Well, people love a complainy post don't they? That one about the Sony web fail was popular.
But I want to make a point, lest I'm misunderstood.
I'm Not Saying: the website is broken therefore the company must have stupid web people.
I Am Saying: the website is broken therefore the company must have stupid leadership.
I Am Further Saying: I bet the web people are brilliant and are struggling to cope with an organisation that thinks the web is for marketing and aftersales rather then realising that the web is the platform on which they should build their whole business.
I Am Further Acknowledging Again That This Is Hard: It's hard because you have thousands of skus and legacy systems tied into horrible service contracts in competing regions, divisions and cultures. Fair enough. That's what you have to solve. That's why it's not a technology problem.
If you have so many products that you can't build a website that can easily surface them - then you have too many products.
If you have a corporate structure that means customers can't find the stuff they want - then you have the wrong corporate structure.
I bought a new Sony thing yesterday. We don't need to talk about that right now, we'll get to it later.
It came with one of those very thick booklets with very few instructions in many languages:
So, as soon as I wanted to know more than how to turn it on and safely dispose of the battery I realised I needed the help guide, available at this handy URL (and QR code?):
That URL takes you here:
Fair enough, you think, it's a big company, global site, hard to be specific for every single product. You click on Europe and end up here:
You're getting closer, you click on UK and end up here:
You're back in Europe! But with flags! Never mind, you click on UK again:
Right, good, now we're getting somewhere. You type in the number of your thing:
You hunt around a bit and click on one of the identically named Instruction/Operation Manual links. It's a 2-page PDF that tells you how to fit the strap. You click on the other one. It's this:
It's a PDF copy of the very same thick booklet that gave you the URL that started this whole journey.
There is no Help Guide.
Googling only gets you to the same place via various international portals and one of those long marketing pages that looks like you care about tablets.
There is no Help Guide.
Agencies and marketing departments are still banging on about innovation. Sony are probably demanding innovative and compelling digital communications solutions from their staff, partners and agencies.
They should stop all that and fix their broken website.
I know it's hard, I know they have many products and regional overlaps and national feifdoms and complicated CMSs and whatnot. They'll need to reorganise and reskill and reprioritise. They could call that innovation if they want, but it's not, it's competence. It's the basics.
Take the money from marketing and spend it on that.
A couple of reckons:
The proper cleverness of the AHO/BERG/Immaterials gang is that they seem to be saying this new stuff is invisble, that makes it hard to work with as a material, let's try and visualise it so we can understand it.
Almost everyone else seems to be saying this new stuff is invisible IT MUST BE A CONSPIRACY.
Right now, with a lot of genuine conspiracy floating around, we should make an effort not to default to Air Loom nuttiness every time someone finds a new use for the electromagnetic spectrum or decides to bury a pipe.
You remember that nice programme on Radio Two - Sing Something Simple - they had all those old timey tunes? That's beamed into our homes on mysterious rays that most people don't understand and that have demonstrably, certainly been used for evil purposes, it's called radio, it's invisible, that's OK.
A year or so ago grey water started spouting, intermittently and unpredictably, from plugholes in the kitchens of a number of flats in our building. Plumbers were called and over a number of weeks denied the existance of the problem, confessed themselves unable to solve it and explained that 60 years of ad hoc plumbing in each flat had rendered the whole system incomprehensible. Then, when they finally obtained the plumbing equivalent of 'root', they discovered that someone had poured the entire contents of a substantial aquarium down a toilet. This had, unsurprisingly, messed with the delicate and contingent balance of pressures and flows within our pipes. That someone does not understand our invisible infrastructure. Our plumbing is incomprehensible. These are not new problems.
There doesn't have to be a binary choice between hiding networks and revealing networks to be evil and hegemonic. We could decide to materialise technology infrastructure and demonstrate that it is marvellous, powerful and useful. Maybe that would encourage people to try and make their own things with it rather than just run away.
I happened to notice today, that it was two-thirds of the way through the day. That's because the Pebble has a face that tells you Swatch internet time.
This is, of course, ridiculous.
But it's also good. Obviously the coming wave of smart watches will do all sorts of incredible things that wrists could not previously have imagined, but maybe they'll also make room for some little side projects that enable different ways of marking time. Investing in a whole watch that takes a sidestep like that is a bit like investing in a metric calendar - probably not worth it. (See below, I do a lot that's not worth it.) But as another screen, an extra diversion, it's interesting, it's perhaps worth playing with. That'll be fun.
"The art of caravanning is miniaturization; instead of leaving the domestic realm behind, it is shrunk and towed along. To enter a caravan is to step into a wonderland of diminished scale; here is the small telly, the small microwave and a little fridge."
Applies to motorhomes too.
From: The Art of Camping: The History and Practice of Sleeping Under the Stars by Matthew De Abaitua