“But having an Instagram account is like having an abundance of money in a dead currency. So much nostalgia and meaning have been shoveled at us that the aesthetic has lost much of its ability to affect. Merely making your photos evocative of photo scarcity doesn’t make them actually scarce or make others covet them. There’s a deep mismatch between the aesthetic language of Instagram and the affordances of the network. Despite all the manufactured nostalgia, your photo disappears down the stream, largely unnoticed.”
Pics and It Didn’t Happen – The New Inquiry (via thisistheverge)
Sidenote: Seems like the permanence of images (Flickr) vs (Instagram) the impermanence of images (Snapchat) is on a lot of people’s minds today. It’s a huge divide and proponents are both sides are drawing lines in the sand.
I’m having a hard time switching between my ‘nice’ camera vs my phone, going back into my camera roll for images I took months ago - images that deserve some reflection, between keeping around ‘ugly’ images that I had taken just in the moment (receipts, dimly lit bar funnies, ugly food shots, jokes) and nice shots when I travel or am on photowalks, between synching everything into Dropbox, Drive, or Facebook vs keeping images on my hard drive, between storing the increasing visual detritus that I accumulate and have little use other than links on Twitter or Tumblr — the floaty world between communication, documenting, curating and self-expression… I’m not even going to get into how I want to edit my past; services like Timehop only increases the feeling that I not only have to maintain my current digital image, but also now I need to get a handle on my past.
I’m having a hard time. Anyone who thinks photosharing is solved is nuts. We’re just getting started - because The Image is still the single best medium to get meaning - whether it’s narratives or moments or reactions or commentary - across in the digital world, it means that we’ll continue to generate more images: the problem is how to make sense of it all.
Some recent writings I’ve noticed:
In reponse to Fred Wilson’s post:
First, I think you can’t abandon mobile. It is the future like it or not. And second, I think it is critical to design for mobile first and then build a web companion.
Which was a response to a post I really enjoyed last week from Vibhu Norby:
We want to place our chips where we believe we have the best chance of succeeding based on our theories and data. For us, mobile is not that place, which is why our new product is going to be launching web-first in the next couple months, with mobile as a companion app. We are taking a big bet on the web and the Internet in general, as you’ll see by how it functions. We are also going revenue-first because we believe in privacy and we’re willing to trade a smaller, slower-growing audience for it.
Here are some consumer companies who I wished had a mobile first product, cause they would totally rock.
… Wow, it was actually really hard for me to come up with companies who aren’t building mobile as their primary platform even if they should. Instead, I can think of lots companies I respect who are mobile-awesome:
What’s more interesting are companies that evolved to kick ass on the web, and their opportunities on mobile isn’t clear cut. Transferring everything you can do on the web to the mobile screen is a recipe for bloat and a messy incoherent product. They all have great mobile apps and I’m curious to see how their mobile footprint plays out, because they have opportunities to tweak and selectively dice up their ecosystems in wonderful ways (or even go in a new direction) depending on the platform.
For consumer companies, you have to figure out what your product is and who it’s suppose to appeal to and especially what it does, then I think it’s easier to say that “this should be developed on mobile first” or “that should be developed on the web first”.
Each platform has its own strengths — for mobile, products that get you to do discreet actions (listen to a track, snap a photo, text a few words, check in, documenting your life) perform really well because you do them in context of the real world around you. Conversely, exploring content, analyzing data, listen to a playlist, or searching for xyz product is appealing on the web, because you’re plugged in at a station and you have the luxury of concentrated time.
“All in all, mobile service apps turn out to be a horrible place to close viral loops and win at the retention game. Only a handful of apps have succeeded mobile-first… You have an entirely different onboarding story on the web. You can test easily, cheaply, and fast enough to make a difference on the web… Without the barrier of a download + opening the app to try your product, you can prove value to the user immediately upon their first impression…. The open eco-system of the web and 20 years of innovation has solved many of the most difficult parts of onboarding. With mobile, that kind of innovation is lagging significantly behind because we create apps at the leisure of two companies, neither of which have a great incentive to help free app makers succeed.”
Yet we do see desktop UI in some of the most popular mobile apps. The biggest offender is the “junk drawer” button. Facebook uses it in their app.
That junk drawer button feels like a cop out.
The folks at Instagram invented a new native touch gesture. Liking a photo by double tapping the actual photo itself.
Previously, on the desktop web, liking a photo or some other thing, meant moving your mouse to a small (like, heart, fav) button and then clicking it.
The Instagram guys ditched the requirement for a little button click and replaced it with a big touch friendly gesture. Two taps and bam, a heart pops up and you’re done. Very satisfying.
I agree about gestures as a natural way to communicate actions on mobile — but conflating a menu/navigation item with an action (liking, republishing, etc.) seems to compare apples to oranges. For apps like Facebook and Path with full featured experiences (streams within streams, events, apps management) — I find the menu button + sideswipe gesture really works. I also appreciate that Tumblr’s text/photo post gestures are shortcuts and alternatives - Hiding important functionality behind gestures may be something that users evolve to learn, but the road there is still long (I was watching some women exclaiming how hard Instagram was to use the other day!)
“A wonderful application to add to your iPhone when you want to find something really fun and spontaneous to do. Great for families, date ideas and anyone who likes to try new things. I would highly recommend it!”
I sometimes forgot that I did this a while back. Oh, the early days of the App Store. cc @christenduong
Fuck yeah for building things (even if you look back and know all the things you should’ve done).
Mike Krieger explains why Instagram uploads photos so quickly.
It’s slight of app.
Great deck on why speed is a feature. Esp. on mobile.
“The app works with a ‘three taps or less’ principle in mind, meaning that if a user needs to find any info, they can access it in, that’s right, three taps or less. This means the app is incredibly simple, and very easy to navigate through. The highlights of the app are definitely its ease of use and the professionalism of the presentation; Lonely Planet have clearly focused on design and ease of use, both of which are top notch.”
I’m liking the act of reading, highlighting and note-taken on iBooks more and more since I got an iPad. However, I never could let go of the paper books on my travels — the hassle of keeping watch over my phone, the rigors of the road and the attention that it would attract was a bit too much for me to deal with.
I still think this is true in some cases of hardcore backpacking (I’m thinking of trips in backcountry China, the Middle East or the jungles of Malaysia).. but in a few tests recently, for most of my urban travels, I think having travel guides on my phone really works.
For my recent trip to New York, I got the new Lonely Planet version of the city guide (disclosure, my fiancee was the product lead for the app). The maps could be loaded offline and the filter system for restaurants, pubs, sights, activities worked so much better on the phone versus the old way of flipping through the chapters, etc. But I was familiar with New York — and there are many services (not to mention the web) out there that together can fulfill a traveler’s need to do things (Yelp, 4sq).
What about cities further away from home, ones that I’m not familiar with? In another trip to Buenos Aires, I turned my iphone’s roaming prefs off and turned the airport mode on. The city had a lot of wifi spots — cafes, restaurants, bars, etc. so getting access to the internet wasn’t hard — but it wasn’t prevalent since I didn’t have a carrier’s data plan. LP’s offline maps were a godsend when I was finding bus routes, shopping districts and restaurants. Most of the listings were really in tune with current hot spots and things that I found on the web. So for me, the venerable guidebook — digitized — may still offer the best way to explore unfamiliar cities.
The app isn’t perfect.. it’s still a bit content heavy I think and can be streamlined into different ways to experience the surroundings when you’re on the road — more push notifications versus just tasking the user to figure out what they want to do, etc. But it’s a good start and I think out of all the verticals, travel has the most to gain from the mobile revolution. It’s a great way to connect to useful data on the road without lugging a bunch of books around… but on the other hand:
Sometimes getting away means disconnecting —so that’s one thing I can say for paper-bounded travel guides: they still offer the traveler a way to totally remove themselves from their plugged in world. It was really hard not to stop by every wifi spot, plug in and get my daily dose of the internet when I was traveling with a phone.
Why Apple’s design choices will continue to cause AT&T’s service’s crappiness. Good article from Steve Cheney.
Shoutout to my fiancee who’s thinking about content, pricing, print distribution and mobile technology. It’s an interesting intersection of market forces, especially in the travel industry. From the TechCrunch article:
Lonely Planet is out to prove that all “new” is not correct and that perhaps the most progressive mind will borrow solutions or elements from old and new media and find ways to synthesize disparate parts.
It’s a tough task, and I’m not envious of anyone in old media trying to transform into something totally innovative.