Italian IA Summit

I never really had time to post a follow-up post to the Italian IA Summit, so here are some quick thoughts.

  1. They managed to make it a free event, and there were lots of people. Free is good.
  2. UX and IA are happening in Italy, there are half a dozen small companies doing it, it seems.
  3. On the other hand, traditional clients have no idea what IA and UX mean.
  4. The Italians are great hosts.

I wish I had time to write a more extensive post.

Yey: “The fields were deserted from Flanders to Provence. Villages and even
small towns were silent, with barely a column of smoke to reveal a
human presence. As soon as the weather turned cold, people all over
France shut themselves away and practiced the forgotten art of doing
nothing at all for months on end.”

Forgotten art indeed!

Who is working on a new feedreader?

What would a better feedreader be like?

  1. It would help me find new feeds. I mean, really help me.
  2. It would be social: I could easily find which feeds my friends are subscribed to (publicly) and such.
  3. It would let me manage my feeds better.
  4. It might support commenting and discussion in some smart way, without taking the discussion away from the sources.

Of course, the barriers to entry in the feedreader space are huge. Entrenched market leaders. Huge scalability challenges for newcomers.
And of course, the only real way to move into that space is probably to do something very different from the current feedreaders. But they are good. Just not good enough.

How My Bloglines is broken.

Note I still call it “my bloglines”. That’s because I love my Bloglines. I find Google Reader impossible to use – literally. I tried, 3 times already, a few days each time. Can’t do it. It’s too slow (simple things like scrolling get stuck, which is strange, because Gmail works fine for me), and doesn’t want to mark a feed as “read” once I click it. I hate that.

Anyway.

Bloglines is broken and has been for a few weeks now. All my feeds (almost) show a count of 200 new items, like in the picture below, every day, even though many of them have NO new items, some only have a few. Help Bloglines!

image

The Breaking Of The Feedreaders

OK I am not alone: “unfortunately the way Google Reader works is that it forces you to look
at every single post, so if you have feeds that are very frequently
updates, Google Reader is not great at letting you simply skim through
them quickly. Almost immediately, my Google Reader account was
overwhelmed with thousands of unread posts, and it felt completely out
of control. I abandoned it, as I suspect many other people did who went
through the same experience.”

This is SOOO broken. My basic interaction with my feedreader is:

  • Scan the bold feed titles to see where there’s something new.
  • Click on a few feeds and scan their posts. Now these feeds are “read” and are not bold anymore.
  • Rinse and repeat.

Call me crazy. Is this just me? Isn’t this how feedreaders should work? So why is Bloglines broken (the bolding of the feeds is broken), and why does Google Reader just doesn’t want to do this (if I click a feed, the feed still shows bold, as if I didn’t read it.)?

AAAAAAAAARG.

Even though Bloglines plain old broke on me, Google Reader is totally pissing me off. It’s too SLOW, and doesn’t work smoothly, and my main problem with it continues: once I’ve clicked a feed and read the posts, it doesn’t unbold that feed. Seems like a bug to me – in any case, I find it almost unusable. Is it just me?

My Bloglines is all broken, so I switched to Google Reader, but it’s SLOW, compared to Bloglines. Opening feeds takes just a little longer, and especially scrolling down seems to be real slow and get stuck a lot. Anyone else?

I’ve been talking about startup ideas again. I don’t think it’s necessarily a great idea to start a company in the middle of a boom, but then again, some ideas are just too promising.

My Bloglines is broken – the count of unread items on feeds all show 200. This has been going on for a week, perhaps I really nee to switch to Google reader now?

Small group conversations

This is probably old news to most of you, but I finally realized: my email inbox is fast becoming only useful for official communication, companies (and some clients) talking to me. It’s not where I talk with my friends, mostly. Then again, I’m no twitter/facebook fanboy either, as many people seem to be these days, so I’m not sure what may happen next. But definitely: there’s an opportunity there, I’m thinking mostly about small group conversations. A few startups are gunning for it, but I haven’t seen anything I like yet.

Erik from Snap asks: “Why do you think it is so hard to challenge the status quo without rubbing some people the wrong way?”

Erik, you call it “challenging the status quo”. I call it breaking the fundamental usability of the web. It’s like having sites all in frames. It’s like having popups. It’s like Microsoft adding links to your pages. All in the name of “it’s good for the user”, when truly, it’s not. Snap preview doesn’t make the web easier to use. On snapsucks.org, it’s compared with popups somewhere.

So to answer your question: when you break a basic user interaction (hovering over a link) and make it into something it wasn’t (popping up a picture and advertising), you’re bound to piss people off.

You’re challenging one of the few things that really works on the web: the link. And I can’t think of ANY startup (or huge company for that matter) that messes with the link that has prospered (although many have tried, and continue to try).

Opensocial technically looking great.

The tech docs of OpenSocial are available now, so I had a chance to check it out. Even though the API’s aren’t 100% finalized yet, it looks great. Things are really changing with this: I was dreaming of someone doing this ever since Facebook did their opening up thing, and now Google has, and they’ve done a great job so far. Only nitpick: remove the references to Google gadgets throughout the docs.. if this is Open, then you shouldn’t refer to your own systems so much in the documentation.

How much money is Snap previews throwing around?

Vox has implemented Snap previews, WordPress has, Techcrunch has, jeez, do these guys have some crazy pixie dust that they throw over these bloggers? Snap previews are annoying, and yes, I’ve seen “real” users hate them Anil, don’t tell me “you’ve seen tests that prove that regular people like them”. I’m calling bullshit. I’ve been around the usability testing block a few too many times to buy the “I’ve seen tests that prove that X” argument.

Nice song, nice video. Didn’t realize they still made music videos. I guess they’re “Youtube videos” now?

The Web Application Scale of Stupidity

Cal Henderson has a line that goes something like this: “The Web Application Scale of Stupidity goes from OGF (One Giant Function) to OOP (Object Oriented Programming), like this: OGF <——– sanity ———> OO”.

Really rings true. Going all the way OO has one unexpected disadvantage: loosing flexibility. Which always drove me crazy when working with Java programmers. “That takes a week to change” was a common answer, where with functions it might have taken a few hours.