If your Facebook feed is anything like mine you’ve seen an influx of Bitstrips lately.
Based on my experience of using Bitstrip, here’s thirteen Bitstrips you must see (eat your heart out, Buzzfeed).
I don’t often find myself visiting the website of the Liberal Party of Australia. Politics aside however, when I did stumble across the site today, a newsletter subscription form pop-up welcomed me:
Sadly, these sorts of annoyingly desperate newsletter pop-ups are fairly ubiquitous online these days. However, can you see how to actually close the window?
If you look above the National Party leader Warren Truss and squint you can just about spot a little white “x”.
Obviously, from a user experience perspective, closing this window (that 99% of users will probably want to do) isn’t an easy task. The simple solution? Of course, make the “x” larger and more prominent.
Perhaps this would work better? Let’s put the X in the most prominent place possible… over the face of Liberal leader Tony Abbott:
Much, much better.
(To be fair, I’m up for putting big crosses over any politician’s face… but with the exception of The Nationals, no other major Australian parties nag their users like this. So Tony will have to do for now!)
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the concept of “endless games” and how they apply to content. From SCVNGR’s game dynamics playdeck:
Endless games: Games that do not have an explicit end. Most applicable to casual games that can refresh their content or games where a static (but positive) state is a reward of its own.
This same mechanic is at work within almost all social networks: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and even Quora. It’s a simple concept: every time you return to any of these social networks, there’s something new for you. Something to read, something to discuss, a funny animated GIF, a link to explore — and on and on. The fact you’re getting something new and unknown whenever you return to a social network is one reason they have become such a powerful part of digital life.
And that’s why I was quite excited about Potluck — a social network dedicated to sharing links. As a link junky this sounded like a wonderful proposition. From their homepage:
Discover new things your friends think are cool (that you wouldn’t find otherwise!).
Sounded pretty good. I signed up and even sent it to work colleagues and tweeted it out. I connected to around a dozen people on the first day. Found some nice new links. A good start. But since yesterday afternoon?
Zip. Nothing is happening. Just tumbleweeds rolling by.
What motivation do I have to return to Potluck?
Zero. There’s nothing new there.
Critically, because it’s only very new and I only have a few connections, of course there’s likely to be little there. Where are the link suggestions? Trending links? Popular links? There is literlaly no reason for me to bother ever signing in again. Am I missing some part of the site? Or is it really just meant to be like this?
Potluck has failed at creating a sense of an endless game, and for me that means it’s failed entirely as a social network concept.
It’s incredible that a product with such an impressive team behind it (Evan Williams and Biz Stone to name just two) could be launched like this. This isn’t even beta.
Potluck describes itself as The best house party you’ve ever been to. On the internet.
Alas, this seems more accurate…
Here are the two compared:
The similarities, of course, are not surprising.
Without comparing the datasets directly, it’s hard to find any definitive insights, but a few things that look interesting:
I’d love to compare these datasets together along with similar stats from Twitter, Baidu/Weibo in China and VK in Russia/Eastern Europe.
Can anyone else see any other interesting similarities (or differences) in here?
Earlier this year, the new UK Government portal GOV.UK won “Design of the Year” from the Design Museum. But this wasn’t just in the web or digital category — it was THE design of the year. The site was valued higher than the architecture and construction of The Shard and even the Olympic Cauldron from London 2012. An amazing precedent for digital work that rightly illustrates what a tremendous and ground-breaking project GOV.UK is and continues to be.
Deyan Sudjic, director of the Design Museum, sums up GOV.UK nicely:
all the things that we would like to take for granted from the Government but, in a sea of red tape and jargon, usually can’t
When the 2013 Webby Awards were announced at the end of April, I made a casual assumption that GOV.UK would make the list of awards. However, it didn’t. But what I find interesting is perhaps not so much GOV.UK’s omission, but more what the actual winner of the 2013 Webby Awards for Government website was.
Hold on folks, strap your bullet-proof vest on and cock your pistol: this shit is about to GET REAL. Ladies and gentlemen, take cover as you visit MILWAUKEE POLICE NEWS.COM. (If you’ve got motion sickness pills, take them now: the parallax is like a stormy sea).
Wow. They say the Webbys are “The Oscars” of the web — and in this case Michael Bay and Vin Diesel have just won. The site is missing one thing: Bad Boys by Inner Circle playing in the background. The site is seriously like an episode of cops… but in some strange futuristic world or perhaps a different dimension.
I’ve not been to Milwaukee, but I was always under the impression it was a quite nice place. However, after visiting this site I’m concerned that Milwaukee is a cross between Gotham City in Christopher Nolan’s Batman films and a city in some Latin American narco-state. (The most wanted section is particularly indicative of this).
I’ve actually got no idea who this site is for. I can’t even see any way to contact Milwaukee Police on this site. There’s not even a single mention of 911 on the page. There is a link to how you can pay parking tickets, but it’s about 10,000 pixels down the page just above the sexy photo of a SWAT van.
So, GOV.UK clearly has a lot to learn from MILWAUKEE POLICE NEWS.COM and their Webby triumph. As a proud British resident (and almost citizen), I’ve decided to help out the nice folks at GOV.UK and redesign their homepage to make it more better and stuff.
Check it out: the new and improved GOV.UK.
Sometimes it seems like the more technology we use to make our lives easier the more frustrations we are subjected to. Take for instance my own personal pet hate online: the awful CAPTCHA.
Reviled by all, CAPTCHA’s have become an accepted burden online. It feels like these unpleasant snippets of mangled text have become the first line defence in a war against machines and bots — based on the theory that humans are able to decipher these riddles better than machines. For now, at least.
Many alternatives to CAPTCHA have been proposed. Some of the best defence systems against bots are actually invisible to users — for instance the honeypot technique. The less human users are bothered the better, but there is another alternative approach that works remarkably well: so well, in fact, that it’s actually quite fun doing it.
When Facebook registers unusual activity on an account — for instance logging in from a new computer or overseas — it will often prompt the user to verify their identity.
One option it gives is identifying friends in photos.
This approach well and truly turns user verification into a simple game: you get three photos of five friends you must identify (and two skips — which is useful in case it shows you the photos of some friend’s baby or dog or other randomly tagged photo).
The photos chosen are totally random and the process is quite fun. Not only does it make a serious issue like security verification a positive experience, the entire process is so great because the alternatives — such as CAPTCHAS — are so absolutely awful.
Facebook is different from say a ticket booking website in that is does have the luxury of having a huge amount of personal data to draw on. But surely with some creativity many websites could find a more creative way to filter out bots?
Let’s say, for instance, I’m trying to order some Black Sabbath tickets. Why not ask me to identify Black Sabbath from a group of images (or some music as an accessible alternative)?
Beats the hell out of a CAPTCHA — even though it might involve a bit of Justin Bieber.
On December 12th I noticed a link on Facebook: “2012: Your year in review”. Boldy it proclaimed:
“A look at your 20 biggest moments from the year including life events, highlighted posts and your popular stories.”
I love these ‘end of year reviews’. They’re one of the best things about the close of the year — looking back over the year that was and reliving highlights (and often lowlights). Some of the more interesting ones from 2012 were Google’s Zeitgeist 2012, 2012 Year on Twitter and The Atlantic’s 2012: The Year in Photos.
Naturally I was really interested to see a personalised year in review from Facebook. Given that I use Facebook a lot — and therefore Facebook knows a lot about me, and has a lot of my data — my expectations were quite high.
Unfortunately, my Facebook year in review was woefully underwhelming. (If you’re friends me on Facebook, you can see my Year in review — or see your own — which is hopefully more interesting than mine).
So why was mine so underwhelming?
Lovefilm is a great service. I get plenty of value from it, and I easily watch hours of movies and TV shows on it each week both on my laptop and Playstation 3 (and possibly on mobile — if only they had a mobile streaming service)
Going back to TV specifically, I’ve been slowly making my way through countless hours of Lost on Lovefilm.
I’m in the final stretch now: only a few episodes left of the last season. But at the end of each episode, something happens that just drives me crazy. I see this come up on my screen:
The helpful ‘More like this’ screen suggests Justice with Nicholas Cage and a show called Spartacus: Gods of the Arena. Now I could easily question how relevant these suggestions are to Lost, but what really irks me is…
Why the hell isn’t there a link to the next episode of Lost?
In fact, there is no link anywhere on the entire page to the next episode. There are similar recommendation links on the page that link to random episodes I’ve already seen, but nowhere with a direct link to the next episode. Which would be the most relevant piece of content that could be suggested to me.
You can’t even hack the URL:
(…unless you know the name of the next episode and some mystical six digital ID)
Basically, I’ve got to hit the back button and remember what episode I just watched and click on the next episode under it.
Ultimately, watching TV series like this is infuriating. ‘More like this’ is actually ‘Less like this’.
Please Lovefilm, for Hurley’s sake — just add a link to the next episode in!