Why do references to dead social networks linger, and why don’t service providers quietly retire them for us?
Social networks come and go. Blogging platforms come and go. Someone tell Add This. While reading an article I clicked on their share buttons and the first button I saw was the now sadly defunct Posterous (I was a mega fan).
And while we’re at it isn’t it spelt Diigo not Digo? The dot com of the later looks like good ol domain squatting.
So, my next step of course was to go to the Add this website. And there on the left was a big Posterous button.
So this raises two points for me. What’s the point of using a widget to display these services on your site if the widget doesn’t help you manage the currency of the content? I mean, apart from the neat widget you may as well use individual embed codes if you have to know and manually update each service.
Secondly, its not only services like Add This that are guilty of displaying long dead web services. I notice that Google Buzz is still lingering on my G+ profile page waiting for me to manually remove it. It strangely points to a public directory on Drive with PDFs of past posts.
I’ve followed some interesting and conflicting media recently. Tony Costa writing for Forrester evangelises location technologies improving customer experience citing four recent and compelling examples. On Australian TV last night 4 Corners followed the life and online privacy of a typical Australian family to demonstrate the reach of where our data goes. Once the breadth of data sharing was exposed, together with blatant privacy breaches the family were less than impressed. At the very least one could say that they appeared uncomfortable. I’m sure many in the viewing audience were. Here is an example reaction from the family, the daughter, a 24 year old university student was asked to comment on what she thought of being tracked in a shopping centre.
To me it feels like the sole purpose would be to maximise money, maximise where you buy things and how much you buy, what kind of stores you go into, and I, yeah I completely, just that, doesn’t sit well. Like I don’t want to be, yeah I don’t I don’t like that. … Yeah I would want to opt in or out and have the option.
There is currently a gap between the capability of location technology to improve customer experiences and how ready people are to adopt this reality. There is no doubt that organisations will seize on these technologies to improve services and increase profits. Notions of privacy will change over time too, and there is no telling now how far the public will embrace or merely tolerate this change. What this gap does suggest is the careful terrain organisations adopting tracking technology must negotiate to maintain trust with their customers to not abuse the data privilege.
Productivity versus collaboration. Isolation versus distraction. The pros and cons of working from home and “telecommuting” were making the rounds last week with articles about Google and Yahoo policies. Google, despite enabling its users to collaborate remotely doesn’t favour the practise itself. The positions of these companies on the matter are summarised by Asher Moses and Ben Grubb with some additional research facts, stats and links. Here’s a sample:
Dr Blount said telecommuting was not a one-size-fits-all solution and in each case a business case needed to be made.
Her research has found that in some instances team members and managers felt reluctant to “bother” teleworkers at home which could hinder collaboration, while at the same time the teleworkers themselves reported being far more productive and satisfied. Some however experienced “social and professional isolation”.
Earlier this year Fortune magazine published it’s annual list of the 100 best companies to work for in the U.S. Results are based on surveying employees. Sure, not all companies have jets or yachts to share with employees but there is still plenty to learn from reading the company snapshots.
The reasons these companies have been nominated as great places to work by those that work there are:
incentives, profit sharing, bonuses, above average pay for industry
Strong and clear company mission
health insurance, health programs, childcare facilities, generous leave, workplace flexibility, other perks
Physical work environment
food, access to services like dry cleaning, even walking tracks
considered recruitment efforts, long tenure of employees
recognition of excellence, adherance to, and evaluation based on values, fun incentives, games and events, happiness commitees, herograms, “no jerk” culture
Staff suggestions implemented, feedback mechanisms and forums in place
Leaders touching base with employees regularly or based on high performance of teams
The US has faced tough economic times recently. Many companies on this list avoided lay-offs
Progression plans, internal promotion, investment in training and education
Acknowledging role of families
Inclusion of families in company events, acknowlegement of their contribution supporting employees
Getting these programs to work, though, is tricky. Management experts say it is all well and good to send employees to classes, but to get the lessons to stick, employees need to apply them to their daily work lives. Employees often take a class and “say, ‘Gee, this is great,’ and go back to their jobs and do the same old thing,” says Professor David Bradford, director of the executive program in leadership at Stanford University.
Google thinks it has found a way to make its learning stick. It has become more exacting about when it offers classes and to whom. It uses employee reviews of managers—similar to the instructor reviews that college students fill out at the end of a semester—to suggest courses to managers. Ever data-obsessed, Google uses statistics gathered from current and former employees to recommend certain courses to managers at different points in their career, say after a move to a new city or joining a new team.
Do you ever get on Facebook, planning only to update your status, check out a few groups, and instead find yourself stuck in there? I do. I lose track of time. It could because the content is so compelling; but I doubt that. I blame the pagination.
Go to a group in Facebook and have a look at the members list. In a group with 12,504 members you can only progress through the list with previous or next links.
Go to albums, or to a particular album. While the extent of content is revealed the total number of pages isn’t, not until you get to the very end.
The approach to pagination differs at the Mayo Clinic, a medical information site. Conducting a search will reveal the total number of search results and the total number of search result pages. In a large search result list, this will hopefully prompt the user to narrow their search terms.
Google invested so much in pagination that they married their logo to the number of search result pages. As we are all well aware, the Google logo itself helps to illustrate the vastness of the search with added O’s that stretch the length of the logo to match the length of the search result. Google has a hybrid approach to the two patterns of pagination discussed above.
A search for “cancer” yields approximately 198,000,000 results but at first only 10 search result pages.
Clicking next reveals the 10th, 11th, 12th page and so on. As you progress further the pagination increases by 10 pages. The total pages are never revealed.
From memory, Google use to indicate the total number of search result pages, but I could be wrong. This could be due to the fact that it is not worthwhile doing the calculation. It has been well tested and documented that people are likely to only look at the first few search result pages. Google’s approach to initially show 10 pages may just encourage people to search deeper, stay on their pages longer and have more eyeballs on sponsored links. I am not sure if I should consider Google’s 10 page pagination approach as cynical; it could be both a matter of usability and a revenue raiser. It is obvious that in large search results there is no point in even offering the user access to all the pages.
Admittedly the purpose and technologies behind these three sites are completely different so it is no surprise that their pagination is different. The Mayo Clinic is a vast website and information resource and runs on a CMS. Google of course is a search engine and anyone faced with large search results is likely to refine their terms.
Facebook on the other hand clearly defies the web conventions we have become accustomed to. It never offers us the total number of pages and teases us with progressive page numbers. Nor does is offer links to the first or last page. This is the case in albums, groups, search result pages, throughout the application it seems. It is a clever strategy albeit one that reminds me of shopping centre architecture—deliberately designed to get you lost, make you wander inside and lose your sense of time.