Tuesday, January 02, 2007


Welcome to 2007, the 4th year of It's All Good. Goodness me, that's hard to believe, although we are new at this compared to some of our blogging colleagues. I'll get to the subject implied by my title in a bit but I have to digress.

My husband and I were in British Columbia for the holidays. I picked up the Vancouver Province on Sunday as we headed for the airport as it was the only paper available. It isn't one I would read usually, but I was thrilled to find a whole section on horoscopes for 2007 (those of you who know me well will not be surprised, and those who don't will be amused, dismayed or will say, "that figures"). I quote Georgia Nichols, the Province's astrologer: "...if you're considering trying anything new, or ready to initiate a new venture, do it in 2007! Set into motion whatever you can [...] do not postpone or procrastinate. Jump on the proverbial bandwagon! Now is the time to go after what you want. What you begin in 2007 will be like planting in the Spring. What you begin in 2008 will be like planting in the winter."

It's all because of Jupiter. (Georgia has a nifty little tool if you'd like to see where Jupiter is in your horoscope. It was in Virgo when I was born.) So, there you go....time to jump on a bandwagon. Just tell your boss the stars are aligned, and you want to plant in the spring not the winter.

OK, what about KISS, or Keep It Simple Stupid? I was musing on this rubric today after I read in the Dayton Daily News about a study conducted on behalf of Diebold, which doesn't just make voting machines. It provides other self-service systems, like ATMs. And the study finds "consumers would view financial institutions more favorably if they offered more advanced features at automated teller machines."
Here are some of those advanced features;
  • 41 percent think more positively of their financial institutions when an ATM can remember user preference settings
  • 42 percent want to customize their ATM preferences via their online banking channel
  • Purchase features that could influence positive views included selling postage stamps, sending money, selling movie or event tickets, selling certificates of deposit and selling prepaid phone minutes.

Aside from being an excellent example of convergence, I got to thinking about a debate that reappears in libraryland in various guises to do with simplicity versus complexity. The simplicity proponents have suggested, for example, that the interface to a library system should emulate the spareness of Google so as to reduce the potential confusion of users, especially non-expert ones. The complexity proponents suggest the human operator must be able to invoke that complexity in order to fully utilize the features inherent in the system.

As with many debates in our space, this one seems to be presented as an "either/or" case. But this is not an either/or case...simplicity and complexity are contextual as this Diebold study suggests. The complexity of the more-than-money-dispenser ATMs is welcomed when convenience is the reward. You will notice too that the complexity lies in the features, not the interface. So, I'll extrapolate and suggest that users of library systems would not mind at all if the complexities of using those systems were about paying fines, changing addresses, getting library cards, ordering material from book stores, and submitting reviews.

It would be nice if one of the library system vendors undertook a similar sort of survey to ascertain what additional features--or complexity--library users would welcome.

And I'll note that our colleague Lorcan has written about some aspects of this topic several times.

The little article about the study in the DDN is behind a registration wall, but Diebold has a longer description here.


Rosario said...

I didn't realize that Jupiter played such an important role in our lives (astrologically speaking). Now I know where Jupiter was the year I was born. Thanks, Alane, for pointing this out to us!!

K.G. Schneider said...

You mean complexity isn't about making a catalog search as daunting as possible to show how smart we are? Hmmmmm...