Google vs. Facebook Interface Design: Design by “Committee” vs. Baptism by Fire

Once again, Facebook has released a complete failure of a feature set or upgrade and been hit with such a strong backlash by their users (who, they assure us, are listened to even BEFORE launching such drivel) that they have had to backpedal to appease the masses. Facebook seems to have this bizarre mentality that shaking the etch-a-sketch and slapping the user in the face is a great way to spring new changes, regardless of the thoughts of their users or their preliminary feedback. Beacon, un-restricted Minifeed, new Facebook, new Facebook again, rape-and-pillage privacy policies—you would think someone over there would suggest that they NOT continue to learn these lessons the hard way, as one time of baptism by fire tends to be enough for most people.

With the exception of the penultimate “new Facebook”, they have had to rollback or significantly change tack from their initial position of “this is new and you’re going to like it,” forced  instead to listen to their users, post a mea culpa and attempt to save face with the global press and the blogosphere collectively rolling their eyes at each new foible. TechCrunch has an idiotic post about how when Facebook listens to their users, God kills a kitten for bowing to the masses and “designing by committee”. Robert Scoble backed this up with a misguided treatise about how Zuckerberg is on track to score billions from these changes and how they shouldn’t/wouldn’t start listening to their users. I call bullshit. Read More »

Posted in: Design, Rants

TechCrunch50 Fail Boat: Yet Another Clone Wins, Innovation Is Dead

Last year was TechCrunch‘s first shot at a demo-ish conference. Forty startups launched and presented their premise to a crowd of bloggers, journalists, VCs and such and such. Last year’s winner was personal finance tracker Mint allows you to sync up all of your credit cards, loans, bank accounts and even reward points and track your entire financial well-being. It creates budgets for you and makes them pretty.

The issue? Mint is really just a re-skinned version of Yodlee. Yodlee is a bank account aggregation tool that makes itself available to banks who want to offer their customers the same sort of “one look” aggregation services in a white-label manner. They’re good at what they do, and they offer a free personal edition called MoneyCenter. Mint simply slapped a bunch of pretty gradients on top of it (they actually use Yodlee as their backend) and some transaction matching algorithms that generally miscategorize items or retitle them if it thinks it knows what they were. (It’s wrong, in my experience, a staggering amount of the time.)

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Posted in: Rants

Cuil: Search That Sucks or: How NOT To Launch A Search Engine

Search engine Cuil (pronounce it however the hell you want to, but apparently they prefer “cool”) launched yesterday to a whole lot of “Google-killer” OMG vibes. And thus far, it really rather sucks.

The home page is Google-simplistic: Logo. Input box. Search button. Over-inflated index count. About link. Privacy link. On black. (Which is, I hear, the new black.) Start typing and a helpful suggest engine ala Google Suggest pops up. Cheers.

Try to search. One of several things will happen. Since we’re out of the “our servers are cooked” phase of things, chances are, you’ll get a results page. But if you were lucky to give it a shot early on, you’d just be flat presented with a “no results found” page. I searched “web application development” and “web development” and both came up with a 0-results page. This is apparently because the caching system isn’t able to retrieve results on the first request so instead places them in a queue. Except that Cuil doesn’t bother telling you that they’re still getting their shit together and that you’ll need to check back when they’ve actually pulled and cached those results. Not that you’d want to. Here’s why, after the jump.

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Posted in: Rants

Incoherent Ramblings & Buzzword Science: The Steve Gillmor Story

This is admittedly a bit off topic for our normal look at all things code, but I couldn’t let this slide and HTMList represents the best place to publish my rant. With that said, I’ve tried, with great focus and much medication, to read through Steve Gillmor’s incoherent ramblings on TechCrunch. I’m clearly on the wrong stuff. Just the opening paragraph alone from today’s post is enough to make me wonder which psychotropics do it for him:

Who controls TinyURL controls the high ground in the battle for the Internet platform. Here’s why: Our brains are wired to protect ourselves from threats to our food, oxygen, and water sources. Most attacks on our supply chains come from those closest to us, our families, friends, business associates, and combinations of those groups.

The hell? So clearly, the logical conclusion to draw is that a commoditized, simple service which I could create myself in 5 minutes and teach you to create in 10 has any bearing on the “battle for the internet platform”? Let’s start with “most attacks on our supply chains come from those closest to us.” I don’t personally recall the last legitimate “attack” on my food, oxygen or water supply chain from either friends, family or coworkers. Or my internet service, electricity or cell service for that matter. Let’s get into it full on, after the jump.

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Posted in: Rants