Cloud Co-opetition, Hurricane Irene Infovis, and Nokia's New Design Emphasis

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.

Visualizing Irene
For those of us on the Eastern seaboard of the United States, last week was quite a ride, starting with Hurricane Irene wrecking havoc all the way from North Carolina to Massachusetts, and continuing with an arduous clean up effort to remove the debris, start repairing the damage, and get back our lives into some sense of normalcy.

If you're interested in storm data, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Environmental Visualization Laboratory released this fantastic satellite imagery of the storm as Hurricane Irene approached the Outer Banks. And in related data viz, the Web site of New York's flagship public radio station, WNYC published this infographic of the New York City Evacuation Zones. This interactive map graphic allowed residents to zoom in to specific addresses to see if their area was effected.

Cloud Co-opetition
Who said Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft couldn't play nicely together? These high tech rivals may be competing for the same users in some markets, but in the cloud, apparently the only enemy is downtime. This is the reason Apple's iCloud runs on Microsoft's Azure and Amazon's elastic cloud. Who would've thought?

From the Ashes Rose Apple
To truly appreciate Apple's dominance today as the tech product company of the decade, and its recent stint as the world's most valuable company by market capitalization, it's worth looking back at the firm's amazing journey over the past 15 years. The Boston Globe's Innovation Economy blog takes a trip down memory lane, to 1997, when Apple's prospects were bleak to say the least: "When Michael Dell, founder of rival computer maker Dell Inc., was asked what he would do if he ran Apple, he said that he would 'shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders.'" That year, Steve Jobs, recently returned to the Apple fold, gave the keynote address at Boston MacWorld and started the company on the return path to greatness, one of the most incredible turnaround stories in American corporate history.

Designing Windows 8
The Windows 8 team posted an interesting and detailed breakdown of their work designing the UI for the refresh of the Windows Explorer file management system, which includes an historic review of the user experience starting with MS-DOS. While the new Windows Explorer design still leaves much to be desired, the task analysis methodology the team uses in creating it is a fascinating read.

Nokia Puts Design First
It's no surprise that design is at the forefront of the smartphone wars. This article examines Nokia's renewed interest in hardware design. But is it too late for the Finnish company, who is losing market share? It's one thing to espouse a design centric philosophy; it's something else entirely to pull it off.

Topics: apple, nokia, microsoft, Analysis, Blog