The Uber API is here, and it’s about to make it’s way into all of your favorite apps, and that’s a very, very, good thing. The concept of the Uber “button” is radically different than other buttons in that it helps connect digital to physical. Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest all have buttons embedded across the Internet to help engage with and distribute content. Amazon provides ways to add items to a shopping cart, that you can later purchase, and start bridging physical “goods” to a digital button. Uber now, is providing millions of people, a button to call a cab. Now, this isn’t so different than it’s current app. Tap a button, get a ride.
The next phase is to add this on-demand button to hundreds and thousands of services that you already use, mixed in with contextual scenarios, and the Uber button becomes a tool to help accomplish a task that wasn’t available before. If you have a restaurant reservation on OpenTable, you can call a ride to take you to dinner. Have a flight booked? Call an Uber from the app that has your boarding pass to take you to the airport.
With the added benefit of getting Uber in front of millions of new users, it helps provide additional value to an app using the APi. Imagine how much more useful if an app like Foursquare, which I use to save venues I want to go to all over the world, integrates the button so when I visit, say New York or Taipei, I can pull up my list on Foursquare, tap to call an Uber, and literally go to these places without having to worry about renting a car, looking up addresses, plugging them into maps, find parking, etc… Have a Facebook (note: 1+ billion users) event invitation to a birthday party? I can take an Uber from the event page, which has time and location of the event.
And it’s just the beginning. These are just a few scenarios for transportation. When Uber launches into the biggest logistics company in the world, it’ll only become much more useful and powerful. Expect big things to happen, especially at the rate they’re building.
Uber is changing the fabric of these cities. At our current rate, Uber is responsible for directly creating 20,000 new jobs per month and powering billions in economic impact in cities around the world – while also improving the environment, reducing DUI rates and fueling urban economic development.
There’s not much more to say other than the vision is grand, and Uber is executing it at an enormously fast pace.
Routeshare is the easiest way to safely share your location in real time. Recipients receive a link to view your ETA (estimated time of arrival) and location.
Love that the app demo is the main content of the site. Extremely accessible by sharing location via web instead of requiring recipient to install app. Seems like a useful tool that I’m definitely going to try! Fantastic work by Emiel Janson
"19 out of 20 times when someone used Foursquare that had the business up front and the party in back they either went to business or they went to party, not both."
"How do we take all of those different lego pieces (statistical data points) and assemble them in a way that really makes sense for the things that we can do with phones in 2014?"
"People don’t want to have their face on a map. They don’t want to be precision pointed at a lat/long so someone can find them at a park."
"To be able to look and see these people are online, these people are offline, this person’s active, this person’s not. What does that version of a buddy list look like when it’s on your mobile phone and it has some element of location and it makes it easy to connect with people?"
I’m extremely excited to see the future of Foursquare and Swarm. The idea that your lock screen is now the new newsfeed is one that not many apps take full advantage of. Knowing one’s location and being able to contextually display relevant information is a powerful way to help guide a user through daily activities and exploration, but also, on an experience side, be able to build trust between service and user. Starbucks uses this approach to display your Starbucks card on your lock screen when you’re near a location that you explicitly mark as a favorite.
Would I want an app that pushes a message to me about the ice cream across the street when it knows that I might not have a sweet tooth (based on the lack of dessert shop check-ins)? There’s a chance that I might find it annoying and block push messages from the app altogether. Now, say I have a history of checking in to dessert places, that all happen to serve tiramisu, every Friday night, and from then on, on Friday nights, I start getting tips and recommendations from friends of places I might’ve never been before, or are highly recommended by the community. The service would be much more useful for me. Count me in.
Facebook will soon be open-sourcing POP, the incredible animation framework that Push Pop Press originally developed to build Our Choice, and that Facebook used to build Paper.
Can’t wait to see apps integrate some of the fantasticanimations the Push Pop Press and Facebook teams have meticulously crafted. Expect an accompanying set of tools for prototyping in QC once integrated with Origami.
Several apps have recently gained heavy traction and have built a community based on the principle of being able to freely express yourself candidly and honestly, all while keeping your identity anonymous. Apps like FireChat, Secret, and Whisper all allow users to use their platforms and provide an environment where introverts can feel free to become more social, where a seemingly quiet person can reveal their true personalities, and where anyone can publish their innermost feelings without a big fear of revealing their true identity. Some provide a messaging layer so likeminded people can connect with each other. Considering you can post behind a pseudonym, this new wave of apps takes on the ambiguous community personality of sites like Reddit and Hacker News.
Some think this can be bad morally, and some believe these services can thrive for good because they provide an outlet and community that has a fundamentally different thesis than the traditional communication services we all use like Twitter and Facebook. It all boils down to the quality of content. Reducing the amount of posts related to solicitation, slander, vulgar hate, and general spam, will reveal truly expressive and emotional insights from those all around us. And it’s happening. Secret has published a set of guidelines they hope the community can follow and, like neighborhood patrol, moderate the posts. Secret itself delivers posts based on popularity and degree of connection to you (friends, friends of friends) so not everyone will see the same content. Apps like Whisper and FireChat don’t, but the user can filter content by all/everyone, or by those near you geographically. When browsing Popular posts on Whisper, I could instantly tell a difference in tone versus posts in Latest and Nearby, and that’s due in part because of the community upvoting more worthy content. FireChat itself can be an extremely useful platform, using some innovativetechnology to back up message delivery. On your first visit, you get dumped into an “Everyone” chatroom, and messages about sex and solicitation begin flying in. Toggling to the “Nearby” room revealed that I was the only one around my area using the service at the time. Understandably, it’s still a young service, but the impact it could have for certain use cases where getting a data connection can be difficult, like concerts and natural disasters can prove to be significant.
It’ll be interesting to see how these services mature and whether or not they can provide an outlet that fosters and embraces an anonymous community without the unwanted noise. To me, it seems that they’re all still experimenting and are on a path to hopefully encourage more supportive, meaningful, and therapeutic conversation.
If something’s important enough you should try. Even if you — the probable outcome is failure.
Musk is my hero. There’s a reason why Larry Page would leave his money to Musk: ambition, drive, and the will to build companies from ideas that people can only dream of, and better the World as a result.
This is about designing something that works for the hundreds of millions of people who use the Facebook website every day, from all over the world, on all types of computers.
"What defines better?" Design updates based on findings from qualitative and quantitative research tests will help improve the overall usability and experience for products. Sure it’s nice to add a shiny new coat of paint to the car, but if it still has a flat tire, it’s useless. Accessibility is and should always be a focal point for Facebook especially, considering the wide range of devices, resolutions, connection speeds, and geographies users connect to the service with and from. Kudos to the Facebook team for acknowledging that.
Yesterday’s $2B acquisition of Oculus VR by Facebook helped reinforce the future of computing shifting to more immersive platforms, but it also spotlighted the impact of crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter. The 5 year old startup has lent a hand in introducing the world to new and creative projects from hardware and software to feature length films. Take a look at their most funded projects of all time and you’ll instantly see the wide ranging types of successfully funded ideas.
The benefit to raising money on Kickstarter? For one, it generates funds without transferring any equity. Assuming the project reaches your goal, you gain your estimated runway to get you started on realizing your concepts, all without worrying about going out to raise capital at such an early stage in the product’s development. Additionally, you get a good idea of your product’s potential demand. Say you reach 100% of your goal, great! There’s enough anticipation for what you plan to offer. In the case of Oculus, they were 974% funded, a clear sign that there’s a definite want and need for what you’re offering. They raised $2.5 million on Kickstarter when they were only looking for $250K. The money raised allowed them to focus on their product and later raise additional capital from VCs ($16M in Series A, then an additional $75M Series B). There’s no doubt that the success of their Kickstarter campaigned contributed to their valuation.
By no means is a successful campaign on Kickstarter or any other crowdfunding platform an indicator of whether or not the project will be successful once it’s released, or whether or not it will even come to fruition. That’ll be based on the hard work of the creator and the support they garner before, during, and post funding. But the power of the crowdfunding community is supportive and enthusiastic enough to help any creator get started on realizing their ideas and dreams. Crowdfunding helps give a projects some legs, and then it’s up to the creators to see what they can do after that.
Where will Oculus go now that it’s part of Facebook? Who knows, but Mark Zuckerberg has ambitious plans to help accelerate growth and tap into some unrealized potentials beyond gaming.
Brian Lovin takes an in-depth look at most, if not all, of the design quirks and interactions that make Paper stand out. If you haven’t tried Paper yet, download and play around for bit. It takes some cues from Mike Matas' previous project “PushPopPress,” which ultimately got acquired by Facebook, but it’s great to see more of what would’ve been an awesome publishing platform come out in another form. Great job by Mike, Sharon, and the rest of the Facebook Creative Labs team on an amazing first release.
I can’t wait to get some time to learn how to use Quartz Composer (QC). This tutorial by Jay Thrash quickly illustrates how to create a quick prototype of how several components on the Facebook mobile app interact with each other based on scroll input by the user. The Facebook Design team has introducedOrigami, “a toolkit of patches and examples for Quartz Composer that makes it easier for designers to create interactive prototypes without writing code.” Not only does it make rapid prototyping much more realistic, but the output serves as a tool for further design evaluation and a baseline for engineers to develop into a product’s build.
Currently, my process involves wireframing a UI in Axure, and then creating a clickable prototype within Axure to get a quick idea of how screens will interact with each other and how a particular animation might look and feel. By no means is it an accurate representation of how the final UX should be built, but it’s a quick and easy way to get something that I can pass around and share to stakeholders and see if it makes sense. Axure prototypes can range from simple to extremely complex as long as you take the time to add and tweak the appropriate interactions. Documentation for adding these interactions is fairly good and there’s a great community providing tips and tricks they come across.
My goal is to rapidly prototype and simulate the experience enough for other designers and engineers to get behind. Using the right tools at certain stages of production can be great for the development of the product. I might consider starting with Axure for wireframes and initial prototyping, and once some higher fidelity comps are done, throw some of those components into QC to get a more “lifelike” representation of the desired UX. “Quartz Composer is powerful. It’s built on OpenGL, the same technology that powers graphics in Mac and iOS apps, so you can design things that are hard or impossible to do with other tools, for example, lighting, meshes or ripples.” I can’t wait to learn and get this into my workflow.
On July 30, while catching up on the day’s tech news, I saw abunchofposts all mentioning that current Google Glass Explorers were receiving emails from the Glass team, allowing them to invite a friend. So I quickly asked my Glass Explorer-friends for an invite. I sent a message to my buddies Monica and Megan, who were both chosen to be Explorers during the #ifihadglass contest. Luckily, Monica had an invite, and filled out the survey recommending me to join the program. A couple of days later, I received an email from Glass Support welcoming me to join, with the following requirements:
You must be a US resident
You must complete your purchase within 14 days
You must be able to pick up your Glass in either San Francisco, New York or Los Angeles within 30 days
I went through the appointment scheduling and purchase process and I was set to pick up Glass at Google SFO that Saturday. Though I live in LA and had the option to go to Google’s office in Venice, I had already planned to fly up to SF that weekend.
My appointment was scheduled for 10:30am. After grabbing some coffee, my girlfriend and I drove into the city to pick up Glass. We arrived about 15 minutes early, parked the car, and headed into the building. We were led to the 5th floor to a dedicated Glass “space.” After checking-in, we were greeted by a guide, offered drinks and snacks, and went to a lounge-type area with several kiosk-type stations made up of a mirror and 5 hanging Glass units (1 of each color). Here, I could try on all of the colors (Shale, Tangerine, Cotton, Sky, and Charcoal) and choose the one I wanted. I was debating between Shale and Charcoal, and after a few minutes, I went with Shale, my original selection, and was then led to one of several setup tables in the room.
These tables were extremely minimalist, supporting only 3 things: a Glass bag (with 2 pairs of lenses inside), a Chromebook Pixel, and a standing mirror, much like what you would use at an optometrist. Once the unit arrived, it was time for the unboxing. After pulling off the cover and slowly peeling off the glued-on sheet (cue the harmonious “AHHHHH” sound effect), I saw Glass sitting on top of a printed diagram, pointing out what each button on the device was meant to do. We then went through everything else in the box: charger & cable, extra nose pads, and some instructional reading material.
Next, we began to set up Glass. I powered it on and was helped adjusting and fitting it so that the titanium band would go across my brow, while the prism rested just above my line of sight. Then, I logged onto “MyGlass,” what eventually would become my dashboard for Glass. We went through the UI, paired the Glass to my iPhone via bluetooth, and set up wifi. Note: Android users have the leg-up here with the ability to use turn-by-turn directions, SMS, and screencasting via the dedicated MyGlass app on their phones. You’ll need to tether Glass to your phone via bluetooth in order to access data or you’ll be limited to wifi hotspots. Next, we covered how to operate and navigate Glass using the touchpad and voice commands. After answering my remaining questions, we wrapped up the session by walking out on the balcony overlooking the Embarcadero and the Bay Bridge to take a few photos and videos. Overall, the entire appointment took about an hour, but covered in-depth, all I would need to know to operate Glass.
Exploring With Glass
With Glass on and looking more like a cyborg than ever, we set out into the public to get lunch at the Ferry Building. The reactions were mostly stares and double takes after passing us, but my girlfriend noticed that a few people saying things like “Google Glass!” and “That’s Glass!” None of which I heard because I was too focused on weaving around the crowds lining the heavily-trafficked pier. After lunch, we headed back home and decided to go pedal boating out on the lagoon. The lady managing the boat rental immediately noticed Glass, even with the sunglasses attachment on, and asked to get a better understanding of Glass. Once we headed out into the water, I used Glass to take a few pictures and realized that I didn’t really notice it as an intrusive device. I could snap photos/videos with my voice, never having to reach into my pocket and grab my phone. I was able to effortlessly pedal and steer the boat while simultaneously documenting the experience.
It hasn’t been a full week yet, but since picking up Glass, I’ve used it to take photos/videos, send emails, take calls, tweet, check weather and flight details (via Google Now), and view headlines. Two days after getting Glass, I had my first OTA software update (XE8), which typically happens about once a month, introducing new features and functionality. It’s great to see the progress the Glass team is making, getting the product ready for market. For instance, the latest update introduced volume control and additional video player functionality (play, pause, scrubbing), features that would seem to be staple in any media device, but with rumors that they’re preparing to bring YouTube onto Glass, it makes much more sense. There is a shortage of apps, or “Glassware,” but that’s to be expected on such a new platform. That’s not to say no one is building apps, there certainly are, but there are only a select few apps you can activate from MyGlass. I’ve even gotten an invite to beta test an app for Everlapse. It’ll take a while for me and other Explorers to discover some new and disruptive use cases for Glass, but my initial prediction is that it can be a great utility.
There are three ways to hold a phone: one thumb/one hand, two hands/one finger or thumb, and two hands/two thumbs. 49% of people observed using phones outside, used one thumb/one hand.
Half of people using phones outside use their devices with one hand, allowing only their thumb to act as their main operator. At half of the sample, it seems more important to design for this use pattern, accommodating for all patterns: one thumb/one hand, two hands/one finger or thumb, and two hands/two thumbs.
Screen size is a lousy way to detect a touchscreen. There’s no reliable way to detect touch on all devices.
This is definitely an issue I’ve encountered when looking at examples of responsive design, especially at sites that consider mobile to be more dominant. Yes, it makes sense on phones to hide menus and navigation and have them appear or expand when tapping on a hamburger button or a dropdown callout. But, if you just take that phone UI and make all of your components 100% width so that it’ll work on tablets, you’re quickly hacking your page to “adapt” to a wider browser and creating additional usability issues. Now that you’ve got 1024px instead of 320px, you have plenty of space to bring back some, if not all, of your main navigation links. Remember, 1024px width is common on both tablets and desktops. Designing with consideration to devices will greatly improve usability because browsing behaviors will differ vastly between the tablets and desktop.
The optimal touch target size is 7mm, based on the average size of human finger tips and pads. CSS2.1 defines a pixel as 1/96 of an inch. So 7mm should be 30pixels.
This seems to be something to take in to consideration for UI elements like buttons, content linking, and generally anything you want your users to tap on in order to dive deeper. For example, take Twitter for iOS. The hot areas for almost everything in the app looks to be at least 30px in at least 1 direction. A tweet displaying only 1 line of content is at least 70px, aided by the height of the avatar, but in any case, if you tap on any of that area, you get taken to that tweet’s detail view, or you might end up on the user’s profile. That’s what is important to the Twitter’s experience. You can tap on URLs and visit those pages in the browser, but that’s secondary to Twitter wanting you to tap on tweets and stay within their ecosystem.
Extra taps and clicks are not evil when you can manage the performance issue. On mobile we might want to rethink our aversion to additional steps. As long as each tap is a quality tap that keeps the scent of information strong, its not a wasted tap.
The most difficult thing is to take something complex and simplifying it. Yes, you’d like to eliminate steps to in order to make a process much more streamlined and quick, but you also have to make sure the user understands what is going on. If you’re building a checkout experience, you’d want to show confirmation of purchase at the end so users know the transaction completed successfully. You wouldn’t want to hide it because it’s an extra state that you don’t need. Even if you send an email confirmation, assume that users are only viewing your product and don’t have access to email.
Will 2013 be the year of the on-screen hashtag? With Twitter and Nielsen coming together to create the “Nielsen Twitter TV Rating" to measure and capture audience engagement with programming, it’s only inevitable to see the evolution of "joining the conversation" on TV.
86% of US tablet owners simultaneously use their device while watching TV
88% of US smartphone owners simultaneously use their device while watching TV
62% (+18% YOY) use social networks/forums while watching TV on a weekly basis
Comedy and reality shows have higher engagement than sports programming on social media (though I think this could be skewed based on platform, especially when sporting events continuously break Twitter’s tweets per second records year after year)
A few months ago, I had the sudden urge to relive my childhood and play with a Tamagotchi, Pocket Pikachu, or Digimon, so I walked into Toys R Us hoping to buy one, but came out empty handed. I looked through the App Store to see if an app existed, and sure enough there were a bunch of virtual pet apps, but they all seemed dull in functionality and design. Impending and Realmac, the guys behind Clear, have just announced Hatch, which, from the looks of the trailer, has a good shot to take over the virtual pets app market. Good luck to the team working on it. I’ve adopted a “Pancake” Fugu and I can’t wait to try the product when it’s released.
People purchase directly from your Instagram post by commenting “buy”. No linking off Instagram, no shopping carts or checkout process.
Chirpify looks extremely simple to use and looks like it won’t interrupt the content browsing experience on Instagram too much (most of the friends posts are of goods anyway). I haven’t been able to try it, but I wonder what might happen if an item is sold and someone else comments “Buy” on the post. Would you need to remove the listing from the Chirpify dashboard, and if so, does it remove the post completely off of Instagram? I can see how this will work great for crowd engagement, like purchasing items w/ large inventory from large retailers, selling deals/coupons, donations, and giveaways. To monetize, Chirpify takes 5% of the transaction. Will be interesting to see how the IG community adopts the service.
Bijan’s “People Tagging" issue has been addressed by Instagram! I’ve been frustrated when I’ve @ mentioned someone on an Instagram caption, posted it to Twitter, and because the tagged person has a different handle on Twitter, can’t get notified of the post. I once got an @ message from the mis-tagged user telling me I tagged the wrong person. Instagram’s solution looks like it’ll work well, and they’ve also covered several use cases in cases where Twitter isn’t connected to the tagged user’s IG account. It’s also great to see the team at Instagram working on issues for the Twitter ecosystem even after the API shutoff. They’re definitely building for their users and continuously improving the product’s experience.
I recently took a trip to Hawaii and while I was planning, I was thinking about the camera gear I wanted to bring with me. My typical bag for a trip consists of: 5DM2 body, 50mm f/1.4, and 17-40 f/4.
After hearing about BorrowLenses.com from some friends, I thought it would be worth a shot to rent a lens (35mm f/1.4) I’ve been wanting to use for years, but have never committed to saving up the funds to buy. I’ve seen great pictures come out of this lens from other owners and I had really wanted to take advantage of it for my trip to such a scenic destination. I went to the site, looked up the lens, added it to my cart, and quickly realized that I might want to take underwater photos too. So I added a small Canon PowerShot underwater camera as well.
A package arrived at my house with the lens and camera, individually bagged, securely encapsulated by packing sponge. This is the same box you would ship the contents back in for return. When I got back from the trip, I repackaged it, stuck on the pre-paid shipping label, and dropped it off at a local FedEx Kinkos.
The entire process from ordering to returning was extremely seamless. I was able to use a lens that I have been considering purchasing, for only ~$10/day, and an underwater camera for ~$5/day. It definitely helped me decide whether or not to go through with purchasing the lens, but also showed that if I ever needed a lens or other gear for a short period of time, I could just rent it and save myself a ton of money. These would be things I would consider using for rare shots, like a fisheye, tilt-shift, or supertelephoto.
The marketplace for peer-to-peer borrowing/renting items will become a booming area of commerce. Startups like Getable and Borrow will cover a wide variety of stuff. More niche companies like AirBnB and Getaround focus on specific verticals. In any case, the future looks bright for the try-before-you-buy-it type of consumer. If only the mobile app marketplace could do the same…
Myspace’s massive redesign looks pretty amazing (based on the promo video). There’s a big focus on images and video, and you’ll notice it right away with the full-page dimensions. For now, no banner ads and flashy animated gifs, though I bet they’ll make a comeback in some way, shape or form. Some screenshots remind me of Tumblr, though that’s perfectly fine with me. I’m extremely curious to see how the horizontal scrolling is implemented and whether or not that’ll introduce some usability issues. Will swiping down on my mouse or pressing the spacebar paginate through the content? The entire experience looks like it can be easily translated as a tablet app. There’s definitely going to be a close relationship between users and artists/events. If you look closely at Justin Timberlake’s profile navigation, there’s a nav item for “Shop” and I’m going to assume that that’s going to play heavily in their monetization strategy because of the depletion of ad units.
I’m really digging the search & search results page.
During today’s WP8 and Nokia Lumia announcement, a wireless charging feature was unveiled. And on top of that, a partnership with both Virgin Atlantic and The Coffee Bean (and more partners planned), where airport lounges and tabletops will implement wireless charging abilities for device owners.
If this works well in terms of infrastructure, feasibility, budget, and overall user-satisfaction, this might help to propel ubiquitous charging stations to appear in places we wouldn’t really think about. For example, The Coffee Bean will install plates in their tables so patrons would just set their phones on the table (something we all already do), and their device would start charging while you enjoy your coffee. When you pick up your phone and leave, you’ve just added x % battery life. It’s simple and if it works properly, the user shouldn’t expect anything, but be delighted when they see that their device suddenly has an increase in battery.
Imagine this becoming more widespread. Not only masking charging stations like within your car’s center console or in park benches at Disneyland (one of the many places where my battery tends to drain the most), but in other devices like laptops and cameras. No more scrambling around LAX terminals looking for power outlets or waiting in line for charging hub stations if each chair at the gate can provide some juice. I’ve tripped over a laptop cable or two in cafes before, and I’m pretty sure this could be some sort of fire hazard with cables running all over the place.
Companies like Mophie and Powermat (Duracell) are already helping push similar technologies out everywhere, but an announcement like this definitely helps the effort. Hopefully next week’s iPhone announcement will reveal similar technology, because like many out there, I wouldn’t mind trading for a fatter iPhone, as long as the battery life increases.
The switch from HTML5 to a native app is definitely showing improved performance and now allows the app to tap into other features in iOS’ SDK. I’m still impressed with the architecture of developing a web app within a native frame like they did in the previous version (especially useful for updating apps across browsers/platforms with less effort). Users don’t have to update the app as often (pushes can be made server-side without the need for Apple’s app approval process). They’ve also added a few “fallback” methods to reduce the need to continuously update the app when new features/changes are required. But this update is definitely much more advantageous for Facebook’s mobile users.
Nintendo Power was the first magazine publication I ever subscribed to. Back when I was young, and Nintendo was the powerhouse of gaming consoles, I would wait anxiously each month to read about new and upcoming games (and additional hints and cheats for games I already owned) for my N64 and Game Boy. This was my bible. I would bring it to school, daycare, everywhere. Thanks for the last 24 years.
changes to our Developer Rules of the Road, especially around applications that are traditional Twitter clients.
Twitter is full-steam ahead on regulating its API requirements to prevent malicious use. Will be really interesting to see how new and existing products/services deal with stricter guidelines, and what happens when they reach critical mass and max rate-limits.
About 2 weeks ago, Betaworks announced they were acquiring Digg for about $500k. Let that sink in for a bit. A company that has taken in about $45M in funding (CrunchBase), who has turned down acquisition offers from giants like Yahoo and Google, sold for what many startups aim to raise in an angel/friends & family round. John Borthwick and company have an audacious vision to turn Digg around.
Digg was messy. It was losing traction, getting spammed, and users were flocking to other properties like Reddit and Canvas. New services like Percolate were started to deliver popular news stories. Using resources from News.me, the team of 10 rewrote Digg from the ground up. They wiped the existing codebase, including algorithms that determined Digg scores and indexing. They built the service to fit in and run with the current and next generation of web services. What ended up happening was something completely ambitious. They launched in 6 weeks.
6 weeks! If you’ve worked at a startup, you’ll know that 6 weeks to build and launch a site that has an existing user base in the millions is rough. We try to push out a few new features and updates every week or two, but when we decided to rewrite our site from the ground up, it took us much longer than 6 weeks, granted the scope, scale, and complexity of Digg and any other site is variable. So a huge pat on the back for the team at Digg, because what they did in that short amount of time is tremendous.
Along the way, the team posted an update on their progress. They were nuking a lot of features, and focusing the product newswire-type content like Top Stories, Popular, and Upcoming. They were making product decisions for launch that many have begun complaining about like the absence of a commenting system. What people don’t understand is that these were decisions FOR LAUNCH. The team doesn’t want to put out crappy features that might be prone to errors and abuse. They’ll have commenting and better social features, but they’ll be available once the team feels like they’re ready to be used. If there’s one thing Digg is stressing, it’s that they’re a new service and any and all feedback on existing and future features will be taken into consideration. This is only version 1, and I’m sure they’ve got plenty of things in the pipeline for future updates.
The new site is extremely simplistic and lightweight. The team is determined. Mistakes and innovations will be made, but remember that this won’t be the same Digg that we all once knew. Good luck, there are a lot of us cheering you on.
The Opening Ceremonies are happening now, live in London. The problem? NBC is forcing those in the US to wait until primetime, 7:30PM and watch it as a pre-recorded event. The Olympics this year will have a huge presence on social media. Twitter has a dedicated page for #Olympics where content is being curated by people like Hope Solo, Michael Phelps, and LeBron James. Everyone who is able to watch/participate in the event is tweeting and posting on Twitter and Facebook in real-time (see LeBron’s tweet), and those of us in the US who can’t, are left in the dark.
Meanwhile, NBC is tweeting spoilers and now I know that the Queen and James Bond are in the show. Hopefully NBC will realize this was one huge missed opportunity. And judging by the complaints on the Internet, they just might reconsider airing the closing ceremonies live, or at least offer a livestream.