iA’s Cosmic 140 poster – just an infogimmick?


(via informationarchitects.jp)

Apart from helping you identify the really big users, this graphic tells you absolutely nothing at a glance. It’s not even useful to identify Twitter’s most followed user – you have to glance around a bit and decode the numbers to figure that out.

And the categories are far from useful: Michael Jordan is halfway between music and sport, while Conan O’Brien is under entertainment, but has no crossover into humour at all. Bill Gates and Eric Schmidt are classified under technology, near art and design but miles away from business.

Pure gimmickry, and not even that appealing visually. Or am I missing the point?

Should you delete your Facebook account?

This May 31st is Quit Facebook Day, but I won’t be deleting my account. No, I got rid of it a few weeks ago. As much as I’d like to claim that this was entirely some kind of ethical stance, the simple truth was that I didn’t actually make much use of the service. If I had the same negative feelings about Twitter, quitting would be a much tougher decision.

Should you leave Facebook? Maybe. It’s certainly a question that a lot of people are asking. Then, if they decide to, they ask ‘so how the hell do I delete the thing?’ Enough that this has become a Google suggested result:

There’s actually a website dedicated to helping you find the elusive ‘delete’ hidden in the unnecessarily complicated settings. You can find out how well you have protected your privacy at Profile Watch. There’s also a handy bookmarklet at Reclaim Privacy that will similarly assess your profile. For a laugh, you can also read through some posts of other Facebook users, who probably think they are talking to their friends, not the entire internet: Openbook.

Are there real reasons to be worried? Well, after Facebook held a developer conference, lots of worried Google engineers left. And Google has hardly earned any privacy gold stars. And then there’s Mark Zuckerburg, the man behind the company, with a few thoughts on privacy (taken from an IM conversation when he was creating the service, then called The Facebook):

Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard
Zuck: Just ask. 
Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS
[Redacted Friend’s Name]: What? How’d you manage that one?
Zuck: People just submitted it. 
Zuck: I don’t know why. 
Zuck: They “trust me” 
Zuck: Dumb fucks.

Business Insider also has a fascinating expose on Zuckerburg. Decide for yourself if it holds much water, and if you think his character is likely to have improved in the last six years. 

It’s also interesting to witness how Facebook has eroded the default privacy settings over the years, from friends and family to almost completely exposing everything.

While most users may not understand/care about these issues, there are plenty who do. Enough that when a new project to create an open-source distributed social network asked for $10,000 to get started, they were overwhelmed with donations. As I write this, they have over $170,000 pledged.

So I guess Facebook just gives me the creeps.

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HuffPo uses A/B testing to write better headlines

From direct mail to web design, A/B testing is considered a gold standard of user research: Show one version to half your audience and another version to the other half; compare results, and adjust accordingly. Some very cool examples include Google’s obsessive testing of subtle design tweaks and Dustin Curtis’ experiment with direct commands and clickthrough rates. (“You should follow me on Twitter” produced dramatically better results than the less moralizing, “Follow me on Twitter.”)

So here’s something devilishly brilliant: The Huffington Post applies A/B testing to some of its headlines. Readers are randomly shown one of two headlines for the same story. After five minutes, which is enough time for such a high-traffic site, the version with the most clicks becomes the wood that everyone sees.

(via How The Huffington Post uses real-time testing to write better headlines – niemanlab.org)

I also found it interesting that they are considering splitting up the content they serve by IP address, so they can serve the East and West coasts better.

What exactly is it I want to do?

I’ve been giving a lot of thought recently to what exactly it is I want to do for a living. The key themes come through pretty strong: I want to do something creative, something with a big internet component, and something independent or with a small team. I don’t expect for one second that someone will read this post and just give me my dream job, but the very act of collecting all these thoughts has been hugely valuable to me. And who knows, perhaps I’ll find a programmer or writer to collaborate with on something.

What follows is a list of examples of the kind of work I could easily see myself doing…

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