“User Research” is a more prominent industry concept these days than it was maybe even 10 years ago. More companies have created full-time positions for “User Researcher” as a result.

Why does it matter? In the age of data is the new gold, user research basically helps companies identify and collect user behavior data. Such data gives us power to make educated product design decisions. How many times have companies invested millions to develop products that no one wants? User research cannot guarantee product success, but surely will mitigate risks.

Not all companies understand and appreciate user research the same…


My guess: there will be a rise of “VP of VR” (or AR, etc.) in the next 2–3 years. These titles, however, might only have a 10-year shelf life for better or for worse.

I was thinking about mobile. VP of Mobile title was created around 2001–2007 (pre-iPhone) at many Fortune 500 companies when mobile was a small thing and very campaign driven (in other words, few figured out how to create things that users would use regularly). The mobile business was not big enough to get much of the company’s attention, yet not small enough to ignore altogether as…


I am honored to be the host of the 2nd Exploring Future Reality event today by NYC Media Lab at our Viacom Times Square headquarters. The panel I will join is “What is Reality” — together with VR/AR experts like Prof. Ken Perlin (NYU) and Prof. Steve Feiner (Columbia).

It is a very “zen” topic so I guess I need to wear a bit of a sci-fi hat to think about it. Here are some of my random thoughts, love to hear your feedback.

Reality is… 100% Real

Let’s start with the easiest but overlooked (?) one. With so many technologies that we all…


3/F atrium shot from some years ago…

The MIT Media Lab is arguably one of the coolest academic research labs in the world. It’s sort of well documented but here are a couple quick “proofs” (among dozens, but for another time…) Proof #1: they have a full Wired magazine dedicated to it (UK 11/2012 issue). Proof #2: they made Tom Cruise a key sci-fi reference in the past 15 years via the movie Minority Report. All I would say is that if you have the chance to visit the Lab, you will more than likely be blown away by not one, but many projects. Essentially:

It is…


Just found an old doc I kept (for myself) back in 2005 (while I was still in grad school, and before the iPhone came out), funny how apps/tools/stacks change so constantly yet the high level “functions / needs” haven’t changed much (I guess we always need some editor to write stuff, for example). Some fun comparisons below — and these are just “laptop” centric tools since the phone was pretty much only for calls/text back then…

Function: 2006 → 2015

Workstation (what a vintage name…): Macbook+OSX+XDarwin (for UNIX stuff as needed) → just any Macbook+OSX

Programming Languages: Python (Twisted+Tornad0)+C → Python (Flask)+R+JS

Editor: Emacs+TextMate → Emacs+Sublime Text

Writing Docs: Writely+OpenOffice+LaTeX → Google Docs

Communications: iChat+Skype → Blue Jeans+Hangout+Facetime+Slack+Hipchat+WhatsApp

Graphics/Charts: Dia+GraphViz+Gnuplot+Visio+GIMP → OmniGraffle+Sketch

Rapid Prototyping Tools: (Actual Code) → Framer+Pixate+InVision

Project Management: Basecamp+MS Project → Trello+JIRA

Chaki Ng

Product + Innovation Executive | chaki.com

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