Boston Talent Wars, iPhone Facial Recognition, and Freedom of Tweets

by Jon Follett

Here’s what we’re reading online, this week at Involution, on design, tech, and the digital life, in our links round up.

Tech Talent Wars: Boston
The Talent Wars are heating up in Boston, as tech companies of every kind, from start ups to Fortune 500 firms, unload their best artillery fire in the recruiting battle. One of the most original recruitment efforts in the fight so far comes from the rapidly growing, venture funded HubSpot, which is trying to encourage software developers at big companies to make a "prison break" for HubSpot's hipper environs. Of course, Boston and the surrounding tech burbs are filled with many of the aforementioned large company "prisons" for devs to break out of, and HubSpot is willing to make it worthwhile for experienced talent, with a $1K bonus for each year spent at a big firm. A 20-year veteran of an enterprise software giant could stand to get the equivalent of a new car as a signing bonus … not too shabby. Whether other cash rich, talent strapped companies in Boston will counter HubSpot's aggressive move remains to be seen, but it's clear that the war for development brainpower is escalating in Beantown, with no end in sight.

Don't I Know You from Somewhere?
Facial recognition may be the next application feature frontier for companies like Facebook and Apple, but the privacy advocates are up in arms, and, in the case of German regulators, doing everything in their power to stop it. The New York TImes reports that German officials are concerned that Facebook's new photo-tagging may violate consumer privacy rights and have asked the company to disable the feature while they investigate.

While Facebook is already in the hot seat for their technology, Apple is wasting no time getting their facial recognition features ready. As Apple's location data scandal is still fresh in the public memory, it's no wonder privacy concerns are beginning to mount regarding Cupertino's use of facial recognition technology.

Taking the Fight Against Cancer to the Digital Space
With older Americans living longer lives and the cost of medical services only increasing, health care and personal health are high priority items on the US national agenda. On this agenda, in particular, the fight against cancer is a focal point. Last week, cancer survivors launched the social network I Had Cancer to share their experiences and to give people fighting cancer, family members and survivors, continued support.

In a related news, the US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT initiated a contest with an $80K prize for the best consumer mobile app to help prevent and control cancer.

Freedom of Tweets
Free speech comes in 140 character packages these days, as everyone from President Obama to the Members of the 112th Congress use the medium to communicate with the American people.

If you've got something to say, Contacting the Congress is an online directory that can help you locate your Senator or Representative in the digital realm. While not every Congress person has a Twitter account, 536 of the 540 have e-mail forms. Ground mail will have to suffice for the remaining four.

Shaping Educational Experiences
A List Apart has an informative piece, examining the user experience of learning, which delves into the process, from initiation to action.

Author Tyler Tate has this to say about designing for learnability:
Most websites invest the majority of their effort into streamlining the very last stage of this process: the action phase. It’s understandable: businesses make money through conversions. However, the company that best supports the user throughout the entire learning process has the upper hand in converting that loyal user into a paying customer.

Of particular interest are Tate's recommended UX design patterns for learning which include: recommendation engines for exploration, recently viewed items for easy return reference, customizable comparison charts for analysis, and savable searches for ongoing monitoring, among others.

Topics: facebook, UI design, iphone, boston, Analysis, Blog, twitter, UX