Tomaž Štolfa

Curious observer. Co-founder of Layer.

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The Notification is the Interface

We have seen quite a few experiments geared towards using notifications and the notification centre as the main interface. Yo, Wut, Text are probably just the most eloquent examples of “notification only” services. Lightweight applications that allow you to compose or address a message on one end and just display a notification on the recipient’s device.

I’ve always been a big fan of minimal interfaces, and notifications as the interface are probably the ultimate frontier in terms of simplicity and surface size. They are consistent and constraining in design, but still very powerful.

Just (Another) View

I like to think about notifications and the notification centre just as another view in the application with specific design constraints. When imagining your next product or refreshing your current one try to think about what is the most valuable minimal content you can display and...

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Design everything.

…design refers to the will to interpret the meaning of human life and existence through the process of making things.

– Kenya Hara

Design is something more and more people like to use to define something that looks pleasing to the eye. However design is much, much broader than that.

Every single thing we, as humans, create is designed.

Think about your coffee mug, your glass, the desk you might be sitting at, and the chair you are sitting on. Since all those objects are designed to be the way they are, the people making them had to make decisions during the creation process, that drastically influenced the final product. It is no different in software creation or any other process that ends up with a product.

Even simple plain text artefacts like emails or simple text messages can and should be designed. Using paragraphs to set a good reading tempo is just an example of that.

...

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Silicon Gardens Fund

Something that was brewing for a while was finally announced yesterday - the Slovene startup ecosystem finally got a long awaited early stage fund.

Boštjan, Andraž, Jugoslav, Peter worked tirelessly for over a year and have overcome a ton of bureaucratic overhead to make this happen.

I’m particularly excited by the fact that the investors in the fund are a mix of local entrepreneurs with experience in building fast growing technology companies and seasoned investors like Fred, Jerry and Brad that have seen incredibly successful companies from start to IPO. Both have experienced the ups and downs of building a successful business.

The fund is obviously targeting first time entrepreneurs that have high potential and the ambition to tackle big problems on an international scale. The learning curve is steep and having the possibility to build a network fast and getting advice from...

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Communications are big.

Whatsapp is now part of Facebook. The deal is – by a large margin – the largest-ever acquisition of an internet company. The second largest deal is Skype - Microsoft at half the price Facebook paid.

Both are communications products. Both enable people to fulfil a fundamental human need - to communicate with friends, family and other human beings.

Both engage people in conversations and re-engage people through meaningful notifications.

A lot of sharing happens in private conversations. Facebook has used the sharing growth graph several times to indicate its own growth. Sharing in a non-public way, or on a platform that is not Facebook is directly competing for people’s attention and amount of sharing that would otherwise happen on Facebook.

The communications of the future are not constrained to a unique vertical. Every experience that touches more than one person as part of the...

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Glass + Software

The image is the glass and the glass is the product.

After reading Ben Evan’s post “The Spread of Glass,” some of the thoughts I had when I first saw the original iPhone came to mind.

The devices we used to own were hardwired for specific purposes. Each had hardware controls: cameras had fixed buttons, TV remotes had fixed buttons, and a typewriter with an English querty keyboard could not magically change to a French azerty layout.

Today glass is the omnipresent, universal medium that transfers the software experience to the outside world. We carry it around all day, every day. We have it in our living rooms, we have it in our bedrooms. We even have it hanging on our walls. The new generation of devices we carry around are glass windows into software.

Software gives glass unlimited uses through interfaces designed for specific purposes - from broadcasting content to generating...

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Ambience

Today, Kevin Rose published an conceptual idea for a new blogging tool, Tiny.

Without going into judging if the world needs another blogging tool/platform or not, I find the idea of adding ambiance to the publishing medium extremely interesting.

I think incorporating ambience into communications product would add another layer of information that is conveyed to the other party in a conversation. This way the interface around the conversation would change if you were at a beach, in a park or at a club, most probably influencing the mood and tone of the conversation.

Think of it almost like taking a photo of the location you are communicating from to give the other participants in a conversation a bit of perspective on where you are and how does it feel to be there. It helps convey the emotion of being in that location to the other party.

Experimenting with this kind of new concepts...

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Re-start

It has been a long year in which I didn’t really publish much.

After leaving vox.io at the end of January and taking some time off to reflect, I focused on building Layer with an amazing team.

While I have been writing a lot for myself and the Layer team, I didn’t really get the chance to collect, refine and share my thoughts with the rest of you.

Starting today I’m going to publish more thoughts around the topics I’m deeply passioned about - communications, design, and technology.

Feels good to be back.

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