August 26th, 2010 § § permalink
There’s been an explosion of location-based services lately, with even Facebook hopping in on the action, and frankly, I’m underwhelmed.
Before I go on though, I should make something clear. I don’t have one of them fancy new-age phones – I use a Nokia 6500-s. I have data on it, but no apps, so my opinion of location-based services is coloured by using their WAP sites.
Most of these services are focused on broadcasting where you are, listening in on friends’ broadcasts and simple gaming (check in, collect a badge, trade virtual goods etc). I feel that this gets boring really quickly. After the initial rush of unlocking badges and becoming the mayor of places on Foursquare, I became completely apathetic towards it. Getting a badge these days makes me go ‘Meh…’ and the only mayorship I really want is that of Red Rock Coffee or of a friend’s house. (cos let’s face it, that’s hilarious. ) Oh, and don’t even get me started on FB Places. I checked in there once and lost all motivation to click through again.
What I’d really like is more practical use out of these services. Some ideas:
Location-based recommendation (idea A):
When I check in somewhere, show me what’s available around me, not just which of my friends are around me. Would be very valuable when I’m travelling or in an unfamiliar area. The tools I use to do this right now are either crowd-sourcing via Twitter or browsing Google Maps.
Location-based recommendation (idea B):
Keep track of the types of places I check in to and recommend similar places when I change my location. For example, I check in a lot at cafés around Mountain View and Palo Alto. When I’m in San Francisco, give me café recommendations! My check ins are a valuable insight into my preferences and habits. Use it to keep me interested and informed.
Event planning functionality:
My location doesn’t only exist in the now. It has a past and a future. An event isn’t only about when it is. It is also about where it is. Merge these aspects and allow me to plan or schedule in my location-based service. This is what we have to do now – event discovery -> rsvp on a service like Eventbrite -> add to calendar -> get reminders via email -> check calendar/event site for address -> attend event -> check in. Why not bring parts of the whole process together? I’m thinking Plancast infused into Foursquare.
Slightly related to the first idea listed above. As far as I can tell, the only way to find new locations is to browse where your friends have been or to check out the newly-crowned mayors list. If I am in City A why not show me a list of places with the most check ins, with the most tips, with the highest mayorship turn over…. You’ve got all this information, why not lemme at it?!
Location-based irl social networking:
Facilitate irl connections between people who have checked in at the same location. Guess what? I’ve done this by simply searching for a location on Twitter. People tweet that they’re where I am, and sometimes I reach out with an @ reply, and we connect irl. Or allow businesses to connect with people who check-in regularly. This already happens irl (with attentive businesses) and via Twitter. Once again, this information is out there. Just make it easy for us to use it.
I have a few more ideas which need to be fleshed out more, so I’ll leave it at that. Also, most of these aspects could be monetised. I’m running out of time – it’s time to check out of Red Rock – so might leave that for another day.
August 24th, 2010 § § permalink
Happened to land on a group’s page today and decided I wasn’t interested in their endless updates and I wanted out. After I finally found the path to ‘adios amigos’ (fyi – it’s a tiny link under the left side bar) and clicked on it, I got this:
Notice how it changes from ‘Leave Group’ at the start of the path to ‘Remove’ in order confirm that’s the action you want to complete. It made me pause. It made me stop and think “Hang on, I thought I was leaving the group. What am I removing??”
Once again, it’s small stuff. But it interrupts my flow. Don’t do it. Unless Facebook is doing it on purpose, to make me stop and think, maybe change my mind in the process…. Hmmmm…
So, Hot Tip: Keep your terminologies consistent throughout your app please.
Disclaimer: In case my bro sees this post and gets the wrong impression – the group used in the screenshot, Plato’s Cave, his venture which I totally and fully support, wasn’t the one I was leaving. That screenshot was taken purely for demonstrative purposes.
July 27th, 2010 § § permalink
I was hanging around the interwebs this morning, and I saw a tweet from @Audi about a live unveiling of the A7. Awesome! Finally, the manufacturer would be bypassing the media and giving me access to a launch! And I don’t even have to physically be there!
Side note: I like the @Audi people. They’re pretty engaging, and have even responded to me to clear up come confusion on my part before. The only criticism I have is that I expected an account called @Audi to be the official global account. This one is US based.
The Facebook A7 Premier page was pretty darn cool too. I didn’t understand why they were sending me to Facebook, until I got there and realised the live stream was embedded there. Finally, a purpose to Facebook pages
As luck would have it, I missed the launch. Got my time zones mixed up. I got to the Premier page about an hour late, and the live stream was gone. I kept checking back hoping they’d put up a recording of the event, but there wasn’t any. So, my first suggestion Audi – please put recordings of live events up. That way I can watch it, share it, embed it, and that’d be spreading awareness fer ya.
A little while later, I saw @Audi tweet “Check out the sexy #AudiA7 rear …warning: maybe NSFW” with a link to their flickr page. (original tweet deleted) Great! I thought. Moar sexy Audi pics! I was all ready to follow em on flickr too. Unfortunately, the images just look like standard brochure fare, and that was disappointing. The brilliant thing about social media – I immediately replied to them on Twitter and let em know what I thought. (No response yet.)
And in case you’re wondering, final check back at the Facebook page shows the same flickr pictures. No event recording.
Which brings me to my second suggestion Audi – When you ask for and get my attention, please don’t let me down. I like your cars. I follow Audi groups on flickr, I share Audi content on Twitter and Facebook via Posterous. I was willing to invest my attention further in your flickr images. But your content let you down.
Don’t feel too bad Audi. I see this time and time again with brands. They run a social media campaign, vying for a small slice of interwebbers’ already limited attentions, and they forget that hype can get them attention, but it’s content that leads to engagement.
It’s also not your fault Audi that there’s some awesome content out there related to your brand and therefore fighting for my attention. Your ace is that you have original content which makes me feel special when you release it to me directly. Use the moments when you release original content wisely, and make sure it blows my mind. That way I’ll happily stalk you on all social networks. You will have my permission to talk directly to me. You might have influence on my future (purchase) decisions. You will HAVE my attention *and* engagement.
June 8th, 2010 § § permalink
So Quit Facebook Day has come and gone. From what I can tell, two of my friends, Mark Pesce and Nathanael Boehm deleted their profile. (It’s hard to be sure just how many deleted their profiles, from what I can tell my total friends’ count has gone up *scratching head*). That’s cool, I have them on Twitter anyways.
I have read theirs and others’ reason for quitting, and on an idealistic level, they have a point. I’m pissed at Facebook, I feel like they’ve reneged on the deal we had, I don’t trust them AT ALL, and I would like out too.
Reality however, as so often is the case, is a bummer. The fact of the matter is that I am too embedded in that closed off, archive-free (a pet peeve, indulge me) ecosystem. It’s not about content. A while ago I made a conscious effort to put my content elsewhere and port it all into Facebook. I basically stopped trusting Facebook with my stuff a while ago.
But here’s what Facebook has that I can’t give up – I *won’t* give up – my people. I’ve spent immeasurable time and effort building my circle and there are people there I don’t have access to outside Facebook. It’s not that we won’t be able to keep in touch outside it, but the fact is that our relationship exists *wholly* within it. We would never email each other – exchanging comments on status updates and wall posts is the extent of our relationship. I would warn against trivialising these relationships due to the nature of the communication. These friends of mine diversify and add colour to my horizon. They’re like the neighbours you see in the street – you exchange pleasantries, clear out each other’s mailboxes when the other’s away – close enough to care, far enough to not share your secret recipes with.
Another form of communication that doesn’t exist outside Facebook is third-party-enabled exchanges. This is the stuff you see that friends of a friend have put up about them. Stuff that you wouldn’t see otherwise. And before you yell ‘STALKER’ at me and run off, I’ve got a real world example for ya.
I’m in California, my parents are in Singapore, and my brother takes off for an European tour with his trash metal band. I had no way of reaching my brother, so my only irl source of keeping in touch with him was through my mother. There was one night when I had a call with my mother who was updating me where bro was and how he was, while at the same time looking at pictures of his trip that his band mate had uploaded to Facebook and tagged him in. I in turn was able to update my mother that it looked like he was still in one piece and having fun.
And then the kicker – I take an image my brother’s friend (who I’m not connected to) has uploaded and share it on my wall, thus allowing all my people who aren’t friends with him to see what he is up to. The comment in that wall post is by a friend of mine currently in India. That’s a four-party-exchange of information that would not have happened this easily any where else.
So give me any argument you have against Facebook, any other platform you can build to replace it – as long as it doesn’t replicate the immediate, intimate and enabled methods of communication Facebook currently provides, I can’t leave. I’m staying, and while I’m there, what I can do is make efforts to educate my people on best Facebook practices, and aid organisations like DataPortability.org to make big bad Facebook a more trustworthy place to hang out. For what it’s worth, I have hope that we’ll all live happily ever after.
November 28th, 2009 § § permalink
This issue is fast turning into one of my pet peeves, hence the following rant.
Dear Facebook and Twitter,
I’m a active member of your sites. So active (productive even) in fact, that I have thousands of Tweets, likes, shared items, comments, you name it. I’m doing exactly what you want and need me to do. So why won’t you let me access them?!?!?! *pulls hair out*
Why is it, Facebook, that I can’t search my past activity? Why is it you won’t let me search wall posts I’ve received? Why is it there is nowhere I can go to view the comments I’ve made?
And Twitter, you’re no better. Thanks to you, I’ve had to resort to ‘favouriting’ my own tweets so I can find them when I need them.
(I mean, seriously, how insane is that?! Not to mention it makes me look like a complete egomaniac… *tsk*)
This might seem like a trivial issue to some, but there is a lot of information exchanged in micro-exchanges on both these services. Information directly related to and useful to me. And every once in a while, I need access to this information. It would be great to be able to perform a simple search and get the information I’m looking for. And I don’t understand why I can’t already do just that.
Living in the moment is great, but I would like the ability to wander down memory lane too.