How social networks are improving the whole software industry

Few people realize how important the Google Plus “Real names”policy really is.   Maybe it’s just me having spent so much energy taking advantage of Facebook’s completely chaotic structure over the past years.  Sure, it ran contrary to most Facebook official policies but any business person would be an idiot not too.  What?   You can see all the ‘friends’ of your competitors’ fan page. That is often their customer list.  Damn sure I will take them even it has to be done one by one manually from a user profile.   Facebook has plugged the holes over time but Google Plus in comparison feels like a straight jacket from it’s beginning.   No free lunches here.

So point No1:  1. How strict and honest a social network is.

And then today everyone is talking about the “new” Facebook, changing their profiles to “look slick”.   Looks like a waste of prime screen real estate to me.   Hello?  Most people are still on 768 pixel vertical resolution you know…that big picture takes almost all of it up!   And these new fangled timeline adjustments of course will fly over the head of most users who have started whining about the “great old interface” as usual…  Point 2. Simplicity

It sort of reminds me of the WordPress vs Tumblr debate.   Users get used to something simple and figure out how to work around it.   Hash tags and loads of third party developers built the ecosystem that works for million of users.   Then  Twitter added photos, then comes video and…before you know it we have another Facebook like experience on our hands.   And then we will need complex settings and choices explained to get it to do what we want it to.  How our privacy is controlled.   Who sees what.   Point No3 is Control.

As anyone who has worked in the software industry knows, there is no perfect interface.   Every user wants something different and it will depend on their experience, background and …well…their mood really!   Your energy levels at different points in the day even.   What Facebook and Google are getting better at is getting the interface to morph constantly using intelligence, a little user input and a whole lot of bravado.   It takes balls to change a user interface, especially when you are a market leader with everything to lose.   But Facebook is right to do it now while it is still a virtual monopoly.

As users switch from software to online applications and from computers to smartphones, a lot of the old “big boys” in software better pay attention…  HP, if you really want to get into software, don’t go chasing the SAP business model…


Communication Technology

Interface time (again) – supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

You know that something is changing when Google talks about a “beautiful interface”…   As the world tries to figure out how to keep their day job and still find time to check up their facebook, twitter, linked in and Google Plus accounts, it seems we are going full circle to the operating system debate again.   Whether it is thin clients, cloud computing, mobile or whatever.

Google and Microsoft have shown which way they are going, trying to make it all “seamless“.   Same buttons at more or less the same place.   Get used to it.  Literally, that is an order:  “Get used to it!”  and then “buy our stuff, not the competition!”   That is what the interface wars are always about.   More than a decade ago I publicly predicted Nokia’s demise based on the premise that their interface couldn’t make the upgrade to a smartphone world.   Even things that seems minor, like the way Google real time operates, quickly become addictive, our brains just demand them afterwards.

And now I would put my money on…Wordpress!   Not the interface so much (yet, though they are improving) as the design of a personal publishing platform.   I don’t want Facebook to organise the presentation of my information.   Nor Google or Microsoft.   Tumblr is very pretty and visually entertaining but no, I want a no-nonsense environment in which to make decisions about the stuff I care about.  I don’t want folders of Google Docs.   I need what comes when you put together the dynamic development rates of with the user friendliness of with…all that social stuff.   I don’t want comments from my friends to be in Facebook OR Google plus OR anything else.   I want them under my blog post where I can collect them and control them.  Without having to log in and out of ten different systems or hope that Hootsuite will get it right.

My nieces just started a blog, just for the family, all about their holiday in Greece and what they are doing in the three weeks they are over from the U.S.   Nope, they couldn’t do it on Facebook, they don’t have accounts and I don’t think they should have accounts in a social network at their age anyway.    I have used WordPress for collaborating with just one other person (writing a kids book) or for a group of people on a work project which ended up running for more than a year and now has more than 150 very useful posts; it has become an internal resource to them.    To me it is testament to my skills as a consultant.   Beats a powerpoint presentation on many levels and it is alive.   But it couldn’t be done without Worpdress.   It is the business model as much as the technology.   You can start up a free personal blog one day for fun and end up at whatever other side of the publishing world the next.   I put some basic FAQs about electric bikes simply because I was tired of people stopping me to ask the same questions.   A few months later it is the No1 resource (and any Google search in Greek on the topic will get you there) for ebikes in Greece!  It’s Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious:

Mary Poppins:  “You’d better use it carefully or it may change your life. ”

Bert: “For example, one night I said it to me girl, and now me girl’s my wife!”

Sure, there are other platforms which do some of this stuff well.   But I will be looking at “My Dashboard” on with renewed hopes that if “there can only be one” interface, these guys will get it right.