Zeldman and Dan Cederholm. Also making a noteworthy appearance is Naepalm, the chinchilla alter-ego of Mindfly Web Studio co-worker Janae.

It also is my response to Jeremy Keith’s challenge (made at the event) to create an icon for “Push to Dispense Free Cheese.” I dare anyone else out there to do better.

No, really. I want to see that.

For the past couple of years I’ve followed the going-ons of An Event Apart through the Twitterscape. The inaugural comic of CSSquirrel featured AEA: New Orleans 2008 (and Andy Clarke’s underpants.) This year was the first opportunity I had to attend in person. It blew me away.

Let’s start with the speakers. They are top notch, cream of the crop, cutting-edge members of our website-making industry. They aren’t just paving cow paths (HTML5 philosophy notwithstanding). They’re kicking down the door of the future and lighting up places we’ve never been before. Even better, they’re sharing these cutting-edge thoughts with the rest of us.

I am fully incapable of transcribing in a single blog post what I learned there. It took me eight hours of working alongside Janae to figure out how to compress this information into what became four hours of presentation for our esteemed Mindfly colleagues, and that was with access to informative slides. So instead, let me point you towards some online writings that sum up the event and the lore contained within:


As awesome as the speakers were, another amazing component of the conference was the attendees. I live in lovely Bellingham, WA. It’s about two hours north of Seattle, is nicely sandwiched between mountains and the bay, and is a great place to live. It is not, however, literally crawling with web designers in the same fashion as large cities like Seattle or New York. So to be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with hundreds of invested, devoted website-making peeps is a heady experience. With people coming from design studios, universities like UW, and even sites like I Can Has Cheezburger, it made for a great opportunity to talk shop with people of all different web design backgrounds.

At some point in the recent past I saw someone ask on Twitter if it was worthwhile to pay for a conference for information they could get later on a blog. I can say for certain that yes, it is. There is a quantity of data being that is shared in live meetings that any attempt by myself or others to fully regurgitate in writing is incapable of matching. Speakers absorb earlier comments by their fellows, incorporating ideas into their own presentations. Crowds at lunch and after-parties discuss the merits of the ideas discussed, bringing the focus of several hundred minds to the same issues in one short period of time. Friends known online become real concrete people with a firm handshake, a booming laugh, and other qualities that engrave the real feel of who they are.

Note to self: I forgot to actually acquire one of Dylan Wilbank’s excellent business cards. Dang it.

There’s one more comic that will finish this year’s AEA storyline. But knowing the quality of this event, having finally experienced it firsthand, I can tell you it won’t be the last time AEA gets the squirrel treatment.

Meyer, Zeldman and everyone else that made my two days in Seattle so awesome: Thank you.

Comic Update: A Little Usability Game

Monday, December 7th, 2009

Today’s comic features An Event Apart San Francisco 2009 speakers Jared Spool and Luke Wroblewski in a compromising situation involving imprisonment, a squirrel dressed like an evil doll, and an impossible usability task. It also follows my habit of making kidnapping-related comics during An Event Apart to compensate for my physical absence.

My very first web design conference, Web Directions North 2008, featured a lot of speakers. One, who’s listed topic of usability seemed boring to my new to professional web development mind, was Jared Spool. I had no intention of sitting in on the seminar, but the Javascript one next door completely failed to engage me, so I snuck in to see what was up.

Let me say now, Jared, I was sorry I ever doubted you. Your showmanship is stellar, and the topic suddenly became relevant to my interests.

I’ve not heard Luke speak, but I’m currently reading his book Web Form Design. Its first sentence: “Forms suck,” engaged me with the honesty and humor implicit in that statement. Starting a book about forms with such a pair of words is perhaps ballsy, but it’s exactly what I think, so it drew me in. I can only hope by the time that I’m at the end of his book, my forms suck less.

Like many others, I’m not at AEA this time. As such, I can’t hear these gents eloquently expounding on their subjects of interest. But thanks to A Feed Apart, I’ll be listening into the Twitter stream. So to those of you attendees out there, please be charitable and tweet up the good bits.