Saturday, March 30, 2013

Is social sharing that much better than RSS?

The idea behind RSS is that you like something someone is doing enough to say "hey, tell me every time this guy (o site) publishes something new".

The idea behind social sharing sites (such as Twitter interest graph presented through Flipboard) is that you connect to people you share interests with and if one of these people find something interesting enough to share it you say "hey, tell me what this guy is sharing because I want to know too"

Lately human curated social sharing has been trumping automated RSS news discovery. Why? The difference is in the extra step of curation and validation that someone is doing when they decide that something is good enough to share vs always automatically sharing something with me just because its new from someone I have previously said I find interesting.

RSS vs Social Sharing

The irony of this last part is that the exact same "problem" with the automatic sharing because of past indication of interest is still happening, only it is happening due to a different entity. Previously the entity of interest was the publisher, now the entity of interest is the sharer. Just because I said i'm interested in this guy in the past I will automatically get told "every time this guy publishes (shares) something new". Same concept different context.

I wonder if the next thing to trump social sharing will be where the relationship between your interest and the thing you are interested in is the actual content itself.... but that just seems like way to much work.

Now theoretically RSS could cease to exist and I could still have the exact same benefits that I had during the heyday of RSS feeds and readers. One simply has to "follow" each of the site publishers of an RSS feed and then hope that these publishers posts each new post on Twitter  (a task that is probably automated already).

One thing is clear: Reading all new items fell from grace when the unread count of an RSS reader became to hard to keep at zero, much like the Inbox Zero problem... the problem statement remains the same: my time is precious, help me spend it wisely.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What'chu talkin' 'bout, Willis? [Pinned Chat]

The other day I witnessed something great. I actually used Google Docs with a large group of people and right before my eyes I saw many little colored cells transform a blank spreadsheet into a document. It was like one of those moments when the lines between technology and magic start to blur.

And then on the side there was a chat panel. A boring old chat panel that had a jumble of conversations about something someone was doing somewhere in the spreadsheet or on the screen.

It was useful, of course, as chat is necessary but it was hard to follow and was clearly broken. I wanted to ask a question related to a specific row in the spreadsheet and so instead of moving to the chat panel I simply started my chat in the next cell of the row. The person who answered me modified the same cell with the answer and I did the same in order to reply. This was definitely not optimal. Changing cells to have a conversation was not optimal either as it would have taken up cell space and mixed conversation with output.

So this got me thinking... (and now that I am writing this I realize that this already exists in the review and comment methods within Microsoft word and excel, only that its missing the real time chat factor):

We should be able to have chats that are pinned to certain points in a document or pinned to the screen.

Little icons would show where chats are taking place. (or to borrow from Excel you could dog ear the corner of the cell to make it less intrusive).

Rollover would show who is involved in the conversation and provide a link to show the conversation.

Chats that are active or have new messages would be highlighted in say orange, with the message count displayed.

As well as adding a comment to the chat you can hide a chat, pin a chat to the page (may be invisible when you scroll down) or to the screen (remains in fixed position relative to screen) or delete a chat.

All general document alerts (x is viewing, x has left etc..) would appear on all chat windows.

There should be a menu or menu item which would provide options to start a chat.

Chats should be able to be dragged and dropped to re-position them and then pin them.

The menu would also have options to hide all chat markers, collapse or expand all chats.

Alternatively a right click menu option would be available to start a chat positioned and pined to current cursor or selected item.

I believe this would be a much easier UX for a user who joins a document at a later stage to be able to follow the conversation and know What'chu talkin' 'bout, Willis?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Children profiles on Facebook

"In order to be eligible to sign up for Facebook, users must be thirteen (13) years of age or older." - Facebook Help

So instead when tagging a photo most people tag a baby or child with the account of the child's mum or dad. Why? because obviously there is a need to be able to identify your child or someone else's child in a photo and share it with friends and family. And lets not forget find photos based on those tags.

I understand why having a profile for a baby or child is against the terms of service and also why some people are against starting a Facebook profile for your child, but what I am imagining is that instead of opening up profiles to every living thing Faceboook should follow the natural way things happen in the real world. A mum and/or dad should be able to create a sub account for the child and then at a certain age when the child gets his/her own profile can choose to inherit the content tagged against his parent's subaccount. Sort of like a history dump or backfilling with your personality.

I wonder if the parent should be allowed to keep the subaccount forever... "You", through the eyes of your mum :). I am sure every teenager would reply "No".

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Why browser based profiles will succeed where Window's profiles did not

History repeats itself. Often. One technology ushers in a new age of media, platforms, experience and then the inherit needs of man demands particular functionality that they found in their old systems but applied to the new. Copy-paste with a touch interface, aggregators of aggregators, multitasking, etc..

One thing I find particularly interesting is the idea of user profiles for the same computer. It is something we have had forever when you log into windows (sorry Apple people if this doesn't apply). I don't have statistics but from what i have seen and experienced i don't think this particular feature was/is heavily used.

I don't think there were many people that would actually take over a computer from someone else in the house, log off windows and then log back into their account.

And now we are starting to see the desire and development of such features related a new type of OS, the browser. The thing is that i can actually see this as something useful. Whereas it's historical counterpart, the windows profile, was something i would never use this browser based profile i could see myself changing when i take control of the home computer from my wife for example.

Why? Because in today's personal, social, and connected computing environment your profile has all of a sudden been given meaning, it has an inherent value, one that makes us sign out of whoever's account is currently signed in on Facebook in order to get "my" version of Facebook.

And when something has value it will stick. So I say bring on browser based profiles, and let's usher in an old feature into a new world where they actually might be useful.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Evolution of iPad apps

I love painting with my fingers. My fingers love painting with me. The one thing that i don't like is when there are barriers to creativity pushed upon me because of an interface between what i need to do and actually doing it. Changing brushes, colors etc.. Requires me to jump out of one frame of mind and into another..

Then i thought of something really cool that could have an application way beyond just a drawing up:

Each finger on your hand is unique... And also has a way of identifying it... Your fingerprint! The same way a police file works. Why can't we then assign to each finger an item (a brush, a color, an action, etc.. You name it.. The sky really is the limit). When the screen is pressed it gets the finger print of the finger and executes the movement under the conditions assigned to the identified finger. If nothing is assigned then it just uses the default setting.

This idea could open up a whole field of UX opportunities for touch screen... That is, if it is even technically possible.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The one button that breaks Gmail's conversation presentation

The one button that breaks Gmail's conversation presentation: FORWARD.

The most difficult feature for some people to get used to in Gmail is the way it ties all emails about the same title into a single conversation type view. It is also one of the greatest features of the email client, perhaps its true differentiator.

So whats wrong with it? The issue comes when there are different people involved in each email.
When can this happen? Most commonly it happens when you forward an email to another person and then have a separate conversation shoot off from the original thread. However it could also happen just by adding people to the reply email.

Why is it broken? The card stack design pattern that Gmail applies means that these different conversations spawned from the same conversation are now mixed together without any regard for their potential differences. The only factor being used is the time facet. Visually the conversation metaphor becomes confusing.

Now, I do not know if there is a technical limitation that forces Gmail to act this way, but i do know that there is at least one feasible presentation option based on the information readily available in the email conversation today: breaking up the conversation stream in different people/group panels. That is, any time there is a different combination of people on a given email in the stream break it off into another panel. The conversations should also be presented spatially within each panel in regard to their general conversation chronological order.

All of this is probably redundant as the number of conservation, comments, thread type apps appear around the web and also as the usage of google wave starts to kick in.. but i think it is an interesting presentation/UX interaction problem that such a design pattern could be applied.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

IDEA: Pizza box with perforated slices

Here is an idea: why dont pizza places send their pizzas in boxes that have perforations in the form of a slice so that you can easily create disposable pizza plates.

  • less washing up
  • portable while still having plates
  • easier to throw away the pizza box afterwards
Doesnt matter if the pizza is sliced in the same dimensions or even if it is sliced at all.. I guess one issue would be that you would have to remove all the pizza to push out the cardboard plate.. but you could make the perforated slices on the top part of the box, that way there is no issue with the weight of the pizza perhaps breaking the perforations.

Excellent for parties, picnics and big groups.

UPDATED: my brother raised a good point about the need to put the unfinished pizza box in the fridge... oh well. :)