If you didn’t hear the news: this past Thursday there was a major win for the internet when the FCC voted to reclassify broadband providers, which essentially allows the FCC to enforce Net Neutrality. (please read the link on Net Neutrality if you don’t know what it is… I’ll wait!) The game isn’t over, as this has become a partisan issue* and will continue to be pushed by one side against the other. But this is a very strong change in the game.
Why is this good for you, the consumer? There’s a nice FAQ here, but to keep this brief:
- Net Neutrality in a nutshell keeps big corporations from controlling what you can access on the internet.
- If you like fairness (access to whatever site you want, at the speeds you’ve already paid for) then you like Net Neutrality.
- If you like capitalism, and think that competition drives beneficial innovation (because small businesses should have the same access to the internet as multi-billion dollar corporations) then you like Net Neutrality.
- If you don’t like Net Neutrality because you oppose government regulation on principle: Please realize that some rules exist for a reason, not because people in government just love more government. Government regulations on food quality protected you from becoming violently ill or dying after eating today.
I’m looking forward to seeing how the rest of this shakes out, and will continue to keep my fingers crossed for the survival of Net Neutrality.
* I’m dedicating this post to the members of my family, each one of which I love dearly, and each one of which is a dyed-in-the-wool Republican who is likely not to have heard the complete story. This post is the rest of the story from someone in the tech industry (me) who has been following this topic for years before it became a partisan issue.
I recently found out about the Design Sprint from Google Ventures. This is a 5-day process that includes the customer and users at the center of the design process. At the end of five days, you should end up with a fully vetted design (for a site or app) ready for implementation. I highly recommend hitting up the Design Sprint main site and watching at least the first few videos to see what it’s all about. It’s really pretty impressive what you can accomplish with 40 hours, an engaged team, and a solid plan!
Have you ever wanted to experiment with a WordPress plugin or theme, but didn’t want to muck with your main site (or pay to host a public test site?) I was just playing with WordPress the other day, and really wanted to have a private instance that I could fearlessly make changes to. And I found this:
WordPress instance for VirtualBox
This is a private WordPress instance on your machine that works literally out of the box! Seriously, I downloaded it, loaded it into VirtualBox and started it, and was immediately able to hit the url of the guest IP address and work with the WordPress instance.
There is a classic cartoon about the hilarious results of mis-communication when building custom products for customers.
This in fact happens in the Real World. Not only in software, but with physical products as well. For your consideration: here is what happens when you build infrastructure without any User Experience Testing. Doing user testing comes a little later in the process, but is still a critical component of the conversations you need to have when Building The Right Thing.
Building the wrong software product is expensive. People are expensive, time is expensive, and some mistakes (lost time, lost money, broken relationships) can’t be undone. We can avoid these problems with careful conversations at the beginning. We need to identify needs, ask the right questions at the right times, and direct the conversation as needed. When done correctly, actually understanding the problems we’re trying to solve before trying to solve them results in massive savings for everyone.