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by nmw

What’s App

2015-11-30 in Uncategorized

I typed „Uber“ into „Google“ and the #1 result on the first page of SERPs (SERP = „search engine results page“ 😉 ) — www.uber.com – was TL;DR (too long – don’t read). I couldn’t do very much on the page using the flip-phone (probably about 10 years old) I was using. I tried pressing the „sign up“ link.

I got a page which asked me to enter payment details. Nope – sorry, not doing that.

If Uber were actually about ride-sharing, then it would let me enter my location and hail a taxi right away. Payment could be solved if/when the taxi arrived. But it isn’t an app for hailing taxis – it’s an app for collecting data.

I also have a smartphone, but now that I know that Uber isn’t really very useful to me, I won’t visit their site, download their app or anything like that. I could have simply used Google to type in taxi (plus my location) in order to get a phone number and call a taxi using my phone… in less time!

I could also have tried to „cut to the chase“ by simply entering taxi.com into my rather feeble [0.1] browser… but it seems like some idiot is using that site as a brand name. 😐

Now you may say that I am not Uber’s target „consumer“ (and quite obviously also not taxi.com). OK, I get that. My point is: There are probably potentially billions of users I feel Uber ought to be targeting with a targeted website for very „low“ technology… – probably the vast majority of (potential) users worldwide are using a so-called „feature phone“ with little or no smarts besides a browser with very little memory.

I do have a smart phone – but I rarely use it. I prefer to type on a keyboard. Although my kids laugh at me, when I recently suggested to one of my daughters that she should send me SMS questions that I can simply answer with „yes“ or „no“ (Y/N), she said that would require her to write more. I noted that since she’s such an expert with her smart phone, she could type such questions easily. She chuckled, but I have yet to receive my first question. 😉

If I were to use my smart phone as my kids do, loading it up with dozens if not hundreds of apps, then I guess I would join the millennial consumer community (see „Millennial Media Landscape“ and also „Making + Breaking Connections + Relationships“)… and many companies could collect and share data about me with other companies and/or spy companies (the so-called „big data“ industry is all about industrial espinoage – just in case you didn’t know that already).

Most of these apps give their users the impression that things change on the web at breakneck speed – but that is simply yet another hoax created by people trying to profit from the gullibility of novice users. My hunch is that far more than 99% of the web doesn’t change at all from one day to the next. It is important to realize that the web is no longer something new… and that what novice users consider to be significant may very well actually be rather insignificant.

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by nmw

How to Tell Whether Someone on the Internet is a Real Person / Human / Not a Dog

2015-08-01 in Uncategorized

There’s a saying that goes something like “on the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog”. Well, IMHO there is a way to know when someone is not a dog. This is something I wrote about a while ago in a little piece I called “Authenticity Guidelines“. I was reminded of it today in part because David Weinberger wrote a post about something I consider related — he called it “Restoring the Network of Bloggers“.

Many people (apparently including David Weinberger) continue to consider a site to represent a person. Personally, I feel it represents something more like a title. In my opinion, a page title is subordinate to a site title much in the same way that a chapter title is subordinate to a book title… and the author of any online web site (be it a blog or whatever other kind of website) is the site’s registrant (and/or owner and/or admin).

The easiest way to tell if they are a real person (or whether they are a corporate entity or whatever) is to look at the “whois” entry for that site (this is the online equivalent to the property owner being registered in a town or city’s land records). If the entry is not bogus, then the person behind the site is most probably not a dog.

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by nmw

Web Anxiety

2015-04-27 in Uncategorized

I think many people fear the World-Wide Web. My hunch is mainly based on the way people behave on websites like facebook.com: they may “like” if you add a comment, but if you write up an idea somewhere other than facebook and then post a link to what you wrote, they tend to be much less appreciative and/or supportive. I wonder why this is.

One explanation is: When someone writes a comment on someone else’s post, the person who started the post feels that they are being paid attention to (regardless of which website they post on — their own or someone else’s). Likewise: a link “away” from the post is interpreted as detracting from that post (and the post’s initiator may feel this detraction is taking attention away from them personally).

Of course: People could engage at many different locations, but there is an uncertainty involved in switching from one location to another. Whether rational or irrational, people appear to have trust in some locations more than in other locations (cf. Subjectivity + Rationality). In general, people seem to have little trust in locations they are not familiar with — and a generalized kind of web anxiety is a sign of a relatively low level of literacy (or “online literacy”) with respect to navigating the web.

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by nmw

Facebook Community Standards vs. Nominations Authenticity Guidelines

2015-03-17 in Uncategorized

In my opinion, Facebook Community Standards are too long, so I didn’t read them fully (TL;DR). I did post an update regarding what are some of the most salient points (According to FB: ” Please keep the following in mind:”) — see http://nooblogs.com/activity/p/5191.

I do not consider myself a religious follower of Facebook, Google, or such so-called “social media” websites. So whether these standards are applied or not doesn’t matter much to me (as I publish anything important on my own websites anyways). But I do commend such organizations for having such documents that are supposed to function as guides for people who do depend on other people’s websites to publish “their own” information.

With NominationsAuthenticity Guidelines, I go one step further: I attempt to document what are the “specifications”, “qualifications”, “quality criteria”, etc. for inclusion in Nominations website reviews. The way I see it, having such a written document helps to make each review comparable to other reviews by having a consistent framework, thereby promoting valid and reliable data and information standards.

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One Size, Fits All

2015-03-14 in Uncategorized

In my previous post, I noted that “we are now so far removed from a “one-size fits-all” world, that the notion that anyone could find one answer to each and every question at one information resource seems absurdly naive.” In another post on one of my “personal” blogs, I wrote about some ideas quite related to this — in the first pace “responsibility”, and also about choice,… and ultimately about the ability to let go (see “Responsibility to Life“). I would like to elaborate on this last point here, because I only sort of tangentially touched on it there.

The reason why this topic is important to blogs and blogging is because we all aim for our blog to be the best it can be, for our writing to be insightful and inspiring, for our information and tips to be helpful, and so on.

In the post I linked to above, I mentioned a TED talk video in which Barry Schwartz covered the topic of choice. In that video, he mentions clothing that he used to enjoy a lot because it was basically “one-size, fits-all”… — such that there was not much difficulty with respect to choice. Online, choice is not so simple.

Many people visit one and the same website every time they choose to use the Internet. They might log in to Facebook or some other “social” website, or they might type all of their questions into the Google homepage search box. A simpleton might say “they have chosen a one-size, fits-all website” — and so they no longer are burdened by choices. The way I see it, they have actually primarily postponed their choice.

When a Google-searcher has a search box before them, they have to choose what to write into it.  They have the impression of choice (according to George Carlin, people in fact have no choice [“You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything.“]). People might type in “happy” or “sad” — but either way it is highly probable that Google will return a link to wikipedia.org plus a list of sites that Google makes money from through advertising. Compared to the situation described by Barry Schwartz in that video, this is far worse: People actually have little or no choice, and they will feel bad because they have the impression that they could have made a better choice.

Likewise, for people who use so-called “social” media, they feel as though there are many choices: They can press many buttons, they can “tag” things, there are many bells and whistles. When they become bored, then they feel they have made the wrong choices.

I want to suggest to you that when you aim to make your blog the best it can be, you should do that by being yourself. Do not feel as though you need to cater to some one-size fits-all mystery algorithm, because that will probably only get in the way of actually interacting with your audience. What is important is that you and your audience both know what it is that you can offer, and that your audience wants. If you agree on this, then you will have no difficulty interacting with your audience. For example: I enjoy following Drew Lepp’s blog, because so far I have been pleasantly surprised with every post she has made (and because I enjoy reading about webdesign tips, user experience and stuff like that — which are the main topics she writes about). I don’t need Google to find her blog — I just go directly to drewlepp.com.

Just like I learn a lot from Drew, I hope others also learn something from what I write. For example: I would advise anyone who wants others to learn about “X” to name their site “X” — because people would probably never think to type in a more-or-less random string when the are looking for something specific… and indeed: I will soon be launching a website about naming websites, online businesses, web-based projects, etc.

This is precisely the point where “letting go” and trusting intuition is so important. If you intuitively feel that someone is an expert, then trusting their judgement is (usually) a very smart thing to do. Barry Schwartz explained this very well in his TED talk video with his example of why it’s (usually) a good idea when patients trust doctors. The more you engage in such interactions, the better you will become at making the judgement regarding whether someone is trustworthy or not. As far as I know, there is no “one-size fits-all” algorithm for this, but one of the strongest and most reliable indicators I know of is whether the person or company in question is publishing information on their own website or not. Generally, when someone is publishing information on someone else‘s website, I find that information is rather untrustworthy. Perhaps I’ll write more about this in a future blog post. 🙂

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by nmw

Why naming a website after yourself is like being a jerk-off in public

2015-01-06 in Uncategorized

Think about it: You probably already know the reason why. Have you ever visited a website named after a person, seen their contact details, and little or nothing else? Sure you have! 9 out of 10 so-called “personal” websites are precisely that.

Who actually wants to talk about themselves in public? I will gladly discuss politics, religion, … — indeed almost anything, but talking about myself is about as exciting as the prospect of masturbation on the center stage of the most prominent public square downtown.. with free admission, no less!

Before you name a website after yourself, think long and hard about whether you really want to write a lot about yourself. Websites that get updated once and never again look quite old after a month or two, and if they languish more than a year, they begin to look so dead that one should seriously consider whether it might not be even better if they didn’t exist at all.

Of course there are exceptions to this rule: If you are an artist and you create a lot of art, then it may very well make good sense for you to promote your artwork using your own name. But in most cases, if you intend to offer a product or service, then you will fare much better if you name that product or service you wish to offer, rather than putting yourself at the top of the menu (so to speak).

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