Luca Mondini

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The amazing history of the To-Do list

Todo

If you love lists, especially to-do lists like me, you should read this beautiful post by Belle Beth Cooper: The Amazing History Of The To-Do List–And How To Make One That Actually Works.

The author starts explaining why we make lists: it’s a way to simplify the complexity of the world around us, as well as a tool to improve our personal productivity.

Quoting Umberto Eco:

The list is the origin of culture. It’s part of the history of art and literature. What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible… And how, as a human being, does one face infinity? How does one attempt to grasp the incomprehensible? Through lists…

Among all the lists, to-do lists are a common tool to get things done. Belle Beth Cooper gives us four tips to use them effectively:

  1. Break projects into tasks, don’t succumb to the Zeigarnik effect
  2. Prioritize ruthlessly
  3. Plan ahead
  4. Be realistic in your planning

Go to the full article to read all the details.

Personally, I use to-do lists every day, both on paper and via Todoist. I find them very useful in order to “download” all the things to do from my mind, sort and prioritize them. This process usually reduces my anxiety levels and makes me feel more efficient. As FastCompany reader PTB noticed:

Lists do something very simple to allow for higher productivity in our daily activities: they take information out of our heads and put it in our tangible world, so we don’t have to mentally juggle as much.

Do you use lists? What are your habits?

The evolution of the web

Evolution

Nice visualization by VizzualityHyperakt, and some members of the Google Chrome team showing the evolution of web technologies and browsers:

The color bands in this visualization represent the interaction between web technologies and browsers, which brings to life the many powerful web apps that we use daily.

Enjoy it at http://www.evolutionoftheweb.com!

GoogleBBS

Google BBS Terminal – What Google would have looked like in the 80s” is a cool project by mass:werk , an austrian company specialized in web and graphic design.

Via DaringFireball

 

The average number of acquaintances separating any two people no matter who they are . . . is not six but 3.9.

What’s more, that 3.9 figure is for people in unusual and largely self-contained professions, such as a Chinese-to-Korean translator. The average degree of separation between Facebook members, they compute, is about 3.2.

The Pacific Standard about a new research from Taiwan suggesting Facebook has shrunk the distance between any two human beings.

Monitors that only you can see

If you really care about privacy, you can follow the instructions in this video (linked by Lifehacker) and make a monitor that only you can see through special glasses.

Ok, I know, everybody is thinking about porn but maybe this technique could be applied to other domains, like ATMs.

What is innovation?

So, what is innovation?

Those other dots.

The ones others miss.

And having the certainty to know that the dots you see are not only valid but necessary if the world is to move forward.

A video by Rafa Galeano based on David Brier‘s essay on innovation.

Via FastCompany

Google: The Redesign

Google design

Google is not Apple, especially if we talk about design. We all know that.

However no one can deny that Google has made great progress on improving the design of its products in the last couple of years: white spaces, cards, clean typography and a consistent interface among all the services.

A great article by Farhad Manjoo (Co.Design) explains how Google’s approach to design has changed over the years. Some points worth thinking about:

  • Only the CEO can get the entire company to focus on something. As Farhad says: “if you ask a Google designer to mark the shift between Google’s old approach to design and its new one, you’re likely to get a precise date: April 4, 2011. That’s the day Page became CEO.” A strong commitment by the top management is necessary to make Design a core value of a company.  In 1980s, Apple followed the same same path, according to Hartmut Esslinger’s new book (thanks to Alberto for pointing it out).
  • Designers must be involved in early stages of product creation. Asking for their support just before going to market can not lead to real innovation.
  • If you want to create something really novel, you have to search for a design innovation rather than a technical one. Technology alone is not enough.

What do you think about?

TopSitePerCountry_InternetPopulation

A map, by Information Geographies, illustrating the most visited website in each country.

Welcome, Kindle

After some weeks of indecision, I decided to buy an ebook reader, precisely the new Kindle Paperwhite.

Why an eBook reader instead of a tablet (my iPad1 really sucks!)? Well, because I realized that I have been using my tablet primarily for reading articles and blog posts via Pocket, Zite or Feedly. The smartphone is enough for all the other needs.

My first feelings after few days with the new “toy”:

  • I really needed a dedicated device for reading. Less distractions, no notifications, more focus on what I read.
  • Reading texts and comics (yes, comics!) on the new higher contrast Carta display is very close to reading them on paper. This is my first ebook reader, so I can’t make any comparison to other devices.
  • Battery life is something I wasn’t used to. Several hours of use and the indicator is still full. It looks like a miracle!
  • Sending articles from the web is almost painless thanks to Amazon’s “Send to Kindle” extension and the integration with Instapaper (even if it doesn’t support pictures). The only thing I haven’t figured out yet is how to send articles from my mobile browser.
  • Integrated dictionary for me is priceless. Just one click to look up a word in the dictionary. I haven’t tested the new X-Ray feature.
  • Amazon ecosystem is something unbelievable, especially if you read also English books.
  • Kindle doesn’t support EPUB format but Calibre can help you.

So, no complaints? No, except the lack of a power adapter which is sold separately (come on Amazon!) and the price of leather covers: I bought the honey one and it’s cool but for € 34,99…

In conclusion, I’m really in love with my new Kindle and I think it’ll really improve my reading experience.

Tactile touchscreen prototypes by Disney

Disney Research is about to present at ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology the results of its research on tactile rendering algorithm to simulate rich 3D geometric features (such as bumps, ridges, edges, protrusions, texture etc.) on touchscreen surfaces.

The Washington Post, that firstly reported the news, says:

The process behind it is, predictably, both technical and confusing, but the basic premise is that small, electronic pulses can trick your fingers into perceiving bumps and texture, even if the surface is actually flat.

That’s not a new discovery — scientists have known since 2001 that friction is the predominant force that lets you perceive textures. But Disney’s findings […] suggests sweeping applications in devices we already use, like smartphones and tablets.

More details available at the project page.

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