What is Perc? A Way To Outsmart Robots

What is Perc? A Way To Outsmart Robots 1920 800 Raymond Blyd

This might sound crazy but what if we could outsmart robots?

We depend on them for a majority of our daily tasks and it is increasingly harder to make decisions without the assistance of an algorithm. Meanwhile, machines are learning at a faster pace and making most of our skills obsolete. But robots have weaknesses, and if we want to stay ahead we will need to exploit them.


One of the good traits of the legal profession is its demand of Continued Legal Education (CLE). Many countries have a similar system in place to assure legal professionals are qualified to perform their duties. While the current CLE requirements are skewed towards traditional skills, the premise is sound: you need to keep training to stay fit. The survival of any professional will ultimately depend on their ability to adapt and learn…continuously.

There are Two parts to training: first is the type of skill and second is the effort involve to acquire it. Once you join the workforce, your freedom to learn evaporates. Simply because your time gets limited. Training resources are growing in abundance and getting cheaper all the time. Some offer clever ways to help you learn complicated stuff by first assessing your level. I believe this is key: Measurement precedes any Improvement.

Basically, there are Three types of skills actively being solicited: Hard skills, Soft skills and Vapor skills. The first 2 are measurable with numerous tests like teasers, IQ, personality etc. I suspect vapor skills are a bit trickier to capture and measure because we so little understand these skills. Yet they are the most valuable skills according to the brightest minds. Albert Einstein called it: the father of new knowledge and Steve Jobs encourage everyone to follow it above all else. I’m talking about Intuition.


The past 2 years I have been quietly tinkering on this thing called: Perc. Perc started as legal technology but quickly evolved into something else. I started with studying quantitive and qualitative characteristics and designing companion visualizations. While exploring these graphs, I stumbled on something: not only could I measure and display knowledge, experience, and personality based on data, I could also use metrics to capture my intuition. And when I became aware of it, it increased my confidence in trusting my intuition.

While MIT claims it can beat human intuition with big data analysis, some believe humans beat robots by handling big decisions with little data. With Perc I intend to prove it could also boost your intuition.


Perc is a project to create an iOS app with a companion watch app which helps to educate the user and spread acquired knowledge with everyone. I feel I have a few good years left before my skills and my entire profession become obsolete. That’s why I like to put them to some good use and create Perc to help us stay ahead of robots.

Meanwhile, feel free to connect, follow or sign up to be the first to know by clicking the 3 dots.

Psychology of a Legal Service Purchase

Psychology of a Legal Service Purchase 2048 1152 Raymond Blyd

It recently dawned on me that I might be missing a rudimentary reason underlying the legal industry: why does anyone want to pay for a legal service?

“…As always, consult a lawyer…” isn’t mandatory, it’s just a mantra. What is the psychology behind the legal service purchase? And has this behavior shifted?


How did I reach this epiphany? An accumulation of 3 factors. First, to seduce people to use your product is not a technological- nor a design -but a Psychological Effort. I learned this while following a course on the psychology of successful products ranging from games, Listerine and the iPhone.
Next, Design Thinking philosophy reiterates the importance of an Open Mind when solving Wicked Problems. Example: is the predicament of the legal industry simply a case of transparency? This was my assignment while receiving a certificate for Design Thinking in Business Innovation. It was also eloquently stated by Margaret Hagan in her lecture “Next Gen Legal Services: The Possibility of Legal Design”. Lesson: beware when addressing a challenge with a deceptively obvious solution.

Finally, it hit me when I was listening to a Customer: they explained why they would not be interested in using a product. Even if it was ethically or legally required to do so. Not even if it was the coolest app on the web. I realized that any ‘new’ product that wants to seamlessly insert itself into the routines of people’s lives will have to Hack Habits.


What I wrote in “Pleasant Habits vs Tedious Tasks” was a belief that any legal product must be beautifully designed in order to prompt a change in user behavior. Not only a gorgeous interface but also mindful interactions. But after hearing the customer explain their reasons for discarding one cool app after the other, I changed my mind.

I realized that world-class designs and awesome use cases would not be enough to persuade future consumers into changing their habits.

After 8 years of enjoying some of the most well-designed mass market products the digital world has ever seen, we have become immune. It’s not just the fact that we have become accustom to beauty or addicted to convenience. But by consuming large quantities of immaculate conceptions, it has forever altered our collective consciousness. As humans, our minds have been reprogrammed and it’s now up to psychology to figure out how we will operate in Robotopia.


Where is the legal industry heading while the economy recovers? Most signs point towards an increased demand for legal services. Better yet, there is evidence that legal spent is up but Law Firms aren’t position to capitalize. Law Firms face “Fundamental, Potentially Irreversible Changes” and are struggling to find a long term view.


While other mysterious animals like Axiom Law outgrow incumbents with an approximate growth rate in the range of 11–18%. By comparison, S&P 500 CAGR is 10.47%. According to the chart below, demand for Law firm services was under 0.5%.


Ultimately, all industries will face a disruption at some point. The Legal Industry is not exempted, not even by law.




Why do we pay for legal services? Here are some reasons:

  1. Legally obligated by regulatory pressures to comply i.e. filing taxes;
  2. Morally or Ethically obligated such as representation in litigation;
  3. It’s too damn complicated to do it yourself;

In Robotopia the following rules will apply:

  • if a system is based on rules it will be automated;
  • if a resource becomes too expensive, a network will surge to source it;
  • if a process is too complex, a culture will subsist to simplify it;

The word that keeps coming back to me is…frictionless. And this revelation hit me while listening to the End User: they will not be swayed unless a legal service is a smooth fit in their mind.




When will we shift from the traditional to the modern purchase behavior? Another glance at the chart above suggests the shift already happened in 2009. A more interesting question is: who will capitalize? After the democratizing of Information (Google), Resources (Uber, AirBnB) and Capital (Bitcoin), Legal is next. And the one, who paves a silk road to legal’s servitude in one click, will win.

Skeuomorphism: Will It Make Us Smarter?

Skeuomorphism: Will It Make Us Smarter? 1120 714 Raymond Blyd

Recently Apple has been awarded a patent for the virtual book page turn. Now imagine such an event in the age of the printing press. How would we navigate books or other printed materials? The tools and the methods we used in the physical world are slowly coming to live in the digital world. Skeuomorph design has blazed the path to copy from the physical to the virtual world. Yet, without a better understanding of the real world, will it help or hurt?

Not Flipping
I do not despair the page flip patent. To the contrary, I salute the fact that we will one day seize to use remnants from an inexpedient paper past and replace it with more convenient digital methods. Although we measure the power of a vehicle by horses we do not use their techniques to advance engine technology. So while we slowly transition from tangible to digital with clever tricks that ease our reluctance and broaden our acceptance, we will also surely break with tradition at some stage.

This has triggered my venture to seek out those methods that will likely make us smarter in the future. I’ve looked at the techniques we’ve been using to capture, preserve and reuse information, the things that help us remember, navigate and connect the dots. Not only prepackaged tools such as table of contents or book indexes. But also whatever we create ourselves like highlights, annotations, linking and citing to help us (re)organize information and easily consume it. I’ve sought the deeper meaning of why we need to have these techniques and then…I completely abandon them.

Red Highlight or Blue Highlight?
I could not find a viable way to translate the paper methods we are accustom to using in an efficient manner to a digital screen. I will not substitute the hardship of thumbing through indexes references, going back and forth in pages with the ease of simple search boxes or hyperlinks. Or digitally flipping pages and waiting for each page flip animation while a simple swipe with a continuous scroll that ‘rubber-bands‘ naturally seems a lot more appealing. Even the fundamental purpose of highlights seems a bit archaic if your primary goal is to filter out the contextual noise and focus on a phrase. In my humble opinion, the truth does not lie in any particularly fancy visual design but rather designing the animation of the interaction. In short: the presentation of the animation.

Awards and Rewards
I’ve now embarked on a crazy quest to seek out and find or create the perfect animations and interaction designs for seemingly mundane tasks such as highlighting. I’m not aiming for any awards just for real life applications and usefulness. I belief the secret of our intelligence lies not in the amount of information we can access but rather in the manner we interact with it. What makes us smarter is not what we read but how we understand it and remember it.

Now if you follow the logic of D670,713, see if you can spot the concealed patent in the video below. First correct answer in the comments will be rewarded.

The video is an announcement of a future of digital research and the departure of paper.LegalComplex’s mission to explore different options and challenge the status quo through a belief that digital tools are here to enhance not facsimile our intelligence…everywhere.The path to profit was never a straight line yet it was a well marked road. Now, it’s more a adventurous journey towards an elusive place I call Convenience, where profit resides in a hi-res glass house.

Apocalypse 2014: the End of Three Mobile Myths

Apocalypse 2014: the End of Three Mobile Myths 980 431 Raymond Blyd

1. Consumption or Creation?

A recent report by usability guru Nielsen on the iPad reiterates a common understanding about the iPad, which is that it’s mostly for media consumption. Email is “the only slight exception to the rule.” This might be true now but it is not a sign of things to come.

The main reason why consumption is more prevalent is simple: good consumption apps far outnumber good creation apps. The internet started out the same way until Web 2.0, Cloud and SaaS.

The ultimate example of mobile creation – microblogging (Twitter), photography, notes, to-do and other productivity apps aside- are in fact the Apple apps. Garageband, Pages, and Numbers are excellent examples of creation on the tablet. Especially iMovie on the iPhone I find extraordinary. I’ve created over 15 iMovies ( a mix video, photo’s and music) and loaded them onto YouTube in HD straight from my iPhone.

overview_imovie_20110302The trick is to figure out the usability and tasks and refitting them to the mobile form factor. It’s design led by format as oppose to desktop-based workflow.



2. Apps or Web apps?

A Forrester report stated, in general, to do both because it deemed the distinction irrelevant. But here’s the quote from their blog post: a majority of consumers across the globe will access the Internet, not apps.

This is especially true for areas which do have ubiquitous and ambient connectivity. Those areas are expanding. Moreover, real-time and streaming will always be preferred over sync, update, and download. I heard somebody once say: You need real-time data if you want to cross a street. Just as Cloud and SaaS are getting the traction we should not revert back to the notion of “installed software” and its drawbacks.

3. Mobile vs. PC

Taking the above into account the question is not if but when mobile will replace the traditional concept of a PC. Laptops have already replaced the workstation in most business and homes. Smartphone are doing the same with cell phones just as the iPhone is replacing Blackberry.

Predicting the tipping point is a challenging endeavor but here’s my attempt: 2014



Did You Just Call Me a ‘Customer’?

Did You Just Call Me a ‘Customer’? 1920 1080 Raymond Blyd
In a business to business market (B2B), we often refer to ‘the Customer’ as the End-user which is not necessarily the case. Contrary to business to the consumer market (B2C) there isn’t always a direct relation between the purchaser and the End-user of a product in B2B. However, after recent very successful launches of consumer devices and services this differentiation has become distorted. So instead of focusing on the Customer, focus instead on the persons actually pushing the buttons.

Please, you may refer to me as ‘Patient’

In developing for enterprises I define 3 categories of ‘users’:

  1. End-user: the person who is actually working with a product on a daily basis;
  2. Experts: person who is considered by the enterprise as an expert in the field and is either the decision maker or influences the decision making;
  3. Customer: an entity (e.g. the enterprise ) which will ultimately foot the bill and is the main driver behind the purchase of a product.

Now all three types of users use a product in a different way but they are equally relevant. The End-user uses a product more directly. For the Expert the product would be more a means to an end. The Customer in this definition wants a Return On Investment (ROI).

All three users have legitimate uses for a product and must be considered when developing. However, when it is time to set priorities these three different uses might become a muddle.

Example: some business analytics tools come packed with shiny dashboards and gauges. The Customer would be pleased with exposing business critical information. The Experts is satisfied with the prospect of solving a business need. The End-user is – in this example: the person needed to input data in order for the analytics to work – livid with anger and frustration.

The causes may vary from no process in place to produce data to feed the tool, the tedious fashion for inputting or importing data or complex configurations to get information into the dashboard as required. In any case, being the End-users will feel more like a Patient, begging for a cure from a Doctor.

Traditionally, enterprise tools have put more empathize on the Expert and the Customer and who could blame them?

B2B legalcomplexWho’s this feature for?

For knowledge portal development these user roles are somewhat similar with one important distinction: the End-user has by far more power and influence.

For instance, in a legal market these roles would probably translate into the following types:

  1. End-user: Attorneys, Librarians;
  2. Experts: Knowledge Manager, Information Officer;
  3. Customer: Law Firm.

Hereby the End-user does the actual information retrieval (searching & browsing) on a daily basis. The Experts monitors the comprehensiveness, proficiency, and efficiency for the Customer who sees that as its ROI.

Now comes the hard part: Who do you focus on when developing knowledge tools or services? Especially when features request keep piling on and requirements keep coming in. A specific feature might benefit all three equally but that will not always the case. One must always strive to satisfy all three users but if deadline pressures mount (or common sense prevails) you’re likely being forced to choose.

For example, a feature, which is perceived to be crucial for End-users, might raise the cost of a product tremendously which in turn isn’t beneficiary to either Expert or Customer.

User Intimacy

Much to the chagrin of IT, Security and Compliance consumer devices and services e.g. iPhone, Google Docs, WordPress, and Dropbox have been making inroads into enterprises by way of End-users. These tools have in common that they are squarely aimed at them and not Customers. I will not venture and say that they have a really inmate relationship with their users but they do have succeeded in pleasing a lot of them. Enterprise tools have a spotty record in that regard and – in some cases- have been forced to make way for these competitors. A trend started by influential End-users that have been pleading their case for fewer restrictions and more convenience resulting in productivity. We’ve all received corporate emails signed “Send from my iPad” knowing full well that iOS is not supported in your enterprise.

It might not be easy spotting End-users gains as oppose to those for Expert or Customer, but betting on them will surely pay off in the End.

Pleasant Habits vs. Tedious Tasks

Pleasant Habits vs. Tedious Tasks 1920 1080 Raymond Blyd

Contextual Design to create solutions for customers is an excellent post on how to capture the essence of a particular task. But after you’ve turned your solution into the perfect filter, how do you turn it into a solution which gets users away from paper and onto your services?

Design-crop-300x384Design for Convenience
Forrester released a report outlining mobile trends for 2011. Among other trends, it signaled convenience as a focus for companies to invest in. One of the main reason the mobile market is growing exponentially is simply because – in some cases – mobile has become more convenient in use than a desktop. So how does someone design for convenience?

First, you envision the ultimate digital user experience. One in which the user perceives the service as a pleasant habit which they enjoy reusing contrary to a tedious task they are forced to repeat. Then you design the user interface to go along with this experience. Finally, you design the content and platform to fit the interface and experience.

For example, one can geotag content by jurisdictions to be displayed on a map. A user can then visualize different views of subject matter and distil various facts. For instance, they might predict the most likely outcome of a certain case per jurisdictions just by the size of pushpins or the color of a jurisdiction on a map. (See mapping lead ). It will also enable content to be location aware to the user, especially a mobile one, thus creating a new experience and possibly a pleasant habit.

The power of ‘Edit’
Creating a pleasant habit is also realizing that you are not the only one trying to do so. There already are lots of services out there aiming to do the same and your users have experienced some of them.

Moreover, old habits die hard so it is a challenge to entice users to switch to your newly created ‘habit.’ To make the switch easier is to ensure your service can be modified to better fit most users. Users must be able to customize and personalize your service and to easily join or cancel it.

This offers them a simple but powerful incentive called: choice.

Develop with an ‘edit’ button in mind for your user and present it prominently on your service, application, or site. Build API’s for developers and use emerging standards for your services. Let users know they have influence over whatever it is you’re providing for them.

As John Barker hinted in “Content & Software – an Eroding Distinction?”, software has a distinct quality that enables users to manipulate the output. The rise of user-generated content has proven that users crave more control and publishers should provide as much as possible.

Ultimately, publishers should strive to create a platform where a user has the freedom to use content to gain knowledge the traditional way but in a modern fashion.

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