Nov 24, 2008

visual isomorphism and values dissemination

having recently completed a small-N analysis, i conclude that startups by ex-googler (xooglers, if you will) look sort of like google products. the feel of the user interfaces on weatherbill, friendfeed, nextstop all share the minimal ethic of google user interfaces.* (for comparison, look at google's adwords homepage and blogger homepage) to some extent, this is probably a feature of current priorities in web development and user interface design -- flickr, delicious, etc look sort of the same as each other and as these xoogler startups i'm talking about.

some of this isomorphism almost certainly stems from the prevalence of UI/UX (user experience) staff at web companies trained at CMU, stanford, and so forth, but this also points to how firms can become institutions with specific cultural priorities (in this case, certainly when looked at through the lens of UI philosophy). employees, for better or for worse, soak up these priorities and, when they leave, act as the RNA that spreads the word. particularly in a diffuse yet highly industry-coherent network like the valley, this mode of values distribution seems particularly significant.

* mechanical zoo is the exception that proves the rule, but every rug needs an imperfection.

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