Ah, Facebook! You’ve been at the center of so much controversy about privacy, callousness towards users and crappy advertising strategies. But if there’s one thing you do well, it’s the ability to slip in some gems of code into your apps and platforms. The latest one, I discovered recently, is the variety and innovation of inputs in your iOS Messenger app. Chatting is something that comes naturally to people. The quick and painless flow of information (hey, gossip is information) is vital to relationships and of late, we’ve been doing a lot of that on mobile phones. iOS, in it’s standardizing tone, has set up the following method of sending information to others – fire up an app, type something you want to send and hit Enter. If you want to send a photo, press a dedicated button to select a few images or take one and send it. If you want to send emoji, press a dedicated button, select the emoji and it’ll be added to your text input. All of this is fine, except the photo sharing part. Recently, I was looking at how redundant that is. The entire process of selecting photos to send (and many apps only allow one photo at a time) and the process of using a single Camera UI to decide if you want to upload old pics or take a new one, is restrictive and kludgy. In comes Facebook Messenger, with the following UI – Continue reading
So, it’s been an interesting week. Some observations –
Found this gem of a Difference between Facebook and Twitter –
Making API calls directly to Facebook can improve the performance of your app, rather than proxying them through your own server.”
Store API responses in your application or on your site if you expect a lot of use. For example, don’t try to call the Twitter API on every page load of your website landing page. Instead, call the API infrequently and load the response into a local cache. When users hit your website load the cached version of the results.”
< p>Turns out, when not losing market share to a third-party app, Facebook is actually quite nice to developers as compared to Twitter. To be fair, tweets constitute a lot more volume and processing, so it would make sense for Twitter to want the devs to cache their data. Also, even ADN has rate limits but at least their limits are more generous than Twitter.
Seriously though, twitter has millions of dollars for servers and all I have is a 128MB VPS. What the heck, Twitter?
Google is no longer Google. It’s Google(+). Everything we love about Google and it’s services is being slowly replaced by Google+ and the latest victim is GMail. Now anyone on Google+ can email you without knowing your email ID. As a communication tool, this makes GMail more open. But that’s exactly what people don’t use GMail for. They use it for Email. Big difference there Google. You can opt-out, but what’s the bet that option will be going away soon?
What Google should actually do –
Google understands one thing and one thing alone – Search. Pushing Google+ isn’t going to help them overcome the social networks of the world. But there is one thing I covet – the Search API. Seriously, why don’t we see third-party Search apps that innovate the way we see our Search results. That’s one data stream we’ve not targeted yet. Google needs to let people in, do their thing and pretty soon we’ll see people integrating Search with social platforms. Oh, you wanna see which of your Facebook friends searched for the latest Tom Hanks movie and then clicked on IMDB? Here’s the data to that. Seriously Google, stop letting one segment of the business take over the other, specially since we know you’ll kill Google+ a couple of years from now.
Ah, advertising! The Bane of TV show
lovers binge-watchers. Advertising has slowly crept in everywhere on the Internet, from YouTube to Hulu. Towards YouTube, go find YouTube5. It’s an extension that replaces the usual YouTube player with a cool HTML5 one and kills all ads in the process. Enjoy.
To Hulu, I say, well, get rid of the “Brandon Switched to Ford” ad. Seriously. It’s a stupid ad, I’ve seen all too much of it and Brandon looks like a total douche for being the black sheep who abandoned the family tradition and switched from a Honda to a Ford. If ever Hulu fails, it’ll be because they keep repeating the same ads over and over again. I do not want to be bored by ads, I want them to be innovative and interesting. (Coincidentally, Samuel L Jackson staring in my face is not innovative. I’m looking at you, Capital One.)
I finally also saw the KFC ads that look like some woman with a video camera uploaded to YouTube. That’s supposed to be innovative? Nope. She looks drunk/high/both and you’re not fooling anyone with these ads KFC, those are scripted (or worse, they’re not!).
Finally, saw a teeth whitening strips ad on Hulu that said, very specifically, “If your teeth are not getting white, they’re getting yellow”. Ok, first of all, yellow teeth are perfectly normal and more an indication of stomach trouble than a medical emergency. Second, the ad targets
people women who drink coffee. First it was guys who smoke who were targeted and now this. Finally, that text up there. That’s a scare tactic. Pretty soon, they’ll come up with a white paper saying that yes, your teeth getting yellow is a medical problem and you need to use teeth whitening strips in conjunction with toothpaste. All of this will be driven by only one thing – Sales telling the Marketing team to get innovative with the ads. There’s no real medical issue that they’ve tried to resolve.
That concludes the rant session on advertising.
Clients from Heaven
I’ve been building a web app for my brother and he mentioned that the text on the screen doesn’t ‘look black’. For a second, I tried hard not to wonder if my brother is a typical MBA Client from Hell but as it turns out, he was right, the text was actually #2C3E50 which is actually a weird dark blue. Thanks Bootstrap for making me look bad in front of my brother!
It was an exciting week to be a WordPress user. Snaplive, a front-end text editing solution was showcased to a few who had signed up for updates. It seems to work really well with WordPress, so expecting some really good things in the future.
Ghost had promised to revolutionize WordPress, but instead it went and setup shop elsewhere. That’s ok, since we have Gust, which is a plugin that ports the awesome Ghost Admin panel functionality to WordPress. Mind you, this just released, so if you’re not ready for bugs (which software doesn’t have bugs?), don’t install this yet.
Finally, a shout out to whatweekisit.com, which I used to, umm, calculate which week of 2014 we’re in. Yeah, I should have just looked at a calendar.
If there’s one buzz word that’s promised to solve all the monetary problems of every Internet-based startup in the past two years, its “Big Data”. Everyone’s collecting it, everyone’s recording it and everyone’s saving it for tomorrow. From Twitter’s Billions(of tweets) to your Netflix queue and even your Google Search history, everyone’s looking to figure out how to sell you more stuff based on your habits.
But no one’s actually selling the data. The data in itself is useless, no matter how much of it you have. It’s the connections that are formed from it that are important and that’s what everyone is hankering to sell – information. However, all that these companies are trying to do is sell information to advertising sources and point of sales organizations like Amazon because that’s where they can easily get a large paycheck in exchange for a much larger database of customer information. Continue reading
Big Brother is watching. This is the ominous note that strikes me whenever I think about George Orwell’s amazing book. It makes sense in a senseless world. We are aware of our governments watching us. But I’m not going to talk about intrusive governments. I’m going to talk about something else. Ever since I joined ADN, I’ve been part of a growing debate over privacy concerns regarding Facebook and developer concerns over a now well-locked down Twitter API. I’ve read about Facebook’s new Graph Search, I’ve read about Twitter’s fight with Instagram and I’ve read about Dunbar’s number. But today, when I saw a link about Twitter being the fastest growing global social platform, is when I realized where all of this is going.
Many months ago, I read an interesting article on Quartz about how Facebook is looking to Africa for its next Billion users. The method is simple – provide Facebook access for free via SMS. In this classic move, people get addicted to the free social network and Facebook gets marketable user data on a Billion more. This despite the fact that we’ve well established that Facebook isn’t what it’s all pegged to be – a way to connect with people. Then I saw this new post about Twitter today and I realized where this is all going. Those of you who’ve read 1984 will know that in the book there are three main countries, each too large to be defeated by the other two, even if they try to combine forces, which never really happens because of ever-changing alliances. All this while, the common people of each State are fed misinformation and trained to accept it as fact. This is an Oligarchical system that cannot be broken. There is a perpetual war and all available resources are concentrated towards it, sacrificed from availability to common man with the hope that it’ll help in the war effort. But the most important facet? Everyone is watched. Continue reading
We all hate spam. Spam is useless, it fills up too much of our email space and it takes a lot of time to get rid of. That’s why email providers invented filters. They wanted everyone to be rid of everything associated to spam.
In today’s age, we’re not restricted to email. Most of our conversations happen on social networks and email is reserved for sending documents or larger conversations (or maybe the occasional person who’s still not on any social network). There’s some protection from spam in social networks because it’s in the benefit of the network providers to prevent non-sense from entering a user’s feed (this is, of course, not true for Facebook). Thus there are enough ways to block spam (ban the spamming friend or application, set filters or use hardware to detect spam) or to avoid it (by overlooking certain posts) that we’re no longer too worried about spam. But what about ham? Continue reading
They’re on our turf now, not the airwaves.
Jason Putorti made this comment 3 days ago. I just read the post. The context is that Politicians have been spending massive amounts of money on print, TV and direct advertisements without caring about talking to their voters and having a real relationship with their constituents. That way, the politician with the most money wins because they cast the widest net on the most sources. He goes on to point that this is not longer the case because of the growth of the Internet and specifically, Twitter. Continue reading
More like a Life Blog. Updates come as they please.
*P.S.* If you’re here from Twitter or ADN, please wait for the latest updates to load, then look for the post you are here to read.
Whenever a trend comes to the social network scene, it comes with a flood of apps and services that do the exact same thing. I recently signed up for a service called TimeHop. It’s a neat service that emails you every day with details of posts that you made on your various social networks exactly a year ago.
Everyday.me is an iOS app that connects to your Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts and basically records everything you post online every day. Also, the service sends you emails every few days reminding you of things you did a few years ago. Sounds familiar? Yep, TimeHop does pretty much the same thing. What’s the difference? Well, Everyday.me collects all that information that you post daily and saves it ON THEIR SERVERS. Awesome way to have your data protected isn’t it?
Anyways, Coming to the most important part of this blog post, Am I keeping this app? Points –
1. Beautiful UI
2. You can see all you do in a stream, from across all your social networks.
3. You can tag your posts for your own reference since all of it is totally private
4. All your data that’s kept on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram will now also be stored on their servers.
So? Am I keeping it? No. It’s out of my phone. Sorry guys!
I’ve been reading a lot of discussion on App.net about how the concept of reblogging/retweeting is going to grow on the network. Since I don’t know how the idea of a retweet (RT) grew on Twitter, I went hunting for information. Turns out, Wikipedia details out the growth of the RT on twitter in this article here. Turns out, the concept of using @ to signify a user and RT to signify a re-post grew organically among twitter users around 2008. This troubled my mind a bit. So, in essence, the growth of culture on twitter was independent of what the company wanted and instead, was in the hands of the users.
Now we come to a discussion on App.net. This discussion right here – Echoes, RPs and “>>” talks about people using the “Share” button on Google Chrome via an extension called Succynct by developer and App.net member Abraham Williams. The point to note is that since the platform is still in it’s infancy, a proper lingo for re-posting has not yet been decided and the creator, Dalton Caldwell has just been using the lingo “RP” for RePost. The conversation flows to discuss the concepts of “>>” and finally, that of “Echo”. Here is where the biggest problem lies. The developer, having a distaste for “>>”, says that in the next build of his extension, he’ll consider adding the “Echo” keyword.
App.net started as a way to hand over control of the flow of conversation to the people. The promise is that no longer will we be plagued by advertisements and spam bots. The promise did not talk about who would have control over the ideas and the culture. This means that people building on top of App.net have the ultimate control. Now here’s the thing – A common user of App.net pays $50 per year while a developer pays $100. Obviously, there will be a lot fewer developers than users. This also means that those making all the apps, extensions and services on top of App.net will be very few. Compare this with Facebook, Twitter and other ad-supported networks. Anyone can get up and create an app. Thus, the onus of deciding lingo rests either on the common users who popularize concepts (as in the case of Twitter) or in the hands of the company (Facebook).
App.net is pretty young right now and because of the promise made to it’s users, the company has rested control of the culture into the hands of the common users. Or maybe not. The disparity between paying users and paying developers means that a concentrated few will get to decided how things formulate. The reason, if it’s not clear to everyone is that a lot of users for all social networks nowadays are mobile. That means that the default web interface for App.net is not going to dictate culture as well as iOS apps do. Even when users are on their desktops, extensions like Succynct will rule the platform and create culture.
Maybe these predictions will come true and maybe not. But the fact remains that as long as App.net retains this business model, the power to create something on top of it will not be in the hands of the masses. Perhaps when App.net has proven it’s point and penetrated a large chunk of the market, it should revisit it’s developer strategy and open doors to many more people, thus making sure that it remains true to it’s goals.