“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 “firstname.lastname@example.org”, 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
“Instead, the should be considered what they are: cryogenic capsules of masses of data, waiting for the sort of duration, extensibility, and data mining efforts that so many of our computers are becoming so good at. They can be split apart, refactored into new ideas, or even pulled back into some mega FTP site of the future. By making the clearest, least fiddled-with archives of these FTP sites, we give the future infinite options. Anything else would be kind of silly.”—FTP’s Bright Sunset and Frozen Night « ASCII by Jason Scott
“Most of Bitcoin’s critics are making a category error. They are taking aim at Bitcoin the currency, when in fact Bitcoin is much more than a currency, in the same way that the Internet is much more than the telecommunication services that preceded it.”—Pocket : Bitcoin isn’t Money—It’s the Internet of Money
“In a nutshell, it says that for the common Web browsing case, HTTP/2 servers will need to use TLS if they want to interoperate with the broadest selection of browsers — just as Mike and Roberto did for SPDY”—mnot’s blog: Strengthening HTTP: A Personal View
“We’re at an inflection point in the practice of constructing software. Our tools are good, our server developers are happy, but when it comes to building client-side software, we really don’t know where we’re going or how to get there.”—ongoing by Tim Bray · Software in 2014
“And a funny thing happens when you approach a mountain – it grows until you reach the foothills, and then as you climb, it shrinks again. Then, when you’re right on top of it, it disappears. Sometimes very sharp changes in elevation hit a kind of sweet spot in our ability to appreciate vastness, and there vertigo kicks in. But most of the time, mountains are too big to understand.”—The Lay of the Land | edgeca.se
“In the event that your product is pre-launch like Google Wallet was, a key tool to product success is to structure your initial sales and customer relationships to include data-gathering partnerships that benefit both parties. Both parties establish performance metrics that should be tracked and agree to monitor and analyze the data on a regular basis. The customer usually agrees that the provider can use the data in marketing materials, a case study or on a reference basis to support future sales. In return, the customer may get a preferential rate structure, co-marketing benefits, the ability to provide input on product roadmap, first access to new features, etc.”—New technology products and “promise-driven” sales | Just Dudas
“I needed to learn C to make a device driver for work. I told them I knew C because I am good with email and word so they hired me. This book is too slow paced at the beginning but then starts talking about all kinds of crazy computer concepts that I never heard of and have nothing to do with email or the internet or device drivers like integers and main and void. I ended up getting fired after only 2 months. It was ok because this job paid more in 2 months than any other job I ever had paid in a year plus I got a month of severance, but it would have been nice to keep my job.”—Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Programming in C (3rd Edition)
“I won’t lie, it was a humbling moment. Learning that you’re not the first to explore a concept, especially in such an impressive project like DigitGrid, has a way of knocking the wind out of your sails. I wrestled with halting development of our display. What was the point? It had been done. Except that it had not been done by us. That was an important distinction. We decided to push forward with the idea that we could bring something new to the table, that we could evolve the concept of a digit display from simple canvas to real-time mirror.”—Teehan Lax Labs - D.I.G.I.T.
“Some basic changes come as a result. Deep cupboards with doors, for instance, have lost their appeal, as it is too hard to know what is bured in the back. So IKEA invested heavily to equip the Metod with pot drawers and other pullout features.”—The Long, Slow Process of IKEA Design - WSJ.com
“I’ve heard many people talk about dropping MongoDB in to their web application as a replacement for MySQL or PostgreSQL. There are no circumstances under which that is a good idea. Schema flexibility sounds like a great idea, but the only time it’s actually useful is when the structure of your data has no value. If you have an implicit schema — meaning, if there are things you are expecting in that JSON — then MongoDB is the wrong choice. I suggest taking a look at PostgreSQL’s hstore (now apparently faster than MongoDB anyway), and learning how to make schema changes. They really aren’t that hard, even in large tables.”—Sarah Mei » Why You Should Never Use MongoDB
“This of course means every numbnuts and his dog are currently crawling out of the woodwork and regaling us with their carefully considered twaffle about what Twitter is doing, what it should do, and how much money we’re all going to make buying and selling Twitter’s IPO shares when and if they ever come to market. A particularly amusing sub-genre of said twaffle consists of various pundits of varying credibility and credulousness pontificating on what Twitter is actually worth, as if that is a concrete piece of information embedded in the wave function of quantum mechanics or the cosmic background radiation, rather than a market consensus which does not exist yet because, well, there is no public market for Twitter’s shares.2”—The Epicurean Dealmaker: Go Ask Alice
“We’re going to cut straight to the chase. Modern browsers can animate four things really cheaply: position, scale, rotation and opacity. If you animate anything else, it’s at your own risk, and the chances are you’re not going to hit a silky smooth 60fps.”—High Performance Animations - HTML5 Rocks
“The problem with hyper product-oriented entrepreneurs is that they often have one tool in their pocket: Making a great product. That’s both admirable, and dangerous. Once the initial product is working, the team has to quickly transition into marketing and user growth, which requires a different set of skills. It has to be more about metrics rather than product design: running experiments, optimizing signup flows, arbitraging LTVs and CACs, etc. It’s best when this is built on the firm foundation of user engagement that’s already been set up. In contrast, an entrepreneur that’s too product oriented will just continue polishing features or possibly introducing “big new ideas” that ultimately screw the product up. Or keep doing the same thing unaware of the milestone cliff in front of them. Scary.”—When a great product hits the funding crunch
“Also, there’s the fact that both “NSA Files Decoded” and “Snowfall” so clearly take the form of what I like to call “The Editor’s Prerogative.” What is The Editor’s Prerogative? It’s when you take a piece of journalism and make it huge in scale and elaborate in delivery so that it is more in line with how important an editor thinks the story is than how new audiences actually want to consume it.”—Subtraction.com: The Guardian’s “NSA Files Decoded” and Multimedia Journalism
“Firstly, user research should focus on getting beyond inquiring about user needs and expectations, because they produce weak generative power. The key is to delve into deeper issues and to investigate people’s fundamental motivators. Secondly, it’s vital to share research findings in a more urgent and dramatic manner in order to transform them into inciters of profound change.”—White paper on the magic of human insights | Designit
“In Japan, there was a similar, interesting moment when you started to see older folks and men start using these kind of cute aspects — these emoji — that originally came from middle-school girl, mobile-phone culture,” said Mimi Ito, a cultural anthropologist at the University of California, Irvine, who studies how young people use digital media in Asia and the United States. “Now, as emoji are seeing more adoption in the U.S., you’re seeing a form of communication being used that was clearly developed and marketed to a different demographic.”—Disruptions: Texting Your Feelings, Symbol by Symbol - NYTimes.com