Friday Five

music migration

  1. When Spotify bought music intelligence platform Echo Nest, they gained access to a trove of data, and a smart team of people who could optimize curation. A new Spotify Insights blog focuses on telling scientifically-driven stories about music. This first post takes a look at how music migrates, and the varying musical influence of cities around the world.
  2. The options for publishing your content online are myriad. When should  you post to your “owned” properties, and when should you syndicate to communities like Medium or Rebelmouse? Ths KISSmetrics post has some useful rubrics for how to overcome the content distribution hurdle to help your content find its audience.
  3. Digital disruption may have moved from buzzword to cliché, but the advent of agile marketing is a great example of this phenomenon. As technology has become both ubiquitous (so many options!) and pervasive (throughout the funnel), marketers must learn to manage for uncertainty and change. Make time for this terrific slide deck on Managing Marketing in High Gear by Scott Brinker.
  4. I once read that algorithms are people’s opinions, mathematically expressed — and nowhere is that more evident than digital journalism. As news becomes more mobile, the experience of news consumption can be more tailored — and potentially more monitored. A new study sheds light on how engineers and designers think about their role in news delivery.
  5. Twitter cards offer a way to create more visual tweets to drive engagement and spur specific actions. Here’s a comprehensive guide to types of Twitter cards and how to use them.

Weekend fun: Ever wonder what your favorite characters in videogames do when you wander away from the controller? Find out here — GIFS included.

Every Friday, find five, highly subjective pointers to compelling technologies, emerging trends, and interesting ideas that affect how we live and work digitally. Try out the Friday 5 archive, or sign up to get a weekly email.

Friday Five

top 10 reasons

  1. Wondering why your iPhone app was rejected from the app store? Apple has revealed the top 10 reasons that submitted apps don’t make the cut. Placeholder copy is among the offenders, which provides good fodder for longtime foes of Lorem Ipsum.
  2. A common first step toward finding out what your website users value is to dive deep into existing quantitative and qualitative data. Why not also build your redesign in an open process alongside your users? The Guardian’s release of the beta version of its site, and its process of open and iterative change, has allowed them to engage its user base in the redesign process.
  3. Thinking of signing up for Twitter, but feeling daunted? At long last Twitter has improved its onboarding process, and made first steps for Twitter users easier. Now the process features compelling, visual tweet content, and points you to other users whom you might actually know.
  4. Apparently, men use the phrase “my zipper,” while women refer to “my yoga.” Language tells like these are among the ways that a Twitter algorithm determines your gender.
  5. With hacked celebrity photos in the news, it pays to brush up on basic ways to keep your accounts and files safe. TL;DR: enable two-factor authentication everywhere.

Weekend fun: As I type this, some 80 million of my fellow Americans are sleeping. This clever visualization based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics provides an interactive and sortable view of what other Americans are doing.

Every Friday, find five, highly subjective pointers to compelling technologies, emerging trends, and interesting ideas that affect how we live and work digitally. Try out the Friday 5 archive, or sign up to get a weekly email.

Friday Five
  1. hyperlapseIt didn’t take long for Hyperlapse, a new, stand-alone app for time lapse videos, to reach the #3 spot in the app store. Created by the team at Instagram, the app has a sleek, simple user experience that belies the sophisticated capabilities under the hood. At right, my first attempt to magically speed up traffic in Harvard Square. Click to view on Instagram.
  2. A few weeks back, it looked like Google was going to buy Twitch, the livestreaming platform for videogames — much to the consternation of the site’s 55 million users. This week, Amazon picked up Twitch for just under $1 billion. Here’s why.
  3. One way to visualize the impact of the Napa Valley earthquake is to take a look at how many people woke up. How would you do that? By charting anonymized user data from the Jawbone Up API.
  4. What makes the most shareable content on social? KISSmetrics’ marketing blog shares useful specifics including word count for various platforms, and the optimal length for Facebook (just over 4 minutes, apparently). Longform content can spread, but articles must be formatted in a way that’s easy to read, with lots of visuals interspersed with the text.
  5. This clever project meets a need we didn’t know we had: one pagers for tech trends. Each one-pager comes in both a long and a compact version, with useful charts and must-reads.

Weekend fun:  How can you make Game of Thrones even geekier? Add in some old school video game sound effects. You’ve been warned: serious nostalgia trigger for gamers over 30. Fun fact: there are now more adult women gamers than teenage boys.

Every Friday, find five, highly subjective pointers to compelling technologies, emerging trends, and interesting ideas that affect how we live and work digitally. Try out the Friday 5 archive, or sign up to get a weekly email.

Friday Five

instagram analytics

  1. Brands are active on social networks to reach engaged audiences, and the networks are finding creative ways to monetize their involvement. SoundCloud this week announced a new advertising platform, just as Instagram rolled out its analytics tools for brands. Both SoundCloud and Instagram have afforded brands huge organic growth; the challenge will be to offer them new business tools without alienating individual users.
  2. We’re all suffering from The Stream, a deceptively gentle term for the firehose of ideas and links aimed at us every day by well-meaning friends, colleagues, and social network connections. Can radical scarcity improve quality? That’s the premise behind This., a social network incubated at the Atlantic which allows users to share a single link each day.
  3. Twitter is addressing onboarding issues to make the platform more compelling, but both the 140 character limit and a longstanding, insider-y community can mean that new users encounter daunting jargon. If you’re struggling to tell your RT from your MT, here’s an illustrated guide just for you.
  4. Launching a digital project can be like pulling the thread on a sweater — the more the new site/app/service makes possible, the more internal processes get disrupted and ideas get awakened. In a newly-launched responsive design podcast, Miranda Mulligan of the Boston Globe describes the politics between the newsroom and the design team, and how responsive design brought them together.
  5. In far too many organizations, potentially transformative digital and social strategy is outsourced to agencies or relegated to interns. Or at least, it’s reliably blamed on the interns when it all goes horribly wrong.

Weekend fun:  Take your pick: you can watch a fascinating brief look at texting and the internet in film, or while away the hours with Serendipity, a gorgeous visualization of songs played simultaneously on Spotify.

Every Friday, find five, highly subjective pointers to compelling technologies, emerging trends, and interesting ideas that affect how we live and work digitally. Try out the Friday 5 archive, or sign up to get a weekly email.

 

Friday Five

digital playbook

  1. Lots of buzz about the U.S. Government’s launch of a new SWAT-team digital service, and its digital services playbook. The tenets above are clear and proscriptive, and, true to the complexity of digital transformation, allude to the tremendous change management effort required. It’s not trivial to enable institutional culture shifts like “Address the whole experience from start to finish” and “Default to open.” Read about the launch, and check out the full playbook.
  2. Email is both our dopamine-producing fix and a time sink that’s the bane of our existence. This list of gmail productivity plugins can help ease the pain. We’ve covered unroll.me before – Boomerang can delay email sends to conceal the shameful fact that you were looking at spreadsheets until 2:30 am.
  3. But maybe we can help kill email off, instead? Collaboration tool Slack is doing a pretty reputable job of it for a number of startups out there.
  4. Is Buzzfeed a media company or a technology company? Andreessen Horowitz invested $50 million in Buzzfeed this week, with the view that a tech-first media company with rising traffic and robust native advertising might be the one to crack the future of news code.
  5. Long before Uber became a verb, directionally-challenged folks like me were avidly using the app to avoid getting lost in cities designed by sadists, like Boston. Uber’s new cruise control provides drivers and passengers alike turn-by-turn directions to make finding one’s way even easier.

Weekend fun: If you used any form of social media this week, you’ve no doubt seen the ice bucket challenge to raise awareness and cash for ALS. Notable participants have included Mark Zuckerberg, Martha Stewart, the New England Patriots, and Jimmy Fallon and the Roots. Questlove is not amused.

Every Friday, find five, highly subjective pointers to compelling technologies, emerging trends, and interesting ideas that affect how we live and work digitally. Try out the Friday 5 archive, or sign up to get a weekly email.

 

Friday Five

chart: daily photo uploads

  1. Snapchat and WhatsApp are emerging as dominant photo sharing platforms. Interesting that a main modality for this sharing is private messaging (quasi-ephemeral in the case of Snapchat) versus Facebook’s one-to-many concept of posting to your profile page.
  2. Social networking skeptics often decry the use of “friend” as an organizing principle for everyone from your sister to your teammate on the college lacrosse team a decade ago. Fear not: Foursquare and LinkedIn are embracing the follow model.
  3. If you’re still trying to get your head around bitcoin, add Stellar to the list of digital currency projects you’ve got to figure out. Backed in part by online payment innovator Stripe, Stellar is a not-for-profit that seeks to expand digital currencies to a  wider audience, and provide an easier way to move money over the internet.
  4. Public radio junkies may want to check out the new NPR One app. Native for mobile and web for desktop, the app provides the ability to listen to NPR content in an nonlinear, curated way — and enables serendipitous discovery in the process. Features include the ability to select your home station independent of current location, search from every screen, and an “interesting” button (avoiding the awkward “like” on sobering news pieces). Read an in-depth review.
  5. Are your social media posts more popular than you think? This (vendor-written) post explores the varying ratio of creators : commenters : observers online, and offers suggestions for how you might calculate probable reach across the different social networks.

Weekend fun: ”We live in a rapidly changing world … the way people get from place to place needs to change, too.” Beyond Uber, there is WYSK.

Every Friday, find five, highly subjective pointers to compelling technologies, emerging trends, and interesting ideas that affect how we live and work digitally. Try out the Friday 5 archive, or sign up to get a weekly email.

 

Friday Five
  1. Product HuntIn less than a year Product Hunt has become an essential daily ritual for the tech obsessed. How did it get there? It identified a clear problem: “Help me find the latest new, cool things.”Then the team made a bunch of smart decisions, including launching with an early, buggy version (and improving from there!), starting a consistent, daily email driving users to the site, and conducting initial personal outreach to build the community. Read more about Product Hunt’s first year.
  2. Productivity apps help you demolish your to-do list, and manage/filter information overload. Increasingly, users are starting off with mobile apps, but the real benefit emerges when the apps work across multiple screens. Supporting mobile and desktop pays off — these connected-everywhere apps drive wider distribution, and create a stickiness that promotes retention by increasing the switching cost.
  3. When people picture a hot startup, they generally have in mind the latest consumer-facing technology. But developers (and their lagging indicator, VCs) are discovering enterprise tech is back in vogue: it’s a large market opportunity with a pressing need for growth and change. So maybe now it’s cool to be boring.
  4. Here’s one theory why responsive design can’t be your only mobile strategy. While there’s no easy way to discuss mobile without invoking well-trodden holy wars (“can we ever say above the mobile fold?” ) there are a few good points here about cell network latency, the need for speed, and the importance of testing on actual devices.
  5. As more organizations recognize and formalize the need for content strategy, how do you explain and demystify the terms of art? The content strategy term of the week has you covered: start with taxonomy.

Weekend fun: Executives at Yahoo probably lie awake nights thinking of ways to make their products and services better. You know what would vastly improve Yahoo Answers? Audra McDonald singing them, that’s what.

 

Every Friday, find five, highly subjective pointers to compelling technologies, emerging trends, and interesting ideas that affect how we live and work digitally.

 

Happy birthday, cherished LinkedIn professional acquaintance!

cakeWhether you use LinkedIn on a laptop, the traditional mobile app or the new Connected app, you’ve no doubt encountered the LinkedIn birthday phenomenon. I don’t know how well LinkedIn thought this user experience through, but here’s how it plays out in practice. Remember that slightly sweaty but affable guy you sat next to at Dreamforce back in 2004? And that you talked about CRM and found out you both used to work at Lotus? And then you connected on LinkedIn? Well, now it’s his birthday — what are you going to do about it?

And once LinkedIn has a piece of connection-enhancing information like this, it’s like a dog with a bone. Those birthdays will surface on the mobile app stream, and pop up as “notifications.” They’ll be emailed to you each morning beneath a giant collage of people you vaguely remember from somewhere, who are unwittingly celebrating dubious life milestones like the “work anniversary.” Those birthdays will pop up in the content feed just when you found an Influencer piece you might actually want to read. LinkedIn wants you to know: that guy from Dreamforce? Back in 2004? It is his birthday.

Read the rest of Happy birthday, cherished LinkedIn professional acquaintance! over at Medium.

Photo credit: Tasha Chawner

Friday Five
  1. New Yorker mobile storyThe New Yorker has updated its web presence to take advantage of the internet’s love affair with quality, longform reads. The mobile design gets it right, with smooth interactive elements like a fly-in hamburger menu. This Guardian review credits the re-design for avoiding looking “like a middle-aged man dropping the ends of his words in an attempt to be down with the kids.” One quibble: given that their goal was to increase readership, I’m surprised they buried their email signup at the bottom of the page. But the best news of all? The archives since 2007 are free for three months, so dig in.
  2. The most important product design work is usually the ugliest, according to this Intercom post on The Dribblisation of Design that kicked up a kerfuffle online a while ago. It’s still a good summary of why the most interesting part of design is not the PSD, but the problem-solving.
  3. Remember back when Facebook was going to die because they were too old and uncool to get mobile? Yeah, me neither. Now they’re making money, handheld over fist.
  4. Reddit launched a new Live feature for unfolding news to better serve and reflect the high activity on the site when news breaks. The updated format makes the story easier to follow, and allows users to add content without starting a new thread and fragmenting the conversation.
  5. Should you buy an Amazon Fire phone? Unless you’re an Amazon-loving, domestic-only-traveling, early-adopter type who adores AT&T, Engadget suggests you hold off.

Weekend fun: Emoji karaoke is a thing, and the folks who came up with the one below are undisputed masters. Read more via Nate Matias, and try it yourself.

emoji karaoke

Every Friday, find five, highly subjective pointers to compelling technologies, emerging trends, and interesting ideas that affect how we live and work digitally.

 

Friday Five

instagram graph

  1. With a growing and highly engaged (dare I say fanatical?) user base, Instagram has remained a social media darling. This comprehensive piece describes how its founders make the business tick, keep user engaged in a landscape of mercurial tastes, and prepare the app for monetization in the future.
  2. There’s a new Facebook app, but only for famous people. Features focus on ease of use for content publishing (rather than perusing friends’ vacation pics), tracking mentions, and hosting Live Q &As.
  3. Anonymous app Secret, famous for airing the tech industry’s dirty laundry in a mobile-friendly, passive-aggressive art form, raised $25M this week. Here’s how.
  4. Is the internet dumbing us down into a culture where we merely share attention-grabbing headlines without consuming the content? Or can content that’s not aggressively shared find a readership over time? If you’re publishing online, it’s worth understanding how the curve of content consumption that dives into the valley of “meh” sometimes results in the hill of “wow”.
  5. Did you ever write an email in haste and repent, well, immediately afterward? If you use gmail, these tips on un-sending that email might help.

Weekend fun: Who’s the biggest Star Wars geek fan: Stephen Colbert or Jon Stewart? Watch and find out.

Every Friday, find five, highly subjective pointers to compelling technologies, emerging trends, and interesting ideas that affect how we live and work digitally.