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.


Friday Five
  1. linkedin connected appLinkedIn launched an app called Connected to simplify and enhance networking. The app provides members with more information about the current status of their contacts, including new jobs, media mentions, and the dubious milestone of the “work anniversary”. The calendar sync allows for pre-meeting intelligence, which means pushing you information about contacts just ahead of your meeting with them. Standalone apps have been offering similar functionality for a couple of years, but I suspect the breadth of LinkedIn’s user base will make it difficult for new entrants to compete.
  2. Monthly subscription costs for digital services, now available to you via a single, impetuous click on your smartphone, can really add up. Streaming media services like Netflix and Spotify and storage services like iCloud and Dropbox make life easier but tend to accrue. Here’s are some quick tips on how to reduce your monthly payments for digital services.
  3. What happens before, during, and after the moment you sign up for new social networks says a lot about the culture they are trying to foster, and the specific behaviors they are trying to encourage. Here’s a step-by-step review of how Instagram onboards new users.
  4. In any web design meeting, there’s someone who wants to know exactly what’s above the fold. But in this era of myriad form factors and scrolling on your smartphone, there is no fold. Really, there isn’t.
  5. How do you make time for social media — but not automate to the degree that you’re mistaken for a robot? Here are 10 time-saving social media tools to consider.

Weekend fun: Maybe you and your friends have a bunch of random stuff on your Instagram feeds. But it likely pales in comparison with what the TSA posts. 

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
teens social media

Source: eMarketer, Niche

  1. What are the kids up to on the internet these days? A handy breakdown of reported social network usage by the high school class of 2014 reveals that Facebook is still a player with 61% of teens accessing at least once a day. Also, breaking news: Teens hide what they are doing online from their parents.
  2. Google search results linking to articles are disappearing in the European Union, courtesy of the recent ”right to be forgotten” court decision. So your online search in the EU for someone’s name may not yield all the relevant results. Given the role of search, this is tantamount to removing articles from the public record.
  3. On a less Orwellian and more practical note, most of us have posted something on the internet they’ve later regretted. Here’s a useful how-to video on editing your own social media posts.
  4. David Carr notes both the exaggerated death and the “finite and recognizable” value of the email newsletter, which has undergone a recent renaissance of sorts. Jason Hirschhorn, author of the terrific Media ReDef, calls email ”the cockroach of the Internet” for its ability to persist for over 40 years. Last year I referred to oft-eulogized email as a digital Rasputin.
  5. IFTTT (if this, then that) recipes are a great way for non-technical folks to tie together web services to create useful actions. For example, set up a recipe to send tweets that you favorite to Pocket, or to send you a text if it’s going to rain tomorrow. Combine that easy-to-use capability with the burgeoning internet of things, and life starts to get interesting. This week, a new partnership with Nest paves the way for users to create more useful and weird recipes of the physical world.

Weekend fun: OK, Go has served up another oddly addictive music video, full of optical illusions. But can you and your attention span still make it through a 3-minute video?

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


  1. Email subscriptions can be pernicious — almost every online interaction bullies you into adding another. Try Unrollme to clean up your inbox by unsubscribing from the mail you never quite get around to reading.
  2. What will wearables mean for the workplace? Salesforce releases code libraries to inspire app development, with potential impact on both in-office productivity and lifestyle/fitness.
  3. Content management systems and their admin interfaces aren’t usually the sexiest of web topics. But this comes close: the Nieman Lab’s look under the hood at the New York Times’ CMS.
  4. Amazon this week launched its long-rumored Amazon Fire Phone. Of note: multiple front-facing cameras to offer 3D perspective and Firefly, which enables you to scan products for additional information. The phones ship next month on AT&T at $199 (32GB) and $299 (64GB) price points.
  5. A step-by-step look at Twitter’s cumbersome signup process shows why the company is struggling to grow. But on the bright side, Twitter finally supports GIFs to add a little fun to your timeline.

Weekend fun: OK, Jon Stewart! The Daily Show takes down Google Glass in inimitable style. Fear not: no Glassholes were harmed in the filming of the segment.

germanyHeads up: Friday 5 is taking a break next week to celebrate the World Cup, and resumes on the 4th of July.


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


5 ways Google delivers winning World Cup results

If you can’t watch every game live, you may be spending a lot of time surreptitiously tuning into the World Cup via search. Google serves up a clean, selective summary on the search results page above the organic news and web links. A search today for “France World Cup” yielded the interface below on desktop view:world cup search results

  1. The desktop view directs the eye to a visual view of current game score, with flags as the focal point. The timeline defaults to “Matches” tab with “Standings” tab accessible.
  2. The interface offers relevant but limited additional information, like a reminder of the Group, and of other France matches.
  3. There is selective use of color (‘Live 9′ in green) so you can see the game’s progress at a glance.
  4. The sidebar brings in visual and text content from the Wikipedia entry, with general team information and roster.
  5. The mobile view offers slightly different navigation. On mobile, the result omits the Wikipedia entry up top in favor of showing the roster via “Lineups”, and defaults to “Timeline” during the game. The scrollable interface highlights the great use of icons for elements like yellow cards, penalties, and own goals. As with the desktop view, playable video clips are prominent.

france mobile

So many sports sites and television interfaces — for reasons that include both ad revenue needs and poor design choices — succumb to confusing, poorly differentiated visual clutter. Google’s clean interface does a solid job of serving up status and context at a glance for the World Cup obsessed.

world cup tv view

Friday Five
  1. Aamazon prime musicmazon launched a streaming music service — a relatively commoditized offering with competitors like Spotify, Beat, and Rdio. The differentiator may not be a more robust feature set, in part because Amazon’s offering does not include Universal Music Group’s catalog. Instead, as this article points out, the Prime bundling with free shipping and book lending may tip the balance over its competitors.
  2. Can Twitter survive against the Facebook juggernaut — and other rapidly growing social networks? Today, Twitter usage hovers at about 19% of U.S. online adults, versus 71% for Facebook. This Pew Research Center article suggests that Twitter may have niche staying power, with use cases around breaking news, political influencers, and activists.
  3. What is the impact of unmoderated comments on your website? In one study, respondents rated articles with comments as lower quality— with as much as 8% difference in perception.
  4. With over 200M active users and a top ten smartphone app, Instagram is a draw for many brands. Buffer offers a great how-to guide for businesses getting started on the photo sharing social network. Also included: best times to post to various social media outlets.
  5. We’re in the midst of a hardware renaissance, and excitement about the promise of virtual reality (VR). Oculus Rift CEO Brendan Iribe talks about the potential of the technology and its role within Facebook, which acquired the tech company back in March for $2B. Salient quote: “When you put on Oculus, people are just streaming with ideas, dreaming about things.”

Weekend fun: Irritating linkbait meets brutal satire at the Onion’s new venture, Clickhole. And it’s a winner whether people know it’s satire or not.

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