Here is your first class action suite for GDPR (and why it is stupid)

As an experiment, I decided to ask Google to remove all my contributions to the Google Maps Local Guides scheme.  For those of you not aware, Google Maps uses volunteers to improve maps.  And we do a lot.  They have gamified the process, which makes me a Level 9 guide (of 10 levels) thanks to thousands of reviews, ratings and photos seen by millions of users that I have uploaded.  So what happens if I want to leave?

Joke No1.  Google itself, clearly says that you can delete your profile but your contributions will remain!  End of story, judge makes verdict, 4% of your global revenue please.

Joke No2.  It is not easy to even find what to do if you are not OK with the above Joke No1.  Suppose you look hard, you will find somewhere under legal a procedure.  So you fill in a form.  Already we are way out of GDPR, this is not easy or intuitive.

Joke No3.  Google doesn’t even have a human to respond.  Their first email is generic:

Thanks for reaching out to us!

We have received your legal request. We receive many such complaints each
day; your message is in our queue, and we’ll get to it as quickly as our
workload permits.

Due to the large volume of requests that we experience, please note that we
will only be able to provide you with a response if we determine your
request may be a valid and actionable legal complaint, and we may respond
with questions or requests for clarification.  For more information on
Google‘s Terms of Service, please visit http://www.google.com/accounts/TOS

Regards,
The Google Team”

Whoops!  Under GDPR, referring to fine print just doesn’t cut it.  Even if the judge hadn’t slammed the hammer and demanded gazillions before, now he can.
Joke No4.   Luckily for them, I too think GDPR is crap, so I respond honestly and fully.  Oh no, bot response again:

“Thanks for reaching out to us.

To request the blocking of URLs from Google Search results under European law, please use this form: https://support.google.com/legal/contact/lr_eudpa?product=websearch

If you need to send additional information in relation to your request, please respond to the email confirmation you receive after you send in the form. If you have already filled out the above form, your request will be processed shortly.

To request blocking of your personal information from specific Google products other than Web Search, please use the following form: https://support.google.com/legal/contact/lr_pir

If you need to send additional information in relation to your request, please respond to the email confirmation you receive after you send in the form.

If you have already filled out the above form, your request will be processed shortly.

Regards,
The Google Team”

This is pretty bad.  The bot didn’t even get it right.  So I send “This request does NOT concern blocking information.  The form you are sending me to is irrelevant.  Please get a homo sapiens to respond.” And the bot insists: “After reviewing your submission, we weren’t able to fully understand your request. If you send us more details to clarify your concerns, we will investigate further.”

Joke No5.
Luckily for Google, I am on their side, so I explain with plenty links.

“I am a Google maps local guide. Level 9 in fact. This means I have made thousands of contributions. However if I want to remove these contributions, there is no automatic way of doing it.Under GDPR this should be possible more easily. Manually deleting tens of thousands of comments, reviews and photos is not practical or even feasible.

I refer you to the discussion going on here
https://www.localguidesconnect.com/t5/General-Discussion/How-to-Exit-Local-Guides-Program-and-Delete-ALL-my-Contributions/m-p/934274#M264101

And here
https://www.localguidesconnect.com/t5/General-Discussion/Local-Guides-and-GDPR/m-p/926431#M259635″

Bot screws up even worse up the same rabbit hole:

To request blocking of your personal information from specific Google products other than Web Search, please use the following form: https://support.google.com/legal/contact/lr_pir

If you need to send additional information in relation to your request, please respond to the email confirmation you receive after you send in the form.

If you have already filled out the above form, your request will be processed shortly.”

Now, if you follow that last link, it is as unGDPR as humanly possible.  And it is off topic, it won’t even work if I request it like that.

I really need no further proof than the above emails to sue Google under GDPR.  Will it work?  Hell yeah!  Class action?  Easily!  Google has been pushing users on to Local Guides for ages, millions of Android users are on it already.  Will I do it?  Of course not.  GDPR is ridiculous, useless and bureaucratic for no reason.  Google Maps is useful and Local Guides wonderful.

This is a complicated world but useful trumps EuroBureaucracy every time.  Even well meaning European initiatives are counter productive when they are implemented like this.  A horse designed by a Euro Committee isn’t even a camel, it is a monster that can’t walk.  GDPR is not enforceable in any practical sense, it is simply the threat of a vindictive consumer.

This is a coup! How does Europe get the right to tell the internet what to do?

As the world watches him flip flop over major topics like migrant families and trade war threats, I have to grant Donald Trump a point.  Take all the nasty stuff he said about China on the campaign trail (before he started sucking up to Asian dictators) and apply it to the European Union.  Obviously GDPR has not yet played on Fox news and he hasn’t figured out what the European Commission just pulled off.  It unilaterally forced a ridiculous and extremely vague legal requirement on the entire planet!

“A Data protection officer (DPO)—a person with expert knowledge of data protection law and practices, must be appointed to assist the controller or processor to monitor internal compliance with this regulation.”  Wait a minute.  Just because a European citizen might click on my website, I have to hire some expert?  And worse still, I am not allowed to ban Europeans from visiting my website or to show them a different version?  Protectors of the internet should not be cheering GDPR, we should all be fighting it!  This is a coup, or #thisisacoup if you want to make it a trending hashtag.  You should want to if you care about the internet.

We have done our best to keep the internet free.  We fight for net neutrality.  And we are going to let some Euro-bureaucrats force vague and already technologically irrelevant regulation on the entire planet?  GDPR is not about tech, your IT people can’t make you compatible.  Neither is it a marketing issue.  GDPR isn’t even a legal issue.  How many lawyers do you know that understand databases or UI?  GDPR is 100% political.  Our national governments weren’t even asked, it is regulation instead of a directive.   European citizens didn’t even get the chance to see it ratified in national assemblies.  And – sorry to see this in writing – I am rather hoping Donald Trump notices some report on Fox news and helps us out this time around.

This is a coup.

Facebook killed 14 people in May

That is what the headlines ought to be.  Not “A Facebook bug changed suggested sharing settings to ‘public’ for up to 14 million users“.  Think about it.  Assuming Facebook is telling the truth (and we have absolutely no way to know if it was 14 million, 140 million or all of Facebook affected) out of the 14 million there is an enormous probability that they affected users with serious legal, social or psychological problems.  Maybe a crazy ex wife, a stalker, a student or some other privacy problem which led a percentage of those affected to suicide.  In fact, based on the evidence accumulating scientifically, it is not entirely unfair to say that Facebook not only did it’s best to grab users with mental problems but also that it actively does its best to make those problems worse.

It is pretty safe to assume that Facebook didn’t release this information because of their new drive to honesty.  Even if it was only 14 million users affected (which I highly doubt), that is a lot of time wasting Facebook psychopaths online with the potential to uncover it.  Many of those are constantly checking other people’s feeds, gossiping and trying to find out whether their boyfriend saw that post about that other girl or not.  (And other such human micro drama.)  Facebook had to reveal the bug because a lot of people would have noticed and proved it’s existence.  A lot of the users it managed to make addicted during one of the many hours they spend aimlessly scrolling up and down their timelines and checking other people’s timelines.

Here’s one problem:  nobody can really check up on Facebook.  Here’s a worse problem: their infrastructure is terrible.  Here’s the real issue: Facebook remains the toy of an unbalanced teenage hacker at heart.

In many ways it is a self repairable problem.  Unlike other online tools, Facebook is a complete waste of time.  The company has specialized in providing inconsequential services.  It’s not helping you get to work.  It’s not giving you free document processing tools.  And it’s running out of ways to entice users to spend time on it’s useless, buggy, platform.

Facebook made one little mistake in it’s GDPR response

I wrote about the fuss on GDPR but Facebook’s response made it even worse.  Their UI department essentially made fun of both the EU and the entire planet by forcing us to waste time in a most amusing (to them) way.  They had two questions to ask us.  It could have been done with two clicks.  But no.  Let’s see what they actually chose to do instead:  (In Greek on purpose.  I want you to focus on the whole image, not the text.)

It didn’t need a splash screen.  Under the pretense of explaining to us what it is all about however they want you to click on the bottom right because then you might…

..just click on the bottom right again without thinking in the next screen and accept without looking at it.  I would love to know what the percentage of people who fell for this were.  I am guessing around 60-70%.  Just click on it to get to your timeline and whatever you wanted to do.  But some might have clicked on it and then thought “oh no, maybe I should read this stuff”.  So the Facebook UI team pulls a second trick out of their hat.

Another splash screen.  Supposedly explaining stuff, which nobody will read and they know it.  No, the real reason this is here is to get you clicking on the bottom right again as you anxiously worry that you’re late to like your wife’s latest post.

And here again another sneaky bit of UI magic.  Put the choice under the visible part of the screen.  Who will bother scrolling down, eh?

But hey, don’t worry.  You get nice extra screen telling you that your selection was saved.  Yippee, we were all worried that maybe it wasn’t saved.  So click, click, click that bottom right….click and all this will go away…

…or maybe not so quickly.  Another pseudofriendly splash screen with another big blue bright button down there to click on.  By now you are biting at the chomp, raring to get to your feed.

The UI masters however are not done.  They are running experiments on you even as the planet castigates them for running experiments on you.  Why is this option not a slider like the other one?  Because they want you to click on what seems more “obvious”.

 

Sure, I want Facebook to recognize my face, whatever, get to that blue button and back to my feed!

Well done, your selection is saved.  You are a hero.  But we are not done with you.  Click the button, click the button…

Accept these terms if you want to continue using Facebook.  Oh, OK, right, that is like my girlfriend demanding I marry her before we ever have sex again.  And she tells me after we get naked and started.  That big blue button doesn’t say “next”, it now says “agree” but you are well taught by now to always click down there.  And now, only now, you can see the final mistake of the Facebook UI team.

They should have put a middle finger instead of a thumbs up.

 

The real problem with Facebook is its lack of a business model

“If Facebook disappeared tonight, it would take the planet maybe 2 days to get over it.”  It’s not the first time I have heard this being said. And even though it sounds like a terrible sweeping generalisation from someone trying to impress over dinner, I tend to agree.  Some say it is useless. It definately doesn’t offer real services like Maps, or YouTube or Google Docs.  It isn’t a globally accepted personal ID yet. They haven’t even merged the sign in process for all their different acquisitions yet.    Messenger is a terrible messaging platform, simply not designed for finding things or organising messages or getting anything done. Much like Facebook it is a sometimes pleasant time wasting area of our lives.  Instagram is an absolutely atrocious place to store your photographs or even to promote them. It is not as if you can easily export them all to take anywhere else or even other basic things any photographer would ask for.

Facebook seems to impose stupid restrictions on WhatsApp and any other app it makes.  It takes ages to transfer even winning ideas from one of its properties to another. Because Facebook’s business model is non existent.   They are basically low level con artists, out to milk everybody a little at a time. In fact I think its mission statement should read:

To waste everyone’s time by dilly dallying with mediocre solutions to minor problems while taking advertising money from people with extremely imprecise targets in life or business.”  It is almost as if they do it on purpose.  First they tell everyone to make business pages, then they make sure that nobody sees those pages.  Unless you pay for ads. They tell everyone to focus on video, then downplay video. The introduce ridiculously infantile advertising tools at a pace so slow it makes you wonder what sort of idiot would put up with them.

Turns out all of us so far.  Because every time they give out for free something awesome in terms of human manipulation.  For me it is the easy experiments. I have 1500 “friends”on Facebook and I try out things on them.  No protocol, no rigour, just throw it out and get a whiff of how they work it. Easiest playground ever for marketing people.  I will regularly visit and revisit topics to gauge at an instant how “public” opinion is shifting. I know its not perfect but it is fast and dirty and often all I need to help my thought process along or get ideas.  And this is exactly what Zuckerberg and his friends are doing to all of us.

When Facebook ads started, it was so open you could make an ad to be seen only by one person.  I did it many times. Want to impress someone in a board meeting? Just find out his hobbies and basics  and you could have him or her on your microsite in less than a day. It is not just because they lack experience.  It is because they really don’t care. In a deep and meaningful way, they don’t give half a hoot. They have no ethics and it is apparent in their products which are essentially all designed as if to avoid any practical application whatsoever on purpose.

You can’t blame an artist for whatever art is created.  He never sold that painting as an accurate map or that sculpture as a hammer.  Facebook’s mission statement can only be something vague like connecting people because they are too lazy and too unethical to ever dare hold up a measure with any more specificity.  They are not “connecting people” any more than a blood sucking leech is connecting you to it’s other victims.

So what happens next?

Facebook can only follow Google’s lead really.  Make, buy or think of something that people want in order to get them using your platform.  Knowing Facebook it will be silly stuff.  No matter, guess we need silly stuff too.  Games, time wasters, Flappy Birds and social games that become fashionable.  From “click here to find out what medieval king you were” to “we tell you what you will look like in sixty years”, that is Facebook.  That is all it is.  That’s as good as it gets.  Facebook has no business model because what it sells is about as useful as recreational drugs.  So let’s not ask if they did something illegal.  Let’s ask if their entire operation should have been legal in the first place.

Energophobia: a very modern disease

It is pretty rare these days to find something that a Google search cannot.  I mean zilch. Nothing.  It immediately guessed I was looking for agoraphobia.  But I am not looking for a fear of  places that might make you feel trapped, helpless or embarrassed.   I am looking for a much more common fear which affects most of us.  You know when you sit down and your first thought is to charge your phone?  When you drive and plug in “just in case”?  Energophobia (ενεργοφοβία) is the fear of running out of power on one of the many devices you carry around.  Usually your smartphone.

This condition remains a mystery to me.  Because it seems so easy to solve.  Most phones’ batteries have a 3000 (don’t care what the units are) battery.  Even ridiculously expensive new iPhones can hardly last a day.  They keep talking about improvements here and there for battery life.  Why not just give it a bigger battery?  I can buy a phone with three times the battery (10000) or twice the battery for less than 150 dollars and go for days.  Hell, they support USB on the go, so I can even charge your iPhone for you!  And OK, Apple is weird about doing multiple phone models, why don’t Android phone makers, give the damn things bigger batteries?

The only obvious answer is that people don’t want to pay for it.  Which makes even less sense.  You want a slim phone so much that you prefer to live with a constant anxiety about running out of battery?  You prefer to carry so many accessories, which probably weigh more than a second phone in total,  instead of a very slightly heavier phone?  I would love for a major manufacturer to just try out my hypothesis.  Make a flagship model with a bigger battery.  Not double, just enough more power so that you can easily get through a working day without even thinking about having to charge.  Without worrying about being an energy beggar anywhere you take a break.

In any case, please think about it.  Talk to your shrink and let me know.

Notifications chaos? Across platforms, devices and the Universe. Solved!

I was looking at the new and improved YouTube when it came to me.  Check out all the new bells and whistles, the polls and the posts you can make in a tool that is more and more like a social network, and it will notify you…  I  just kept thinking “wow, how will users handle all the extra new notifications from this app?”  And then I logged in to Google Local Guides connect and thought “I wish this sent me notifications more often without me needing to log in”.  I keep forgetting about it.

 

There is no easy solution.  No magic bullet.  Oh, wait a minute.  Yes there is!

 

It is currently chaos.  Every app tries to dominate on my phone and my computer and everywhere it can.  AirBnB sends me text messages just to make sure I have read my emails about a place I am staying in two months.  When I get a new phone or reset my old one, Google does an excellent job of bringing back all sorts of settings.  But not notifications.  Because that is a job bigger even than Google.  Here is how we could  it:

 

  1. Start a service which picks up from your phone and computer as many as possible of whatever apps and services you are connected to automatically.  No easier way around this, you need to authorize it to know your Twitter, Linked in, Gmail or whatever else you want it to handle the notifications for.
  2. You then get a master notifications center.  I am talking about all your apps and all your devices.  Here is where the magic starts.  Because you tell it that you want your cell phone, any cell phone you connect to the service, to always notify you if something happens on Twitter.  Or to never notify you about anything on Facebook other than someone tagging you.   Or to always tell you somehow about stuff happening on Google Local Guides Connect.
  3. Obviously some apps and services won’t comply.  My notifications platform isn’t just another app.  We are now the gold standard, the international bar to reach for everyone.  We are consumer rights!  Heck I can do it as a panEuropean initiative or something, go all political and make any company that doesn’t comply look bad.  We will advertise with slogans like “works with all apps apart from those nasty people at Instagram that won’t let us access their API”.
  4. There is nothing stopping us from creating a service for non compliant devices or software.  You will tell it what you want your connected microwave to do and we will bust the balls of the manufacturer to get on our platform until it complies.  This isn’t some sort of “if this then that”, this is only notifications and specifically notifications.  This is your life!  Who gets the right to interrupt you? (You see how I go all philosophical and touchy-feely, eh?)
  5. Eventually my platform becomes the go to place for all apps and devices to get their notifications settings from.  Cross platform, cross countries, across the Universe.  A Russian cosmonaut with an iPhone will return to earth after 18 months, throw away the damn thing because it drove him nuts and get his Android phone set up the same for notifications within minutes.  Elon Musk will return from Mars after 3 years and fly his new Tesla home without interruptions from any app he hasn’t chosen.

Notifications are a problem which is not going to go away.  Google is the only company anywhere close to a chance of making the world better in this respect but only for those of us that use and love their products.  But even if you only use Android, Chromebooks and full use of all Google apps, devices and services, there will be other companies creeping in to annoy us with their notifications.  We need something bigger than Google in a much smaller way.  A vertical.  A fine layer of control on the last mile, the last inch of space between the world and anything that comes to interrupt me with a notification.

 

The business beauty of the proposal is that you don’t need to include everyone and everything from day one.  Even if this platform handled just notifications from 3-4 apps and services it would be useful.  Think about it.  Never having to set up your phone regarding what can ping and ding from Facebook or Gmail or whatever.  Not even Google offers this right now.  Eventually our protocol becomes the global standard for notification control of course, we pay ourselves mega bucks and become more important than the United Nations.

 

Any developers up for making this?

 

Facebook just fired your marketing department and made me invaluable

What a shock.  About 60-70% of your marketing plan has just been made obsolete by Facebook’s changes.  It’s not their fault.  You are idiots to have ever believed them.  The signs were always there.  First they said “everyone make pages!”  So you did.  Some companies even forsake a website and make the Facebook page a main hub of activity.  Now it sits there almost useless, collecting a few likes from your employees if you are lucky.  Then they said “do video!”   So you obeyed and pumped money, changed teams, bought equipment for that too.  Guess what?  Now they are saying video is no longer what they want.  Less than a year later!   You paid for special advisers, you paid for adverts, you went to training, listened to podcasts, followed the “developments”.  What “developments”?  Let’s face it.  Nobody has a clue, they are just running after Facebook and paying for it.  Those clever clogs that said “we will handle your social presence” just got royally screwed.  They are now officially useless.   And clueless.

I hate to say “I told you so” but, no actually, I love to remind you about it.  From day 1 of it’s existence, I have written that Facebook is a scam.  Mark Zuckerberg has the mentality of a hacker.  Not the cute ones you see in films helping the hero by remotely opening doors and getting information about the enemy.  No, Facebook is the largest organization ever built to perpetuate a completely selfish attitude to business which can be summarized as:

Grab what you can, when you can.  Who cares about everyone else?

This sounds like a line from a film about Wall street and many would even justify it possibly.  But not in the way Facebook implements it.  Facebook systematically changes its rules and ecosystem to screw everyone else.  It starts with the user.  It’s only purpose is to keep you on the platform.  It doesn’t offer anything useful, just a semblance of a real tool.  Remember those?  Real tools, like the ones in your CRM or your ERP.  Things you actually do work with.    While some idiots were getting excited and promoting Facebook groups as “better than old fashioned online forums”, people at Facebook were laughing, knowing it was just a scam.  They had put it together in a couple of weeks and were already on their next thing.  You were promoting a duck long dead.

The entire industry of Facebook watchers is now proposing workarounds.  It is their way of not admitting the problem.   “Stick to live video!” they say.  Fantastic.  Heck I work for a company that sells equipment for this, anything from a 5,000 euro small set up for a school or company to a 5 million studio for a TV channel, we can make a killing.  Only it would be completely stupid to let you do it for Facebook.   Of course you need a better plan, one that keeps the assets in your ecosystem and only uses Facebook as, when and if it is worth it.  Until they change their minds again next week.  “Turn to Messenger!” they say.  “Use bots!”   Sure guys, anything you say.  Let’s all use an infantile messaging system with no decent API, no decent search and lacking all the great tools we know and love in serious tools for business.  Business hasn’t changed.  You still need a database with your data somewhere you can control.  Something like a CMS, or a web front end or anything that won’t change next time Zuckerberg wakes up on the wrong side of his bed with a new best idea.

The only thing I will agree on with Facebook is the need for long comments and deep discussion.  I am an excellent online troublemaker.  Kicking up a fuss with long comments and causing a commotion is what I enjoy best in my free time online.  So far I thought of it as a disadvantage, something to keep away from business accounts.  But my time has come!  Despite Facebook’s idiotic commenting technology which makes following an argument rather difficult, it seems the universe if finally in need of my natural calling.

If nobody is seeing that business page and nobody is commenting on your posts feel free to contact me for help.  Oh by the way I just tripled my prices but you shouldn’t worry about that, after all Facebook is much worse.   At least I am honestly telling you about it up front…

True gamification: What Google Maps has to learn from Supercell

I am in San Francisco battling jet lag, trying to sleep at the local time. But not so far away from me a group of kids is blaring out music.  It is an international bunch of kids in their twenties and they are playing from their phones what they think the others will like.  You could call it “party classics” in a way.  But Spotify will never know these songs.  These are the ones someone chose because he thought a bunch of strangers will like them.  The good ones you know because they all sing out of tune and slightly drunk.  Either the boys are heard more or the girls, depending on the appeal.  Sometimes both together, boy, they must be too shy to get on to sex so they keep listening I suppose.  The failed songs are changed after the first chorus when they see lack of traction with the audience.

It is vitally important to really listen to what is going on in the world and your target market.  “We are gamifying the platform” they say in software with conviction.  They mean you now have a goal, some medals or some levels to complete.  Whether it is Google Maps, a school or some old fashioned application with a face lift, the story is the same.  Way too little, way too late.

It is called “gamification” for a reason.  It is meant to be like games.  Modern games though.  Stop looking ten years behind and look at the games that do well today.  How do they motivate users? I have my kids to thank for Clash Royale.  So I know the difference.  It is hard to explain when you don’t play and when you don’t see kids reacting to the opportunities and changes in the game.  But I will try.

 

First of all with the onboarding.  It doesn’t just run an intro to get you going.  Clash Royale maintains a learning culture in players but constantly introducing new challenges and incentives to learn tools.  They know that if complexity increases and players don’t follow, they will be disappointed and leave.  For example these days they made a new “touchdown” way of playing.  So there is a simple version for you to get into it gradually in a consequence free environment.  Nothing to lose.  In fact you can’t go to the “proper” game until you have taken off the training wheels here.  Now think how many GUIs “upgrade”, “update” or generally get more difficult and lose customers.

The most common mistake of so called “gamification” plans is in fact the opposite of this.  They make the changes complicated but the rewards too simple.  Clash Royale allows you to feel you are the best on many different levels.  Maybe you have the most donations to clan members this week.  Or you are the only one with the new cool weapon, the highest level troop or some other unique category you can brag about.  You might be really good at a particular challenge.  Everything you do gains you something, but it is never simple.  Gold is useful, diamonds even better, experience points help you gain levels and it is all connected.  (Won’t go into how exactly, too nerdy, you have to play it.)  The rules of these rewards can be as complex as you want, in fact the more complicated the better.  Just stay on top of it.  We are online after all, you can adjust them dynamically depending on how people are reacting or not reacting to them.

Supercell, the creator of Clash Royale, is fast to fix things like that.  They take each new character as it’s own franchise.  With pre promotion, videos on youtube, it’s own introductory events to get everyone to know and use it and then new challenges to help it get back into vogue if we are not using it much.  Maybe it costs less elixir this week or it does double damage the next.  This is an economy which is centrally controlled after all.  Just make sure it is fun.

It can all be done with any platform.  It could be done with Google Maps.  After all the single biggest problem is how to get people involved and contributing.  You can’t map the world on your own.  I am a level 8 Local Guide.  At 15.000 points, all I get is the information that my next milestone is 50.000.  It is like looking at a very tall mountain from the bottom and not wanting to walk.  It would be like going through fifth and sixth grade together without any school report along the way, just a “well done!  You made it!” at the end of two years.   If you want me to tell you about wheelchair access, tell me that I am the hottest contributor this week or in my area this week.  Or that I did the fastest first ten contribution this week.  Anything.  In Clash Royale everything is always moving you ahead …somewhere.

The other important aspect of effort is community of course.  But here again, Supercell show the way ahead.  Because you can’t force community down anybody’s throat, much like you can’t force modern people to be sociable in the same way.  Some like to play with friends, to collaborate.  Others prefer to play with strangers or against strangers.  Sometimes we like to spar against friends.  At times we want the buzz of risking but then we like to just slog away in mindless torpor to relax.  It can’t all be at the same level all the time.  Clash Royale offers all these different ways of playing almost all the time.  Because as central dictator of their universe, they make sure that things are never permanent or too stable and boring.  Clan challenges appeared for a while, then disappeared while they decided on the initial data, then reappeared with gusto.  Now they come mainly on the weekends when all my sons’ friends (and me!) can play together and try and win clan chests which we all share.  Some of us like playing like that.

So by all means gamify your platform.  Gamify work, gamify learning.  But do it like Supercell or call it something else.

Apple will never produce the best technology: here’s why

I have been branded an Apple hater a long time ago, so I don’t bother to worry about that.  Since 1981 I have lived and breathed technology and Apple insults the very essence of the world as I understand it with its behavior.  I don’t use the word “like”, it is not aesthetic and it is not subjective.  Apple can never be a positive force in the world of technology.  Admirable marketing maybe.  Amazing reality distortion for sure.  Machiavellian trickery when it can.

Technologically speaking, the world is not an unknown, magical place.  There are only so many electrons that can whiz around in silicon at a specific speed.  Apple can’t change that.  They can’t magically make any major breakthrough.  Not only because they hardly spend any money in Research and Development.  Because nobody makes such amazing leaps on their own.  The world of scientific innovation is one of collaboration and open platforms.

That is of course the exact opposite of everything Apple stands for.  It is no surprise that a Unix derivative in the form of Android now powers 90% of the planets smartphones.  Here’s what Apple can never do:

  1. Be open about its plans.  Absolutely vital for innovation to happen.  You can’t build on something if nobody tells you how it works.
  2. Experiment more freely.  Apple produces an absolutely terrible product such as the first iWatch but insists on selling it as the next big thing.  They don’t seem to be able to give away something in order to learn like Google does so often.  (With mixed results, but the principle is correct, tried and tested in innovation)
  3. Make more.  Why only three iPhones?  I can get an Android with a battery that lasts 3 days, a rugged Android, an Android for 100 dollars, etc, etc.  If you don’t try market niches, if you don’t allow others to explore them, you will never discover something really exciting.
  4. Stick to global standards.   Apple costs the world economy billions in lost productivity.  Why on earth can’t they just stick to standards?  How hard is it to have a “normal” USB for power, or to avoid tweaking Bluetooth?  Standards in technology are the bedrock of innovation, the firm ground from which we fly to the skies.
  5. Collaborate.  It seems silly to even write that it is so obvious to everyone in business these days.  You collaborate even with your direct competitors when it makes strategic sense.  Apple never seems to be able to last long in any sort of collaboration, a slave to its Steve Jobs’ inspired image of the lone genius.

There is no such thing as a lone genius in technology.  Some amazing people have made great leaps and provided us with inspiring moments and ideas.  But the actual products?  They are always the result of extensive team work spanning the globe, companies, universities and every kind of kid playing with something to finally achieve greatness.

When Cook took over I hoped he would change some of this.  It seems he can’t.  Apple is a prisoner to its old “rules” and too afraid to go for the real innovation of changing its corporate selfishness.