Twitter and your smartphone, bringing the cloud to the people

Earlier today I had to write a 2 line, non-technical explanation of “in the cloud” as it applied to a consumer friendly application. Boy was that challenging. You see I think the “cloud” as a term is the same pile of dog turds as terms like “smartphone” and “utilise“.

But you have to market it somehow, don’t you? And “a modern take on client/server environments leveraging web based technology and distributed storage and services” wasn’t going to cut it for my target market.

So just as I discovered while doing the citizenship exam here in Australia recently, sometimes you have to pitch yourself at the lowest common denominator in order to prevent setting yourself up for failure. So I wrote

Facebook is a good example of an in the cloud application

Which brings me to twitter and the “ecosystem” it has created over the years. There have been plenty of “hot new startups” trying to use twitter as some spinal cord for their service. A transport route to create interest in their cloud application. While many turned into abject failures or glorious turkeys, the odd moderate success exists.

I can think of one service above others which I think has gone beyond moderate success and that is Instagram. And yet, like anything which doesn’t want to be cap in hand to a master, it doesn’t depend on it one jot.

Tweetdeck and other services which started out by providing a usable interface to a dumbed down system now struggle to diversify following twitter’s guidance to get off my lawn. Instagram, thanks to a focus on getting it right on the iPhone first, has created an ecosystem of it’s own. The nascency of Instagrid proves this.

I’ve gushed over Applications before despite being hesitant at with many of them. I’ve decided Instagram has cottoned on to two things which help it:

  1. We like to take photos
  2. We like to share

Instagram imagery

    Instagrid now gives you the opportunity to share all of those photos in one place on the web, somewhere instagram had to date left alone. Have a look yourself.

    Other things people like to do as well as take pictures is to Read and to listen to music.

    I’ve been a user of last.fm to store my musical taste for many years now, but it’s sharing features suck and the kowtowing to “rights owners” appears to have killed any “official” last.fm app on my iPhone in Australia.

    So step in blaster.fm. I’ve been using it for a few weeks now, and love what it does. Sure it’s got some rough edges, but I’m pretty sure the developer knows what he is doing to take it to places which Apple and CBS Interactive would likely workshop out of existance.

    I wouldn’t call it “successful” like I would call Instagram, but fingers crossed it gets there.

    Final shout out to Goodreads, which despite having an iPhone App designed by committee, is going some way to getting me interested in reading books again.

    We use these in the cloud applications each day, many of which use twitter to do what twitter is intended to do, share stuff with your friends and others and help people talk. I suggest Twitter, rather than writing confronting pieces, should focus on better promoting those services which use their API’s the “right” way.

    What Twitter based Applications do you use which make you go back daily?

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    All they really wanted was the same thing in a new packet

    MacOSX Public Beta "Finder". Credit: Guidebookgallery.org

    One of my favourite examples of how people hate change was back when Apple still thought geeks were worth listening to and reinstated their 20th century style menu bar back to it’s previous look and feel in the initial release of OSX.

    LaunchPad in MacOSX Lion. Credit: MacApper.com

    The Menu bar wasn’t actually causing problems, and the change made in the Public Beta wasn’t huge.

    But following that backdown, 10 years later and after many iterations, they remain locked into the problem of last centuries usability constraints in software. Lion Launchpad bringing the iOS to MacOSX notwithstanding.

    Obviously involving users and stakeholders in your product development cycle is a great one. But allowing them to dictate your decision making is flawed. This is especially true when you are attempting to re-imagine the behaviour of your products.

    When newspapers translated their paper based user interfaces to online in a lemming like quest for irrelevance, they no doubt had 50 year newspaper men running or at least signing off on the projects.

    Get Collaborative! credit: localworlds.org

    I can just imagine the collaborative workshops where five million compromises too many were made by bright young things from this web thing. All so these change agents could get agreement from those key stakeholders who held the purse strings.

    When the main outcome from a project to improve how you and your customer interact is a set of simplified designs and clearer imagery would you be satisfied? What about if that result, thanks to the input of your stakeholders, meant pretty much the same shoddy service for your customers as the current version? How about if the measurement is that slightly fewer of your customers tear their hair or gnash their teeth than before the improvement?

    Do you think that on any day during or after these projects the wunderkinds who started these projects woke up and realised, as was put to me tonight:

    They thought they wanted a new product, but what they really wanted was the current product with a fancy wrapper

    Reset Expectations!

    So all I ask is, if today was another day where you felt like going up to your stakeholders and shaking them while shouting forget what you know, remember tomorrow is another day and it can still be done!

    After all if you can’t bring the key stakeholders along your journey, at least you got to slap them around a little bit.

    Digital Citizens on Government shared by the people

    Abraham Lincoln, in his Gettysburg address used “government of the people, by the people, for the people” to describe the representative democracy which the dead at Gettysburg had given their lives in defence of.

    How that description has been applied over the years has changed a bit. But aside from the advent of Radio and Television in the 1920’s and 1960’s, hardly has it been as much affected as in our recent past. Continue reading

    Richard Stallman uses “Stalinist” Cellphone for interview

    Network World tell us Free Software Foundation Hippy, Richard Stallman considers a Cellphone (that’s a mobile to much of the rest of the English speaking world) to be a plot of a stalinist nature because it’s a

    tracking device that records where I go all the time…a surveillance device that can be turned on to eavesdrop

    I mean kudos to the guy for proving that a career can exist using a Lemote Yeeloong running gNewSense, whatever they are, but the rest of us choose to live life where we believe that sometimes in order to be comfortable and happy, we make some trades, some compromises. Like ensuring our kids have food and stuff.

    According to the article though, it appears Richard is having to learn about compromises:

    Ironically enough, Stallman was speaking to me on a cell phone

    Maybe the dropouts referred to in the article were him ensuring the tracking devices weren’t able to narrow down where he was. Though I imagine the “supporters” of his European Speaking Tour might help the bad guys with that.

    Not to mention all the Immigration and Customs he had to go through to get there in the first place.

    Compromises. They’re everywhere Richard, or maybe you made sure the sponsors of the Tour only used “free” software before you took their coin?