“Avoiding burnout is difficult to write about, because the basic premise is obnoxious. Burnout is a rich man’s game. Rice farmers don’t get burned out and spend long afternoons thinking about whether to switch to sorghum. Most people don’t have the luxury of thinking about their lives in those terms. But at the rarefied socioeconomic heights of computerland, it’s true that if you run a popular project by yourself for a long time, there’s a high risk that it will wear you out.”—Pinboard Turns Five (Pinboard Blog)
“I see my role much like a small-town praire banker in the 1880’s. My job is to project an aura of calm, solvency, and permanence in an industry where none of those adjectives applies.”—Pinboard Turns Five (Pinboard Blog)
“every time someone visits News Feed there are on average 1,5001 potential stories from friends, people they follow and Pages for them to see, and most people don’t have enough time to see them all. These stories include everything from wedding photos posted by a best friend, to an acquaintance checking in to a restaurant.”—News Feed FYI: A Window Into News Feed | Facebook for Business
“IAC is giddy over its investment. “Services like Tinder and OkCupid acclimate new groups of people to meeting online,” CEO Gregory Blatt said on a July 31 earnings call. “Once people have used technology to meet other people, no matter what the service was they initially used, a barrier’s been broken, and they’re more likely to do it again.” Tinder may one day draw revenue of its own, but for now it’s essentially a gateway drug to Match.com, which had operating income of $205 million for 2012. “The more people we can get to try these services, whether we own them or not, the more likely they are to use our other services,” Blatt added. “Of course, it’s better when we own them.””—Dating App Tinder Catches Fire - Businessweek
A facial recognition search system identifies one or more likely names (or other personal identifiers) corresponding to the facial image(s) in a query as follows. After receiving the visual query with one or more facial images, the system identifies images that potentially match the respective facial image in accordance with visual similarity criteria. Then one or more persons associated with the potential images are identified. For each identified person, person-specific data comprising metrics of social connectivity to the requester are retrieved from a plurality of applications such as communications applications, social networking applications, calendar applications, and collaborative applications. An ordered list of persons is then generated by ranking the identified persons in accordance with at least metrics of visual similarity between the respective facial image and the potential image matches and with the social connection metrics. Finally, at least one person identifier from the list is sent to the requester.
“After reading as much as I can, and after talking to many smart folks in the space, I’ve come to a few conclusions: (1) The block chain as a computer science innovation is for real; and (2) there are 101 business applications that can be rewritten by harnessing its attributes; but (3) it is very early days and right now, most of the best minds working in this space are focused on payments and stored value.”—A Brief Survey Of The Block Chain And Business Processes – Haywire
“That is, a central strategic problem for both Amazon and Facebook, amongst others, is that their businesses have moved from the essentially neutral platform of the web browser, where there has been no real change in the user interaction model in 20 years, to the much messier, mediated and fast-changing platform of smartphones, where the web is just one icon and platform owners are continually adding new ways that users much discover and engage with content, such as iBeacon or Google Now. They didn’t need to make browsers because browsers had become transparent commodities, but smartphones aren’t. This of course is why Google itself made Android - to make sure that it would not be shut out in this new environment. Making an entire new OS is not an sensible option for Amazon or Facebook at this stage, but building on top of a free, open-source one is worth at least thinking about. But, again, in doing that you need to solve the users’ problems, not just your own.”—Amazon and Android forks — Benedict Evans
“The Kade children are as children elsewhere: agile with machines. They quickly learn to landscape them, magnify the font size, prop them up like tablets for relaxed reading. They have no trouble with the interface. They make the Kindle do things I didn’t know it could do. The children find hidden features, text-to-voice features, make the devices read to them — robotically but surprisingly clearly — and follow along as the text moves in unison, helping them navigate words that might be a bit out of their English register. Most importantly, the children learn to find books. Books they love, books they must read for homework. Books with curious titles.”—Ebooks for all — The Message — Medium
“One way to think about this is if you imagine the very first tool made, say, a stone hammer. That stone hammer could be used to kill somebody, or it could be used to make a structure, but before that stone hammer became a tool, that possibility of making that choice did not exist. Technology is continually giving us ways to do harm and to do well; it’s amplifying both. It’s amplifying our power to do well and our power to do harm, but the fact that we also have a new choice each time is a new good. That, in itself, is an unalloyed good—the fact that we have another choice and that additional choice tips that balance in one direction towards a net good. So you have the power to do evil expanded. You have the power to do good expanded. You think that’s a wash. In fact, we now have a choice that we did not have before, and that tips it very, very slightly in the category of the sum of good.”—The Technium | Edge.org
“Technological progress may ultimately usher in an era of affluence so great that our main dilemma each day will be trying to decide whether we should write a symphony or paint a masterpiece. But in between then and now, there will be great dislocations and the wealthy can be counted upon to use their riches to make government work for their own interests rather than for the general welfare. Because that’s obviously what’s happening right now, and it’s very difficult to see how simply getting out of Silicon Valley’s way will change that fundamental dynamic in any meaningful way.”—Tech’s toxic political culture: The stealth libertarianism of Silicon Valley bigwigs - Salon.com
“If, as entrepreneur Marc Andreessen has said, such “software is eating the world”, then apps like Uber are just the hors d’oeuvres. The next course contains the more interesting questions: what happens when we apply those affordances and dynamics to the core services of everyday life that are not just serving desires — as Spotify, Vine or Amazon do — but needs, like mobility, health, waste, energy, food, water and education?”—Dan Hill’s Opinion column on the Uber taxi app and civic services
“Note that all talk about “percentages” in judging TT performance is just numerology. Designing a machine to exhibit 100% Turing indistinguishable performance capacity is an empirical goal, like designing a plane with the capacity to fly. Nothing short of the TTT or “total” flight, respectively, meets the goal. For once we recognize that Turing-indistinguishable performance capacity is our mandate, the Totality criterion comes with the territory. Subtotal “toy” efforts are interesting only insofar as they contain the means to scale up to life-size. A “plane” that can only fall, jump, or taxi on the ground is no plane at all; and gliding is pertinent only if it can scale up to autonomous flight.”—The Turing Test Is Not A Trick: Turing Indistinguishability Is A Scientific Criterion
“But most of the debates about online privacy aren’t really about privacy at all. They’re about informed consent and how we make the decision to make the privacy / convenience trade. Most of the convenience benefits are seen best from inside the graph. And most of the privacy invasion is only apparent when you step outside and look down. Which makes things tricky.”—Data ghosts in the Facebook machine | Smethurst
“Email is the copy-paste of the Internet. It is passing notes in class. It is writing postcards. It is no less the place of manifestos or the mystery of language and all the hand-written letters before it regardless of its delivery medium. It is a conceptual framework that affords more than the alternatives and even where it fails it still demands less than other choices and so it still comes out ahead of everything else. It is hardly perfect but built-in to its use is the idea that the person at the other end of a message isn’t a complete idiot and can fill in the blanks, or just hit reply and ask you to elaborate if they can’t.”—[this is aaronland] the internet of non-sequiturs
“Building great management and great culture is never easy nor complete, but both are much harder to tackle when product has already shipped. Take advantage of the benefits of build phase to start early and tackle these hard problems before they become so massive they put the company’s success on the line.”—Pocket : Facebook VP of Engineering on Solving Hard Things Early
“The user of the future will fly her own computer. She will own and control her own identity and her own data. She will even host her own apps. She will not be part of someone else’s Big Data. She will be her own Little Data. Unless she’s a really severe geek, she will pay some service to store and execute her Urbit ship - but she can move it anywhere else, anytime, for the cost of the bandwidth.”—Urbit · Personal Cloud Computing
“In fact, “mor” may be what is sometimes called a phonestheme: a part of a word that tends to carry a certain connotation not because of etymology or formal definition but just by association. Words that start with “gl” often have to do with light (glow, gleam, glimmer, glitter, glisten, etc.) even though they are not all related historically; similarly, words that start with “sn” often relate to the nose (snoot, sniffle, snot, snore, sneeze, etc.). It doesn’t mean that all words with those letters have the meaning in common, but there is a common thread among a notable set of them.”—Why is the ‘mor’ in ‘Voldemort’ so evil-sounding? - The Week
MailCatcher runs a super simple SMTP server which catches any message sent to it to display in a web interface. Run mailcatcher, set your favourite app to deliver to smtp://127.0.0.1:1025 instead of your default SMTP server, then check out http://127.0.0.1:1080 to see the mail that’s arrived so far.
“But by the same token, Mt. Gox’s fall, and the systemic threat it for a time seemed to have exposed, represents a trial by fire from which bitcoin has emerged, if not stronger, then at least more proven. “There were remedies in place which allowed the vast majority of the infrastructure to resume operation quickly,” says Matt Branton, a bitcoin entrepreneur who runs the retail content service Coinlock. “The way the community comes together when bugs are discovered tells you a lot more about the strength of bitcoin than this particular flaw does.” That its oldest servicer’s implosion has not taken the rest of bitcoin with it may be the greatest testament yet to the power of the technology, and the community that backs it.”—Cryptocalypse now: Bitcoin’s issue with ‘transaction malleability’ - Term Sheet
“It is incumbent on the present-day world to rescue and preserve the data off these floppies, as the choice won’t be left to the next generations to do so. Debates about the worthiness of the data are fine enough, but in another few years the debate will not be about whether items can be saved, but how best to work with, present, and study all that was saved. It is a dying medium and resource.”—The Flippy Disk Thing « ASCII by Jason Scott
“The idea of the stream has become so dominant that it is easy to think it is the natural state of things in a networked media environment. “Of course we have the stream: this is the Internet after all.” That’s why it’s so important to look back at 2009 (just 2009!) and remember that the stream is a creation of particular companies and thinkers. Yes, they were following what worked, they were following the numbers. But they were also guided by their own desires and Brian Eno quotes and their guts.”—2013: The Year ‘the Stream’ Crested - Alexis C. Madrigal - The Atlantic
Supportive, attentive and grateful: customerish relationships and experiences
At work we’ve been discussing an ever-present topic: which services may a business (specifically, in the banking industry) offer to non-costumers, seeking an outcome of fostering brand recognition and brand values, laying the foundations to a relationship of trust, and, ultimately, increasing the likelihood of the user of the service eventually becoming a customer. While categorizing the current and possible offering of services for costumers and non-costumers, we stumbled upon a new realization, that while I am a costumer of some businesses and a non-costumer of, well, the rest, there are some business of which I am less of a non-costumer than of others; this idea we christened as “customerish relationships”.
"Customerish relationships" describe an engagement between a person and a business that is not direct and formal, but implicit, socially mediated and built upon repetition in the stead of an explicit contract. It’s the relationship that I have with my spouse’s bank, with whom I share a money pot and a bunch of financial products, without being a customer myself, on an almost daily basis. It’s the relationship my parents have with Amazon when they defer the ordering of stuff to me because they won’t be bothered to deal with web forms and Paypal; it’s the relationship I have with my landlord’s bank to which I have arranged the automated monthly transfer of the rent fee. Customerish is customership-by-proxy. It portraits a scene of liminal transactions, with the ingredients of closeness, repetition and intertwined feedback loops as opposed to the straightforwardness and more easily described customer-business relationships.
The attitudes and behaviors of customerish experiences are affected by the same factors and conditions than “regular” retail experiences, in positive (gaining an appreciation of the business’ offerings, improving the brand perception and even taking the first steps towards an eventual conversion into customer) and negative (being affected by low quality of service, bad user experience, delays in retail delivery, …) manners alike. Yet, the feedback and satisfaction levels derived from these experiences will not be captured, and not even recognized, by traditional means of customer relationship management. Akin to the ideas of the "Deep web" and the “Dark social”, we can talk about a “Deep CRM”, a layer of human perceptions and feedback loops that are not currently parsed or indexed by existing CRM solutions.
From this description, a number of interesting design opportunities arise, each one labeled under a humane quality:
- Being supportive: caring for the customerish experiences of my customers with other businesses mediated by my own.
Which other businesses do my users rely on as part of their consumption cycles? What opportunities do exist for fostering collaborations and allegiances that erase the seams on a multi-tier consumer transaction and increase the value for all the parts involved? Can we “pave the cowpaths”, even, and specially so, when those paths take the customer beyond our reach?
Integration of 3rd party APIs is a common practice nowadays by which digital products and services pay service to the idea that they’re but a link in a chain of value for the user, but there’s still much need to take this notions into consideration from the concept and design stages of a project, taking for granted user desires and activities that start before and end well beyond our business.
Example: A bank that, after a number of recurring automated transfers have happened, offers me the possibility of adding that account as another kind of product on my portfolio, with historical visualizations and other perks usually reserved only for the bank’s own products.
- Being attentive: caring for the customerish experiences of non-customers with my business.
Which opportunities do exist to foster a casual relationship into a deeper engagement, while avoiding the risks of behaving in spammy, antisocial and counterproductive ways? Key here are the ideas of memory, proactiveness and a “digital patina” that recognizes the historicity of the relationships between users and digital interfaces. Also, how can I design around the idea of “transparency” so my services/products are not “black boxes”, but can’t be probed, explored or addressed by others without the need to become a customer?
Think about the social ties of our customer. What are her spouse’s, friend’s, business partner’s needs and how can we reach out to them so their occasional interactions with our touchpoints and communication channels are as pleasant and efficient as possible?
Example: In a merchant’s website, a special page where I, a non-costumer, can see a list of “Things that have been gifted to me” by costumers of the site, akin to the standard “My orders” page for costumers.
- Being grateful: caring for the “social proxies” that enable the customerish relationships between my business and non-costumer.
How can we acknowledge the value that our customers add to our own economic cycles beyond the mere act of consumption? When they act as emissaries, proxies or even sales assistants in our behalf, not for the sake of our business, but because of their own social dynamic loops, how can we design towards making their contributions easier, more meaningful and rewarding?
Consider the social dynamics that your costumer is a participant of and that result in interactions with my site for other people. Make sure barriers are lowered and hassles are removed. Enhance the processes with affordances and benefits that evoke delight and fidelity and express thankfulness.
Example: Create a “social ID” for me as a costumer of the bank, in the form “email@example.com”, that’s all whomever wants to transfer me money needs to know. Reward me with loyalty points every time that social ID is used for transferring money to me.
Being supportive, attentive and grateful are drivers that we can use when figuring out how to navigate the complex scenarios of multi-tier human/business interaction. In the multilayered scenery of capitalist western economies, customer status is no longer a binary state, but glides over a gradient of intermixed relationships between businesses and people, generating more complex and harder to describe states for the mental models, attitudes and expectations of economic players. By being alert to the new complexities that arise, we’ll be able to design new ways for businesses to expand and reach out to people while accommodating their ever more subtle wants and needs.
“The Kano model is a theory of product development and customer satisfaction developed in the 1980s by Professor Noriaki Kano, which classifies customer preferences into five categories.”—Kano model - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
“Certainly, this isn’t ‘Windows versus Mac all over again’. There are now 490m iOS devices in use, but PCs only hit that number in around 2000, long after Apple lost the last ecosystem battle. Apple sold 51m iPhones last quarter - total PC sales in 1995 were 59.5m. That is, the iOS ecosystem now is much bigger than the winning ecosystem back then.”—Ecosystem maths — Benedict Evans
“The selfie makes sense as the fundamental unit of communication on Snapchat because it marks the transition between digital media as self-expression and digital media as communication.”—2014 AXS Partner Summit Keynote
By now it’s fairly well known that we care a lot about headlines here at Upworthy. We write at least 25 of them for each post. We test them rigorously. Sometimes, we even make up a word to catch your eye.
Why? Because for us, headlines are an important means to an even more important end: …
“So, rather like the blind men examining an elephant, who each feel one part and conclude the elephant is a snake or a tree, when TMT companies look at another industry they tend to see the bit that matters to them and assume that that’s the important part. Tech people have this problem particularly badly: a repeated failing of tech companies is to look at media and telecoms, see some tech, and think it’s the key point of leverage in those markets. Mobile networks and TV do look like tech should be a crucial lever, but that isn’t necessarily so.”—Ignorance — Benedict Evans